The Daisy 35: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Superdomes
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobby
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I test the Daisy 35 multi-pump with a dot sight. Will that sight make the airgun any more accurate? That’s the test. I mounted the UTG Reflex Micro green dot sight.

The test

I shot from the same 10 meters, rested. I used 8 pumps per shot, just as before. I tried to use the same pellets but I couldn’t find the tin of Norma Golden Trophy pellets, so I substituted RWS Superdomes in their place. I have been told that these Norma pellets are equivalent to the RWS line.

I shot 10-shot groups, just as before. The only difference today, other than the pellet substitution was the sight. And I wore my regular glasses — not the reading glasses I wear when  I shoot with open sights.

Sight-in

It was difficult to sight-in the 35. Any airgun that makes 2-inch groups at 10 meters is going to be difficult to sight in. I started at 10 feet and had to adjust the dot down and to the left a lot. When I got two shots that went to the same place I backed up to 20 feet and kept sighting-in. After two shots were good at that distance I backed up to 10 meters and continued the sight-in. 

All things considered, it took about 12 shots to get the gun sighted-in. Then I shot the first group of RWS Superdomes.

RWS Superdomes

It was a fortunate thing that I shot Superdomes today because they gave me the best group of the test. Ten of them went into 1.963-inches at 10 meters. The group is fairly well centered on the bull. It’s just off to the left a little.

Daisy 35 Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes went into 1.963-inches at 10 meters. This is the best group of today’s test.

JSB Exact RS

The next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. In Part 3 ten of these made a 2.591-inch group. Today with the dot sight ten went into 3.326-inches. Well — that’s no better, is it? Apparently I can shoot just as well with open sights as with a dot — at least this time!

Daisy 35 JSB RS group
Ten JSB RS domes made this 3.326-inch group at 10 meters. The first shot was in the black near the center, which is why I continued with the group without adjusting the sight. Shot two is that large round hole at the upper left. It looks like it was shot with a wadcutter but I saw it form as I shot. This is why a gun that shoots wide is so hard to sight in.

RWS Hobby

The last pellet I shot was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. In Part 3 ten Hobbys made a 2.205-inch group. Today using the dot sight the 35 put ten Hobbys into 2.29-inches at 10 meters. It’s pretty much the same as the last time with open sights.

One thing about this group. It is so spread out that there are two sight-in shots that look like they are in the group. Well, they aren’t. If you look at the edges of their hole you can tell that they were shot with Superdomes that didn’t cut round holes. This group is similar to the group Hobbys made when I shot with open sights.

Daisy 35 Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys made a 2.29-inch group at 10 meters. The arrows point to two holes made by Superdomes during the sight-in. They aren’t part of this group.

Discussion

The tightest group shot with open sights in Part 3 of this test measures 2.181-inches between centers. The tightest group of today’s testing measures 1.963-inches between centers. Clearly the Daisy 35 does not become more accurate at 10 meters with a dot sight.

This may look like a short little test, but please remember that each one of those 30 pellet holes was preceeded by 8 pump strokes. Add to that the 12 sight-in shots and I had to pump this airgun 336 times for today’s test. It wasn’t short on my end! But thankfully the Daisy 35 is an easy airgun to pump.

Looking at the groups I see that this Daisy 35 will hit a tin can most of the time out to 30 feet, or so. That’s its strength. It sure isn’t a paper puncher!

Summary

There is one last thing to test and that is the accuracy of the airgun with BBs. Given that it is set to feed BBs with the magnetic bolt tip I don’t see any reason to test it with lead BBs. You can try to talk me out of that, but think about it. Is someone shooting a $35-40 airgun really going to spend $25 for 1,500 BBs?


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante dot sight
Crosman Vigilante.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 
Part 4

This report covers:

  • BB cylinder
  • The test
  • Crosman Black Widow
  • Air Venturi Smart Shot
  • The trigger
  • Marksman BBs
  • Beeman Perfect Rounds
  • Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision shot
  • Get a good dot sight
  • Summary

Today we shoot the Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver with BBs. Some real surprizes are in store!

BB cylinder

To shoot BBs we have to use the BB cylinder that holds 6 BBs, instead of the ten pellets we have been used to. So the groups today will be 6 shots.

The BB cylinder is loaded outside the gun from the front. The rear of the cylinder is too small to accept a BB of any size.

Vigilante BB cylinder
The Vigilante’s BB cylinder is loaded from the front. Three plastic “fingers” apply tension to hold the BB in place. These are 6 Marksman BBs.

The test

I loaded a fresh CO2 cartridge for this test because I plan to shoot a lot. I shot at 5 meters seated with the revolver rested on the UTG Unipod. I shot 6-shot groups so I could test more BBs.

The Vigilante has the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight mounted, because it did so well in the pellet accuracy test.

Crosman Black Widow

First up were Crosman Black Widow BBs because the Vigilante is a Crosman airgun, after all. And we have learned through testing that Black Widows are premium BBs that usually test among the best in any gun.

Six Black Widow went into a group that measures 0.923-inches between centers. I watched the group grow and I knew this test was going to turn out well.

Vigilante Black Widow group
Six Crosman Black Widows went into 0.923-inches at 5 meters when shot from the Crosman Vigilante.

After shooting this group I adjusted the dot both up and to the left. 

Air Venturi Smart Shot

Next up were six Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs from Air Venturi. We know that these are on the large side for BBs, measuring about 0.173-0.1735-inches in diameter. And they are lead, so we are safer from rebounds than we would be from steel BBs.

Six Smart Shot went into 1.496-inches at 5 meters. Three of them went into the same hole that looks like two BBs instead of three.

Vigilante Smart Shot group
The Vigilante put 6 Smart Shot lead BBs in 1.496-inches at 5 meters.

The trigger

The Vigilante trigger breaks at 5.5 lbs. in the single-action mode. This is a bit too heavy for such a light revolver. Even though I was steadied by the monopod, the dot was dancing all around the bull, and sometimes it was outside.

Marksman BBs

The Marksman BB is a steel BB that we don’t know what to do with. They measure 0.176-inches in diameter, which is super-large for a steel BB. I tried them because the Vigilante has a rifled barrel for lead pellets, so it should be fine with these. And, it is! Six of them went into 0.841-inches at 5 meters. I was impressed!

Vigilante Marksman group
Six Marksman steel BBs went into a group measuring 0.841-inches between centers.

Beeman Perfect Rounds

The next “BB” I tested isn’t really a BB. It was supposed to be shot in rifled pellet guns and H&N made them for Beeman. Perfect Rounds measure 0.176-inches in diameter, like the steel Marksman BBs, but these can take the rifling of the barrel. The Vigilante put them into a group that measures 1.04-inches between centers at 5 meters.

Vigilante Perfect Round group
Six Beeman Perfect Rounds went into 1.04-inches between centers at 5 meters.

After the Perfect Rounds I adjusted the dot up another three or four clicks. The Perfect Rounds landed lower because of their weight, but the Marksman steel BBs had also landed low on the target.

Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision shot

The last different BB I tried was the Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision shot. The Vigilante is shooting so well that you guys would have been after me to try it if I hadn’t. And they were great! Six of them went into 0.907-inches at 5 meters.

Vigilante Avanti Match BBs group
The Vigilante put 6 Daisy Avanti Match Grade Precision BBs into this 0.907-inch group at 5 meters.

This revolver can really shoot — BBs. And that’s my recommendation. Buy the Vigilante for BBs and be pleased that it can also shoot pellets. But it’s perfect for BBs.

Get a good dot sight

And get a dot sight that works! This Reflex Micro Dot is expensive; I understand that. But ASG, Crosman (Centerpoint) and UTG all make less expensive reflex dot sights that should work as well. They may not be as small as the UTG Reflex, which is one of its chief selling points, but these don’t cost more than the Vigilante.

One more time

The Markman BBs were the best thus far, so I fired a second group of them. Now that the sight was adjusted they should go into the bull, or close. Six BBs went into 0.693-inches at 5 meters. It is the smallest group of the test!

Vigilante Marksman BBs group2
The last group of 6 Marksman BBs was the smallest of the test. Group size is 0.693-inches between centers.

Summary

I always wanted to shoot a Crosman 357, and with the Vigilante I feel I have done it. The revolver is red-hot with most BBs and okay with pellets. If a lookalike CO2 revolver is what you want, this is one I recommend.


The Daisy 35: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic
.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Hobby pellets
  • Norma Golden Trophy FT domes
  • Some research
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Discussion
  • Better sights
  • Summary

Today we begin to test the Daisy 35 for accuracy. This test was interesting, so read on to learn why.

The test

I shot the 35 off a sandbag rest at 10 meters with the gun resting directly on the bag. I shot with 8 pumps per shot and I shot 10-shot groups. I think you’ll be glad I did when you see the groups.

I shot with the open sights that came on the gun. And I wore my everyday glasses. Today I shot pellets only.

Sight-in

It took me 5 shots to get on target and even then I wasn’t certain that I was where I wanted to be. You will soon understand what I mean.

RWS Hobby pellets

Because the Daisy 35 is a smoothbore I thought it would be good to try a larger pellet, so the first pellet I shot was also the pellet I used for sighting in — the RWS Hobby. Though they weigh just 7 grains, Hobbys have large skirts.

Ten Hobbys went into 2.205-inches at 10 meters. That sounds bad, I know. And it is when compared to the test I did back in 2013, but that test was in response to an even larger group of Hobbys from the first Daisy 35 I tested back in 2012. At that time ten Hobbys went into a group that was over 3 inches at 10 meters. So, what is the difference between 2012 and 2013? I will reveal that at the end of today’s report.

Hobby group
The Daisy 35 put 10 RWS Hobby pellets into a 2.205-inches at ten meters.

Norma Golden Trophy FT domes

Next I tried some Norma Golden Trophy FT pellets. These domes weigh 8.4 grains and this is the first time I have tested them. Ten of them went into a 2.204-inch group at 10 meters. But that wasn’t all they did.

Five times while shooting this pellet the breech was blown open and only a small part of the air in the reservoir was used. That dropped the pellets that were shot about one inch below the aim point. Of course I didn’t include those shots in the record group. I cocked the airgun and shot off the remaining air and then pumped the gun another 8 times for the next record shot.

At first I thought I was at fault for not closing the breech all the way, but that was not the case. Apparently this pellet develops too much back pressure that the bolt cannot contain. That’s something to keep in mind about the 35; the bolt does not lock in the action the way you think it should. Apparently it is a friction lock that can be overcome with certain pellets. If you’re going to shoot a 35 this is something to watch.

Daisy 35 Norma group
Ten Golden Trophy FT pellets from Norma made this 2.204-inch group at 10 meters when shot from the Daisy 35.

Some research

I went back and read my last two tests of the Daisy 35 in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 I tested a 35 that I got directly from Pyramyd Air. In 2013 I tested a 35 that Joe Murfin, the Vice President of marketing for Daisy sent me. Joe told me that Daisy engineers were getting 5-shot groups of 1.25 to 1.5-inches at 10 meters with the 35. I don’t normally retest an airgun when it doesn’t do well, but so many people seemed interested in this one that I relented. And that gun did shoot some 10-shot groups that were 0.76 to 1.5-inches between centers. The JSB Exact RS pellet shot the smallest group, so I tried it last today.

JSB Exact RS

Still shooting on 8 pumps per shot, ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 2.591-inches between centers at 10 meters. That was the largest group of the test. 

Daisy 35 JSB RS group
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets made this 2.591-inch group at 10 meters.

This was frustrating. This pellet had been the most accurate in my 2013 test and here is was turning in the largest group. But I had a thought. Was the fact that I was wearing my everyday glasses causing a problem? I wore them to see the bullseyes better, but then I couldn’t see the front sight as sharply. I had to find out so I shot a second group while wearing my 1.25 diopter reading glasses.

The first three pellets went into the bullseye, so I thought the effort would be worth testing. This time ten RS pellets went into 2.181-inches. It’s the smallest group of today’s test by a slim margin.

Daisy 35 NormaJSB RS
The second group of JSB RS pellets was shot with reading glasses and is the smallest group of the test.

The RS pellet is so short that I had a lot of trouble loading them. Several flipped around and a couple ended up in the BB hole that feeds from the magazine. I finally got so frustrated that I used the reverse tweezers that fed the pellets better.

Discussion

Okay, I have a lot to say about today’s test. Obviously these were not the results I was hoping for. I put them down to two or three possible causes, and maybe all of them.

First, my aiming was not precise. I see that using the reading glasses improved my last group of RS pellets, though not enough to matter. This is the same pellet that the last Daisy 35 in 2013 put into 0.76-inches.

Second, and I think this is the real reason for today’s results, not every Daisy 35 is equally accurate. I have tested three of them so far and one (2013) was accurate, today’s was mediocre to poor and the first one I tested  in 2012 was dismal.

And third, I’m 73 years old and I may have lost some of my shooting edge. Naturally I don’t like this conclusion, but I have to face facts.

Now, what should we expect of the Daisy 35? Is it enough that it can hit a soda can at 20 feet most of the time? It probably is, BUT — and this is a big but — at what point do we start making comparisons to other airguns in this class — guns like the Crosman 760? You guys do that all the time but I try not to. However, if the test results keep coming out like today, I may have to.

Better sights

Remember a few days ago when I showed you a big improvement in the accuracy of the Crosman Vigilante revolver when the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight was installed? Will that happen here, as well? I don’t know, but I sure want to find out. It’s so important that I believe I will test that next before I test this airgun with BBs.

Summary

Well, this test just took a turn I sure don’t relish. I was hoping to see those smaller groups like we saw in 2013. But that’s why I test. If I do my job things won’t always turn out well. But those results can be just as beneficial as when things do go well. At least we know the score. Stick around because we’re not done yet.


Lookalike airguns: Part One

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

What is a lookalike?
A typical lookalike
Colt held back
They got better
Military or civilian?
I could go on

Today we begin a series on lookalike airguns. I don’t know exactly how long this could be, but I suspect it could be large. I also know that this subject is a favorite for many of you.

What is a lookalike?

A lookalike airgun is one that resembles an iconic firearm. It gives the owner the chance to experience the feeling of ownership and operation while remaining in the safer, less litigious world of airguns.

A typical lookalike

In a moment I will discuss the difference between a military lookalike and a purely civilian one, but let’s begin with a look at a gun that exists in both camps — the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver! The SAA, as it is called, was brought out by Colt as the next step in revolvers from their famous black powder cap and ball handguns. While it wasn’t the last in the line, the Colt 1860 Army is perhaps the best example of an evolved single-action cap and ball revolver. It certainly is the best example of a Colt revolver from that time.

1860 Army
Colt’s 1860 Army revolver was highly advanced for a cap and ball black powder handgun.

When Smith & Wesson patented the revolver cylinder that was through-bored (open all the way through the cylinder) in the 1850s, they allowed the use of cartridge ammunition for the first time. Their first firearm on that patent was the model 1 that was initially chambered for .22 rimfire. It came to market in 1857 — just in time for the American Civil War. The cartridge it was chambered for was just called a .22 rimfire, but as that cartridge line evolved in the latter 1800s, it became known as the .22 short.

S&W mod 1
Smith & Wesson’s model 1 came out in 1857 and lasted until 1882. It was chambered for what we now call the .22 short cartridge.

The model 1 was very popular as a backup gun by Northern troops in the Civil War. It didn’t have much power — perhaps 25 foot-pounds or so, but it was better than nothing.

Colt held back

The bored-through cylinder was patented by a former Colt employee, Rollin White. Why he didn’t try to sell the idea to Colt first we may never know, and maybe he did. Smith & Wesson pounced on it and paid White a royalty of 25 cents per gun, which was a huge sum for the day. But they also agreed he would defend the patent and doing that eventually ruined him, financially.

Colt couldn’t make cartridge revolvers as a result of the S&W patent, so they made variations on their 1860 model until the patent on the bored-through cylinder ran out in 1872. Then they brought out their ubiquitous 1873 SAA that is still in production by many manufacturers today.

Colt SAA
Colt Single Action Army. This one was a gift to BB from the readers of this blog, following his 3.5-month hospital stay in 2010. It was not made by Colt, but it is a very accurate copy of that firearm and is chambered in .45 Colt. Reader Kevin was the focal point for this gift!

If you grew up in the 1950s and the early ’60s like BB, you watched westerns on television. Two of my cats were named Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, after two western stars of the time. Their real names were Leonard Franklin Slye and Frances Octavia Smith.

I idolized all things cowboy and so when Crosman brought out the .22-caliber  SA-6 (single action six) pellet revolver in 1959, I bought one with my paper route money. 

Crosman SA-6
Crosman-SA-6.

I didn’t have a holster for that revolver and, since holsters cost money, I carried the SA-6 in my right front pants pocket — a practice that was common in my day and also one that I do not recommend. I loved that .22 caliber pellet pistol. One day while “hunting” in the woods around the Cuyahoga River in Stow, Ohio, a rabbit jumped out of the weeds and frightened me. When my “cool” returned several seconds later I calmly drew my pellet pistol and fanned off 6 quick shots into the weeds where the rabbit had gone 5 seconds before, earning the nickname, “Fanner 50” from my friend who was with me. For readers less than 60 years old, a Fanner 50 was a very popular cap gun of the day.

They got better

So the SA-6 was an early attempt at a lookalike SAA. The CO2 cartridge hid beneath the barrel, covered by a black plastic sheath that camouflaged it very well. But things would get better.

In the late 1990s I was at the home of Wulf Pflaumer’s sister in Maryland. Wulf is one of the two founders of Umarex. We were discussing the lever action rifle he was about to bring out and I told him that a realistic SAA would also be a hit. He told me they wanted to make one but the revolver’s grip frame was too short to allow a 12-gram CO2 cartridge to fit inside. I told him to try the Colt 1860 Army grip frame. It is 1/2-inch longer and the outlaw, Dakota, at Frontier Village amusement park where I worked in college had put one on his SAA because the SAA grip was too short for him. The 1860 grip frame fit a 12-gram cartridge perfectly and almost no one notices the difference. The rest is history.

A couple years later Umarex brought out the Colt SAA in both pellet and BB gun versions and they have now produced almost every variation of that firearm except for some reason the 4-3/4-inch barrel version that many shooters have asked for. Bat Masterson carried a 4-3/4-inch SAA, as did many gunfighters, because it cleared the holster quicker and was therefore faster to draw.

Umarex SAA
The first Umarex SAA was very realistic, as have been all that followed.

Military or civilian?

I said I would return to this topic. The Colt SAA we have been discussing is both. It was first purchased by the military, but civilian sales soon surged past what the military bought. The SAA is so ergonomic that, until the German P08 Luger pistol came around, it was the long pole in the tent. And it’s still one of the most desired, and most recognized handguns of all time.

There are things about military firearms that make them attractive to shooters. Strength, design and robustness are all main factors, but history trumps everything. No one who has ever held and fired an M1 Garand would think of it as an attractive weapon, but Japan, who was an enemy of the US during WW II, thought enough of it to create 250 close copies for study. Called the Type 4 rifle (and sometimes the type 5), it was homage to the American rifle that so dominated our military campaigns in the latter half of the war.

That addresses why we have military lookalike airguns, though I probably have more than one more report to do on just them, but what about civilian firearm lookalikes? Are there any of them? There certainly are. I won’t get into them deeply this late in today’s report, but for starters, don’t forget the Crosman 38C and 38T revolvers.

And this I will also say, though I call them civilian firearms, the military buys oneseys and twoseys of just about anything. Just because Sergeant So-And-So carried one on the flight line at Da Nang doesn’t make it a military firearm. I’m talking about firearms the military officially adopted — not something Private Ryan carried in his combat boot.

38-T
Crosman’s 38-T from the 1970s was a replica of S&W’s purely civilian (and law enforcement) revolvers.

I could go on

And I plan to. The world of airgun lookalike/replica guns is both a hot topic at any time and red-hot today. Even though this report is in the history section, we are still living in the heyday of lookalike airguns.


The Daisy 35: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic.

This report covers:

  • What’s different?
  • Smoothbore
  • Lightweight and easy to pump
  • Third time with the 35
  • The gun
  • Sights
  • Synthetics
  • Solid
  • Summary

Today I have a different airgun to look at — the Daisy 35. It’s a .177-caliber smoothbore multi-pump pneumatic that sells at a very competitive price. It shoots both BBs and pellets and we are going to give it a thorough examination!

What’s different?

The model 35 came out in 2011. It coexists with Daisy’s iconic model 880. Yes, it is a few dollars cheaper, but that’s not what it has going for it. Today as we look at the airgun we will examine some of the reasons the 35 exists.

Smoothbore

For starters the 35 is not rifled. This is a real BB gun — not an air rifle. Now — does the lack of rifling also mean that it’s inaccurate? Not necessarily, at least not at close range. We have seen smoothbore airguns put ten pellets into very tight groups at 10 meters, and that’s the distance at which this little airgun thrives. Call it 25-35 feet. The box says it’s for older kids, 16 and up, but that is because of the power. The velocity puts the 35 in Daisy’s Powerline range, which is a range slated for older youth. The Pyramyd Air website says the Daisy 35 can push a 5.1-grain steel BB out at up to 625 f.p.s. but Daisy says 690 f.p.s. on the box.  Naturally I will test this for you.

Lightweight and easy to pump

The reviews say it’s good for younger kids, and I concur with that. The 35 weighs 2.25 lbs., according to the Pyramyd Air description.  I put the test gun on my kitchen scale and recorded 2 lbs. 7.8 oz, which is closer to 2.5 lbs. That’s still light, no matter how you look at it.

The pump handle and the pump rod are the short stroke kind, unlike those same parts on the Daisy 880. Yet as short as the pump linkage is, it’s also quite easy to pump. In fact that is one of the things most reviewers comment on.

Daisy 35 pump handle
The pump handle is short, but the gun pumps easily.

The 35 has a pump range of 3 to 10 strokes. Do not exceed 10 pumps as nothing is gained and parts of the pump linkage are strained by too much stress.

Naturally younger kids need adult supervision when shooting an airgun of any kind, but the Daisy 35 is one that’s made for them. Yet, with a pull of 13-inches, it’s not uncomfortable for an adult.

Third time with the 35

I tested the Daisy 35 back in 2011-2012, right after it first came out. I got lousy groups in that first 3-part test, but Daisy contacted me after one of our readers told them he was getting far better accuracy than I did in my test. In those days Daisy was quite proactive and I was contacted by their Vice President of marketing, Joe Murfin, who asked me to try the accuracy test again. I did test the 35 for accuracy again, in March of 2013, and I did get markedly better groups this time. I also learned what works best with the 35, and I will pass that along to you in this report.

Additionally in that second test, I learned that the 35’s ultra-small loading trough often causes pellets to flip around backwards as they are rolled in. That can be a source of accuracy problems. Fortunately one of our readers recently told me about cross-locking reverse tweezers that will hold pellets in tight places, so I am set up well for testing this 35.

Daisy 35 loading trough
The loading trough is very small. BBs load from the magazine via a magnet on the bolt, but pellets must be loaded singly, one at a time. I will use cross-locking tweezers for this.

And finally I discovered that a Daisy 35 does best with premium pellets, just like any other airgun. I had originally tested the first 35 with cheap pellets, but in the second test I selected premium pellets that reduced the group size by more than half. Based on all of this I would say that I am fully prepared to give this Daisy 35 a fair and honest test.

The gun

The Daisy 35 is a lightweight multi-pump pneumatic  that shoots either BBs or pellets. When shooting steel BBs the 35 is a 50-shot repeater. I emphasize steel BBs because there is a magnet on the bolt tip that pulls the next BB out of the magazine and holds it on the bolt tip for loading and firing. Obviously the BB has to be ferrous for this to work. I plan to test the gun with Smart Shot, but they will have to be loaded singly like lead pellets.

Sights

There are no fiberoptics on the sights! I believe this is a cost consideration but it does make for a nicer set of open sights.

And the sights are fully adjustable within a small range. Elevation is by a stepped ramp and windage is by a sliding rear notch.

Daisy 35 rear sight
The Daisy 35 rear sight adjusts in both directions. See what a little thought can do for very little money?

Synthetics

The airgun is largely synthetic on the outside. The barrel has a tapered outer steel shell wrapped around a synthetic interior, inside of which a thin soda-straw steel barrel rests.

Solid

I was surprised to see how many reviews of the gun said it is surprisingly solid and well-made. I have to agree with that assessment. As lightweight as it is you would think that it feels like a toy, but when it fires it seems quite substantial. I know this is just Part One and there’s still a lot of testing to go, but I have already pumped the gun and shot it several times.

Summary

What we have in the Daisy 35 is a solid little youth airgun that’s affordable and substantial. I plan to see just how great a value this little airgun is. Stay tuned!


Mondial Oklahoma spring-piston pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Oklahoma
The Mondial Oklahoma pistol.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Blue Book got it wrong
  • Several models
  • Two finishes
  • Many are boxed
  • Strange construction
  • Breakbarrel
  • Soda straw barrel
  • Breech seal
  • Markings
  • Sights
  • Summary

Today we begin looking at a strange air pistol that has a lot of interesting quirks. Do you readers like interesting quirks? Ha! Does an elephant like peanuts? This is the Oklahoma from Mondial. Mondial is the trade name of Italian manufacturer Modesto Molgora of Milan.

Blue Book got it wrong

First I note that the Blue Book of Airguns lists this pistol as having a rifled barrel. Well, the one I am testing certainly doesn’t. One of two thing are possible. Either the smoothbore I have is a variation that the Blue Book is not currently aware of or they got it completely wrong and all Oklahoma pistols are smoothbore. If you own an Oklahoma pistol would you please examine the bore to see whether it is rifled?

I went online to research this pistol and found very little information. Most listings mention the rifled barrel in such a way that they seem to have copied what’s in the Blue Book or some other reference. I see that a lot online. Why would anybody mention a rifled barrel, when a smoothbore would be the exception? Yes, there are many smoothbore airguns but why go to the trouble of mentioning a rifled barrel when most airguns have them?

John Walter’s books that are four editions titled, The Airgun Book, aren’t really certain whether the barrel is rifled or not. There is a question mark after the number of lands and the rifling direction in one of the editions. So they don’t know. But BB knows. This one isn’t rifled.

Several models

Mondial made several air pistols besides the Oklahoma we are examining today. One was called the Oklahoma N.T. That one has a hooded front sight, though the rear sight is fixed, so the hood really adds nothing. Another is called the ZIP and it has an adjustable rear sight located back on the rear of the spring tube. And one more pistol is the CO2-powered Roger that was the foundation for the Daisy model 100 pistol that later became the Wamo Powermaster .22 rimfire pistol.

Mondial also made a couple breakbarrel rifles, the Carabina and the York. They also made an underlever BB repeater they called the Condor.

Two finishes

I have found two different finishes for the Oklahoma — blued and nickel. Many would call it chrome, but chrome is very rare on an airgun or a firearm. Nickel is more durable than most chrome-plating, making it the general plating metal of choice for firearms and airguns. Unless you have the two materials side-by-side it’s difficult to differentiate, but when held next to chrome you will see that nickel plating has a slight golden cast, while chrome is just silver.

The pistol I bought to test is nickel-plated and has no box, because I got it from a generous friend of this blog who sold it to me for a very good price. The grip panels are reddish-brown plastic and are held to the gun with two screws that pass through the gun and have hex nuts inset into the right grip panel. I have more to say about that in a moment.

Oklahoma grip nut
The grip screws are held in by a nut on the right side. It doesn’t look like a hex nut in this photo…

Oklahoma nut
…so I pushed it out to see it better.

Many are boxed

When I looked for a pistol to test for you, most of the ones I saw were offered in the box. According to the printing on the box (and my best version of Google translate for Italian) they came with both pellets and BBs, which underscores the smooth bore. One I found on eBay had an original price sticker on the box marked $7.95. The Blue Book puts the start of this pistol sometime in the 1960s but gives a definite end date of 1988. The John Walters Airgun books agree with the start time and give no ending date.

Strange construction

The pistol is made from two non-ferrous metal frame pieces that are held together by screws and hex nuts all around the frame. Besides the two in the grips I count another four, for a total of six. If they were all removed it appears the pistol would come apart. And there would be pieces held on pins inside and BB Pelletier would scatter them around, so don’t ask! 

Oklahoma frame nut
The entire pistol is held together with screws and nuts like this.

Breakbarrel

The Oklahoma is a breakbarrel with a spring-loaded barrel lock. Push it back to release the barrel for cocking.

Oklahoma barrel lock
That lever hanging down is a spring-loaded barrel lock.

Oklahoma barrel lock released
Push the lock back and the barrel is released for cocking.

Soda straw barrel

The barrel is a thin tube that we call a “soda straw” barrel. These are usually rifled barrels, but as I said, this one is a smoothbore. It must have been cheaper to make it this way, because the barrel looks to be pressed into a solid outer jacket.

Oklahoma muzzle
The actual barrel is a thin tube inside an outer jacket. Neither the tube nor the jacket is ferrous.

Breech seal

The breech seal is located on the end of the frame rather than around the breech, where there is no room. It appears to be made of some rubbery synthetic that is still in good condition after no less than 33 years and possibly more than 50.

Oklahoma breech seal
The breech seal is in the frame.

Markings

The maker’s name and logo are on the right side of the frame, along with Made In Italy and Olio, around the oil hole.

Oklahoma logo
Yep — it was made in Italy all right!

Oklahoma name
The name of the pistol and the caliber are on the left side.

Sights

The sights are fixed and both the front and rear sight are attached to the barrel. Given the thickness of the breech seal, it seems the makers were concerned about barrel alignment issues. That plus the barrel lock tells me that the designers of this airgun really cared about making a quality product. It may have been inexpensive but in no way was it cheap. Somebody was doing their best within an envelope of cost constraints. Which makes the smoothbore barrel all the more strange.

Guys — I’m telling you all that I know and all that I have been able to find out about this quirky air pistol. Given the huge reach of this blog I am hoping someone can add a few more things to further our knowledge. I would especially like to know whether there really is an Oklahoma like this one that has a rifled barrel.

Summary

I’ve been a serious airgunner (as in paying attention to what is going on, over and above just shooting and enjoying the guns) since starting The Airgun Letter in 1994. Since then I have seen Oklahoma pistols at several airgun shows but never have I taken the plunge. I did it now just to expand my horizons, as well as yours. 

There isn’t very much written about this air pistol — at least not in the English language. Much of what is written seems to be guesswork, though Walter’s books do have some solid facts about the companies involved and the models of the guns. This one should be interesting.


Pellet and bullet traps

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Trap substitutes
  • Earth berm
  • Why do I say “however?”
  • Distance
  • A bullet trap
  • Why?
  • Complaints
  • No BB trap!
  • Buy once, enjoy for a lifetime

Every airgunner needs a pellet trap — period. If you shoot indoors like I do, a trap is so essential that I just ordered my second one. My first one I have owned for 28 years and it has withstood almost a million shots, including shots from big bore airguns that approached 200 foot-pounds and lots of .22 rimfire rounds.

Trap substitutes

If you only shoot outdoors, here are a couple things that substitute for a trap.

An earth berm
Distance

Let’s talk about both of those.

Earth berm

Packed earth is the best way to stop bullets and pellets. It has been used for centuries and rifle ranges that are constructed today still use it. However, it has to be packed earth!

Why do I say “however?”

The M1 Carbine remains one of the most aggressive firearm development and production programs mankind has ever undertaken. Over six million carbines were produced in just 38 months during World War II, when severe rationing was in place.

One of the ten prime contractors, Standard Products, had an indoor test range in their factory to test the functioning of the completed firearms. Remember — they were producing hundreds of carbines each day!

Their bullet trap was constructed of 10 feet of wet sand that was backed by a concrete wall.  I’m sure they felt it was overkill for stopping a carbine bullet. However, soon after the range was opened, a night watchman outdoors saw bullets exiting the wall of the building and ricocheting off a fence outside, next to the street. He went inside and stopped a group of enthusiastic Standard Products employees shooting carbines after hours. When they investigated, they discovered it had only taken a relatively small number of shots to eat through the ten feet of wet sand and then through the concrete wall behind it. Shots that hit in the same place repeatedly can eat through many materials, regardless of their thickness, and when shooting at a target you tend to hit in the same place.

An earth berm, in contrast, is constructed outdoors of packed earth. If it rains the earth gets wet. But no artificial plan of wetting it is needed. I say packed earth because if the dirt is just piled up in a heap, it won’t stop bullets well. My gun range has a new berm that we had to stop using because the bullets ate through it in one year. Every several years the other berms have to have more dirt piled on them and then packed down by a front-loader.

Distance

The other great outdoor bullet trap is distance. In Las Vegas there is a rifle range that is good for everything up to and including the .50 caliber  Browning machine gun (BMG). That’s because there is nothing for 20 miles behind the targets that are placed out to 1,000 yards and even farther. There are no roads, trails or any human habitation.

In Germany, where land is at a premium, there is a tank range called Grafenwoehr that is roughly shaped like a huge cough drop, though all the dimensions are in kilometers. In the 1930s the Nazis evicted thousands of people from some 35 villages to expand a small artillery base into the monster it has become. And the ranges all shoot from the perimeter in toward the center. At Grafenwoehr the huge distances are combined with selected earth berms, to include one hill that’s large enough to be classified as a mountain. That’s for stopping the long rod penetrator from a tank sabot round.

A bullet trap

But you don’t have miles ands miles of nothing in your back yard. In fact, you have neighbors. Or you shoot inside the house and there are no earth berms there. What do you do then?

You get a .22 bullet trap — that’s what you do! Yes you can make all sorts of traps to stop pellets and I have even written several reports about that very thing, but bottom line, a .22 bullet trap is your very best bet. Like I said, mine is more than 20 years old with half a million pellets and bullets and it’s still in great shape.

Why?

Why am I telling you this? Most of you know it already, though some are still struggling with boxes filled with rags and old phone books (that are getting increasingly hard to find!). Let me tell you a little story.

Next week I will be writing Part 5 about reloading .22 rimfire cartridges. And I had to test the results of my work, which will be in Part 6. I have a silent pellet trap in my office that I have used for 12 years when I test velocity, but I would now potentially be shooting it with 100+ foot-pound projectiles, and was my little pellet trap really up to it? I thought not, so I dragged my heavy steel .22 bullet trap from the garage into my office and while doing that I wondered whether a second bullet trap was something I might use.

I went on the Pyramyd Air website and looked at their bullet traps. Wow! The Champion Heavy Duty Metal Trap that is identical to my obsolete Outers bullet trap now sells for $76. And used Outers traps on eBay sell for $100 and up. I remember balking at paying $48 back in 1993 for my trap when I started The Airgun Letter. Ouch! Well, the times have changed and things cost more in 2021 than they did in 1993, which was 28 years ago. Has it been that long? Be careful, or I will break into strains of, Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof.

Complaints

Well, I did want the additional trap to make things more convenient, so I looked at the customer reviews for the Champion trap. There were 102 of them. When I read the reviews I like to read the worst reviews first, and I look for common complaints. When I look at the great reviews I’ll be watching for kinder comments that support those complaints. Here is what I saw as the chef complaint for the Champion trap. It is from the only 3-star review, which was the lowest.

“The pellets bounce back out of the trap.”

That was it. One complaint. Well, duhh! Every bullet trap that doesn’t cost a fortune has that problem. Sure you can buy a snail trap from Savage (go to Savage range systems) for as little as $590.00 and not have that problem. Or the Bullet Bunker for plinkers is a rubber trap for .22 rimfires that only costs $764.00. Pardon me but when I pay that kind of money I want to get a new stove or a water heater — not a pellet trap!

I have been cleaning up lead dust and shattered pellets from in front of my Outers metal bullet trap for 28 years because I was too stupid to know that some fraction of the pellets and bullets aren’t supposed to bounce back out. Why didn’t “they” design it right?

Oh, there was one other complaint from someone who gave it 4 stars. I’ll let him tell you what it is.

“Stand back if you’re going to use this for BB guns. Mine hasn’t trapped a single BB yet. I shoot my CO2 BB pistol from 15 feet, and I have had BBs sail back past me. So far every BB I have fired at it are somewhere on my basement floor. I’m going to try placing shims under the back of the trap to see if I can find an angle that will work better for the BBs. They don’t come out with enough force to be dangerous, for the most part, so I still recommend this to the indoor shooters out there.”

Does anybody read this blog anymore? How many times have I told you to NEVER shoot steel BBs into a bullet trap (please, Siraniko — this is not a test.)? We call the Champion a pellet trap because Pyramyd Air sells pellet guns, but in truth it was made to stop .22 rimfire bullets and Pyramyd Air doesn’t even call it a pellet trap on their website. It’s a bullet trap that works well for pellets. But it ain’t no BB trap!

No BB trap!

Today’s report is not about BB traps. If that is what you want here is a blog that tells how to make one. If you would rather buy one, I recommend the Air Venturi Quiet Pellet Trap with a steel backstop. You will be buying the same thing that I show you how to build in the other report. There is a Quiet Pellet Trap for ten dollars less that has no steel backstop, but I prefer the insurance of the steel. I have a hole in my office closet door that was put there by a 30 foot-pound pellet rifle that shot pellets in the same place ten times and blasted through a 2-inch layer of Impact Putty and then a cookie sheet backstop. Get the steel! I retired that pellet trap and went to a much stronger one that has thick steel plates inside — see Stop that pellet! But when shooting .22 long rifle rounds I wanted a wider trap to preclude any small aiming errors. So I used the steep bullet trap and decided to switch to it for everything except BBs.

Buy once, enjoy for a lifetime

Stuff like a bullet trap isn’t at the center of what we do. We want to see the latest pellet rifle or perhaps some vintage BB gun. We will sometimes tolerate an accessory like a scope, a chronograph or a dot sight. Well, bullet traps are like washing machines. You don’t sit and stare at them for hours like a flat screen TV, but when you need them that TV will not suffice. When was the last time you proudly showed off your hot water heater to your best friend? But I bet you like a hot shower!