Benjamin 397 Variable Pump Air Rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord|
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin 397
The new Benjamin 397.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Dot sight?
  • The test
  • Accurate with JSB Exact Heavys
  • Adjusted the rear sight
  • H&N Baracuda Magnum
  • H&N Sniper Magnum
  • Adjusted sights
  • 10 shots
  • Summary

It’s been a while since we have looked at the Benjamin 397 Variable Pump Air Rifle. This is a multi-pump .177-caliber air rifle that was advertised as getting 1,100 f.p.s. It can be pumped up to 10 times and we learned that the test rifle was good for 773 f.p.s. when shooting RWS Hobby pellets. A thousand f.p.s. takes trick pellets that nobody uses.

It’s not a quiet airgun, because from two to 10 pumps of air it produces 105 dB pretty consistently. So it’s not friendly for small suburban backyards. But it is a shooter!

Dot sight?

I intended to shoot the rifle with a dot sight or a scope, but there was a question about whether the scope base that attaches to the two holes that are drilled and tapped into the receiver will work with scope bases that are for older 397s, or even with peep sights that I have for my older Benjamin multi-pumps. I tried them both and discovered they won’t fit. The holes are in the wrong place.

The Air Venturi intermount is a sight base that fits this receiver, if it is 0.540 to 0.565-inches in diameter. The test rifle receiver measures 0.567-inches in diameter and I’m going to order one of these bases to see if it fits.

The test

I shot today from 25 yards off a sandbag rest with the rifle rested directly on the bag. Obviously I used the open sights that came on the rifle.  I used a 6 o-clock hold on a 10-meter pistol target, which is perfect for this distance when you use open sights. I shot 5-shot groups because of the pumping, but I did shoot one 10-shot group at the end with what I felt was the best pellet. I pumped six times per shot.

Accurate with JSB Exact Heavys

At 10 meters we discovered the 397 is very accurate with JSB Exact Heavy pellets. So they were the pellets I started with today without adjusting the rear sight. Five pellets went into 0.689-inches at 25 yards. It was high on the bull and to the left.

JSB Heavy group 1
Five JSB Exact Heavy pellets went into 0.689-inches at 25 yards.

Wow! That is a good group for me with post-and-notch open sights at 25 yards! I lost my glasses on Saturday and I had to use reading glasses to see the front sight, but the bull at 25 yards was very blurry. I normally wear my regular glasses for 25 yards. Let’s try a different pellet.

The test at 10 meters showed this rifle likes heavier pellets and also prefers pure lead pellets to harder ones like Premiers. So today I’m exploring the heavier pellets

Adjusted the rear sight

Since the first group was high and left, I adjusted the rear sight. The next pellet was 60 percent heavier than the first one so I left the elevation where it was, but  I adjusted the windage to the right a little. The manual does not tell how to adjust windage, but what you do to go right is loosen the left screw a little then tighten the right one.

H&N Baracuda Magnum

Next up was the 16.36-grain H&N Baracuda Magnum. This pellet is extremely heavy in .177 and I don’t see it for sale on the website anymore. Six of them went into 3.7-inches at 25 yards. I guess I lost count! But this is obviously not the right pellet for this air rifle.

Baracuda Magnum group
I don’t need a dime for this group, I need a manhole cover! Six Baracuda Magnums made a 3.7-inch group at 25 yards. Not the pellet for this 397!

H&N Sniper Magnum

The last pellet I tested was the .177-caliber H&N Sniper Magnum. This one weighs 15 grains in .177 and I no longer see it on the website, either. The 397 liked them, though, and put five into 0.709-inches at 25 yards.

Sniper Magnum group
Five H&N Sniper Magnum pellets made this 0.709-inch group at 25 yards.

Adjusted sights

It was time to take the best pellet and shoot a group of 10. I adjusted the rear sight more to the right and down. Then I set out 10 JSB Exact Heavy pellets.

10 shots

I hate to make excuses but on this group I was having a hard time seeing the sights and the sight picture. And my target shows it. Ten shots went into 1.241-inches at 25 yards. The group is completely open and I think it’s obvious it was me and not the rifle. My eyes just couldn’t keep up. I want to try this again when I have regular glasses and am fresh.

JSB Heavy group 2
Ten JSB Exact Heavy pellets went into this scattered 1.241-inch group at 25 yards.

Well, I may have lost it but at least we know the rear sight adjustments work as they should.

Summary

This new Benjamin 397 is a wonderful follow-on for the line that began back in the 1940s. It has a longer pump stroke that’s more efficient, though 1,100 f.p.s. is a pipe dream unless you shoot only trick pellets — and nobody who wants to hit the target does that!

The synthetic stock is not right for use with open sights, and to my mind this rifle is made for open sights. Also, changing the hole pattern for the peep sight wasn’t such a good thing, either. Now I have to abandon the handful of sights and bases I have for these rifles and get something new. 

I plan to test the rifle with a dot sight and perhaps with a scope if I can get it mounted securely. And I have a secret up my sleeve that only one reader knows about. So you will see the new 397 again, and again.


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?


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.


Let’s have fun!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Background
  • A powerful breakbarrel rifle
  • A new multi-pumpA hunting pellet
  • Youth target pellet rifle
  • You’re cookin’
  • What’s this?
  • Seen it all before
  • Summary

How about a weekend of fun? I have a game for everyone. It came to me yesterday as I was writing the report about the Norma S-Target Match pellet. It occurred to me that was a long name for a pellet. So, what name would be better?

Background

There is a back story to today’s report. When I went to Fort Lewis, Washington, for ROTC Summer Camp in 1968, I spent several days in Vancouver, British Columbia, before reporting to camp. I was traveling with a buddy and we just wanted to see the sights up there. I remember seeing my first Canadian car — an Acadian Invader! It looked like a Pontiac to me, and when we saw a Beaumont, which was an upscale model, we knew that’s what it was. I have since learned that GM Canada used both Pontiac and Chevrolet platforms for what they made and sold to our northern cousins — eh!

That experience started me on a lifetime of pondering product names, and today I’d like us to generate some product names for airguns and related products. I’ll get you started.

A powerful breakbarrel rifle

Let’s pretend that we are the marketing team responsible to come up with a name for a new .25-caliber breakbarrel hunting rifle our company is about to bring out. It’s large, very powerful and extremely hard to cock. Here are the names the team has come up with so far.

Harvester 30 (for 30 foot-pounds in .25 caliber — from the president of the company)
Super Schuetzen (from old Dan the engineer, who’s been with the company 35 years)
YZP25 (from Carl, who thinks letters and numbers are better than words)
Ulysses 25 (from Donna, who thinks the rifle is too hard to cock)

Can you do better?

A new multi-pump

We have just sourced a new multi-pump air pistol from Taiwan. It’s .177 only and very accurate. It has a good 3-pound trigger and crisp adjustable sights. The manufacturer calls it the Brilliant Light. What should we call it?

A hunting pellet

We just struck a deal with a Brazilian pellet manufacturer. They have a high-tech .22-caliber hollowpoint hunting pellet that expands to twice its diameter at just 500 f.p.s. We have seen it demonstrated and it does work, so we will be selling it in the U.S. It is a domed pellet that has cuts in the hollow dome that open immediately when meeting resistance. It flies like a dome and opens like a hollowpoint. In Brazil they call it the Mako Shark. Here are the team’s suggestions.

Donna wants to call it the Lotus22 because it opens like a flower.
Carl wants to call it the DQP22
The president wants to call it the Meg22
Dan wants to call it the 22 Expander

Oh, on this one the art department is limiting the number of characters in the name to 12, including spaces. That’s because the name has to fit on a label on the tin and be recognizable on a storeroom shelf.

Youth target pellet rifle

The company has just struck a deal to purchase the rights to the Air Venturi Bronco from Mendoza. We want to make the rifle easier to cock (by lengthening the barrel jacket), to slim down the stock considerably and install target-style sights — with a peep sight in the rear and a hooded front sight that takes replaceable inserts. The president of the company likes the Bronco’s two-blade trigger for both its safety and for its smooth release. The straight Bronco would sell to us for $95 if we commit to purchase 1,000. With a Mendoza peep sight, a hooded front sight and an adjustable trigger stop (just a screw through the triggerguard) that we will install until the Mendoza factory gets up to speed, our cost rises to $119.00. We have to add $40 to that cost for modifying the trigger stops in-house on the first 100 rifles, to give Mendoza time to gear up for it, but the decision has been made to amortize that expense across the first 1,000 sales.

The president has told our team that he sees this rifle as an upscale youth target rifle that can compete in the Student Air Rifle program (SAR). He plans on charging $175 to SAR competitors and clubs and $225 to the general public.

He wants a name that conveys quality, excellence and value. What do we call it?

The president also wants a name for the trigger.

You’re cookin’

Okay, that should get your creative juices flowing. Now, name the following products.

A 10-40X60 scope with a 34mm tube that has a mil-dot reticle with illuminated dots that the shooter controls. The shooter determines which dot gets illuminated. This scope is no longer than a 4-16, and just as bright at 40X as the 4-16 is at 16X.

A precharged pneumatic that has a huge air reservoir and a max fill pressure of 1,800 psi. In .177 caliber it fires JSB 10.34-grain domes at 950 f.p.s. and gets 60 shots per fill. The rifle weighs 8 lbs. without a scope, due to a type IV carbon fiber reservoir. There is no regulator but the balanced valve gives all 60 shots with a maximum 18 f.p.s. spread. Twenty-two and twenty-five calibers will follow if the .177 is successful. The projected price will be $1,200.

A new wadcutter pellet with a thin ring of lead around the edge of the nose. Testing has shown it to be hyper accurate in target air rifles that need pellets with heads sized 4.49mm to 4.52mm. It costs about double to produce, so they will be sold in trays of 200.

new pellet
The new pellet with adaptable head sizes.

A bipod whose left leg holds up to 30 pellets and whose right leg detaches and contains a folding knife, Torx wrenches in sizes T6, T7 and T8, a ballpoint pen and scissors.

What’s this?

Now tell us what the following product names apply to.

  • Eagle Claw
  • Civet
  • Torque release
  • Restraint
  • Bombard
  • Momentum
  • Hyperion

Seen it all before

In the late 1990s I became incensed when Crosman applied the name Blue Streak to a breakbarrel rifle in the Benjamin line. In fact today the name is so confused there are people selling Benjamin-Sheridan 397 rifles on eBay. Tell me that isn’t wrong!

Dennis Quackenbush called his kit to make an outside lock air rifle the Amaranth. That one fooled everyone. 

And Walther used the name LGV for their new line of breakbarrel sporting rifles a few years ago when most of us silverbacks knew it as a breakbarrel target rifle from the ’70s.

Summary

I know some of you will enjoy doing this exercise, the point of which is to demonstrate that it isn’t easy coming up with product names that convey a sense of the product. Let’s see what you can do.


The Daisy 35: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Velocity per pump stroke
  • More than 10 pumps?
  • Loading
  • Consistency
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Velocity with BBs
  • Daisy Premium BB
  • Marksman Premium grade BBs
  • Smart Shot
  • Pump effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic. Let’s get started.

Velocity per pump stroke

First I tested the velocity per pump stroke with RWS Hobby pellets. Daisy says in the manual that 2 pumps are the least that should be used, so that’s where I started. Ten pumps are the maximum, and I was concerned to see if there would be any air left in the gun after firing after the maximum pumps. 

Pumps……Vel.
2…………….359
3…………….429
4…………….483
5…………….518
6…………….548
7…………….567
8…………….585
9…………….606
10..………….622 no air remaining after the shot

We see that the velocity increases with each pump stroke. The early strokes add the most velocity and things level off after 6 pumps. Velocity still increases, but the amount of the increase diminishes significantly.

More than 10 pumps?

I know that people always wonder what happens with additional pump strokes. I used to test that and here is what I have learned over the past 30 years. If you don’t exceed the recommended maximum number of pump strokes your airgun will remain fresh for a long time. Eventually the atmosphere does harden the seals and the velocity starts decreasing. This is when the gun starts to respond to more pump strokes than the recommended maximum. However, it will seldom exceed the maximum velocity of the same airgun with fresh seals. If it does, it will only be by a small amount. If you read the report I did on my Sheridan Blue Streak in 2016, especially Parts 2 and 3, you will see exactly what I’m talking about.

Pumping more times than the recommended maximum puts a strain on the bearings of the pump linkage. Any repair center can tell you that when they overhaul an older multi-pump, the linkage bearings are often shot. So I don’t do that anymore.

Loading

I tried loading the airgun with the reverse tweezers I told you about in Part 1. It did work, but not a hundred percent. While doing it I discovered the real loading problem with the gun and also how best to address it.

Daisy 35 loading tweezers
Loading the Daisy 35 with reverse tweezers was easy, but not necessary.

Several times the pellet I was loading fell backwards into the BB loading hole and that turned out to be the loading problem. It even happened when I used the tweezers. To load reliably I have to hold the rifle with the muzzle pointed down and roll the pellet into the loading trough with my thumb. It almost always falls into the breech when loaded that way.

Daisy 35 BB hole
That hole in the left side wall of the pellet loading trough is for BBs to be attracted to the magnet on the tip of the bolt. Unfortunately the hole is large enough for the skirt of the pellet to fall in and get jammed, so it won’t load when the bolt slides forward.

Consistency

Next I tested the 35 on 7 pump strokes with the same RWS Hobby pellet. This time ten shots averaged 576 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 571 to a high of 579 f.p.s. That’s an 8 f.p.s. difference, which is reasonably tight and very typical of a multi-pump in good condition. Now let’s see how the gun does on different pellets.

Air Arms Falcons

I decide to test all other pellets on 7 pumps. The Air Arms Falcon dome averaged 554 f.p.s. The low was 542 and the high was 565, so the spread was 23 f.p.s. That is very large for a multi-pump. It suggests the Falcon may not be right for the Daisy 35.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

The last pellet I tested was the 5.25-grain Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter. On 7 pumps they averaged 624 f.p.s. The low was 621 and the high was 631, so a 10 f.p.s. spread that is not bad.

Thus far we have seen that the Daisy 35 is just as powerful as advertised on the Pyramyd Air website. Just for fun I pumped it 10 times and shot a Sig Match Ballistic pellet. It went out at 681 f.p.s. Is that close enough to the 690 f.p.s. printed on the box? You decide.

Velocity with BBs

Now let’s look at the velocity with BBs. I’ll test a conventional steel BB, a frangible BB, a lead BB and an oversized BB. All will be with 7 pumps. Let’s go!

Daisy Premium BB

First I tested 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs. On 7 pumps they averaged 582 f.p.s. The low was 570 and the high was 605 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 35 f.p.s., which is not terrible considering how much smaller these BBs are than the bore of the 35.

Marksman Premium grade BBs

We know from testing that Marksman BBs measure 0.176-inches in diameter and are therefore too large to fit in many BB guns. But this gun is also for pellets and it fed and shot these BBs fine. They averaged 572 f.p.s., with a 47 f.p.s. spread from 549 to 596 f.p.s.

Smart Shot

Next tested were 10 Smart Shot lead BBs. Since they are not ferrous I didn’t try to feed them through the BB magazine but loaded them singly, like pellets. Smart Shot averaged 478 f.p.s. with a low of 453 and a high of 512 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 59 f.p.s.

Dust Devils

The last BB I tried was the Air Venturi Dust Devil. It’s lighter than the Daisy BB but also smaller in diameter, so I wondered what that would do to the velocity. Dust Devils averaged 570 f.p.s. with a 28 f.p.s. spread from 554 to 582 f.p.s.

Well, BBs weren’t as consistent in the Daisy 35, nor were they as powerful as lead pellets. I guess their one advantage beside low cost is that the steel ones feed through the magazine.

Pump effort

I said in Part 1 that the Daisy 35 seems easy to pump. But is it? 

Pump…Effort lbs.
1……………….5
2..…………….12
3..…………….12
4..…………….15
5..…………….20
6..…………….21
7..…………….19
8..…………….20
9..…………….19
10…………….21

What is happening, here? Why are more pumps taking less effort? I think the reason has to do with the speed of the pump stroke. Slow down and it gets easier, but you don’t seem to lose any velocity. So the Daisy 35 is definitely an airgun for younger folks.

Trigger pull

The single-stage trigger breaks with 5 lbs. 5 oz. pressure. That is about ideal for young people and new shooters. The break is reasonably crisp, so it’s very pleasant.

Summary

The Daisy 35 is stacking up quite well so far. And with my previous experience back in 2011, I believe it will also be accurate. We will see.


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!


Rebuilding a Crosman 101

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today we have a guest blog by reader Cloud9. He shows us his repair of a friend’s Crosman 101 last year. This was first posted on the GTA forum in April of 2020, at the start of the quarantine period.

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

Over to you, Cloud9.

This report covers:

  • Whose 101?
  • No-go
  • Valve tool
  • Be careful!
  • Get going
  • My big vise
  • Restoration
  • Paint
  • Stock
  • Assembly
  • The result
  • Thanks|


Whose 101?

Last year I restored a Crosman 101 for a friend. The rifle belonged at his father and he and his brothers shot it a lot when they were kids. He contacted me about fixing it and getting looking better. I like a challenge, so I agreed.

No-go

When I got the rifle it wouldn’t pump or fire. The trigger was loose and floppy. The pump arm was bent and it had a large crack in it.The metal was missing lots of black paint which is typical for these older Crosman rifles — especially when they’ve been well-loved and used. The steel parts had quite a bit of rust on them.

Valve tool

To remove the valve from a 101 requires a special valve tool. The valve in this one was so stubborn that I broke my tool trying to remove it! Now what?

Be careful!

When your wife asks for a new kitchen trash can you have to be careful. She wanted one that was white like the old refrigerator it stood next to, but you bought her a stainless one. That would never do!

Fortunately the fridge was old and you both knew it was on its last legs, so maybe it was time to replace it before it went out altogether. You went to the local appliance center and — WOAH! When did refrigerators start costing $2,500? You went there with $800 on the brain. But you went there to buy one and buy it you did. Installation wasn’t that much more and within a week you had a gleaming new stainless steel fridge keeping your food cold. This one was wider and lower than the old unit and it highlighted a large gap between the old cabinets and the top of the refrigerator. 

Back to the appliance/kitchen center you went and discovered that the custom bleached ash cabinets your wife really wanted, the ones with the glass in the doors, would cost $10,000 installed, but these would have the lights your wife always wanted, to see her work on the formica countertops.

Formica! You promised her when you bought the house 15 years ago that someday you’d get rid of those ugly countertops and install real granite. Now’s the time and you have to do the island, too. It’s only another $8,500 and the kitchen looks sharp — except for the floor. That green linoleum has to go! A bright hand-laid tile floor was only another $12,000 because the extra-large breakfast nook and walk-in pantry had to be done, too.

So — a new trash can for the kitchen only cost you, what — $33,360, plus about 40 meals out while the work was being done. A bargain at any price! Why do I tell you this? Just listen.

Get going

So I had to make a Crosman 101 valve tool. I first got my South Bend 10K lathe up and running. But to get it running required installing and programming a variable frequency drive (VFD) that I had purchased about a year before. And I had to level the lathe, plus clean and lubricate it. I also had to purchase a decent 3-jaw chuck, a quick change tool post and some cutting tools. Then I had to blow out all of the cobwebs from my head to remember how to use this stuff.

This all took me about 3 months to accomplish and COVID-19 gave me some spare time to tinker. I made two new Crosman valve tools out of O-1 steel — one for the small nut inside the hammer and a larger one for the big nut that retains the valve. I heat-treated both of them so they wouldn’t break.

My vise

I had to put the rifle’s receiver in my vise and use penetrating oil, my heat gun and a long lever arm on that new tool to get that big valve nut to break loose. And finally it did — hooray!

valve parts
Here’s the valve disassembled, the pump link and the pump rod.

Restoration

After getting the rifle apart I had to order seals. Then I started cleaning. I stripped the paint from the metal and the old varnish from the stock using aircraft stripper. I soaked the rusty metal parts and screws in rust remover, then polished them with Scotchbrite and steel wool. The metal still has some pits and dings that show it has been used but now it has a nice cold-blued finish from Brownells Oxpho-Blue to protect it going forward. A long-time member of the GTA forum sold me another 101 from which I cannibalized the pump arm.

painted parts
After they were stripped the large metal parts were painted.

painted detail
When the paint was sprayed on the cleaned metal parts, the result was smooth and even.

Paint

I used Brownells Dura-Coat two-part semi-gloss black paint. I sprayed it from a airbrush and painted the receiver, pump tube and barrel. I really like this paint because it goes on thin and dries hard, resulting in a durable top coat.

cleaned parts
The ferrous parts were cleaned of any rust and lightly sanded or rubbed with Scotchbrite, then given a cold blue.

Stock

I gently sanded the stock and forearm with 320- and 400-grit sandpaper. Then I applied 5 coats of Tru-Oil finish. The stock retains some of the bigger scratches and dents it acquired over its long lifetime, but the finish is much smoother and better-looking than it was.

Assembly

After all the pieces were refinished the next step was assembly. Fortunately I had new tools for this task!

The result

I must say, this rifle came out really nice. It now pumps and holds two pumps of air for two weeks. And of course it fires. 

I chronographed the rifle to ensure it really was healthy. Then I zeroed it at 20 yards. Finally I boxed it up for shipment back to its happy owner, who plans to share it with his brothers. Sometimes staying home in quarantine isn’t such a bad thing!

Thanks

I ran this report from Cloud9 today because I had difficulty replacing the parts in my Walther LP53 pistol. I have fitted a new Teflon piston seal, but some of the parts in the cocking mechanism that had to be removed to get the piston out are fighting me to go back in. That took up the morning of Friday, so I set that work aside and put wooden handles on the bullet mold for my rimfire cartridge reloading series in the afternoon. Now that I know how to prime the rimfire cartridge cases, that report can advance again.

I also wanted to run this report because reader RidgeRunner is in the middle of a 101 repair. I thought reading this might encourage him a little. Maybe some of the rest of you are in the same boat?

So, thanks, Cloud9 for saving the day! Oh, and I’m starting to think of things I need your fancy lathe to do!