Finding that silk purse

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • A break
  • The real story
  • Fell into it
  • Oh, no!
  • The real story
  • Back to the future
  • The lesson
  • More
  • The point
  • Summary

A break

I need a break from punching holes in paper. Been doing a lot of that this week. Today I was all set to test the Slavia 618, but the next test is accuracy and like I said — I want to do something else.

As I was sitting at my computer trying come up with an idea for today, I got messaged that the parts for my .22 rimfire High Standard Sport King pistol had arrived in my mailbox. What’s the story there?

Fell into it

Many years ago I was at one of the last gun shows I ever attended. I had two tables full of guns to sell and one of them was something I had priced at $450. I forget what it was — it was that unimportant to me. But my price was reasonable and there was some interest. One guy came by and asked if I would come over to his table and see if there was anything I would take in trade for it. So I did. read more


Changing times

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

Vintage firearms — Nelson Lewis
Sniper rifle
Henry Deringer
Remington American Boy Scout
Exceptions
Observation
What about airguns?
Crosman Trapmaster
Crosman Mark I and II pistol
Erma ELG-10 
Winsel — a turkey?
What’s happening?
Opportunity
Hold out
Summary

Today I write a report that has been on my mind for months. I even wrote down the title to remind myself it needed to be written. Today is the day.

Several months ago I was talking to my shooting buddy, Otho, and the subject was older firearms. I told him I was getting tired of shooting some of mine and he said to sell them. I responded by telling him that I would, but the prices people were getting for most of them was so low right now I would lose my shirt if I sold them. read more


The first Smith & Wesson 78G air pistol(s): Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

02-S&W 78G
A very early S&W 78G air pistol. Though the picture looks matte because of the cloud lighting, this one has glossy paint. It’s like new!

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Behind the curtain
  • This pistol
  • How early is it?
  • Refinished?
  • Let’s look
  • So what?
  • Trigger
  • Interests?
  • Summary

What? Another S&W 78G? BB — we know you love this air pistol but you just finished a 5-part blog on one last June! Enough already!

Behind the curtain

There is a good reason why I needed to write this blog. I spent 10 hours yesterday (all day Friday) and this morning (Saturday) trying to tune my Diana 27S air rifle so I can report on it. At this point I have one piece of advice to anyone trying to tune one of these rifles. DON’T REMOVE THE TRIGGER BLADE ASSEMBLY!!! Eight and one-half of those ten hours have been spent trying to reinstall the trigger assembly and it still isn’t in! I will get the rifle back together and give you a great report on the tune and troubles I had in good time, but if a blog was going to be published today it had to be something else that was quick and easy. read more


Range days at the 2020 SHOT Show

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

Sig Virtus

P365 BB pistol

Virtus airsoft

Smart Shooter

It’s over

Media day at the Range

Umarex USA

Air Javelin

Air Saber

Constant Acceleration Pneumatic Arms

Light gas

Not done yet

That’s all

I went to two range days this year. Sig Range Day was on Sunday and Industry Day at the Range was Monday. Both are for the media, so we get to see and possibly shoot the guns they are showing at SHOT. I say, “Possibly” because the guns don’t always cooperate. I have seen several that failed to function on range day. That’s either because they were rushed through production or sometimes it’s just bad luck. read more


The Girardoni repeating air rifle of 1780

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Girardoni
The Girardoni of 1780 was the first successful repeating rifle, and it is an airgun!

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Girandoni or Girardoni?
  • 1,000-1,500 rifles
  • Equipment
  • Firing the rifle
  • Problems
  • Lewis & Clark
  • Replica
  • Summary
  • read more


    2019 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 2

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Part 1

    This report covers:

    • Cardinal Shooting Center and Campground
    • Matches
    • Banquet
    • Gunslynger
    • Field target
    • What about me?
    • Enter Ruth
    • Fixin’ in the field
    • Interesting stuff
    • Summary
    • One last thing
    • Website

    Today I will finish my report of the 2019 Pyramyd Air Cup. My report differs from everything else you have seen on the web, because I don’t want to cover the things that have been well reported by many other sources. Instead I am trying to give you the view of the event that you might have had if you had attended.

    Cardinal Shooting Center and Campground

    I mentioned at the start of Part 1 that the vendor’s row where registration took place looked like a carnival with its brightly colored pop-up tents. This was Pyramyd Air’s first event at Ohio’s Cardinal Shooting Center and Campground, so there were lots of things for them to learn. Though the previous venue was large, the Cup had outgrown the areas they could use, so it was nice to have a place where there was room to expand. And, boy was there room! Maybe too much room, as the Cup was spread over an area that extended over two miles in length!

    Also, the Cardinal Center is expanding, and it looks like next year there will be buildings that take the place of the pop-ups. I’m sure the Pyramyd team will look at this year’s Cup and rearrange some things to close up the expansive distances, so people don’t have to walk so far. For instance the public ranges, where there were examples of guns the public could shoot for free, was a quarter mile from the registration tent. You could drive down there and many people did, but it was a little overwhelming upon first arrival. The field target match, camping and banquet hall were two miles in the other direction.

    Matches

    The 100-yard benchrest match was the first event to take place. As I mentioned in Part 1, there was a strong breeze from the right that befuddled many shooters. Even .30 caliber pellets drifted far in that kind of wind. This is very similar to what happened in 1920 — when firearms shooters were trying to shoot 100 yards with centerfire cartridges. Shooters on the leading edge of benchrest in those days were trying to push the .22 Winchester Center Fire (WCF) cartridge to 3,000 f.p.s. and able to put 10 shots in one inch at 100 yards. They never made it to the desired velocity but they did get the accuracy when a wildcat version called the .22 Hornet was perfected in the 1920s. Then modified Hornets shooting lighter bullets pushed past 3,000 f.p.s. in the ’30s.

    Today the big push is shooting airguns accurately at 100 yards. Like in 1920 the wind plays a big part in this, and long-range benchrest airgun competitions have become popular. The 100-yard competitions are now the hottest thing going, so the Pyramyd Air Cup inaugural 100-yard match this year was at the sharp end of the stick.

    Shooters shot .25 caliber and .30 caliber rifles (up to .357 caliber is permitted) purpose-built to compete in this competition. But they all shot diabolo (wasp-waist, hollow tail) pellets that are extremely sensitive to the wind. The rules require mass-produced diabolo pellets. This puts the shooter at a disadvantage, but the rules apply to everyone so the field is level. And the range at the Cup favored no one shooter. There are 30 minutes to shoot 25 rounds, so you have 72 seconds per round. That may sound like a lot, but remember you are fighting the wind, so there is a limit to waiting until the wind dies to shoot.

    benchrest
    The benchrest competition was new at the Cup this year and was the hottest competition there.

    The winner, Justin Welsh, shot a .30 cal. FX Impact Mark II, as did 2nd through 4th places. Fifth place was the highest .25 cal., an Air Arms S510 shot by Ed Lenarduzzi. The lone woman to place in the top 10 was Abby Casey, shooting a .25 caliber RAW HM1000X. She placed 7th overall and as she left the stage with her trophy she proudly announced to the room that she was the only girl in the top ten! The awards were given out at the banquet Saturday evening.

    award
    Pyramyd Air’s Tyler Patner (right) passed out the awards at the banquet.

    Banquet

    The banquet was held Saturday evening and even though some shooters had just finished their final competition, the place was packed! In fact, they will need to expand the space for next year, because some people had to be turned away.

    Besides the many awards, there was also a raffle of many great prizes. Even cheap old BB dropped a few tickets into the jars! The grand prize was a $4,000 Air Arms Air Arms RSN70 PCP. Only 10 were sent to the United States, and boy are they beautiful! Speaking of things that are beautiful, the rifle was donated by and also given away at the banquet by Claire West, the managing director of Air Arms.

    Unfortunately Claire is quite shy and reserved in public, having recently graduated from the Madonna school of self-deportment, so she was barely noticed up on stage (like heck!). But she held it together and managed to give the rifle away.

    Claire
    Claire West (right) draws the final raffle ticket from the jar Kristen is holding.

    Gunslynger

    The Gunslynger is Pyramyd Air’s own version of metallic silhouettes with a twist — speed. The first shooter to knock down five chickens, five pigs, five turkeys and five rams wins! When it started several years ago there were misses among those who placed high, but this year it was a pure speed race. A miss set you back far!

    Matt Dubber of South Africa won, shooting a .22 caliber FX Impact Mark II. Val Simmons came in second, also shooting a .22 caliber FX Impact Mark II. Third place went to Greg Suave who shot a .22 caliber Daystate Red Wolf. How about that, Chris U.S.A.?

    Field target

    Someone said that high-level field target matches today are decided by the forced offhand lanes. That’s different from when I competed. We had lanes where the target placement forced shooters to stand or kneel, but mandatory offhand lanes weren’t as common back then. We used smaller kill zones to weed out the duffers. I haven’t seen a quarter-inch kill zone in quite a while, though I still own a couple targets with them. At this year’s Cup the smallest kill zone was 3/8-inch and they were as large as two inches.

    field target
    In field target not all shots are from the sitting position.

    Top shooter in the World Field Target Federation class was Jack Harris from Wales with 117 of 120 possible points. In Hunter PCP class Bill Rabbitt placed first with 113 of 120 points. Gary Palinkas won the PCP Open class with a 105/120. John Fairbrother of the Air Arms team took first in the piston class with a 108/120. And first in the Hunter Piston class was Dan Putz with a 93/120.

    What about me?

    Since I don’t compete anymore, I get to walk around and just listen to what people are saying. This comment last Friday from reader William Schooley sums up what I hear. He asked me for airgunsmiths to modify his rifle. This is what he said.

    Specifically. I’d like to find an airgunsmith with the knowledge and tools to have my .22 Gauntlet tuned, modified and accurize to the point that I can at least be competitive in the 2020 AirCup benchrest competition.

    All I saw, or at least it seemed to me, on the line this year were expensive rifles like Air Arms, Daystates and RAWs. And these with expensive optics and bipods.

    Being retired, these are all too rich for me. I want a price point air rifle modified into something like my modified 10/22 that I use for shooting at Camp Perry.

    In the alternative, I’d like to see the AirCup expanded to have “stock events” more geared for shooting with price point air rifles.rifles. Barring that, I’ll see about modifing what I’ve got to be competitive.

    P.S. And I like the work to be done in time so I can practice practice and practice some more.

    Thanks,
    William Schooley”

    Well, that stumped me. Because, after what I saw at the Cup, I don’t think there is any way an Umarex Gauntlet can be modified affordably to compete in a 100-yard match in the wind that we saw at the Cup. But I understand his frustration. He wants to compete, but not in a sport that’s an equipment race and not against semi-professionals, which some of these shooters have become.

    Enter Ruth

    So, while I was speaking with Ruth Kass, one of the salespeople at the Cup (where, by the way, everything in the catalog was a flat 20 percent off), it hit me. Ruth and I blue-skyed a new competition that has never existed before. It will use factory airguns! Now, whatever airgun we select for this event will turn out to be the wrong one for 90 precent of the competitors (the loosers), but they won’t know that until the match is over. Maybe I’ll let them burn me in effigy, although I’ll first look at an Ohio map to make sure Effigy isn’t the name of some nearby town!

    I’m not-a-gonna tell you what the event will be, what the rules are or nothin’ else. Mostly because we are making it up as we go. But I will tell you that there may be a competition for average people at the next Cup.

    Fixin’ in the field

    Down at the public ranges, I was talking with Gene Salvino when somebody brought over a Seneca lever action PCP that wouldn’t fire. I watched as Gene eliminated the usual suspects and discovered that the problem was deep down inside the action. There, on a folding table with minimum tools, Gene stripped that action and found that an alloy pellet had slipped out of the chamber and fallen deep into the action, blocking the hammer. Once the smashed-up pellet was shaken free, the rifle was back in service with a total of 10-15 minutes spent.

    While he was working Gene was surrounded by kibitzers like me who kept him busy talking all the time! My point is — don’t assume it’s broken when it doesn’t work.  Also, you can always talk to an Italian because they multitask like a switchboard as they work!

    Often the simple solution saves the day. Also, it doesn’t take a shop full of tools and a white lab coat to work on these things. What it takes is knowledge and some common sense that my late aunt said isn’t that common.

    Gene fix
    Gene had to dig deep to find the jammed pellet.

    Interesting stuff

    One attraction I usually see at the Cup is Rich Shar. Rich drives over from Indiana to show me what he has done with his bevy of large-caliber breakbarrel springers. I have reported on this before, but every year Rich raise the power bar a little higher and increases the smoothness at the same time. The first rifle I fired was his custom .30 cal. Hatsan 135.

    Tom shoot
    I’m shooting a custom .30 cal. Hatsan 135 that Rich built a couple years ago. He has continued to use it as his testbed and I must tell you — this .30 caliber powerhouse shoots as smooth as an ASP20!

    Hatsan and Sig — you had both better pay attention. Rich has used his son’s knowledge of materials to continually improve the performance of this powerhouse. How far has he gone? Would you believe a breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle can generate 44.91 foot-pounds and still not slap your face?

    pellet
    The rifle I am shooting shot this 51.15-grain pellet… read more


    Beeman C1: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Beeman C1
    My new Beeman C1 is a .177.

    A history of airguns

    This report covers:

    • Take this gun
    • History
    • Artillery hold
    • A compromise
    • Smoother with use
    • Use a mainspring compressor!
    • The test rifle
    • Description
    • The breech
    • Barrel pivot
    • This C1 has
    • The plan
    • Goal

    Sometimes you buy airguns because you long for them. Other times you buy them on the recommendation of others. And every so often a good deal just pops up and you feel you really need to take it. Such is the case with this .177-caliber Beeman C1 that I bought at the 2019 Texas Airgun Show.

    Take this gun

    A man walked up to my table holding a Beeman C1 that was scoped with a Beeman SS1 scope. The price he asked was so reasonable that I didn’t hesitate buying it, and, before long, reader David Enoch walked over and asked to buy the scope. I sold it to him, and I was left with just the rifle for a very reasonable price.

    History

    The C1 is a Webley rifle that was also sold by Beeman. It was made from 1981 to 1996. In the .177 caliber I am testing it was said to shoot pellets up to 830 f.p.s. with a cocking effort of 35 lbs. I will test all of that for you, of course.

    The production of the U.S. rifles (apparently Webly sold the C1 in the UK, as well) began with serial number 800,000, according to the Blue Book. My test rifle is serial 801,309, which makes it a very early gun. Webley added a safety to the rifle in 1983 and my test rifle doesn’t have one, so it was made before then — probably in the first year of production. The first C1 that I purchased new back in the late 1980s had a safety, so it was a gun made after 1983.

    Beeman C1 baseblock printing
    My Beeman C1 is an early one.

    Artillery hold

    The C1 is the rifle on which I developed the artillery hold. One of my airgun catalogs, probably from Air Rifle Headquarters, said to hold a spring gun tight to cancel the recoil. I tried that for a long time and could never get the C1 to group very well. It could maybe put 5 shots into one inch at 10 meters.

    One day I decided to see how really inaccurate it would be if it wasn’t held tight at all. So I laid it on the open palm of my off hand and didn’t bring the butt into my shoulder hard. The rifle was free to flop around as much as it wanted. And, to my utter surprise, the rifle put 5 pellets into 0.3-inches at 10 meters!

    Naturally I tried this over and over to see if it really worked, and it did. I was so thrilled that I wrote Dr. Beeman a letter, telling him of my discovery. I thought I might write it up for his catalog. He never answered me, so the idea almost died, except 10 years later when The Airgun Letter started I wrote about it there. I also gave it it’s name while writing the 9 articles that became the basis for the Beeman R1 book. I don’t think I ever wrote a specific article for the newsletter about the artillery hold, but I do think I explained several times how it worked and my readers caught on. And it all came from shooting that first C1.

    A compromise

    My first C1 was a compromise — something I know many of you can relate to. I really wanted an R1, but at the time we didn’t have the money to stretch that far, so I bought the C1 as the closest I could get. The difference was $189 for the C1 and $249 for the R1, as I recall. That little difference made my decision for me.

    When it was new, my first C1 was quite stiff and hard to cock. The trigger was also very stiff. To say I was disappointed by the shooting performance was an understatement! After hearing all the good things about precision adult air rifles and having already owned an FWB 124, this C1 was a boat anchor in comparison. But it was all I had, so I stuck with it.

    Smoother with use

    After about 2,000 rounds had passed through the rifle, I began noticing that the cocking was getting smoother. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then I started noticing that the firing behavior was smoother, as well. After 3,000 rounds the trigger started getting very light and, if not exactly crisp, at least predictable. It seemed the more I shot the nicer the rifle’s action and trigger became.

    About that time I disassembled the rifle to see what I could do to improve it. What I was thinking, I’ll never know, because I hadn’t a clue how to tune a spring gun. The Beeman R1 book was still many years in the future. Black tar hadn’t been discovered by airgunners yet. It existed as open gear lubricant, but it was not known to the airgun community, so we used Beeman’s Mainspring Dampening Compound instead. It did pretty much the same thing, though it wasn’t as viscous, and you had to use a lot more of it.

    Fortunately, I also didn’t own a chronograph yet, either, so I had no idea how fast my rifle was shooting. I trusted the Beeman catalog implicitly.

    Use a mainspring compressor!

    While either disassembling or assembling my C1 a curious thing happened and I got the first photo to go into the R1 book. The rifle’s heavy solid steel end cap got away from me, sailed across the room and broke a desk drawer divider in two! Had my arm been there instead, I’m thinking it might have been broken — bruised for certain. I instantly understood the need for a mainspring compressor!

    Beeman C1 broken divider
    The C1 end cap hit this desk divider to the right of the crack (see the dent in the wood) and busted it in two.

    The test rifle

    The test rifle is a .177 caliber, as mentioned. It does have open sights, but the rear sight has been broken and poorly glued together with epoxy.

    Beeman C1 rear sight
    The rear sight has a central screw for elevation and I can see nothing for windage. You can see that the excess epoxy makes it unclear if there even is any windage adjustment. You certainly are’t going to do any!

    The front sight is bent to the left, probably from a fall. That makes the open sights useless on this rifle. Yes, they can be fixed, but since I don’t plan to use them, I’m not going to bother!

    Beeman C1 front sight
    The front sight is a single unit held on by a screw. This one is bent to the left from a fall.

    After the front sight was off I test-fired the rifle at a backstop on my desk three feet away. I was surprised to see the pellet striking the backstop three inches above the natural hold. The barrel is severely bent upward right at the baseblock! This air rifle was fired with the barrel open! There is no anti-beartrap, so it’s possible to fire with the barrel broken open.

    That would present a problem for many shooters, but you may recall that a few years ago I showed how to straighten a bent barrel. I am probably the right guy to work on this rifle.

    Description

    The rifle under test is a tad less than 38 inches long, and the barrel accounts for 13-3/8-inches of that. This rifle weighs 6 lbs. 10 oz.

    The western-style stock is hardwood that’s probably beech. The pull is 13-1/2-inches. The buttpad is a soft grippy rubber pad. There is no checkering and the stock is very full. The stock on this rifle was the inspiration for the Air Venturi Bronco stock.

    Beeman C1 Bronco
    The C1 stock was the inspiration for the Bronco stock.

    The single-stage trigger is light. I think it’s a bit too light for this rifle. Someone may have been inside, though I do remember that C1 triggers get very light over time. And the rifle cocks easier than 35 lbs. So it may have just been shot a lot.

    The spring is quite buzzy, so the rifle needs to be taken apart and overhauled. The piston seal is PTFE, which is a generic name for Teflon. I’ll show it to you when I can. Tune in a Tube will perform miracles on this rifle! At some point either Webley or Beeman realized how buzzy the powerplant was and later on in the production run they installed a spring guide that was also a mainspring dampener. But I think I can quiet the action much more than that with just TIAT.

    The steel is deeply blued all over with speckles of rust in many places. I think this may be someone’s first spring gun. They may have tried working on it and didn’t quite get it right or it may have just been neglected. I’ll know more when I get inside. Fortunately, like an older Harley Davidson, the C1 has a lot of extra material to work with, and I think I can turn this sow’s ear into a very nice purse.

    The breech

    The breech on a C1 is different enough that it’s worth examining. The outside of the barrel has a large deep groove that rests against a crosspin in the action forks. A spring-loaded chisel detent pushes the barrel down against this pin. Theoretically this would have been a way to prevent barrel droop in a similar way to the ASP20’s keystone breech.

    Beeman C1 breech
    Looking down on the C1 breech we see the grooved breech that rests against the steel crosspin. read more