Tell BB gun: Part 4

by Tom GaylordZ
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BB gun
This military-looking BB gun is large and good-looking!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • One more time
  • Comment 1 — clean the barrel
  • Comment 2 — try Marksman oversized BBs
  • Comment 3 — turn the shot tube to change where the balls impact
  • The test
  • Marksman BBs
  • 4.55 lead balls
  • Discussion/summary

One more time

I hadn’t planned to do a fourth report on the Tell BB gun, but several readers’ comments and questions changed my mind. This will be a short report.

Comment 1 — clean the barrel

Reader Feinwerk said this: “It sounds and looks to me like the barrel may be fouled. Look at the nasty dark rings around the target holes. And when you described having to ram 5 of the larger sized lead balls down, after which others rolled freely, it strongly suggested to me that you cleared some debris from the bore. Any way to pull some patches through this barrel?” read more


Tell BB gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BB gun
This military-looking BB gun is large and good-looking!

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Lead balls only
  • The test
  • 4.4mm copper-plated lead balls
  • Trigger pull
  • 4.4mm Punktkugeln
  • H&N 4.45mm lead ball
  • What we know
  • The last step
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the Tell BB gun. I think this is going to be a very interesting report, so let’s get started.

Lead balls only

I waited to do this test because I was considering what to do about the inaccuracy of steel BBs. At two feet they were spreading out to three inches apart. That would mean that at 5 meters (16 feet) the spread would be several FEET. I thought about shooting them closer to the target but what’s the point? If they are that inaccurate I’m never going to shoot them anyway. So I decided to run this accuracy test at the standard 5-meter distance with larger lead balls. read more


Johnson Indoor Target Gun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Johnson Indoor Target Gun
The Johnson Indoor Target Gun is a catapult BB gun that was made in the late 1940s for youth target practice.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Who was Johnson?
  • The M16
  • Airgun
  • The gun in hand
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Yes, I’m reviewing a Johnson again. For some reason I keep coming back to this one. I did a short piece on December 28 2015, and before that an article on December 22 2005. Finally I did an initial very short introductory piece on October 2, 2005. That’s a lot of articles. So, why am I writing about it again? Well, the gun we are looking at today is a nearly-new Johnson that I got in the box at the Texas Airgun Show this year. It has many thing that I can show you, plus I will do a complete report on this one. So grab your coffee, boys — this series should be good.

Who was Johnson?

Melvin M. Johnson, Jr. (1909-1965) was an Army Ordnance colonel (also a former Marine) who invented several famous battle weapons, the most famous of which was the Model 1941 Johnson rifle. He tried to interest the Army in his rifle over the Garand that had early teething problems, but by the time he got his act together in the late 1930s there was too much momentum (too much money had been spent and too many contracts signed) on the Garand program, and they did not accept his design. The Marine Corps did use his rifle early in the war because there were not enough Garands to equip them. And some rifles were purchased by other countries. I’ll stop here because this report is not about the Johnson rifle, though that rifle is worthy of such a report of its own because of all its design innovations and quirks.

M1941 Johnson
The M1941 Johnson battle rifle was Melvin Johnson’s most significant invention. In very good condition today an untouched example will bring over $5,000, and even rifles that have been modified into sporters will fetch $2,500 and more.

The M16

Johnson’s greatest contribution to the military, in my opinion, was the M16. He did not invent the rifle, but he was a major factor in its development in a roundabout way. He invented the cartridge (5.7mm Johnson, also called the .223 Spitfire) that prompted the U.S. Army to experiment with the .222 Remington and to get Remington to enlarge it into the .222 Remington Magnum, before they created their own 5.56mm (.223 Remington) cartridge that spawned the M16. That story also deserves a blog or two.

Spitfire and 30 caliber Carbine cartridges
Johnson necked the .30 caliber Carbine cartridge (left) down to .22 caliber and called it the 5.7mm Johnson. It works perfectly in a converted M1 Carbine.

I own a Carbine that has been converted to shoot the 5.7mm Johnson and it’s cool to shoot the little cartridge that gets 3,000 f.p.s. from a tiny 40-grain .22 caliber bullet. It isn’t that practical, nor is it especially accurate, but it is cool.

Airgun

Today, however, we are looking not at a firearm but an airgun designed by Johnson — the Indoor Target Gun. The ad below is a page from the 1948 Shooter’s Bible catalog.

Johnson ad
Ad from the 1948 Shooter’s Bible

Immediately after the war companies were gearing up to provide civilian goods that had been set on the back burner during the war years. Guns of all types were among the items in the greatest demand, because returning troop s wanted to continue to shoot, now that no one was shooting back.

As you can see from the catalog page, a Johnson cost $15 in 1948. That was when a single shot Winchester model 67 .22 rimfire rifle could be bought for $11.50 and a Daisy Red Ryder went for $4.50 I don’t know what the colonel was thinking with that high price, but it sure wasn’t sales! Imagine if a BB gun powered by a rubber band sold for $157.12 today. That’s what a Johnson would cost in today’s (2018) inflated money. Ironically a used Johnson in the box will fetch about $100+ today, so not much value has been lost over the years.

The gun in hand

I am going to tell you all about the features and performance of this strange gun, but right now I’m going to shift gears and tell you about the particular example that caused me to start this series.

About 20 years ago I was attending an airgun show in St. Louis when I saw a pile of Johnsons that were all new in the box. A single dealer had at least 20 and maybe as many as 30 guns at that show. The prices were affordable, but I have forgotten what they were. I was curious about the gun, but it was the poor condition of the boxes that interested me the most.

They were all deteriorating in similar ways. The lithographed outsides were breaking off in large pieces and the cloth “backstop” that’s glued to the inside top the box was turning to white powder.

The Johnson box was designed to turn into a shooting gallery that had a cheesecloth backstop for the BBs. In that respect it is not unlike the Sharpshooter pistols we looked at recently. A rack with two tiny metal spinners clipped to the front lip of the box, where they served as targets. Look at the picture in the catalog page to see how it works.

As I said in the beginning, I saw the one I’m reporting on at the Texas Airgun Show this year and the box was in the best condition I have ever seen. I have now seen about 40 of these in the box, though some of them may have been the same guns at different shows. This box is faded and coming apart, due to acid paper used in the construction, but it’s still the best one I have seen. This time I did not hesitate. I pulled the trigger, and here we are.

Lithoed box
When new this box was bright and beautiful. Acid paper has deteriorated over time. read more


Benjamin 310 BB gun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Benjamin 310
A Benjamin 310 multi-pump BB gun from 1952.

This report covers:

  • Green box
  • The “hidden” find!
  • Back to the BB gun
  • Finish
  • Model 310
  • A sweetie
  • Take our time

Two months ago I attended a small local gun show where the joke is — if you are looking for Indian jewelry, coffee mugs and dream catchers, this is the gun show to attend! Guns? Not so much. But it’s local, so I went. I haven’t had much luck at this show — ever! But because it’s mentioned the intro to this report, you know this time will be different.

I was halfway through the show, looking carefully at everything on each table when my buddy Otho called to me. He was on point the next aisle over. Oh great, I thought. Another rusty Daisy Red Ryder from 1986! But I was wrong.

Green box

Otho was looking at a long green box with a Benjamin multi-pump inside. The box was/is in excellent condition, which is ultra-rare. They are usually beat up pretty bad. I’m going to tell you the entire story of this find, however at this point I will let you in on that other good internet buy I told you about last Monday. The one I said nobody could find.

The “hidden” find!

The listing was on Ebay and was hidden from view when I wrote about it. A search that had “antique Benjamin” in the title did not find it. Neither did a search for “Benjamin air pistol.” The seller must have changed something, because when I went back two days later to take the screen shot shown below, it now came up with the other Benjamin pistols. I figured that would poison the well.

Benjamin 310 listing
This is the listing I told you about. At this price this is a great buy! Unfortunately, this listing is now searchable.

Benjamin 310 normal listing
This is what a Benjamin pistol from this timeframe in a nice box usually lists for. They aren’t worth this much, but they are commonly listed for this much.

Benjamin 310 high listing
And this is the crazy price. This pistol is less desirable because it is later (box and finish), plus it has a painted finish rather than a plated finish.

Benjamin 310 Ebay listing updated
When the seller pulled the listing out of the trash by fixing the title, the pistol took off. At this price it’s still okay, but it’s no longer a bargain. This is what it sold for. read more


Crosman 102 multi-pump pneumatic repeater: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 102
Crosman’s 102 is a .22 caliber multi-pump repeater.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Clearing the jam
  • The jam
  • Assembly
  • Accuracy
  • Re-sighting
  • Crosman Premiers
  • Crosman wadcutters
  • 10-shots
  • Discussion
  • Summary

You may recall that the Crosman 102 jammed last time I tested it and I had to clear it before continuing. I did that and today we will shoot it at 25 yards. First, let’s clear the jam.

Clearing the jam

Crosman designed the 102 to be easy to clear, but without a manual I had to discover it for myself. The rear peep sight slides to either side, revealing a hole through which many jammed pellets can be removed.

Crosman 102 jam hole
Pull the bolt back and rod the pellet out of the breech. It will fall out this hole.

My jam was more involved, though, and I had to partially disassemble the action to clear it. The top receiver cover is held on by one shoulder bolt that has a large thumbscrew head. Remove it and the top cover slides back and off the receiver. The peep sight is attached to the cover by a rivet and comes off with the cover.

Crosman 102 cover off
Once the receiver cover is off you have access to the receiver to clear tougher jams.

The top of the action is a cam plate that connects the bolt to the brass shuttle that loads the pellet. Here is how that plate works.

Crosman 102 bolt closed
When the bolt closes the cam plate moves the brass shuttle in line with the breech to load the next pellet. Bolt is shown fully closed here.

Crosman 102 bolt open
When the bolt is pulled all the way back the cam plate pushes the shuttle in line with the gravity-feed magazine for the next pellet.

Lift the cam plate up off its two pins and set it aside. Now the bolt can be pulled straight out of the receiver. You are ready to clear the jam.

Crosman 102 bolt out
With the bolt out you can clear the receiver and barrel of jammed pellets.

The jam

There was one pellet in the breech that came right out with a cleaning rod. But a second pellet had worked its way into the receiver parts and was jamming the smooth operation of the bolt. That one took longer to pry out. Once it was out, though, the action was as good as before. No more RWS Meisterkugelns for this rifle!

Assembly

Assembly was the reverse of disassembly and took about a minute. This rifle was designed well for this operation. Unfortunately, it lends itself to jamming easily, so I decided to stick to proven pellets.

Accuracy

Now it was time to shoot the rifle at 25 yards. I had already shot one target before the rifle jammed and that was with RWS Hobbys. Five pellets went into 1.4-inches. I had pumped 4 strokes for each of these shots.

Crosman 102 Hobby target
The Crosman 102 put 5 RWS Hobby pellets in 1.4-inches at 25 yards. read more


Crosman 105 “Bullseye” multi-pump pneumatic pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 105
Crosman’s 105 is a .177 caliber multi-pump air pistol.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Test 1. How many pumps?
  • Test 2. RWS Hobby pellets
  • Test 3. Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets
  • How stable?
  • The pump stroke
  • Pump force
  • Rear sight fix
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the power and velocity of the vintage Crosman 105 Bullseye multi-pump pneumatic pistol. I said in Part 1 that I would be surprised if this pistol breaks 450 f.p.s. Well, surprise, surprise! It didn’t even go that fast. And, that is what today’s report is all about, so let’s get started.

Test 1. How many pumps?

I looked through my library and didn’t find a manual for the 105. Crosman has a PDF online, or what they call a manual, but it’s just  a parts list and disassembly procedure. But in that document they do say to test your valve by filling the gun 6 pumps and then looking for bubbles around all the exit places. Oddly I found that 6 pumps is one too many for this particular gun. Let’s see now.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
Pumps………Velocity
3……………….187
4……………….224
5……………….246
6……………….254 air remaining
7……………….241 a lot of air remaining

The first test tells us that this pistol wants no more than 5 pumps per shot. You can pump the gun with or without cocking the bolt — it makes no difference to the velocity. Also note that the velocity fell back with 7 pumps. That means the valve is locking up from too much pressure inside. Also notice that after 5 pump strokes the velocity went up slowly.

This test also demonstrates the value of a chronograph. If the gun performs this way with one pellet it should perform the same or close with all pellets. But just to find out, I conducted tests 2 and 3.

Test 2. RWS Hobby pellets

Pumps………Velocity
3……………….202
4……………….242
5……………….267
6……………….276 air remaining

Test 3. Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets

Pumps………Velocity
3……………….228
4……………….267
5……………….304 air remaining
6……………….326 more air remaining

So, the gun does act pretty much the same with other pellets, though with lighter pellets more air remains inside after the shot. That’s because a heavier pellet provides more back-pressure on the valve, keeping it open longer to exhaust more air.

How stable?

To find out how stable the gun is I conducted another test. I pumped the gun the maximum number of times, which we determined was 5 strokes, and shot the same Crosman Premier Light pellet 5 times. Look at what I got.

Shot…………..Velocity
1……………….245
2……………….246
3……………….239
4……………….233
5……………….236

The average was 240 f.p.s. for this string. The maximum spread went from 233 to 246 f.p.s., which is 13 f.p.s. That’s not terrible, but it’s on the high side for a multi-pump. I expected 4-5 f.p.s. maximum.

The pump stroke

Reader Siraniko asked me what kind of sound the pistol makes when pumped. I told him it’s smooth and nearly silent. But he was also asking about when the brass pump lever hits the gun at the end of the stroke. That makes a click, just like you might expect. So the 105 is not silent.

Pump force

The pump force required is not that much, even with 5 strokes. It takes maybe 20 pounds of effort to close the lever at that point.

Rear sight fix

Several readers noticed that the rear sight blade is bent back and down. They guessed it was done by a former owner who was trying the bring down the shot group, because you always move the rear sight in the direction you want the shots to go.

I needed to fix this, because as it was I could not see through the notch. The adjustment screw filled the notch. Reader GunFun 1 suggested that I just remove the adjustment screw, which I did. Now I can see the front sight clearly in the notch and this is how I will test the gun for accuracy.

Trigger pull

The trigger on this pistol is single stage and pretty stiff. It released at between 6 lbs. 3 oz. and 6 lbs. 10 oz. That is amplified by the thin trigger blade. As I mentioned in Part 1, it is a direct sear trigger and pretty easy to access and work on. I might put some moly on the contact surfaces if I decide to keep the pistol.

Summary

Am I pleased with the 105 so far? Yes, for the most part, I am. I knew it would be weak, although not quite as weak as we have seen today. Like I said in part 1, owning a vintage airgun like this is like owning a vintage car. There are quirks you need to learn and to tolerate to operate it. But it rewards you with the satisfaction of having something few other airgunners can boast. I sure hope it’s accurate!


Crosman 102 multi-pump pneumatic repeater: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 102
Crosman’s 102 is a .22 caliber multi-pump repeater.

Part 1 read more