Determining the age of a vintage airgun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • How old?
  • It starts with straight razors
  • Shape of the blade
  • Shape of the scales
  • Blade profile
  • Airguns
  • Generations/ages
  • Very old steel and wood
  • Seals
  • Spring guns
  • Funky parts
  • Other finishes
  • Post WW II steel and wood guns
  • Breech and piston seals
  • Look for plastic
  • Painted guns?
  • Summary

How old?

If you are new to the field of airguns there seems to be an ocean of things you need to know. If you want to become a collector, some of these things are crucial. Today I will explore how you can determine the relative age of a vintage airgun.

It starts with straight razors

Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about straight razors very long. But they were the thing I used to rediscover what it feels like to be a new guy in an established hobby. Although I am not interested in collecting them, I couldn’t help but pick up some clues to their relative ages (when they were made) along the way.

Shape of the blade

Before around 1800, straight razors had no real tang. That’s the skinny part behind the blade where you hold the razor to shave. Razors from 1800 and earlier simply don’t have one. They just end the sharp blade and remain almost as wide but become dull as they go back to the pivot pin on the scales.

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The Crosman 180: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 180
My .22 caliber Crosman 180 is the second variation.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The acquisition
  • Quick fix
  • 180 variants
  • Trigger
  • The 180 valve
  • Adjustable power
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Summary

The acquisition

When my wife Edith and I lived in Maryland (1982-2003) we often attended the Columbia Flea Market. Once each month they held a Super Sunday when the market would expand by 500 percent. That was the day all the occasional dealers would attend, and bring the stuff nobody had ever seen. I found some tremendous air gun bargains there! Maybe I will write a report on just that — the deals I found and the deals I passed up. Today, however, I am starting a look at a Crosman 180 that came from that market.

We had been attending for more than a year and I believe I had started writing The Airgun Letter, or was about to. Because I was used to seeing vintage airguns at this market I carried several CO2 cartridges in my pocket, just in case. On this day one stall had this Crosman 180 and a .177-caliber 187 for sale. As I recall they wanted $40 apiece. I asked if they held CO2 and of course the dealer didn’t know. Then I asked if I could try my cartridges and she said yes.

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The Diana 27: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 27
My .22 caliber Diana 27 is actually a Hy Score 807.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Eye report
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Some questions arise
  • RWS Superpoints
  • The artillery hold
  • Summary
  • MP40
  • Second time was the trick

Before I begin, someone asked about Rich Shar. He’s the guy who smoothes the biggest spring guns like the big Gamos and Hatsans. Rich tells me he has not been working on guns for awhile, but he does have a project in the works. He promises to tell me more about it. Now, on to today’s report.

I have decided to take my Diana 27 apart and clean out the old grease, then relubricate it with Almagard 3752 grease, to see what difference it might make. But not today. Today will be a traditional Part 3 accuracy test.

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The Beeman R10/HW 85: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 85
Weihrauch HW 85.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Beeman Kodiaks
  • Eye not up to par
  • RWS Superdome
  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • Crosman Premiers
  • 25 yards
  • Summary

The test

Today is our first day of accuracy testing the HW85 and I’m going to do something different. I will start at 10 meters, using the open sights that came on the rifle I’m testing. But I will only shoot 5-shot groups. I’m not interested in the absolute accuracy at 10 meters because this rifle can shoot farther than that. Ten meters is too close to accuracy test a rifle like this and expect any degree of confidence, and today you will see why.

Naturally I’m shooting with the rifle rested on a sandbag. I’m using the artillery hold, because even though the rifle is super smooth, it still recoils forward a lot. I held my off hand forward, under the rear of the cocking slot.

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The Diana 27: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 27
My .22 caliber Diana 27 is actually a Hy Score 807.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • RWS Superpoint
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Crosman Premier
  • Am I satisfied?
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • The ball bearing trigger
  • How to adjust the ball bearing trigger
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of my vintage Hy Score 807 breakbarrel air rifle that you now know is a Diana 27. Besides that I will test the trigger pull, the cocking effort and I will tell you how to adjust the ball bearing trigger. That, alone, is worth what you paid for this entire blog, so settle in and let’s have some fun!

RWS Superpoint

The first pellet I tested was my go-to pellet for a .22 caliber Diana 27 and many other old air rifles — the RWS Superpoint. I believe that Superpoints have such thin skirts that they seal the bore better in these lower powered spring rifles. I told you about the lithium grease “tune” I did about 20 years ago. It’s still performing well after all this time, and I never oil the leather piston seal. As I recall, the Superpoint averaged around 475 f.p.s. in the past. Today 10 pellets averaged 468 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 458 to a high of 474 f.p.s., which is 16 f.p.s. So, the rifle is still pretty much where it has always been. At the average velocity this pellet generated 7.05 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

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The Beeman R10/HW 85: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 85
Weihrauch HW 85.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • RWS Superdomes
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 5.51mm heads
  • Top speed?
  • Hobbys
  • Firing cycle
  • Cocking
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far

Today we learn how powerful this smooth-shooting .22-caliber HW85 is. You may remember from Part 1 that I bought this rifle because of its super-smooth tune. So, let’s get right to it.

Crosman Premiers

The first pellet to be tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. These loaded easily and averaged 678 f.p.s. The range went from 672 to 693 — a spread of 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet produces 14.6 foot pounds. This was so close to the “magic” velocity of 671 f.p.s., where the weight of the pellet in grains equals the muzzle energy in foot pounds. I mention that because it’s just a handy thing to know.

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The Diana 27: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 27
My .22 caliber Diana 27 is actually a Hy Score 807.

Part 2: The Diana 27

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Not the pre-war 27
  • First time
  • Why a 27?
  • Great feeling!
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Seals
  • Breech seal
  • Trigger
  • Overall evaluation

What is a classic? One dictionary defines it as “…of the first or highest quality, class or rank. Serving as a standard, model or guide.” Although that definition is somewhat subjective, I believe it captures the essence of the word. The Diana model 27 air rifle is certainly a classic by that definition.

Not the pre-war 27

Before we dive in let’s understand that Diana also made a model 27 before World War II. That one had only a wooden buttstock with no forearm. It looks significantly different than the rifle we are examining today. It’s not the same air rifle.

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