Writing a guest blog: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

Edith was my mentor
I will help 
Take the time you need
Photos and text
This is what I tell all who apply to write a guest blog.
The rights
What should you NOT do?
Discovery writing
Summary

Every so often a certain blog will hit a nerve and you readers respond. I have seen this happen dozens of times over the 15.5 years this blog has run.  Maybe that is because over time all of our tastes change in a subtle way. One thing is certain, though — you cannot predict the topic that will cause this reaction. If you try, you will fail every time. So you watch for it and respond when it happens.

Yesterday’s blog by Ian McKee, or reader 45 Bravo, was such a report. I think what he did was touch many of you where you live when he said,”YOU know something about a subject that NO ONE else knows, and it is your duty to share that knowledge with someone.”

If you thought about that you knew it was true. I see it come through in your comments. Some of you are college professors with a great knowledge of the English language, yet you have the mature good sense not to confront someone directly and embarrass them when they make a mistake — me, included. So you come in obliquely and reveal what they need to know without pushing their nose in it.

Edith was my mentor

Many of you know that my wife Edith was my editor. When I lost her, I lost a critical part of what I need to write this blog. but reader Siraniko from the Philippines stepped in and started helping me with the editing. He had to do it after each report was published and some of you thought he was being nit-picky, but I welcomed his help and I still do. Typographical errors are very disturbing to me, as well as to many of you.

In 1994 when the only airgun magazine that was published in the United States went belly-up and took half my subscription money, I whined and cried for weeks! It wasn’t the money — it was loosing my only source of information about airguns — a subject I loved dearly.

One day Edith came to me and said, “Why don’t you write an airgun magazine?” I told her that I didn’t know enough to write about, which was very true at the time. So she handed me a 14-inch legal tablet and told me to write down the titles of the topics I knew enough to write about. Hours later I had filled almost three pages with topics, and some had subtopics under them. That’s how The Airgun Letter, a monthly newsletter about airguns, was born!

A year after we started the newsletter I got the idea to buy, test and tune up a Beeman R1 rifle. The installments in the newsletter became the basis for my first book! I certainly was no expert on the Beeman R1, but 25 years later the world thinks I am.

When I read 45Bravo’s guest blog, I realized he was right! You do know things that we would all like to know.

I will help 

He was also right when he told you that I will help you. In that sense I become your editor. And, after you see what I do with your first article you will get better — which I am defining as more like what I want to see.

Take the time you need

I crank out a new blog five days a week. Some of you are amazed I can do that. But I am like Meadowlark Lemon, the center of the old Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. I can pass, dribble, shoot and talk smack at the same time, because I have been doing this for so long. You don’t have to do that. You can take a month to write about whatever you want, then set it aside as 45Bravo said, and when you come back to it a week later it will be easier for you to make corrections. Don’t give yourself some arbitrary deadline and then stress out when time passes and you have done nothing.

Photos and text

Here is what reader RidgeRunner asked. “BB,
Perhaps you can expound on what format, picture size, etc. you would prefer to receive blog submissions in.”

This is what I tell all who apply to write a guest blog.

“Write your blog in a rich test format (.rtf) file, please. No word processors, because they embed formatting that takes me hours to edit. You put in an ampersand (&) and it comes across as four meaningless characters (:&,;) A rich text format program is the simplest word processor on your computer or tablet. Write something short and save the file. The file name should end with a .rtf designator.

Do not embed links to products like you see me doing in the blog. The way WordPress (the software I use to publish each blog) works, I have to remove those links manually and then do something entirely different in WordPress as I format the blog. This past January WordPress was updated to a version that works differently than it did in the past

Indicate where you want the photos to go in the text and give me a caption for each one if it applies, but please don’t embed the pictures in the text. If the photo needs no caption, indicate that, too. Send the pictures to me separately in the following format:

Images used in blogs must be .jpg images no larger than 560 pixels wide by 730 pixels high. They should be saved at 72 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. Some of your cameras save them at 96 dpi. I will convert them to 72 dpi, but they will become smaller when I do.

Images must be rgb color, not cmyk If you don’t know the color specification, save the pic for the internet and that will format it correctly.” Does that help?

The rights

Here is also what I tell all who submit a guest blog.

To accept a guest blog for publication, you must agree to abide by the following 3 (three) rules.

1. Any blog content that Pyramyd Air accepts & publishes (text & images) is the sole property of Pyramyd Air and cannot be duplicated or reproduced in whole or in part in any form. Pyramyd Air is the sole copyright owner of all images and text it publishes in any media or form.

2. Pyramyd Air has the right to edit, use, or not use all or part of any guest blog submission. If we do not use your guest blog, then you retain all rights.

3. Submitted content and graphics must be free of any other copyright reservations.

What should you NOT do?

Don’t write me at [email protected] and ask me what you should write about. When someone does that it goes into the trash, because I know they haven’t got a clue. I get email offers for guest blogs all the time (a couple each week) from startup businesses that want the powerful fetch of the Pyramyd Air website to boost their online presence. Somehow they have discovered that this blog is read all over the world by hundreds of thousands of individuals, and they want in on it. It ain’t a-gonna happen. Years ago I allowed a writer for the New York Times to write a guest blog. She wrote a fluff piece that included the word airgun about 50 times — thinking that that is how I get the visibility I do. Sorry, lady but that ain’t the way it works and Google has algorithms that look at all new material (they call it organic, because it conveys something new) for things like that. It’s an easy way to get the blog barred from the internet for a season. When she worked there, Edith warned Cheaper Than Dirt, who hired an outside firm to boost their internet presence that way, and they were kicked off Google for two years! In other words, no Google search would ever find them! Edith contacted Google and explained what had happened, promising it would never happen again, and the exclusion was reduced to three months.

Discovery writing

When I started writing for The Airgun Letter I wrote like I was telling something to my best friend. Edith called it discovery writing. I knew I didn’t know everything, but I did know some things and that was what I wrote about. I may not know much about a faulty camshaft but I sure as heck know what one did to my engine when I installed it!

Some people mistakenly believe they must be experts in what they write about, so they labor over their words like a prosecuting attorney, trying to pick each sentence apart to find any flaws. If I did that you would get five blogs a year instead of five a week. In other words — I make mistakes!

A pastor I once knew and respected said, “A job worth doing is worth doing poorly.” In other words — GET ON WITH IT! Let that be the guiding principal for your guest blog.

Summary

If you have something to say, a guest blog is a great way to say it. Sure the comments are okay, but if you want others to know — do a guest blog.


Writing a guest blog: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. And,with an ironic twist, he tells us how to write a guest blog.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Ian McKee
Writing as 45Bravo

Writing a guest blog: Part 1

This report covers:

We are a very diverse group
Sharing
Write about what you know
|Keep it simple, but explain everything
Write it all down
Take a break
Read it again, and again
Tom can help
A photo is worth a thousand words
Remember, Tom is colorblind
Summary

We are a very diverse group

Are you qualified to write a guest blog? Of course you are! Over the years I have read many thousands of comments, by hundreds of very smart readers. We have had people on here that are master gunsmiths, master wood workers, instructors teaching our youth to enjoy the shooting sports, doctors (both the medical kind, and the academic kind), readers that have expertise in photography and mechanical engineering. We have retirees, and we have people that dig ditches for a living, the list can go on, and on.  

Sharing

No matter what your station in life, remember this, YOU know something about a subject that NO ONE else knows, and it is your duty to share that knowledge with someone. If it is on a blog like this, thanks to the internet, that knowledge will be around forever. (Once something is posted to the Internet, it can never be totally deleted, as someone somewhere either saved it to their personal computer, or printed a hard copy of it.)

We each have our area of expertise, or someone in your family may have invented something, or collected something, or was the manager of a project that at the time, may have seemed to be a small thing, but 80 years later, you, and your relative’s invention or collection will be in the right place, at the right time to make a impact on a lot of people. 

We have seen this recently in the Sharpshooter pistol series, B.B. bought one many years ago, but it wasn’t functional, so it sat in a box not seeing the light of day for decades.  

Through this blog, George, the grand nephew of John Beckwith who had collected several of a particular necessary part that is critical for the pistol to work, supplied the critical part that allowed Tom to write about the history, and capabilities of a gun that has been around for almost 100 years, but has been out of production for 40 years.

But there was not much information about it on the Internet until now. 

Thank you George, and Tom. 

Write ’bout what you know

“But it’s just my hobby!” you say. You know more about your “hobby” than most other people will ever know. 

There is a guy I know, he is a 28-year-old auto mechanic, but his “hobby” is high-speed photography, he has a $42,000 video camera (not including the lenses) that he uses to enjoy his hobby.  He doesn’t make money with the camera; he just enjoys seeing the world around us at 20,000 frames per second.

You may have the talents to make beautiful wood grips, stocks, or presentation cases. 

There are some of us who can’t draw a straight line with 2 rulers, much less cut a straight line or a square corner, even with some very expensive tools, but we enjoy watching, and learning from those of you who can do it.  And just maybe, we may someday attempt to tackle a project because of your written article. 

Keep it simple, but detailed

As you explain the process of your article, you may think to yourself “this is common sense, anyone can see where I am going with this.” And yet, I know jet pilots that won’t pour water out of a boot unless the directions are written on the bottom of the boot. 

Write it all down

Make an outline of the steps you want to cover, then using a computer, write everything you can think of about your subject in the order necessary to complete it. Then take a break, get some coffee, soda, or what ever you prefer. Then come back, re-read your blog, make changes, correct spelling errors, arrange things that may have slipped into the wrong places as you were writing.  

Read it again, and again

Take another break, do something to get your mind off of the subject, and maybe even sleep on it, and read it again the next day in a different frame of mind. 

You will find things you may want to say differently, or missed writing all together yesterday. 

Tom can help

Once you are happy with your blog, and it seems to convey your message, submit it to Tom, he can point you in the right direction if something needs to be re-written to help make sense of a complex subject. 

A picture is worth a thousand words

I can explain how to change the o-ring in a Crosman MKI piercing cap, in 4 paragraphs, but 2 detailed photos can show you many things, so I can get the same point across in 4 sentences.

If your blog includes photos, B.B. has written a blog in the past, where he touched on photography tips, and he will be writing more updated ones in the near future. 

Remember B.B. is colorblind

Just like some people can hear higher and lower sounds that others can’t, there are some colors that some people just can’t see. 

Note from B.B. — I was going to insert two colorblindness test charts here — one that had a number that can be seen inside and another with nothing inside, to illustrate what it looks like when you are colorblind — until it dawned on me that both charts might actually have a number inside! Ha, ha!

Tom is a rock star in making fine details come out in photos, of minuscule text, or next to nonexistent text, or even show how small parts are arranged deep inside the air gun while they are hidden under 4 other parts that are welded in place.

But if you are trying to show off your beautiful laminated multicolored stock that you hand laminated, and carved to fit the rifle, work with him to keep the colors accurate. 

In one photo, the reds and greens may be spot on, while in another photo, the same stock may seem to be brown and yellow. The contrast and wood grain details will be perfect, in both photos, but if you are red/green colorblind, you just don’t see those colors. 

Summary

Everyone of us is an expert in something that they are interested in.

Each of us knows something that someone else doesn’t know, so please, share it. 

We all want to learn new things, or just see what neat things our other blog readers are capable of creating. 

You can do it, teach us what you know. 

Cheers.

Ian.

Note from BB — Following Ian’s blog on making a custom gun box I went on eBay and bought a beautiful small wooden box with inlaid mother of pearl. It was very affordable.  It will be a pellet box inside a larger silverware box I customize for an air pistol. Thanks, Ian!


What about dry-firing?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • History
  • Luger
  • Soviet SKS
  • One more common problem
  • Designed to be dry-fired
  • Airguns
  • BB — get real!
  • Sillyiess
  • And the others?
  • Under The Gun
  • An aside that is pertinent
  • Pneumatics and gas guns
  • BB’s rule of thumb
  • Summary

Time for another basic report. We discuss dry-firing airguns a lot and things get out of control pretty quick, but I guess that’s the nature of the Internet. My wife, Edith, used to have a little saying about it. She said people would post:

“I have an HW77 that I enjoy.”

“Yes, Weihrauch airguns all nice, aren’t they?”

“I shoot my Gamo Expomatic in the basement every day.”

“I like ice cream!”

I’ll come back to that, but today I thought I would dive into the subject of dry-firing a little deeper, since it’s one that seems to affect all of us to some extent. I think I’ll start with firearms.

History

I’m going to begin with guns that have firing pins, though the subject of dry-firing does go back much farther than that. Older guns are usually not made to endure much dry-firing, if any. Their metal parts are hardened to withstand a lot of use without wearing, but hardness does tend to make metal brittle. The better guns have firing pins made from tool steel that can be both hard and also resistant to breakage from impact, but gun makers didn’t always do that because dry-firing was considered a no-no a century ago.

Luger

The German Luger, for example, had parts that were heat-treated (hardened) and then tempered (treated with heat for ductility) to a medium straw yellow color. The maker wanted the firing pin to work without wear, and also to not deform the parts with which it interacted. But the metallurgy of Luger parts was less complex 100 years ago than it is today and it is not recommended that you dry-fire a German Luger — especially if it is one from history. It can be done if the gun needs to be uncocked, but you run the risk of breaking the pin and other parts in the firing mechanism.

Legends P08 Erfurt Luger
The Legends P08 pistol with blowback is shown beneath a 1914 Luger made at the Royal Arsenal at Erfurt. This century-old pistol should not be dry-fired.

Soviet SKS

The Soviet semiautomatic rifle we call the SKS is another example of a gun that should not be dry-fired — though not because of the metallurgy.

SKS
This Soviet SKS was manufactured at the Tula Arsenal in 1953.

The reason you should not dry-fire an SKS is the tapered firing pin can get stuck inside the bolt in the fired position — protruding from the bolt. If that happens the gun can fire every cartridge it chambers. It’s essentially firing from the open bolt, which it is not timed correctly to do. It will shoot full auto until it runs out of cartridges and the action can blow up if a cartridge case lets go before it is fully chambered and the action is locked shut (that’s the timing). This is a common fault with the SKS and owners are cautioned to keep their bolts and firing pins clean and to not dry-fire their rifle. A firing pin return spring was installed in the earliest SKS bolts and can be retrofitted into guns without it to protect against this.

One more common problem

So, breaking parts and sticking parts are two of the most common reasons why dry-firing firearms is not recommended. And there is one more common reason. Many rimfires are designed so their firing pins will make contact with the edge of the chamber if there is no cartridge rim there to cushion them. This makes them fire more reliably. However, if guns like these are fired a lot with no cartridge in the chamber a groove or depression will form in the rim of the chamber and the gun will no longer fire reliably because there is nothing backing up the cartridge rim. Therefore the cartridge rim will not be crushed reliably to set off the priming compound and the guns either start to misfire a lot or they quit working altogether. It’s a real problem with older rimfires made before about 1960, and even some of the less expensive ones that are made today still have the problem. But many do not.

I’ll use the Ruger 10/22 as an example of a rimfire that can be safely dry-fired. The Ruger website even has a video that says so. And so can the Ruger Mark pistols. Their firing pins are purposely designed to stop a tiny fraction of an inch away from the rim of the chamber. You readers who understand manufacturing know how difficult it is to maintain those kind of dimensions across multiple parts so it always works out right after assembly!

I only use Ruger as an example. Many rimfires are designed this way today. But don’t take my word for it. Find out if YOUR rimfire is so-designed before you start dry-firing!

Designed to be dry-fired

Then there are the firearms that are purposely designed to be dry-fired. I’ll use a free pistol for my example. Because bullseye target shooters shoot many times more shots dry than with ammunition to train their eye-hand coordination, their guns have to be designed for it.

Hammerli 100 right
This Hammerli free pistol is a .22 rimfire pistol used in 50-meter bullseye competition.

The Hammerli 100 was produced from the late 1940s until the middle 1950s, when the model 101 superseded it. It has a lever on the left side of the receiver that cocks the trigger but not the firing pin. It allows you to practice with the trigger all day long without ever chambering a live round or cocking the gun.

Hammerli 100 dry-fire
That lever cocks the trigger of the pistol. It works regardless of the action being cocked.

Airguns

Let’s now turn our attention to airguns. I will begin with the target guns that have dry-fire devices to allow practice for the same reasons as the free pistols just mentioned. The top 10-meter rifles and pistols all have them, but so do the informal airguns (mostly pistols) that are designed for informal target practice. Take the Beeman P1 for example. If you lift the top strap, but not far enough to cock the pistol, you set the trigger and you can dry-fire it in the same way as a more expensive target pistol. The trigger feels exactly the same as when the pistol is fully cocked, but no pellet is shot when the trigger falls.

BB — get real!

All of that is nice to know, but it doesn’t answer the question that is in your mind, does it? You want to know about spring-piston air rifles, don’t you?

Silliness

Remember what I told you at the start of this report about conversations on the Internet quickly getting silly? It happens here sometimes, too. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Gamo at one time advertised that their spring-piston air rifles could withstand 10,000 dry-fires without damage and they had even tested for it. Well, that statement morphed into Gamo testing all (as in each and every one) of their spring-piston air rifles by dry-firing them 10,000 times! No — they don’t. If you think about it, they really couldn’t. That would add so much cost to each gun (the time spent putting them all into the cocking/firing fixtures then waiting for them to be cocked and fired 10,000 times, not to mention the vast number of fixtures they would need for a 40,000-piece model run) that a $200 air rifle would have to cost $400 or more.

Gamo doesn’t do that and they never did. But maybe the person who said that only meant that Gamo tests each type of gun (one test per model type — not each and every gun) with 10,000 dry-fires. They don’t do that any longer, either — or at least it’s no longer a part of their advertising campaign. Maybe they still test them that way — but they don’t talk about it as much. I said what I said in an historical context in my report titled, Does dry-firing damage airguns?. In that report a reader mentioned that Gamo addresses dry-firing in their frequently asked questions on their GamoUSA website. I went there to check and they no longer address it.

So, Gamo isn’t telling customers they can dry-fire their spring-piston guns. Except that I did find in the manual for the Swarm Fusion 10X they said that one way to safely test whether the rifle has a pellet in the barrel after it has been cocked is to fire it in a safe direction. If there is no pellet that would constitute a dry-fire, so they are okay with that.

And the others?

What about the rest of the spring-piston airgun makers? Are their rifles and pistols proofed against damage from dry-fires? Yes and no. Yes because of the materials being used today and because of the changes in design that lend themselves to more reliable performance, and no — because in a lot of instances this hasn’t been deliberate. I will illustrate with a scope analogy.

Under The Gun

Spring airguns break scopes. We have known that for a long time. But in 1998, when Leapers learned that was the case, they set out to design airgun scopes that could not be broken that way! They even designed test fixtures to test scope designs over the long term. During the same timeframe they added the name Under The Gun (UTG) to their scope line. Hence today UTG scopes are pretty much bulletproof. They are designed with Smart Spherical Structure (SSS) — a scope body that’s inherently stronger than other bodies because it addresses the interaction between the inner and outer scope tubes.

Now along come all the other scope manufacturers in the world — from the biggies like Leupold, Burris and Hawke to the little guys that make scopes for cheap. The biggies watch the scope market closely and, when some bozo named B.B. Pelletier starts waving his pom-poms, they purchase a couple of the UTG scopes he is raving about and examine them — CLOSELY. They discover that, indeed, there are some design features that are quite worthy and they find their own ways of emulating them. Next thing you know ten years have passed and all of the brand-name scopes are spring-rifle proof or, as in the case of Hawke, they know that certain ones in their lineup aren’t and they tell buyers up front. This migration doesn’t just happen through copying, either. Engineers change jobs and the word spreads.

Last to change are the cheapies, but they do change, because at the same time the manufacturers were getting smarter — so were the buyers. Maybe a full two decades have to pass before there are no more scope problems with spring-gun recoil, but it does happen.

An aside that is pertinent

Back to dry-firing. When major airgun manufacturers like Feinwerkbau, Diana and Walther used piston seals that are made of a synthetic that dry-rotted over time, they all got a black eye when the ship hit the sand. Quick as a bunny and with ZERO fanfare they all switched their formulas for their synthetic piston seals! What else could they do — advertise that their airguns now come with piston seals that DON’T dry-rot?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why dry-firing should not hurt a spring gun today — but don’t do it regularly. Now — what about the other powerplants?

Pneumatics and gas guns

I will address both pneumatic and gas guns together. When you dry fire these, unless they are purposely built for it like target guns, you exhaust either air or gas. Nothing in the conventional design of these guns should be adversely affected — HOWEVER! As the corporate lawyer points out, it doesn’t have to be a pellet or a BB that comes out of the gun. Anything stuffed down the barrel can become a projectile when the gun fires. So, for that reason more than for the safety of the gun’s mechanism, dry-firing is not recommended.

BB’s rule of thumb

Here is how I approach the subject of dry-firing airguns that aren’t made for it. Pneumatic and gas guns I don’t worry about. As long as I know the barrel is clear — such as immediately following a shooting session — I can dry-fire without worry. Spring-piston guns are a different matter.

If possible I try to uncock the spring-piston gun without firing. When that isn’t possible, I load a pellet and shoot the gun. This is why I never cock an airgun at a gun show without asking if I can, and can the gun be uncocked without firing? But if I make a mistake, such as “loading” a .22-caliber Beeman R1 with a .177-caliber pellet, which results in an unintentional dry-fire, I don’t worry about it. I haven’t wrecked the airgun (in all probability), but it’s time to wake up and start paying attention.

Summary

The dry-fire fear is very similar to the scope breakage fear and it serves as a marker to the continual improvement of the technology of airguns and their related equipment. Couch commandos the world over now sing the praises of side-focus scopes — completely ignorant that they were brought to them through airguns and more specifically the sport of field target.

Remember when velocity alone sold airguns? That day is over, though it will take more time before the word gets out to everyone.

Here is prediction from BB. At some time in the not-too-distant future shooters are going to realize that muzzle energy in a big bore airgun is pointless, once 500 foot-pounds is surpassed. We are currently in a race to produce more and more energy but it’s meaningless, since the bullets fired from these guns are passing through the bodies of American bison and elk.

Automobile speedometers in cars that can barely make it to 90 no longer come with top limits of 120 m.p.h. Things change with the passage of time.


Readers make a difference

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Loose scope
  • Oh, oh!
  • Bob’s drone
  • Nope
  • And?
  • No blog
  • Best for 2019
  • On to the reviews
  • You Tube videos
  • Reviews still important
  • Why I wrote today’s report
  • BB is moving toward You Tube videos
  • Summary

To our readers in the UK, happy Guy Fawkes Day (actually Guy Fawkes Night, but who’s looking?)!

My brother-in-law, Bob (blog handle B-I-L), came up for a visit last Friday and we shot the Umarex Synergis rifle in which he was interested. We shot and shot, but for some reason he just could not get the rifle to hit the bull. It was grouping to the right. Even when I shot it, the pellets still went to the right. No scope adjustment seemed to work, though I did raise the impact point with the adjustments, so perhaps that concealed what was happening.

Loose scope

After maybe 15 disappointing shots he asked me if the scope was tight. Well, of course it was! I’m the Godfather of Airguns, Bob. Would I hand you a rifle with a loose scope?

Oh, oh!

So I grabbed the scope to show him how tight it was — and it rattled! Oh! The bases of the mounts were loose on the rifle. A quick turn of the base screws with a quarter and Bob started shooting dime-sized groups in the bull at 20 yards. It just goes to show you that it’s always something.

Bob’s drone

After we finished shooting Bob pulled his drone out of the box and asked me if I wanted to look at my roof. Then he installed the batteries, paired the drone to the controller, stabilized the gyros, aligned the compass, found the satellites and — nothing! He played with it for many minutes, rebooting it several times and trying to get the darn thing to work, but it just refused. So back in the box it went and Bob said, “I guess I’ve just soured you on drones.”

Nope

Not at all! I didn’t know they were so affordable and that guys like Bob and I could operate them. On Saturday I cruised the web looking at drones priced from $90 to $1,100, thinking I might find a use for them in some of my videos. Bob actually put that idea into my head, so I’m not the only Enabler on this blog.

And?

Here is what I found. Every drone on the market is wonderful, except for the ones that aren’t. It doesn’t matter what they cost — they all work great until they fly away and get lost or fall in a lake. That doesn’t count the ones that crash into trees and houses, fall on people or stop accepting commands from their controllers. The support teams at the companies that make the drones are extremely helpful and quick to respond, except for the ones that laugh at you. When your drone goes rogue (flies away to who-knows-where) the support team asks you to return it so they can examine it. Duh! And, there are no blogs for drones.

No blog

Whaddaya mean, BB? There are hundreds of blogs about drones. Yes, there are hundreds of commercial advertising pages that CALL themselves blogs, but each one I examined is either a thinly disguised sales platform, or an outlet for some esoteric drone research project.

What I mean when I say there are no blogs is I couldn’t find any blogs like THIS one! Places where those new to drones can go and ask fundamental questions and also where drones are tested without regard to who makes them. The “tests” I read about some drones were a joke — obviously written by someone in marketing.

Who are the Weihrauchs and Air Arms of drone makers? And who are the makers to avoid?

Best for 2019

So I did some research of my own. First I looked up the best drones of 2019 and discovered that, of the 10 listed, four were no longer available. The next day I tried that site again and found those four had been removed from the test results, replaced with 4 different drones that were available. Okay — that is not a “10 best” page. That is a “Here is what we have on hand today” page! Since one company’s models were rated best over most others, I have to assume their marketing department runs that “test” page.

So, I searched to find the 10 best drones of 2017. Here is a quote I pulled from from that page.

“This article will be continually updated as new drones are released and reviewed, so be sure to check back if you’re not buying a drone right now.”

They admit they are changing the page of the “best” drones for the year, as it suits them. That is as close as it comes to an admission of soft marketing.

Another “blog” website claims they are just in it for the fun. They test nothing but drones from a single manufacturer. It’s like asking me what is the best air rifle for hunting large game like deer and me responding that Weihrauch doesn’t make a big bore airgun. That wasn’t what you asked.

On to the reviews

So, as a last resort I started looking at the reviews of several different models. They were all over the board as you might expect, but I have a way of interpreting what they say. For example if somebody gives a drone one star, which is the lowest you can go, I read what they said. If their complaint is that the app to control the drone wouldn’t upload to their pre-Columbian kerosene-fired smart phone, I disregard it. If, on the other hand, they complain about performance, I then compare what they say to all the other one-star reviews. If they all say the manufacturer’s claim for 20 minutes of battery life is grossly inflated, I give them credence.

The five-star reviews are not nearly as valuable for several reasons. First, I don’t know if the manufacturer has paid someone to write the comment. Second I have discovered that if the writer is having a good life (he’s in love, just got a big promotion, etc.) the whole world seems rosy and he will forgive a lot of faults.

I also look at the number of reviews. When comparing a drone with 1,463 reviews to one with 29 reviews, a 7 percent one-star rating means a heck of a lot more on the greater number than on the lesser.

You Tube videos

Then I discovered why the written blogs may not be so good. Drone users don’t seem to work that way. They go in for videos. That makes sense, since the drones themselves have both video and still picture capabilities.

I found excellent test videos that are clearly made by private owners who test the drones in ways their viewers want them to. That makes a lot of sense because, not only does the drone film things, it also moves and can be filmed while in flight. It’s not like watching a 10-meter target match that’s as exciting as watching paint dry.

Reviews still important

Those written reviews are still important, because they reveal details about the product that you would not think about if you are new to the technology. For example, the battery life of the drone restricts how far it can safely fly and still safely return to home. The battery recharge time plus the cost of extra batteries is a second bit of information that goes along with this, as it all determines your flight time.

The object avoidance sensors are another key point. So are the camera controls, the gimbal function and even the Return To Home function that not all drones have. You will get a lot of great information from reading the better reviews. By better I don’t mean those reviews that praise the drone — I’m referring to the reviews that explain what they are talking about and why they say what they do.

Why I wrote today’s report

Some of you readers who have been with me for a couple years know that I sometimes stray way off topic to get a better feeling for what it looks like to be new to airguns. I have been around airguns so long that it’s easy for me to slip into a lot of jargon that a new person won’t understand.

Several years ago I learned how to shave with and eventually how to sharpen a straight razor. From that experience I learned to avoid jargon in my reports. New readers may not understand what “barrel droop” means unless I explain it. It sounds like a barrel that is not straight (i.e. it droops down in a curve), when it really is a barrel that is mounted in the receiver pointing slightly down. It’s extremely common to airguns and firearms, yet you almost never hear it explained, nor read about the common solutions to correct it.

BB is moving toward You Tube videos

Several months ago I was browsing around You Tube and noticed a video where a violin teacher had made a video about the performance of the cheapest violin she could find. That video is what convinced me to start adding videos to my blogs, and her presentation is so straightforward that I wish I was as good. Oh, well, it’s good to set the bar high!

Summary

So, Bob, you didn’t ruin my drone experience at all. In fact, you whet my appetite. And here is what I expect to happen. I’m betting we have dozens of registered subscribers who also fly drones and I have just given them a new topic to talk about. When I baffle them with free-floated barrels or second focal plane reticles they can respond with gimbal lock and loss of GPS signal.

Oh, and I may not have determined which is the TX200 Mark III of drones yet but I did find out who is Air Arms and who is Weihrauch. I’m learning.


A peek over BB’s shoulder

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

  • Labor Day
  • What to do?
  • Oddball listing was hidden!
  • Lesson from the old guy
  • Fresh from a score and ready for more
  • The deal
  • You can play, too
  • The catch

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! It’s a holiday for you American working stiffs; another day at the office for me.

Labor Day started in New York in 1882, as an unofficial march to protest long hours and low pay, plus a protest on using convict labor to do jobs free men could do. The marchers were in danger of loosing their jobs for skipping work, but the American Labor Movement was in full swing at the time. It is said the bars were all filled on that day, so bartenders apparently didn’t get the day off.

The goal was to get a 40-hour workweek and a day off each week. Yes, many people worked 7 days a week in the early 1800s. That’s too much for anybody.

Their plan worked for some, but not for others. Restaurants, amusement parks, bands and most entertainers work harder on Labor Day than on others. There is no religious, family or even national reason for the holiday. It exists because the labor movement pushed for it and, after getting everything they requested, they were unwilling to give the day back.

Ironically, with cell phones and tablets, many people now work a lot more than the ideal 40 hours each week. But it’s a day off for many, and who is going to complain about that?

What to do?

I was wondering what to write about today. I have plenty of vintage airguns to show — that’s not the problem. I even have some things to show you that are quite unique. But for some reason, I didn’t want to do that today. So I went on the internet and looked for some inspiration — and I found it in spades!

First I went to Ebay. A search on “antique BB guns” brought up several oldies and some not-so-old. Apparently, when you were born in 1990, anything from 1970 is an antique! But there were several legitimate 100+ year-old airguns, and among them was a Heilprin Columbian model 1906. Those are the cuties that have cast iron receivers with fancy raised “engravings” and figural patterns. This one was listed as a “Buy it Now” offering for $900. Like that will ever happen! The gun doesn’t even work! I can get the same gun in shooting condition with more nickel for $650 at any good eastern (east of the Mississippi) airgun show.

Oddball listing was hidden!

Then, for no reason I can remember, I entered the search term “Heilprin” and got a different page of listings. Many were books written by authors named Heilprin, but there was a second BB gun listed — also for Buy it Now, but this time at just $300 for a working BB gun! That’s a steal, folks! And, I stole it! I can pocket $150 or more if I sell it, plus I get a blog series. In fact, today is the first installment.

Lesson from the old guy

Okay, look over my shoulder. First, this rifle WAS NOT listed as an “antique BB gun.” That mistake cost the seller a significant percentage of viewers. How did he list it? As a “Heilprin/Columbia Model 1900 Air Gun.” That’s pretty specific. Unless someone typed in a subset of those exact words as a search, they would never see it. When airgun maker Gary Barnes was learning his way around the internet, my wife told him he had to spell words correctly or he would never be able to find what he was looking for. He responded, “I find it hard to believe that just one extra letter in a word could do that.” Well, experience made a believer of him. How about you? And, there is more.

Look at the picture he published with the listing.

Heilprin original
I can just hear what the seller was saying when he posted this, “This is as good as I can do. Someone will appreciate it!”

And look at how clear it could have been after a minute’s work in Photoshop.

Heilprin enhanced
All I did was enhance the image that was posted. If this was my listing I would have taken a sharper image to begin with. You don’t need an expensive camera. Just steady whatever camera you have on the back of a chair and use some light!

Unless the seller lied in his listing about the gun working, I am getting a great BB gun for a song. If he did lie — well that’s the chance you take to play the game.

I’ve told you guys in the past about these hidden listings that are not clearly titled. Like when someone misspells Daisy as Daisey, or spells Crosman with two “Ss”. Just because the sellers can’t spell doesn’t mean they don’t have worthwhile things. But today’s search was even more subtle — a complete miss on the title. No “BB gun” in the title for an antique BB gun. You gotta try other search options to find this stuff when it’s hidden in the weeds. And, on Ebay there are a LOT of weeds!

Fresh from a score and ready for more

Well, I hadn’t envisioned THAT happening when I woke up. I had watched that other Heilprin for several weeks — way back when they had it listed at $1,000. I had no clue this one was even available. So I was on the high that comes after making a great score.

I decided to try the Gun Broker auction site, just for continuity for this report. A search on Heilprin yielded nothing, but when I entered Hy Score — BINGO! Another potential find!

A seller had listed a Hy Score model 816 pistol for $119.99. Now, if you have listened to reader ChrisUSA, you have purchased your Blue Book of Airguns that has a manufacturer cross-reference table in the back. Hy Score was based in Brooklyn and did manufacture some airguns in the 1940s through the ’60s. They also bought airguns made by other companies that were marked with their name — not unlike business is done today. One company they bought from was Diana. I search Hy Score listings frequently, hoping to stumble across a model 807 rifle which is really — quick, someone tell me! That’s right, it’s a Diana model 27.

Well, there wasn’t one of those, but this model 816 translated to a Diana model 6. That’s the recoilless version of their target pistol. Only the Diana model 10 target pistol is worth more. Here is a $350 target air pistol (Blue Book says $325, but experience at airgun shows says different) potentially selling for $120 plus $29 shipping. The seals are probably shot but do you know who replaces them with lifetime seals? Right again — Pyramyd Air! For about $225 I get yet another blog-worthy air pistol that can then be sold for $300 and I’m a good guy for selling it so cheap — after a fresh re-seal!

Hy-Score 816
Saw this on Gun Broker. The round knob below the rear sight and above the grip is the anchor for the Giss anti-recoil mechanism. This is a valuable airgun.

The deal

This one is an auction, not a Buy it Now item. If I bid the minimum I run the risk of waking someone up who will bid against me. Sometimes they research the listing and realize what it is, but there are also plain old mean people out there who will just run up any bid, to keep you from getting a deal. So, I have to wait until the auction is almost over before submitting my bid. It ends on Sunday (that was yesterday) so by the time this report is published I will know the outcome. See how cagey I am?

I tell you, guys, sometimes I feel like Meadowlark Lemon, and they are playing the “Sweet Georgia Brown” theme! Talk about being blessed! I’m glad my sox aren’t on right now, because they would certainly come right off, with this deal.

You can play, too

Okay, enough about me and my luck. This game is for everyone. Maybe readers living in countries that are not open to airguns don’t have it as good as we do, but here in the U.S. — at least in the free parts of the U.S. that remain — we can play. I tell you that because there is another very good deal online that I haven’t moved on yet. That’s all I’m going to say about it until the proper time comes. Maybe this one isn’t quite as good as the two I just described, but it’s good nevertheless. I’m tracking it and will bid if it remains a good buy. Or you can swoop in and get it! I was cagey with the Diana 6, but I’m leaving this out for everyone to find. With one catch.

The catch

This one doesn’t come up in a search for others like it — even if you knew what it is, which you don’t, and on what website it’s located, which you also don’t and I’m not about to tell you — you couldn’t find it. If you want a chance at this one you have to get your cyber hands dirty!

This is like playing Escape Room online!


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!


Dinosaur ballistics

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Reading room
  • Discussion
  • The absurdity of sub groups
  • What lit the candle?
  • Why?
  • Advertisers
  • 10-shot groups and dinosaur ballistics

Yesterday’s series on collecting was a story that just burst out of me. I couldn’t stop it — it’s writing itself. Well, today’s report is the same way.

Reading room

Like so many of you I have a dedicated reading room in my house. It’s a small room across the hall from my office, and I go there periodically throughout the day to sit and ponder the meaning of life. I also do other things, but they aren’t the subject of this report.

I was in my reading room last Friday, flipping through the pages of the September 2017 Guns magazine, when I came across a statement that stunned me. It was the caption to a table of group sizes for the .22-caliber Ruger American Rimfire Target rifle. I’ll present it here and then discuss it.

” NOTES: Groups [ listed above ] the product or 4 out of 5 shots at 50 yards.”

Discussion

Well, they are honest! That caption is below a table of group sizes for 7 different rounds. All of them were under one inch. Excuse me, but have we really sunk this low?

The best 4 of 5 shots tells me next to nothing about the accuracy of this Ruger rifle — other than the fact that author didn’t want to print the size of the group made by all 5 shots! Of course the “groups” are small. They are manufactured that way. I will explain what I mean in the remainder of this report.

The absurdity of sub groups

Sometimes when something doesn’t sit quite right for me I think about it for a while before realizing what’s wrong. Last Friday was such a time, and, because I often spend a little longer in my reading room, it was the perfect place to reflect.

I can give you three different reasons why a 4 out of 5-shot group is wrong.

Reason 1. If I take this approach out to its absurd limit, I can illustrate just how slanted and biased it is. Instead of 4 out of 5 shots, let me present the best 5 of 20 shots for my groups. Yes, that is not what the table I’m citing did, but it’s headed in the same direction.

best 5 of 20 shots
Five pellets went into 0.354-inches at 50 yards. All 20 shots are in 2.681-inches. Which group best represents the rifles’ accuracy?

I sometimes comment on sub groups within a main group. But I never tell you that is the main group’s size.

Do you see how not including all the shots is deceptive? If you can’t see that then the rest of my report may not make any sense, either.

Reason 2. Instead of reporting the best 4 out of 5 shots, what if I report the number of bullets that land in a certain-sized group — one that we are all used to reading — say one inch? That is a take on the first idea, but with a twist. That table might look something like this.

Shots landing in less than one inch between centers at 50 yards. All these groups are based on 10 shots.

RWS Superdome…………………………..9
JSB Exact RS………………………………6
H&N Baracuda Match w/4.50mm hd……4

RWS Superdome group
Nine RWS Superdome pellets went into 0.947-inches at 50 yards. Ten shots are in 1.443-inches. Which group represents the rifles’ accuracy? Incidentally, I can carve out a couple good 5-shots groups if I want to.

Here is the same table presented in a conventional fashion. All these groups are 10 shots, measured center top center of the two widest holes.

Pellet Group
RWS Superdomes………………….1.443-inches
JSB Exact RS……………………….1.916-inches
H&N Baracuda Match 4.50mm……2.73-inches

If I want to take the emphasis off true accuracy I can disguise it by the way I present the data.

Reason 3. Only report the ammunition that groups within a stated parameter. Maybe I test 5 different pellets, but only 2 give me the results I’m looking for. Those are the ones I present and the rest get shoved under the carpet.

When I write about the accuracy of an airgun I do publish the best group. I do that because I want my readers to know what that gun is capable of. But I almost always show the rest of the story, as well. I at least show other representative groups. Sometimes, if a particular pellet is going everywhere I might not show that group, but that’s more because that group is so large that I would have to shrink it to fit the size constraints of the images I am allowed to publish in the blog. When that happens, though, I do tell you about it.

What lit the candle?

I didn’t react to this magazine issue out of the blue. No — I was already spring-loaded by a certain Guns author who has been reporting 3-shot groups for years. I won’t name the writer, because in this particular issue of the magazine, sub-group reporting was across the board! Not just one author did it. It was done by no less than five different authors in as many articles. Only two gun writers in this issue reported all the shots they fired, and they reported 3-shot groups and 4-shot groups, respectively! Folks, this type of reporting is not one man’s decision; this is an editorial policy!

Why?

Why would an entire magazine format its technical reports this way? Well, you have to be around this stuff all the time to know why any writer would do this and why an editor would not only permit it, but seemingly encourage it. I know because I have seen behind the curtain. I almost want to turn this into a contest, to see how many of you can guess the reason. But I won’t make you wait.

Advertisers

Advertisers want to sell products. The days when a company was proud of its name and the things it made are mostly gone. They will never go away entirely, but when a company buys its principal product from another manufacturer and then sells it without laying a finger on the item; when they can push it into a high-volume distribution network, the marketing department of that company needs to be able to say something good about the product. I am not the man you want to test your gun when you want to push product. You want somebody who is willing and able to massage the data into a pleasing format that can be presented in a compelling way.

I toyed with the notion of taking a well-known inferior product and writing it up in the same fashion as the gun writers I’m slamming, but then I remembered Orson Wells’ famous 1938 radio broadcast dramatization of War of the Worlds that put thousands into a panic. I would put a disclaimer at the beginning and end of my report, but I know that some folks just read the captions. Marketing departments know that, too.

10-shot groups and dinosaur ballistics

This is why I usually shoot 10-shot groups in my tests. Because statistically, 10 shots are as revealing as one thousand shots. Not always, but a very high percentage of the time, they are. Five-shot groups are usually smaller than 10-shot groups and three shots are just a rough guess. But the best 4 of 5 shots — that’s deception at work.

Ten-shot groups were the order of business a century ago. It wasn’t until after World War II that we started seeing 5-shot groups. At the rate we are now going, by the year 2025 the one-shot group may be in vogue.

I’m calling 10-shot groups “dinosaur ballistics” because who, besides a dinosaur like me, would shoot them? They are much too cumbersome for today’s fast-paced gun writers, plus they wouldn’t put many of the guns being tested in a good light. Of course they could always just lie about the groups they shoot, but nobody wants to do that! Do they?