Last week several readers had discussions about digital photography and film — discussing which is better. But a knowledge of how to manipulate images in software is a tool for finding hidden gems. Today I want to show you what I mean.
Where BB shops
I watch eBay and Gun Broker for my “finds.” Some of you know this and contact me offline if you see something I might like, or if you think I’m bidding on something and you don’t want to oppose me. I do the same for some of you.
The junk table
But, what if there was a junk table online — a table piled high with garbage that nobody would look at? Or, let me turn that around. If you were at an airgun show and you saw a table piled with what appeared to be old junkers, would you even bother looking at it? You’d better!read more
I made part 1 of the report on the Malvern airgun show about the 3 new products I saw. I did that because I’ve never seen 3 entirely new products at an airgun show before. I have plans to test each of these for you, because I think they’re all very important to the future of airguns.
Today, I want to tell you about the regular things that went on at this show. I will talk about the guns I saw and shot and some of the people I got to meet and know. Because Malvern is a small show, it does give you a chance to meet and talk to people. I had more people introduce themselves and tell me they read this blog or watched American Airgunner than at any other show I’ve attended. That’s nice, and I think it indicates that the airgun community here in the United States is beginning to open up. People are no longer surprised by what modern airguns can do.
But Malvern had lots of vintage airguns, too, and today I want to talk about them. The first one was the HW35 that I bought at the Findlay show a couple weeks before, and Dennis Quackenbush was kind enough to bring it to Malvern. It had been some time since I’d seen this rifle, but it still looked as good as I remembered.
Ironically, there were 3 other HW35 Luxus rifles for sale at Malvern! I’ve gone several years without seeing a single one (the 35 Luxus, I mean), and now there were 4 at the same show. I’m not showing a picture of it today because I plan to start reporting on it Monday. There will be plenty of pictures then.
Another vintage rifle I’ve been watching for about 2 years is a very clean BSF S54 Bayern Deluxe that Larry Hannusch has been showing. I started trying to negotiate with him at last year’s Texas Airgun show and we finally reached an agreement at Malvern. I’m glad, too, because neither of us wanted this beautiful example of a vintage target rifle to endure the dangers of commercial shipping from his house to mine.
I bought this beautiful BSF S54 Deluxe at Malvern and will test it for you in the future.
Of course, I’ll review this rifle for you in detail. But we still have a lot of other reports to cover first.
Speaking of Larry, he usually brings something nice and old to these shows. This year it was a case of pneumatic air pistols from the early 1800s. Rather than just tell you about them, I shot a short video.
Larry Hannusch’s display included these vintage pneumatic pistols.
Early BSA Airsporter
After my report on the Don Robinson BSA Airsporter, one of our blog readers was kind enough to bring his early Airsporter rifle to Malvern to show me. His rifle is so early that the loading tap opens automatically when the cocking lever is pulled down. BSA did that on the very early guns, but stopped after a short time. So, any gun you see that does it that way has to be an early one.
A nice, early BSA Airsporter showed up at my table.
A missed deal
While I was sitting at my table on Friday, a man came by carrying a scoped breakbarrel. When I learned it was an HW 50S I became interested. The man was asking a reasonable price, I thought. If I had the money, I would have tried to buy it, but I was in negotiations on the BSF at the time, so I had to let it walk. As luck would have it, the man at the table behind me bought the rifle for less than the asking price.
This is how all airgun shows work. People walk around with guns for sale and deals are made in both directions over the tables. Often the people walking around are trying to raise the cash to buy something else at the show, so there are bargains to be had.
The missed deal started another deal of which I would become an integral part. On the table of the guy who bought the 50S lay an HW85 — a breakbarrel spring rifle that was also called the Beeman R10. It was the first rifle Weihrauch made after they purchased the BSF company and combined the parts for their guns into the Weihrauch lineup.
The HW85 is an upgraded BSF S70 fitted with a Rekord trigger. There’s a lot more to it than just that, but that’s the essence of the gun. Beeman called the R10 the “son of the R1” because it produced R1 velocities in a much slimmer, lighter spring gun. There was just one problem. The R10/HW85 buzzed like a jar of angry hornets! And, while the R1 could be tuned to deliver even higher velocities, the R10 came out of the box maxed out.
I overhead the owner telling someone that this was the smoothest spring rifle he’d ever shot — he just wasn’t shooting it very much. I’ve heard things like that so many times that I give them no credit. When David Enoch purchased the rifle (David’s table was next to the table of guy who owned the HW85 and also behind mine) and David said something similar, I listened. David knows airguns; and if he thinks something is smooth, then it is.
I asked David if I could take it out back to the range and he agreed. That’s when I shot the one of smoothest spring rifles I have ever experienced.
David’s brother, Bryan, did the tune. Come to find out Bryan has tuned a number of spring guns and is known for how smooth he makes them. He buttons the piston front and rear, he makes new spring guides front and rear — he even buttons the cocking linkage so you cannot feel the movement as the barrel is broken!
Bryan Enoch holds the HW85 he tuned. It’s so smooth that it shoots like an R7.
Bryan tuned the rifle years ago and sold it to someone in the southeast. The guy his brother bought it from got it from the original owner, although why anyone would let go of a gun like that is beyond me. Maybe it came from an estate?
When I returned to my table, it took only a brief time to make up my mind. I made a deal to have Bryan tune a rifle for me. Nobody builds their own hot rod when Carrol Shelby is in town! I’ve shot spring rifles tuned by Paul Watts and Ivan Hancock and this one is fully their equal.
We initially decided Bryan would tune my new HW35, which is why I was so surprised to find that it was already shooting very smooth. It’s so smooth that it would be a shame to do anything to it. Whether it’s been tuned or is just a very smooth airgun from the factory remains to be seen, but I now have Bryan scheduled to tune my Beeman R1. That’s right — THE R1. The one I wrote the book about. The one I said at the end of the book would someday get the ideal tune. Well, I’ve found that tune!
What’s in it for you is that Bryan will take pictures as he goes, and I’ll blog the tune. And if you attend the Texas Airgun Show on Saturday, August 29, I’ll let you shoot the rifle — assuming it’s finished by then.
I mentioned in part 1 that Malvern was a small show. Yet there were things here that you seldom see at big shows. On one table sat a scoped USFT rifle that was offered for the very reasonable price of $2,200.
The USFT field target rifle from Mac-1 Airguns is a purpose-built competition air rifle. You don’t see them for sale at shows that often.
I’ve seen USFT rifles for sale at airgun shows in the past, but not often. This one was set up and ready to go for any aspiring field target shooter.
On the same table as the USFT sat a strange-looking bullpup rifle called a Vulcan. It’s made in the Czech Republic, and the .22-caliber version I saw was producing 30 foot-pounds. The owner said anyone could shoot it, so I availed myself of the opportunity and took it out back to the range.
I have several things to say about shooting the Vulcan. First, it’s very powerful. The small gun actually recoiled when it was fired. Second, it wasn’t difficult to hold. Third, the gun is silenced very well. It did make some noise, but nothing like 30 foot-pounds would suggest.
And, finally, I was warned that the trigger was very light. It was! Light and crisp. How they do that in a bullpup is beyond me, but this trigger is as nice as any PCP trigger I’ve tested. All in all, the Vulcan is a sweet little hunting carbine!
The Vulcan bullpup proved to be light, compact, powerful and a delight to shoot. It was so addictive it was like eating peanuts.
Of course, there were plenty of other vintage and modern guns in the hall. Byran Enoch displayed a nice IZH 61 with steel breech that so many of you want to get. It wasn’t cheap, but it was very complete with extra metal clips.
I already mentioned seeing 3 HW35 Luxus rifles for sale. But there was American iron for sale, as well. On one table sat a gorgeous Sheridan Blue Streak with a Williams peep sight. My impression was that this rifle has the rocker safety, but I can’t see the rocker in the picture I took. It may be an earlier thumb-safety Sheridan.
Over the years, I have seen several Blue and Silver Streaks with gorgeous figured walnut stocks. I even owned one. You get that when thousands of board feet of walnut are cut each year to stock one of America’s most popular multi-pumps. But I never saw one with dark figured walnut until this one.
This Sheridan Blue Streak has a gorgeous piece of figured walnut for a stock.read more
Malvern is a show that has evolved over the years. Originally, it was the Little Rock, Arkansas, show and was held in Benton, Arkansas, inside an empty mall building for many years. Then, it moved a few miles to the west to the county fairgrounds for several more years before the promoter decided to give up the show.
Layers of intrigue
Seth Rowland, who makes bullets for big bore hunters, took over promoting the show and moved it to the old country fairgrounds in Malvern, Arkansas, about 20 miles further west on Interstate 30. Of all the airgun shows being held, Malvern is the smallest and the quietest, but it’s also one that has many surprises every year. This year, I’ll say that I saw layers of intrigue to the show. That’s what I’ll discuss today.
Seth Rowland, the Malvern show promoter, makes big bore bullets. Below are 3 of his .458 bullets, which include a ballistic tip, a flat nose and a hollowpoint with a shallow cupped point. Seth and other hunters have taken many deer and bear with these bullets!
Seth Rowland is well-known among big bore shooters for the hunting bullets he makes. Here are 3 of his .458s.
Having a big bore bullet maker at a show allows the public to talk about what they need for their rifles. As always, there were many interesting discussions about what works on game. There are many different big bores on the market today, which is why Seth makes so many different kinds of bullets.
In the corner of the show hall was a booth set up with a video of someone shooting action targets. It turned out to be videos of the Rocket Shot target, which you can watch on their website. You shoot the yellow paddle, which launches an empty aluminum soda can about 10 feet straight up. A good shot can hit the paddle and then the can while it’s in the air.
Watch the video and tell me what you think. Isn’t this the most ideal Cowboy Action target you’ve ever seen? It’s perfect for lower-powered BB and pellet guns, though you must remember to always wear eye protection when shooting it, because the paddle that triggers the shot is thick steel. According to the inventor, the paddle can take hits up to around 10-11 foot-pounds, so your 800 f.p.s. pellet rifles can be used. But, I think you’ll want to shoot it with something more exciting.
The Rocket Shot action target made a big splash at Malvern.
This target was MADE for a gun like the Colt Single Action Army! Add the Walther Lever Action rifle to it, and the Rocket Shot target has given us 2 parts of a 3-part Cowboy Action contest! Of course, all your action pistols and long gun repeaters can also be used. Just remember to always wear eye protection!
I bought a target and plan to thoroughly test it for you. This is one of the best airgun inventions I’ve seen in the past decade! They’re going to sell thousands of these target at just $35 each.
AirForce Airguns Texan big bore air rifle
AirForce Airguns had a booth at this show. It was manned by Eric Henderson, the host of Adventures Afield, a YouTube television show about airgun hunting. AirForce owner John McCaslin was at the show all day Saturday. And, of course, the main attraction was the new Texan big bore rifle.
The AirForce Texan created quite a stir. People could actually see and touch it.
I watched the reaction from people as they cocked the big rifle. They were as stunned as I was when I tested it for you earlier this year. We couldn’t shoot big bores at this show; but if you come to our Texas Airgun Show on August 29, you’ll get a chance to see it being shot in a big bore contest we’re holding. Yes, the Long-range Airgun Silhouette Shooting Organization (LASSO) big bore contest will be held in Poolville on Saturday, August 29, during the show. And, if you come to the show, you’re invited to watch the filming of a roundtable segment for the American Airgunner TV show being filmed at a public reception the evening before! (More info to come.)
Speaking of big bore airguns, Dennis Quackenbush was there with a couple non-standard guns (read that as guns that were not made for an order) on his table. I know his single .458 sold, and I think one or both the .308s went, as well. Malvern may be small, but the good stuff is always there! All 3 of these rifles had longer barrels for greater velocity. This time, I have no pictures because they went too fast!
He also had a couple big bore air pistols on his table. He told me his .50 caliber gets up to 100 foot-pounds! How’s that for an air pistol?
Dennis is always introducing me to people at these shows, but he’s the rock star. He makes air rifles! He always gets humble whenever I introduce him to someone, but there are darned few people who can do what he does. And no one has done as much of it as Dennis.
Mike Melick is an airgun dealer in Iowa. He’s a competitor to Pyramyd Air, so I can’t give a link to his Flying Dragon website, but I want to talk about him in a different light.
Mike brings airguns to the shows that other dealers do not carry. Most are Chinese spring guns from Xisico; but at this show, he had a used B40 (copy of a TX200) in the rack. Cooler still, he had an Air Arms TX200 Hunter Carbine next to it! The B40 sold on the second day. If you know what a B40 is, you know why it sold so quickly.
Mike Melick had a BAM B40 underlever in the rack (arrow). It sold. The Air Arms TX200 HC is on the left.
Mike also loaned me an XS-B25S that he told me he lightly tuned. He said he knew how much I like the Diana 34P, which I do, and he wanted me to see something that’s really close. He said I could play with it and test it if I liked. I won’t blog it here, but if the test goes well, I may write about it on my website. I have to say that I actually thought it was a 34P when he handed it to me!
Pellet Head Gauge
Another new product at Malvern was the Pellet Head Gauge. It’s a precision gauge used for sorting pellets by their head sizes. You think all precision pellets have the head size that’s marked on the tin? Well, a quick test with this gauge revealed a 0.04mm span of head sizes IN THE SAME TIN! So, that 4.53mm pellet you’re shooting may actually have a 4.49mm head.
Jerry Cupples’ Pellet Head Gauge is a precision gauge that really works! I’ll test it for you.
This is far too important to overlook! If head sizes matter for accuracy, and we know without question that they do, then will sorting the pellets in a tin and discarding those of the wrong head size make a difference? That’s what we’re going to find out. It’s too simple to just think they will and not test for it. Early indications from testing by the maker of this gauge — Jerry Cupples — are that it makes a difference.
I intend to test it for you several ways. As soon as there’s contact information to purchase the gauge, I’ll provide it.
I’ve tested several R. Arms Innovations adapters for turning Crosman pistols into carbines. That was where I last saw this company, when they displayed at the 2014 Texas Airgun Show. Well, folks, they have many new airgun products of which I was unaware.
Dave Rensing, owner of RAI, told me his business is now booming all around the world. He’s selling his adapters overseas through small U.S. dealers who will export them, because he doesn’t want to get into that part of the business. Here in the U.S., the name RAI on a product means something, and that keeps him hopping.
RAI recently purchased the stockmaker TERYX and has a Gen 2 Benjamin Marauder tactical stock. It’s received rave reviews from airgun hunters already.
RAI now offers this TERYX aluminum tactical stock for the Gen 2 Marauder.
Dave also showed me a neat butt adapter that allows the stock to fold sideways for transport. It’s on the TERYX stock shown above, but look at it when its collapsed to see how it works:
The stock collapsed. This is a full-length Marauder!
They’ve also produced an advanced aluminum stock for the Gen 2 Marauder, and I plan to test it for you. You know how the Marauder wood stock is so fat that it turns away buyers? RAI has made it thin and tactical. They’ve also innovated it to accept ANY AR-15 pistol grip and standard triggerguard!
The next generation RAI modular stock for the Marauder is so revolutionary that I’ll test it thoroughly for you. This one changes things in the PCP world! The stock is so new that it hasn’t even been anodized or marked.read more
I was walking the aisles, looking at all the guns and trying to see everything. On the floor at one table there was a standing rack with what appeared to be a Bugelspanner. I showed you a Bugelspanner several years ago. I’ve seen hundreds of Bugelspanners over the past couple decades I’ve been going to airgun shows, but this one looked a little different. So, I inquired about it — and got the best story of the whole show.
For starters, it wasn’t a Bugelspanner (triggerguard-cocker) at all. It was a Heblespanner (side-winding crank-cocker), similar in function to my David Lurch gallery dart gun, though quite unlike it at the same time. Let’s take a look.
This dart gun is special!
This gun is cocked with a crank; but instead of a geared mechanism, there’s a square plug for the crank to engage. And double-set triggers add to the beauty and functionality of the gun.
What really sets this airgun apart, though, is the inscription engraved on the receiver: “Elijah Van Syckel to his son Emmet May 1st 52”
That has to be 1852, which is almost the dawn of this type of gallery airgun. We currently think it’s American-made, but by whom we have no clue.
The barrel is not solid. It’s a hollow tube that’s shaped into an octagon and finished with what both the owner and I agree is a faux Damascus pattern. It’s very even and gorgeous! Whoever made this gun was a master craftsman. The actual barrel is a thin brass tube held in a plug at the muzzle and breech.
The “barrel” is a hollow tube shaped into an octagon and finished to look like Damascus.
The inner brass barrel is held in a plug at the muzzle and breech.
The gun is a breech loader, which was very uncommon for 1852! To load, you unlatch the barrel and swing it to the side.
The barrel is held shut by a latch on the right side of the gun. Push it down…
…and the barrel swings to the side to access the breech for loading.
This dart gun is between .25 and .28 caliber, but the darts were all made by hand so it really didn’t matter. There were probably a supply of them that came with the gun.
As you can see, the gun has double-set triggers — another custom touch that’s unnecessary on a dart gun, but which the finer ones had.
The gun’s owner has started researching the owner and his father who made the presentation. This will make a wonderful story when he gets more information.
At my table
Sometimes, I will be at my table minding my own business when someone brings something by to show me. That happened several times at this show. The first time was one of our blog readers named John, who brought 2 different lead bullets by for me to use in my test of the Benjamin Bulldog. They’re shaped differently, and he thought they might do well in the rifle. I gave them to Dennis Quackenbush to take to the Malvern, Arkansas airgun show for me, because I was flying. I’ll pick them up in 2 weeks and give you all the details when I receive the bullets, again.
The second person who stopped by my table was Jerry from Pittsburgh, who brought me a handy tool for loading pellets in tight places. Let me let him tell you his idea.
A pair of angled tweezers for loading pellets into tight places as well as rotary breeches, sidelevers and underlevers.read more
It was good to see the old gang, again, at this year’s Findlay airgun show. Findlay is a show that combines the old with the new, and you never know what will walk in the door. I sat at Dennis Quackenbush’s table, so I’ll begin there.
Dennis usually doesn’t have big bore guns to sell at the show, because he’s busy filling orders all the time. But at this show, he had 3 of them — one .458 and two .308s. These were guns with extra-long barrels that nobody had ordered, so Dennis could sell them without pushing anyone back on his list. All 3 sold in the first 42 minutes after the doors opened at 9 a.m., and one was sold while a second customer was on his phone trying to decide whether or not to buy it. Before his call was finished, the gun sold. Folks, if you see something you like at an airgun show, buy it. And if you think you want to buy it, never set it down until the deal is made.
• Correction to the first report.
• Some vintage airguns.
• There were parts for sale.
• Vintage store displays and boxed BB guns from WW II.
• Ft. Worth airgun show.
• NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits.
This is the second part of the report on the Toys That Shoot airgun show in Findlay, Ohio. In the first report, I showed you a lot of vintage collectible airguns — some commanding very high prices. Today, I’ll show the other side of the show — the one where regular people would buy and sell. Before I get to that, though, there is a correction to the first report. I mentioned seeing a muzzleloading big bore air rifle on Dennis Quackenbush’s table, and I gave you the impression that he designed it. He did not. That rifle was designed by its owner, Mike Paulus, who commissioned Dennis to build his design. Dennis told me as much at the show, but I wasn’t listening. I thought he was being modest; in fact, he was telling me that Mike designed the rifle. Dennis just made the parts for him.
Mike Paulus’ big bore airgun was mislabeled in Part 1
Mike also made the stock entirely on his own. Dennis said the concept was so well thought out that it was very straightforward to build, and Mike is extremely pleased with his new rifle.
Let’s be honest, we go to these shows to see the extremely rare guns, but we also go to buy fine vintage guns that are affordable. This was a wonderful show for this. In past reports, I focused on guns like the FWB 124 or the Diana 27; but this time, I looked at the other kinds of guns collectors and shooters want.
Let’s start with some desirable vintage pistols. I saw a good number of Crosman 600 semiauto repeaters at this show. They ran from $90 to 200, depending on condition and what they came with. If you’re looking for a classic pellet pistol, this is one that’s hard to beat! The 600s were selling for $75-125 more than this just 5 years ago, but the boom peaked and the price has fallen back. Now’s the time to buy.
Crosman 600s on the left at the top and bottom and a Mark I or II in the center. On the right from the top are a chrome Hy Score 800, Crosman 150/157 and a Benjamin 100/107 at the bottom. All were affordable, and I believe they all worked.
If you’re more of a collector than a shooter, these same guns were available in their boxes with all the original accessories and literature.
The same vintage pistols were also available in their original boxes. These were incredibly affordable!
Somebody remarked that there were a lot of fine Daisy model 25s at this show. He was right. I didn’t photograph them all, but one stand was particularly picturesque. It looks like an arsenal “organ” of guns from the 19th century.
Sharp eyes can pick out at least one very early Daisy model 25 pump gun in this rack, but there are actually many variations, including different types of wood stocks. All are vintage and desirable!read more
Best airgun show I have been to in a very long time! Not because I sold a lot — I didn’t. But I met a lot of nice blog readers, got to see some airguns that are extremely rare and got to acquire a couple nice vintage guns for future blogs.
Dennis Quackenbush told me this show would be a good one, and he was right. As soon as the doors opened to the public, the place was packed. From what I saw, people had money to spend and weren’t afraid to pull it out.
The Findlay show is very heavy into vintage BB guns; so if that’s what you like, it’s one of the 2 best shows for that. But they weren’t all Daisys. There were many other rare models, including a super-rare Quackenbush Lightning.
A table loaded with Quackenbush airguns! John Groenewold, who wrote the book “Quackenbush Guns,” had tables at the show.
The Quackenbush model zero, also called the Lightning, uses rubber bands to power the sliding compression chamber that moves on the fixed barrel. It’s the rarest model, with fewer than 10 complete guns known.
I mentioned there were rare airguns at this show. That Quackenbush Lightning was one of them, but there was another that I was shown privately. It is a Giffard Deluxe Target model that, until I saw it, was unknown to me. The owner, who is an advanced collector and asked for privacy, graciously allowed me to photograph the rifle.
You’re looking at the action of an 8mm Giffard Deluxe Target rifle that may be the only one in the U.S. Giffards are not common, but this one is virtually unknown!
This rifle is almost entirely hand made. Gold inlays on the barrel tell you the care they put into it. A rifle like this cost three times what a regular Giffard cost at the time (1870s & ’80s)!
The bottom of the triggerguard of this special target rifle is actually a palm rest for offhand shooting!
They went on and on…
Being at this show was like taking a stroll through Dr. Arni Dunathan’s book, The American B.B. Gun. At every turn, you saw cast iron and folded-metal BB guns from the genesis of the sport/hobby! You had to be there to appreciate it completely, but trust me when I tell you this show was a treat for the American BB gun collector.
Atlas, Matchless, Columbians — the guns in this photograph are worth a fine used car!read more