Welcome, fellow Jedi!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Back in the day
  • Parallax
  • Twist rate and rifling styles
  • Velocity versus accuracy
  • Oh, how far we have come!

I was going to show you a brand new spotting scope today, but something came up that I want to address. I don’t always respond to your comments these days — there are simply too many of them for me to cover. But I at least scan all of them and I read many of them.

Yesterday it dawned on me as I was reading the comments — many of you are ready to take your test to become full-fledged Jedi knights! A few may even go on to become Jedi masters. Well done, my enthusiastic Padawan learners!

Whenever I write about a technical subject I cringe, thinking of all the questions it will bring. That used to be bad, because I had to answer each any every question myself. But that isn’t the case anymore. I have been following conversations between Bulldawg76, GunFun1 and ChrisUSA and I am amazed at the level of expertise being displayed. I remember when each of them first started commenting on the blog, and they don’t seem like the same people anymore. read more

Catapult guns and velocity

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Sharpshooter pistol uses rubber bands to launch a .12 caliber lead ball. Other catapult guns were as large as .43 caliber!

This report covers:

  • You know catapults guns
  • More power doesn’t mean higher velocity
  • Why a limit?
  • What is the limit?
  • Crossbows may be faster — but…
  • What about stonebows?
  • Conclusion?

You know catapults guns

Over the years I have written several reports about catapult guns . The Sharpshooter shown above and the Bullseye pistol that proceeded it used rubber bands to launch their shot. But the Johnson Indoor Target gun used surgical tubing. And a don’t really know for sure what the .43 caliber Hodges gun of the 1840s used but I suspect it was natural rubber bands. The point is, catapult guns have used many different power sources.

Johnson Indoor trainer
Johnson Indoor Trainer uses surgical rubber tubing. read more

Other smallbore airgun calibers

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Smallbore calibers
  • Confusing lines
  • Other calibers
  • .12 caliber
  • .175 caliber
  • .180 caliber
  • .21 caliber
  • .21-1/2 caliber
  • A couple really odd sizes
  • Summary

Before we begin, I am leaving for Las Vegas and the 2016 SHOT Show today. I will have limited time to answer questions from readers, so I’m asking the veteran readers to help out until I return to following Saturday.

Smallbore calibers

We know there are 4 popular smallbore airgun calibers in use today. These 4 are not mandated by any regulation, nor controlled by any specification. Nothing makes them smallbores, except for the existence of big bores. In other words, they are smallbores by default — because they aren’t big bores.

The 4 smallbore pellet calibers we know today are .177 (4.5mm), .20 (5mm), .22 (5.5mm) and .25 (6.35mm). The round ball calibers are steel BB, which is .171-.173 (4.3-4.4mm). Anything larger than .25 caliber is commonly called a big bore, though there are no hard and fast rules about it. In fact, there are .25 caliber guns that qualify as smallbores and other .25 caliber guns that qualify as big bores. Confused? read more

Melvin Johnson’s Indoor Target catapult gun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Johnson Indoor Target Gun
Johnson Indoor Target Gun was an impractical post-war BB gun.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Sometimes you just can’t win!
  • Johnson gets shafted
  • The first time
  • After the war
  • Enter the Johnson Indoor Target Gun
  • Repeater
  • It uses surgical tubing
  • Weird cocking!
  • How much power?
  • The cost
  • Do you want one?

Sometimes you just can’t win!

Melvin Johnson was a gun designer of note who left a lasting impression on the world of firearms. Today’s M16/AR15 and all of its variants owe their existence to his marketing attempts with the United States Army. He did not design the gun — that credit belongs to Eugene Stoner. Johnson was the man who convinced the Army that a .22 caliber bullet flying at high velocity was better than a .30 caliber bullet in many ways. It was smaller, lighter, cheaper to make, flew faster and, under certain circumstances, was just as lethal as the larger projectile. read more

2015 Texas airgun show: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • Big bore draws a crowd
  • The match
  • Texans galore!
  • What about the show?
  • Vortek and the Diana 34
  • More to come


The Texas airgun show is a one-day event. Everyone knows they have to get in quick, set up quick and get everything accomplished in one short day. The Parker County Sportsman Club that hosted the event provided dozens of volunteers to run the ranges, park cars, sell tickets, prepare and serve food and drinks, and generally help anyone who needed it. As a result, the event was set up and running smooth when the doors opened to the public at 9 am. But, unlike last year, there was no line at the door. The tickets were sold at a gate outside the compound because we had vendors in two different buildings this year. Even so I was surprised and a little disappointed when I didn’t see the immediate crush of people at 9. read more

The timeline of airguns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Table of contents
  • What is an airgun?
  • The first airgun
  • What we do know
  • The load-compression airgun
  • What came next?
  • Bellows gun
  • How rare were they?
  • Multi-pump pneumatics
  • Spring-piston airguns
  • Catapult guns
  • CO2 guns
  • Single stroke pneumatics

Table of contents

Before we begin today’s blog, I want to tell you there is a link to the History of airguns table of contents at the top and bottom of this pager. Go there and you will see all the historical report linked.

Today’s report will sound like a continuation of Friday’s report on the power of big bore airguns of the past, but that is just a coincidence. Today we look at the timeline of airguns.

What is an airgun?

Before we proceed we need to agree what an airgun is, or the rest of the discussion will be meaningless. Most books about airguns start with the primitive blowpipe, which is also called a blowgun. Does that make you think of natives on tropical islands, hunting birds and monkey in the trees? Would you be surprised to learn that the blowgun was also very popular in Europe during the middle ages? There are tapestries that show hunters using blowguns in exactly the same way as the islanders in the tropics, only they are doing so in European and English forests. The blowgun has been a very popular air-powered weapon all around the world. read more

2012 Arkansas airgun show

by B.B.Pelletier

Every airgun show is unique. I’ve said that many times before, but it’s always true — and this one was no different. What I look for when I try to describe an airgun show is how it stood out from all the others. That’s what I’ll do today.

An airgun show is small, in comparison to0 a regular gun show, but there are more airguns on a single table then you’ll see at most big gun shows. And the guns range from inexpensive Daisys and Crosmans to then most exotic airguns imaginable. So go to gun shows for and crowded aisles, but to airgun shows to find airguns.

I didn’t get away from my table for the first half of the first day. When I finally did, the show immediately began to reveal itself. It was jam-packed with big bore air rifles! I mean jammed! Dennis Quackenbush and Eric Henderson are always the mainstays of the show; but this time I met Robert Vogel, whose business is Mr. Hollowpoint. Robert casts each bullet by hand from lead as pure as he can make it. His bullets mushroom on game perfectly and rip huge holes in living flesh, making the most humane kills possible. I bought a bag of 68-grain .308-caliber hollowpoints for the Quackenbush .308 test I’m conducting, and he threw in a second bag of .22 pellets for free. These will have a special debut in a smallbore test in the near future. read more