Why “they” can’t do what “they” ought to

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • NightStalker
  • Velocity?
  • Why did “they” drop it?
  • They built it before
  • What about the Crosman 600?
  • Would a new Crosman 600 sell today?
  • Summary

Today started out as one thing and quickly transitioned into another. I wanted to write a Part 5 to the Daisy 35 report. It was time for a test with BBs. But last week I shipped all the airguns I’ve tested for the past several years back to Pyramyd Air and unfortunately the Daisy 35 was among them. I’m sorry, but it was a busy week and that one slipped past me.

So then I wanted to run the test of bedding the IZH MP532. I shot a “before” group using my old glasses, but then I discovered that the bedding that needs to be corrected is not as straightforward as it seemed. I want to do that work under the watchful eye of my neighbor, Denny. We conferred this morning but the work will have to be done later.

NightStalker

While searching for the Daisy 35 my eyes fell on a Crosman NightStalker that is standing in the corner of my closet.

NightStalker
Crosman NightStalker.

The NightStalker is a 12-shot semiautomatic carbine-sized pellet rifle that uses an 88-gram AirSource CO2 cartridge. It was launched in November of 2005 and lasted through 2007, so not that long. The cartridge fits in the butt and gives the all-synthetic gun some weight. 

Velocity?

I don’t have velocity numbers for you but I think it would be in the same range as the Crosman 1077, which is to say somewhere in the mid 500s with 7.9-grain Premier domes.

NightStalker butt
An 88-gram CO2 cartridge fits inside the butt and gives over 300 shots at maybe something in the mid 500 f.p.s. range.

The gun has real blowback that does cock the hammer on every shot, but Crosman elected not to allow the clip to advance to the next chamber. So, unlike the Crosman 600 that has an incredibly light trigger pull, the pull on the NightStalker is heavier and the blade moves through some distance as the clip rotates. The trigger breaks at about 7 pounds on my gun.

But this is a 12-shot semiautomatic! And surely something could be done to lighten the trigger by half. At least that would be my vote.

NightStalker clip
The NighStalker used this 12-shot circular clip.

NightStalker clip installed
The NightStalker clip slips into the receiver and then the trigger advances it one chamber at a time.

Immediately I thought of contacting Ed Schultz to tell him that Crosman ought to bring back the NightStalker. Well, they may (and I am not saying that I know they will) but, and this is a really big but, if they were to bring it back it would be like creating an all new airgun.

Why did “they” drop it?

Why does any company stop production of anything? Well, the answer isn’t always as simple and straightforward as you might think. You might think that the sales were not high enough, and that might be the case, but not high enough for what? What if Crosman placed the NightStalker under the management of someone responsible for sales of guns to large discount stores — maybe the same person who was also responsible for the 760? Well, the 760 probably sold for $29 at that time and the NightStalker was priced at $200. You can’t sell as many airguns for $200 as you can for $29, and the manager would have noticed that right away.

Also the NightStalker is a semiautomatic, where the 760 is a multi-pump, so the level of complexity for the semiauto is much higher than for the single shot. It’s so much higher that, regardless of the price, it may be too complex for a typical discount store buyer.

I am not saying this is what happened and that it was the reason Crosman dropped the NightStalker. Maybe someone who was the NightStalker’s champion left the company and his replacement didn’t care for it. Or perhaps some of the folks who were old-timers in the company wanted it gone.

It could have been any of those reasons or others we don’t know about. Whatever the reason, the NightStalker was dropped from the line just two years after it was launched. But Crosman built the gun. Surely they could do it again if they wanted to?

They built it before

Why wouldn’t it be easy for Crosman to build the NightStalker today? They were still making it as recently as 2007. Why couldn’t they just build it again? Well, let’s see — why can’t Ford build the Model A again? Not that they would want to, but Ford is in no position to build the Model A in 2021. They don’t have the tooling, the metal or any of the parts they need. Maybe if they wanted to they could fabricate a good copy, but it would just be a one-off. They couldn’t produce Model As, even if they wanted to.

I chose the Model A to illustrate the difficulty of the problem. It’s so old and obsolete that it’s easy to see why it couldn’t be manufactured today. If I chose a car that was closer to a model of today people might think it would be easier for Ford, and in some respects it would be. Materials for a near-term obsolete car would be easier to come by than the metal for a Model A. But the tooling and machine settings would have to be redone from scratch, just like they were back in the day.

What about the Crosman 600?

Why am I going on about the NightStalker? I am because it was a real semiautomatic pellet gun — just like the older Crosman 600 that many airgunners love.

Crosman 600
Crosman 600.

The Crosman 600 is a .22-caliber 10-shot semiautomatic air pistol that feeds from a linear magazine located on the left side of the receiver. Because of how it fed it was a little pellet picky, but it still functioned with a lot of domed pellets and even some wadcutters. The trigger was superb, releasing at less than one pound with reasonable crispness.

The 600 is such a good pellet pistol that they sell for high prices today. Anyone who has shot one wants to own one. But could Crosman make a 600 today? They could if they were willing to reverse engineer it and start from scratch, but it is not a matter of dusting off the blueprints. It would be a ground-up design. And the generations of machines used to make airguns have changed twice in the time since the 600 left the range.

Would a new Crosman 600 sell today?

Forget the 1965 price tag. How about somewhere around $250 today? The same guys who complained about them when they were $19.95 (and I was one who did) would complain about them today.

And what about that light trigger? It certainly isn’t going to pass legal muster today. So, as much as I would like to see the Crosman 600 come back, I don’t expect to ever see one new again. The model name might be recycled, but the design — never.

Even the NightStalker would challenge Crosman today, though it would be less of a problem than the 600. Some of the machines that made a NightStalker have gone away, too, and remaking it would present a new set of challenges. So I won’t be calling Ed Schultz with a, “What you outta do.” message anytime soon.

But a true semiautomatic airgun that is accurate and has a good trigger would sell, if the price was reasonable. Crosman calls the 1077 a semiauto, but shooters know different. My advice to the company would be to do it right if you plan to do it at all. Give us true semiauto feeding, a good trigger and accuracy. Don’t let the lawyers talk you into compromising in any of those three areas. The price can be a place to fudge if you have to, but give us the rest of it or forget the whole deal.

One last note. It appears that Sig is about to end production of the ASP20 rifle, if they haven’t already. Six months after that they wouldn’t be able to restart the line without a significant investment of time and money. So love ’em while they last. And with some companies like Weihrauch and AirForce, that can be a very long time.

Summary

We sometimes think that if a company manufactures airguns they can make anything. But AirForce can’t make a 1077 without breaking their manufacturing model, and Crosman would turn themselves inside-out to produce a TalonSS. The iconic airguns of the past are just as hard for the companies to make as they are for other companies who don’t compete in the same market.

Why do I tell you all of this? Well, I’m really telling myself, because when I saw that NightStalker in my closet I was about to call Ed.


Crosman 38T Target revolver: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Grips & tips
Part 4
Resealing the Crosman 38T revolver: Part 5

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • No description
  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • The grip
  • Velocity drops
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Meisterkugeln
  • Discharge sound
  • Double action
  • Summary

Today we are going to look at the velocity of the .22-caliber Crosman 38T that reader 45Bravo resealed. This report should be interesting because we saw the reseal and now we get to see what it did. 45Bravo did test it after he finished, of course, but he held off telling you so I could write this test. 

No description

I’m not describing the revolver because it is identical to the .177 version that we saw in Part 1. And we saw a lot more of it when it was apart for the resealing. Let’s get right to the test.

The test

I shot 6 shots for the record. That’s because 6 is the number the revolver accepts when you load it. Also, this one may not get a lot of shots per CO2 cartridge. The first three tests will be fired single-action.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They are the lightest lead pellet I have and I wanted to know just how fast this revolver would shoot. But when I saw 389 f.p.s. on the first shot I was amazed! But the next shot was 343 and the one after that was 329 f.p.s. When shot 4 was also 329 I knew the pistol had settled down after receiving a fresh CO2 cartridge. The first couple shots on a fresh cartridge are usually much faster, because liquid CO2 gets into the valve where it flashes to gas and boosts the velocity. After that the gun settles down and starts to become consistent. So I dropped the first two shots and recorded the next ones. However there was a problem.

The Hobby pellets had tremendous difficulty loading. They wanted to turn sideways in the loading trough after they dropped in. So to get all six shots for the velocity I had to fire 12 shots.

The average velocity, once the gun had settled down, was 328 f.p.s. The range was from 320 to 335 f.p.s., so a spread of 15 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Hobby generates 2.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The grip

I noticed that the left grip that was repaired  kept partially separating from the pistol. It wasn’t much and a squeeze would click it back in place. But it kept happening, so I had to keep an eye on it.

Velocity drops

As the gun is fired the velocity drops in the same way we have seen with some other CO2 guns. I found it best to wait 15 seconds between shots for the velocity test.

JSB Exact RS

Next to be tested were JSB Exact domes. They weigh 13.43 grains so they should be slower than Hobbys, which they were. Six averaged 311 f.p.s. That made the muzzle energy 2.89 foot-pounds. The low was 305 and the high was 322 f.p.s.

These pellets loaded perfectly, though the first one had to be smacked into the chamber a second time. But they loaded perfectly and will be a pleasure to shoot.

RWS Meisterkugeln

The RWS Meisterkugeln wadcutter was the last pellet I tested. At 14.2 grains you know it’s going to shoot a little slower. But not that much. The average for six shots was 306 f.p.s. and the spread ranged from 299 to 314 f.p.s.

This wadcutter also loaded perfectly. And they all went into the chambers of the cylinder like they were made for it.

Discharge sound

In Part 2 I tested the discharge of the .177 revolver and got 100.4 dB. This time the discharge sounded quieter, so I tested it. It was 96 dB, so I guess that’s enough to tell the difference. Remember, the last time I tested the discharge was about a month ago.

38T discharge

Double action

At this point in the test the gun  had been fired 25 times. Now I loaded 6 Hobbys and tested them in the double action mode, waiting 30 seconds between shots. They were just as difficult to load as before, so that wasn’t imagined. Three shots were lost in this test. Six shots averaged 291 f.p.s., with a low of 273 and a high of 313 f.p.s. So the pressure was definitely falling off. That’s a shot count of 34 shots on a cartridge. I need to know that for the accuracy test that’s yet to come.

Summary

Well, the .22 revolver is performing well after the reseal. But I think it goes through gas much faster than the .177. I’d like to hear from readers about their experiences with these revolvers.

Accuracy testing is next, and from what I have heard the 38T in .22 is quite accurate. We shall see!


Resealing the Crosman 38T target revolver: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Grips & tips
Part 4

History of airguns

Today we have another guest blog by reader Ian McKee who we call 45Bravo. He shows us how to reseal a Crosman 38T revolver. The revolver he reseals is the same .22 that I am about to test for you and also the same gun whose grips he fixed for us, so I linked to all the previous Crosman 38T links, because this is a large series.

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

Take it away, 45Bravo.

Resealing the Crosman 38T target revolver

Resealing the Crosman 38TThis report covers:

This report covers:

  • Start
  • Disassembly
  • The seal kit
  • The piercing assembly
  • The tube assembly
  • The valve group
  • Assembly
  • Hammer and trigger assembly
  • The valve group
  • The barrel and shroud

The 38T is a vintage all-metal (except the grips, rear sight, and the rotating pellet cylinder) CO2 replica revolver that closely mirrors the lines and grip of a 1980’s Smith & Wesson revolver. 

In the firearm world, most revolvers are considered a simple design, and they do have relatively few parts.  But when you make a airgun replica of a firearm, you have to work within the envelope (profile and dimensions) of the original. 

That means you have to get creative with your engineering and layout as to where you can place your necessary components such as the CO2 cartridge, the valve, and the way to feed the intended projectiles. Typically, on a piece-by-piece count, an airgun will have more internal parts than its firearm twin. Today we look at such an animal.  

I apologize in advance that it is a long blog, but there are a lot of steps to cover.

Start

Start by removing the grips, the right grip is held in place by 2 screws, the shorter one of the 2 goes in the top of the grip, the longer screw goes in the bottom. The left grip is held in place by a spring clip that attaches to the CO2 cartridge, so the grip will not stay in place unless a CO2 cartridge is in the gun.  Remove the left grip, and then unscrew the CO2 cartridge piercing screw, and remove the cartridge.

TIP:  I would suggest leaving a cartridge in the gun, but not pressed into the CO2 face seal. Just tight enough to hold the grip in place.  You sometimes see these pistols listed for sale without the left grip as it has become lost over the years. 

These grips are thin, and tend to break and crack around the alignment pins and also where the CO2 clip is attached. The gun I’m resealing had those issues, and the repair has been covered in the GRIPS & TIPS BLOG.

Phase 2 parts

Disassembly

Included with this blog, are a few different exploded views of the pistol, please use them to guide you in removing the parts, which I will list as we go. 

The above parts diagram is for a Phase II gun, which is what I am working on, so the part numbers will match. There are a few differences in this gun from a Phase I gun, but the differences are minor. I will include a Phase 1 parts diagram at the end of the blog for those that have the earlier gun. I believe the Phase 3 guns will have the same parts as the Phase 2 guns.

Start by loosening the rear sight elevation screw 2 turns to relieve tension.

Remove the outer barrel shroud by removing the single screw that is under the barrel in the end of ejector shroud (140-013), then with a slight wiggle, slide the outer shroud off of the barrel. 

There are 5 screws on the left side of the gun, that hold the cover in place. They are all the same length, and it does not matter which hole they go into when the gun is assembled. 

Slowly lift the left side cover, there is only 1 spring that will want to pop out (38A083), and it is the spring that pushes the sliding loading gate into its forward position.  The spring is relatively weak, and not under much tension.  

38T cover off
Here are your thousand words. 

Remove the sliding pellet loader (38A042) and spring (38A083) from its tray. 

Using tweezers, remove the sear spring (38-039) and spring guide (38-089) that is behind the sear (38-040) near the rear of the trigger. 

Next, remove the detent ball (38-064) and spring (600-079) that are in the front of the gun, right below the base pin that the pellet cylinder rotates on. 

Remove the hammer spring (38-B038). It is a long flat spring that goes from the bottom of the grip to the hammer. Use needle-nosed pliers to remove this spring by lifting the bottom straight up out of its resting place. It is not under much tension. 

Depending on which phase your pistol is, there MAY be a small ball detent that is under the rear sight elevation screw, be careful not to lose it if yours has one. You may remove the rear sight and spring now, but it is not necessary for the reseal, or you may cover it with masking tape to hold it in place while working on the gun — your choice. 

You will see a large flat lever assembly (38A054) that goes from the trigger to the front of the gun. On the right side is a small roller (38-125) that is in a raceway, remove this roller. 

Congratulations! You have now removed all of the springy bits that are likely to take flight easily.  

Place your hand over the exposed components, turn the revolver over and remove the valve body screw (150-013) from the false “cylinder” on the right side of the gun.

Turn the gun back over, unscrew the base pin (38-127) on which the cylinder rotates. 

Now remove the pellet cylinder (38-107), the entire valve assembly (38-073), and lever assembly (32A054) all at the same time and set them aside. 

The lever assembly (38A054) is factory assembled with special jigs to assure proper timing and should not be disassembled. 

Remove the trigger (38B034), the trigger spring (38-126), and the transfer bar (38A102). 

Remove the hammer (38-106) and hammer pawl (38-021) that pivots inside the hammer, carefully remove the pawl spring (38-039 and guide (38-081).  

Now for the reason we are here. This airgun leaks and we need to stop that foolishness. 

38T valve breakdown

The diagram shows the valve is broken down in 3 sub-assemblies, 55 (the piercing assembly), 56 (the tube assembly), and 60 (the valve assembly).

TIP: The factory service manual says not to separate the 3 assemblies unless absolutely necessary, but since you will be replacing a seal on each end of the tube, you have to separate them.  It is also better to take them apart so you do not inadvertently bend the tube. 

(I tried it their way first, and DID accidentally bend the tube, and had to correct that problem when putting it back together).

Using 2 small adjustable wrenches, unscrew the copper connector tube and piercing assembly from the valve body, being careful not to bend or break the tube assembly.

A small metal washer (part 51 in the diagram) may come out with the tube assembly, but that is ok, just make sure it goes back in first. 

Then using the same 2 small wrenches, unscrew the piercing assembly from the tube assembly. Do not disassemble the tube assembly itself unless it is absolutely necessary, as it is flared on each end. 

The seal kit

The seal kit Tom ordered for this pistol came with all the parts necessary to reseal the pistol including a small bottle of lubricant I will call Pellgunoil.  It is a very complete kit, and the seals are very good quality compared to others that are sold online. 

38T seal kit
I have labeled the parts to match the part numbers shown in the diagram.

The piercing assembly

38T piercing assembly
The piercing assembly.

Using a wide blade screwdriver, or a spanner wrench, unscrew the guide collar (24), end seal (25), piercing pin (27), and piercing screen (28) from the piercing block. 

Clean the assembly with alcohol and a Q-tip. Using the new parts from the reseal kit, lubricate them with the Pellgunoil, or your choice of lube, and reassemble in reverse order and set aside. 

The tube assembly

38T tube assembly
Tube assembly.

Remove the old small seal (part 65) and lube the new seal and carefully put it over the flared end of the copper tube. 

Remove the old larger seal, (part 17) and lube the new one and carefully put it onto the other end of the tube. Set it aside. 

The valve group

Using a spanner wrench, or needle nosed pliers, or a wide blade screwdriver modified for this purpose, remove valve seat (91), being careful to keep finger or thumb pressure on as it is under spring tension. 

Remove the valve components gently using a dental pick to remove the inner parts.

Pay special attention to the parts orientation as they come out. 

Clean the assembly with alcohol, let it dry, and then lube the parts as you reassemble. 

38T main valve order 1
Main valve order 1.

Lay the cylinder (part 9) large end down on a rag or towel, lube the parts with the Pellgunoil as you assemble them. 

The o-ring (part 88) goes in first, valve washer (part 13) goes in with the small lip down toward the o-ring, and the flat side up toward the valve spring.

The valve spring (78A) is tapered, and the large end goes in first. 

Start stacking the components in order, 22, 78A, 18, 92, install the oring (part 58) on part 91. 

38T main valve order 2
Main valve order 2.

Being careful not to cross-thread the top valve seat (91), tighten until contact is made with the valve washer. Then tighten 1/8 – 1/4 turn more. This will squeeze the o-ring a little to make it seal against the valve body. 

Assembly

Now we are ready to put it all back together.

Hammer and trigger assembly

Wherever there is metal-to-metal contact, lube lightly with moly lube or your choice of lubricant. 

TIP: The key word is LIGHTLY, since the speed the hammer falls does have a direct effect on the velocity, and excess lube could slow the hammer fall. 

Install the hammer pawl (38-021) into the hammer (38-106), and the guide pin (38-081) and spring (38-039), and the small bushing (38-125), and place the hammer on the hammer pivot pin.

Insert the flat hammer spring (38B038) into the lower part of the frame, and into the hammer.

Install the transfer bar (38A102), trigger spring (38-126) and trigger (38B034) onto the trigger pivot pin. The transfer bar goes into the smaller of the 2 holes in the trigger.

The trigger spring goes over the trigger pin, the short leg sits on top of the trigger, the long leg rest on the lower part of the frame as shown in the photo. 

38T trigger and hammer assembly
Trigger and hammer assembled.

The valve group

Carefully screw the tube bushing into the piercing block, taking care not to damage the new seal. But do not tighten it yet.

Insert the metal washer 51 into the valve, and screw the other end of the tube assembly into the valve taking care not to damage that new seal. Again, do not tighten this end yet either. 

38T 38-073
The valve group — assembly 38-073.

As one complete unit, install the cylinder (38-107) (the plastic part that holds the pellets), the valve group (38-073) (the valve, tube and piercing block, and the lever assembly (38A054) (the long silver bar with the spring loaded hook on one end.)

NOTE: the piercing block fits into a matching recess on the right side of the frame, the gas tube should be in the position farthest from the hammer. 

Carefully holding everything in position with the palm of your hand, install the valve body screw (150-013) that holds the valve to the right side of the frame. 

Install the cylinder base pin (38-127).

Check that the gas tube is not rubbing on the hammer, and then tighten both ends of the gas tube. Check the clearance again. 

Install the ball detent (38-064) and spring (600-079) into the front of the cylinder, and the sear (38-040) on its pivot pin below the hammer, then install the sear spring (38-090) and plunger (38-089).

As it sits, the springy things should not want to fly out. 

Double check the bushing on the hammer/lever assembly is in place, the cylinder ball detent and spring are in place, and the sear spring/plunger are in place as indicated by the arrows in the photo below. 

38T springs in place
The springs have been installed (arrows).

Place the pellet loader (part# 38-42) in the loading tray of the main valve body with the rounded or tapered end toward the pellet cylinder. 

We will install the loader spring after the side cover is installed. 

Install the side cover with the 5 screws, they are all the same, so it does not matter where they go. 

Double check the trigger and hammer function in both single action and double action to ensure there is no binding.  

At this stage of assembly, if it is binding, the tube is probably rubbing on the hammer, or you forgot to tighten the valve body screw on the right side of the gun (part# 150-013).

The barrel and shroud

If you took the barrel off, look for the mark the set screw left on the barrel, and install it with that mark aligned with the set screw, insert a 0.004 feeler gauge or shim between the barrel and cylinder, and tighten the set screw (part#38-050).

Install the spring (38A083) for the pellet loader in the grove with the end that is tightly coiled toward the back of the gun, and using tweezers or a similar tool, put the front of the spring under the rear of the loader. 

Install the outer barrel with screw (140-013).

Install the right grip panel with the 2 screws.

Hopefully, you have no leftover parts. 

Now you can function test the gun again, checking that everything moves freely. Install a fresh CO2 cartridge, and check for leaks. 

Here is the Phase 1 parts diagram I promised.

Phase 1 parts

ONE FINAL TIP: The manual suggests using a coin to tighten the piercing screw, because a screwdriver could provide too much leverage and may possibly damage the gun.

If you are into revolvers you should have one of these very neat replicas in your collection. 

Thank you,

Stay safe.

Ian


Crosman 38T Target revolver: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Expected velocity
  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Norma Golden Trophy dome
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • JSB Exact RS dome
  • Discharge sound
  • Next
  • Double action
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the Crosman 38T target revolver from the 1960s through the ’80s. This one is a .177 model and is probably the third variation, but there is still a 38T in .22 caliber yet to come. There are a lot of things in store for us in this series, so grab your coffee and let’s get started.

Expected velocity

In Part One I said I expected the velocity with lightweight lead pellets to be in the 375-390 f.p.s. range. I determined that from several reports online. 

The test

Since the circular magazine holds six rounds, six was the number used to calculate velocity. Most strings were fired single-action, but I did shoot a couple double-action strings at the end of today’s test.

RWS Hobby

The RWS Hobby pellet that weighs 7 grains is the lightest lead pellet I know of. There are several in the RWS pellet line that weigh the same, like the Meisterkugeln Pistol and the Basic. All of them are wadcutters like the Hobby.

Six Hobbys averaged 431 f.p.s., which is pretty brisk for an oldie like this 38T. The low was 425 and the high was 439, so the spread was 14 f.p.s. This performance was unexpected and a pleasant surprise! At the average velocity this pellet develops 2.89 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Norma Golden Trophy dome

Next up was the Norma Golden Trophy dome — an 8.4-grain pellet that many say is equivalent to the RWS Superdome. Six of them averaged 398 f.p.s. The low was 386 and the high was 405 f.p.s., so the spread was 19 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Golden Trophy develops 2.96 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

The next pellet to be tried was the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter. Six of them averaged 401 f.p.s., with a 21 f.p.s. spread from 394 to 415 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Meisterkugeln Rifle develops 2.93 foot-pounds.

JSB Exact RS dome

The next pellet I tested was the 7.33-grain JSB Exact RS dome. Six of them averaged 422 f.p.s. with a 24 f.p.s. spread that ran from 412 to 436 f.p.s. At the average velocity the RS develops 2.9 foot-pounds of energy.

Discharge sound

The pistol registered 100.4 decibels on the sound meter. So it’s close to a 4 on the Pyramyd Air sound scale and not very suburban backyard friendly.

38T sound

Next

Now that I had a good idea of the power of the pistol, the next step was to determine the shot count. From my reading I expected it to be in the neighborhood of 50 shots per CO2 cartridge, but, given the additional power, who could say?

For this test I selected the RWS Basic pellet that weighs the same 7 grains as the Hobby. I did this because I’m running short of Hobbys and I wanted to save some for the accuracy test.

Double action

The first string of six that I fired single action averaged 413 f.p.s. with an 11 f.p.s. spread The next string that ended with shot 50 (the first shot was a blank to ensure the cartridge was pierced) averaged 416 f.p.s. with a 18 f.p.s. spread. That string I fired double action. So the difference between single-and double-action is almost nonexistent.

The third string I also fired double-action. It ended with shot 56 and averaged 405 f.p.s. I could hear that the discharge sound was diminishing with each shot. I could call that the end and say this cartridge gave me 56 good shots. But I continued and fired 12 more times. Let me show you what they were.

Shot.…….Vel
57….…….398
58……….383
59……….374
60……….361
61……….361
62……….356
63……….342
64……….326
65……….313
66……….299|
67.………288
68……….284

I stopped there just to avoid jamming a pellet in the barrel. Clearing the 38T of a jammed pellet would be more involved than many airguns because of the revolving cylinder.

Trigger pull

The single action trigger breaks at 4 lbs. 14 oz. There is some creep in the second stage pull.

Summary

This Crosman 38T revolver is performing sweetly so far. It has great power and gets a lot of shots on a cartridge.

Next up is the accuracy test. I can’t wait!


Crosman 38T Target revolver

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Realistic
  • Single and double action trigger
  • Loading
  • Adjustable sights
  • Accuracy
  • Power
  • .22 is coming
  • She can also cook
  • Summary

Today we start looking at a vintage air pistol that many of you already love — Crosman’s 38T revolver. The T stands for target. This will be an in-depth look at the CO2-powered revolver that came in both .177 and .22 calibers. I hope to review both calibers for you in all the usual ways, plus I’m hoping that we’ll get a look inside the gun!

History

The 38T was produced from 1964 until 1985. It is distinguished by its 6-inch barrel. There was also a 38C (Combat) revolver in both calibers that had a 3.5-inch barrel. It also started in 1964 but ended in 1981. I bought a .177-caliber 38C brand new and used it for perhaps 20 years, but until this report I never owned or even handled a 38T. But other than the barrel length everything I say about the 38T also holds true for the 38C.

There are three variations of the 38-series air pistols. The first variant (1964-1973) has a metal rear sight blade and revolving cylinder. Variation 2 (1973-1976) has a plastic rear sight blade and revolving cylinder. And I haven’t got a clue how Variant three (1976 to end of production) differs from the other two, but the Blue Book of Airguns claims that it is separate, while giving no reason why.

There is also a chrome-plated version that is extremely rare. The Blue Book says it was a salesman’s sample, but other references say it was never issued. Maybe they are all agreeing because salesmen’s samples were never supposed to be sold to the public.

Realistic

These revolvers are very reminiscent of Smith & Wesson’s Hand Ejector revolvers — the ones with shrouded cranes. The grips are very reminiscent of later Hand Ejectors. The outside of the gun is nearly all metal — cold to the touch and heavy.

Even today, 36 years after the last one was made, the 38T is regarded as one of the most realistic pellet pistol lookalikes ever made. It has the weight, the size, the correct grips, the adjustable sights and all the features of the firearm it mimics with no condescension to plastics. It stands as an icon, together with the S&W 78G /79G and the Crosman Marks I and II.

The barrel is rifled so the pistol has the potential to be accurate. Naturally that will be something we test.

Single and double action trigger

The revolver has both a single and a double action trigger. The single action trigger pull is reasonably crisp, though there is a tiny bit of creep. The double action pull is heavy and creepy. It feels like the trigger parts need to be lubricated and just that may slick up the whole action.

While is looks to have a normal cylinder at first glance, only the thin front part of that cylinder rotates. That’s the part that holds the pellets until the gun  fires.

Loading

These revolvers loaded in a unique and peculiar way. On the left side of the gun there is a spring-loaded cover. To load, place a pellet in the U-shaped groove in the thin forward part of the cylinder that rotates, then cover the pellet with your finger or thumb and slide the pellet to the rear with a wiping motion. The pellet pushes the spring-loaded sliding cover back and when the pellet is over the open chamber that the sliding cover conceals, it drops right in. Finally, release the spring-loaded sliding cover and it pushes the pellet forward and into a chamber in the rotating cylinder.

38T pellet
To load a pellet, place the pellet in the groove in front of the spring-loaded sliding cover.

38T pellet finger
Put your finger or thumb on top of the pellet in the groove and press downward and to the rear in a wiping motion. The tail of the pellet’s skirt pushes the sliding cover back.

38T pellet drops
The sliding cover is all the way back and the pellet has dropped into the chamber. Release the spring-loaded cover and it will push the pellet into the chamber of the rotating cylinder of the revolver.

Adjustable sights

Like the revolvers they copy, the 38T and C both have adjustable sights. The .177-caliber gun I am testing for you in this report is either a second or third variation and the rear sight adjustment has no detents. This is the plastic sight and that might be the reason why.

Accuracy

I read reports of owners who say the 38T is quite accurate. That’s one of the big reasons why I wanted to test it. The 38C I once owned was not that accurate, because if it had been I would have remembered. At the time I owned it I was shooting a number of .357 Magnum revolvers that were shaped similarly and were also quite accurate, so I’m sure I gave the 38C a fair shake.

Power

From the reports the .177-caliber 38T should put lighter lead pellets out in the high 300 f.p.s. region — perhaps 375-390 f.p.s. The .22-caliber 38T will put light lead pellets out at around 350 f.p.s., so not that much slower. Of course that will be something we test.

.22 is coming

As I mentioned in the beginning, there is a 38T in .22 caliber in the works, as well. That one will be a special look at the gun, as well as a full test.

She can also cook

You may think that you don’t like lookalike airguns that much. Well, the 38T isn’t just for looks. If you were to set about to make a fine repeating air pistol today, you would be hard-pressed to do much better than this one. In other words it looks great and it also works. I think this is the real reason why the 38T has achieved the status of an airgun icon.

Summary

This series that will include several airguns from the past should be a good one. Once some of our collectors get on board we should all learn a lot about these fine air pistols.


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante dot sight
Crosman Vigilante with the UTG Micro dot sight mounted.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 

This report covers:

  • What has changed?
  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • What does this prove?
  • Crosman Premier Light
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Is it me or the pellets?
  • Summary

Today I believe you will be surprised. I sure was! This is the second accuracy test of the Crosman Vigilante CO2 revolver.

What has changed?

Today I mounted the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight on the revolver, to see if a better sight would improve my accuracy. I tried the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy target pellet and I also introduce a new pellet that I will begin testing for you today, plus the two best pellets from the last test were chosen for today’s test. Those are the only things I did differently in today’s test.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups at 10 meters with my arms rested on a sandbag. I have to tell you, that dot sure jumps around when the revolver is held in the hands!

Sight-in

The dot sight was not on target to begin with, so I moved forward to 10 feet and started the sight-in. I shot 4 pellets before getting them where I wanted. Then I backed up to 10 meters and refined the sight picture with 4 more pellets. Now I was ready to shoot.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

The first pellet to be tested and also used for the sight-in was the RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter.  The Vigilante put five of them into a 0.684-inch group at 10 meters. I was astonished! In the last test using open sights I was able to put five of these same pellets into 1.828-inches at the same 10 meters, with everything else being exactly the same. 

Vigilante dot Meisterkugeln rifle group 1
The Crosman Vigilante revolver , with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight mounted, five RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into a 0.684-inch group at 10 meters.

Take me home, mother, and put me to bed! I have seen enough to know that I have seen too much. That group, my friends, is a result! The Godfather of Airguns may say that sights don’t improve the accuracy of an airgun, but in this case — they do! That little green dot may have been wobbling around the bullseye as I watched it, but apparently the pellets all knew right where I wanted them to go. After this group I didn’t adjust the dot sight again for the remainder of the test.

What does this prove?

What this proves is this pistol can be just as accurate as its owners claim. I don’t doubt that goes for the Crosman 357 that preceded it, as well. It isn’t a precision target pistol, but for what little you pay, you get a whole lot of value!

Crosman Premier Light

The next pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier Light dome. Five of them went into 1.853-inches at 10 meters, with four of them in 0.867-inches. I didn’t call that lowest shot a pull, but it’s directly below the other four pellets and you have to remember that this revolver has a very heavy trigger pull.

Vigilante dot Premier Light group
The Vigilante put five Crosman Premier Light pellets into 1.853-inches at 10 meters. The upper four pellets are in 0.867-inches.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Next to be tested was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet. I just wanted to see what they could do, because in many airguns they are so accurate. The Vigilante put five of them into 1.982-inches at 10 meters. There is nothing in this group that gives me any hope that the Vigilante likes it, so this one is out.

Vigilante dot Sig Match Alloy group
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 1.982-inches at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

The final pellet I tried is one you haven’t seen before — the S-Target Match from Norma. It’s an 8.2-grain wadcutter, which puts it into the target rifle pellet class — along with the Meisterkugeln Rifle. The Vigilante put five into a 1.892-inch group. I will be testing this new pellet more very soon, but from these results and the open group I can tell it isn’t the one for the Vigilante.

Vigilante dot Norma target group
The Vigilante put five Norma S-Target Match pellets into 1.892-inches at 10 meters.

Is it me or the pellets?

At this point in the test I was getting tired. Concentrating on the dot with that heavy trigger pull was making me very tired and I wondered if the last few larger groups were the pellets or me. So I shot another group of five Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets that had opened this test. This time the group was larger than the first time, at 1.309-inches between centers. Four of the five pellets are in 0.932-inches and they landed in the same place they did in the first group. This is the second-smallest 5-shot group of the test and it was shot at the end.

Vigilante dot-Meisterkugeln Rifle group 2
The second group of Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets measures 1.309-inches between centers, with 4 in 0.932-inches. The second smallest group of today’s test.

I think the Meisterkugeln Rifle pellet is a good one for the Vigilante and I also think I was partly responsible for the openness of the last few groups. The bottom line is — the Vigilante can shoot!

Summary

In my experience this is one of the very rare times that a different sight has significantly improved the accuracy of a pellet gun. I will still say that different sights don’t usually matter that much, but clearly they can, and sometimes they do.

Next I will test the Vigilante with BBs, and I think I will leave the dot sight installed.


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.