To B3 or not to B3 – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This is the second part of Vince’s guest blog about the B3 air rifle he turned into a decent gun.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

by Vince

The anti-beartrap mechanism.

Notice that this is the type that’s engaged by default. It’s not put on SAFE by the lever being cocked. Rather, it’s put on FIRE when the lever is returned to the stow position.

Next comes the fun part — getting the spring out. I did it my way, which first involves tapping out the single pin with a punch or a phillips screwdriver slightly smaller in diameter.

When the pin comes out all the way, the spring retainer jumps out a tiny bit but is safely retained by whatever you used to knock out the pin.

This may seem dangerous, but there’s little that can go wrong at this point. The retainer won’t even try to escape until the pin is all the way out, and that won’t happen until the punch is all the way in. Unless the spring is powerful enough to shear off the punch, everything is hunky-dory. So, don’t use toothpicks or bamboo skewers as a punch.

My two-step spring-removal method.

What I do is really very simple. I grasp the action with my left hand and hug it close. With my weight (and I’ve got lots of weight to spare!), I bear down on the action while feeling the punch that’s still holding everything together. When I feel the punch loosen up, I know that I’ve taken up the entire force of the spring and slip it out with no surprises. I use my right hand to help steady it, let ‘er up and it’s apart.

Now, I’m looking at the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly is my own reflection in the spring tube. The bad is the spring retainer/rear guide. The good is everything else. I’m seeing acceptable condition in all the other parts.

The B3’s spring tube parts.

The piston seal is the standard Industry Brand bottom-feeder clip-on synthetic type, which is in remarkably good condition:

The original piston seal is in good shape and doesn’t need to be replaced.

Good thing, too, ’cause I don’t have laying around, and I SURE don’t plan on buying anything for this gun. That still leaves me with the whole rear guide/retainer issue.

This is what came out of the rifle.

I took some measurements. The overall length is about 4.5 inches, and the rear guide diameter is 12mm. And, no, .50 inches won’t fit inside the spring. the first thing I did was rummage around my boxes of miscellaneous parts, and I come across a Crosman Quest rear guide/retainer that looked like it might just be workable.

I hacked off the remaining vestiges of the smashed guide and bore a hole down the middle of it to accept the shank of the Crosman guide (first two pictures). I separated the Crosman guide from its retainer block, trimmed it to length and tapped it into the original retainer (last 3 images).

I still have the issue of the spring perch that spaces the rear of the spring and gives it a bearing surface. It appears that the original design had plastic EVERYTHING in this area, which yields a very short life expectancy.

I figured that I can take care of the spacing duties with a piece of CPVC pipe, which happens to fit over my new guide very nicely.

The new retainer.

I cut it to length (approx. 26mm) and squared it up. I can’t let the spring actually seat on a plastic part (even if Shanghai can), so I dug up a rusty old lockwasher and refinished it.

And after flattenning, cleaning and grinding to the proper dimensionsm I’ve got an almost-proper spring seat using this rehabbed lock washer.

As long as I was at it, I decided to really go all out and clean the barrel. This means using a .22 caliber brush and some Brownell’s J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. Frankly, I’m wondering if the B3 is worth the additional $1.79 worth of material. But, hey, it’s Christmas, right…well, it was Christmas when I was doing this. The time of miracles?

After the barrel is clean, I goop up everything with moly goo and put it all back together. Now comes the fun part: Cocking it for the first time!

Perfectly uneventful, as it turned out, and it cocked like a cheap gun in decent working condition. Which is, by no means, universal for a B3. Firing the gun with Crosman Premier hollowpoints were up first. After three shots, I gave up. Next were “The Peak” Chinese pellets, which sometimes do well in lower-powered guns. Funny thing happened — 4 scattered shots, but 2 in the same hole. Next up were the Gamo Match, and I had 3 go into a surprisingly tight group with 2 opening it up.

Last pellet was the Daisy Precision-Max wadcutter, which is a very soft and mediocre pellet (especially in .22). Four shots went into a pretty tight group, with one about 1.5 inches away. I shot a sixth, and it went into the same place as the other four. If I throw out the flier, I’ve just shot a .40-inch group with my B3 and a $5 scope.

The next, oh, 100 shots or so, were spent chasing down tantalizing groups with agonizing fliers. One thing was certain — the B3 was getting better the more I shot it. The sound of the gun wasn’t changing at all, so I’m guessing the not-terribly-well-finished barrel is sensitive to seasoning. It got to the point where I started wondering about the scope, so I popped on a CenterPoint 4×32 I had laying around.

My rehabbed B3 and CenterPoint 4×32 scope.

I also switched back to Gamo Match pellets and found that things continued to improve.

Gamo Match pellets plus the new scope, and this level of accuracy became pretty commonplace.

I got about a .50-inch group — with no flyers! — which is, oh, about a zillion times better than I imagined it would ever do. I also tried shooting the gun while resting it on a Pyramyd Air gel pad which it most certainly didn’t like. So, the B3 has the nerve to be somewhat hold sensitive. It’s a fair assumption that I could get better results if I really took the time to learn how to hold it and to deal with the still-annoying trigger — and if I tried more types of pellets.

But, I’m not going to bother. Why should I? Even with acceptable accuracy I’ve got other rifles that are far more pleasant to shoot, just as accurate or more so, and don’t threaten my fingers with amputation. Besides, all I wanted was a useable B3 in my collection, whether it ever actually gets used or not.

What does this say about the horrible quality of the B3? Hard to tell, frankly. Is quality control all over the place, but I got a good one while B.B. got a bad one? Or, is it just that the barrel needs a lot of cleaning and seasoning before it’s any good? Who knows?

The rest of the innards, while still being obviously from a cheap gun, really were made better than I expected. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that when a shooter claims to do well with one of these things, well…you never know. He just might be telling the truth!

To B3 or not to B3 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Vince is an airgun fixit guru. He’s been on a roll lately and has sent me a number of great guest blogs about fixing airguns, taking junker guns and making them whole again, and making airgun parts.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

by Vince

To B3 or not to B3…that, as they say, was the dilemma of the day.

You know, there’s a dark side to being a collector (sort of). I’m up to about 70 air rifles and have room for about 20 or so more, so I’m just sniffing around for stuff I don’t have. I came across a gentleman selling a box of guns, four in all–well, three-and-a-half, actually–for pretty cheap, and I had examples of NONE of them! Two were Shanghai-built Industry Brand B3 airguns, one was an unidentified Chinese sidelever and the last was the action part of a QB51.

I’ll cover the sidelever in another blog, but the B3 guns…What can be said about them that hasn’t already been said? Love ’em or hate ’em (and there’s no shortage of shooters that go both ways), it doesn’t change the fact that I DON’T HAVE ONE. Imagine a rich Mustang collector; he NEEDS to have a 1974 Mustang II Ghia with a 2.3L 4-cylinder and an automatic in his collection. It’s a horrid little car, but that doesn’t matter. There’s a spot for it.

But not two. So, I test-fired the B3s; one’s a .177, the other’s a .22. I ditched the .177. It was actually smoother and more accurate, it wasn’t missing its rear sight, and although velocity was low (no better than the .22, really), it was obviously the best one. I figured I could get $15 for it as opposed to $5 for the .22. I WAS RIGHT! Sold it in no time!

The .22 B3. At least I found a home for my $5 scope!

I’d recently been testing .22 pellets to find out what worked best in some of my lower-powered guns. When I was done, I figured “What the heck? I’ll see what the B3 likes — if anything!” I got exactly 2 shots off before the bad cocking cycle got to the point of “You try to cock me one more time, and you’ll regret the day you were born!”

Hence, my pickle.

I hate to let anything good go to waste. Since I seldom buy ANYTHING good, I rarely get the chance. But, that attitude sorta spills over into the not-so-good, the pretty bad and (not infrequently) the trash. And, so, I started wondering (for some strange reason), if I ought to even put five minutes into this thing. I mean, “time is money, money’s scarce and that ain’t funny!” I never made a habit of taking personal advice from The Kinks, so the B3 goes to the workbench.

The B3 action comes apart in the usual fashion, and the wonders of bottom-feeder Chinese engineering become immediately apparent.

The circles show the half-baked way in which the articulated cocking link is kept in place. No fancy rollers or bearings for the B3! We’ll make do with a plastic button and some perpendicular serrations on the link JUST TO MAKE SURE the button wears out fast! Ah, but they didn’t count on MOLY! I’ll foil their plans for premature wear!

Next, I took apart the trigger. Fortunately, it waited for me. Shanghai uses non-peened pins for the trigger blade pivot and stop, and sometimes everything falls out on its own accord when the action is taken out of the stock. When the gun is assembled, the close fit of the stock keeps them in place. Or, at least, in the same neighborhood.

The trigger.

For longtime readers of this blog, these parts might look just a tad familiar. Go waaaaayyyyyy back to B.B.’s review of the TS45. No, not the one he did in September 2009. You have to reach back to January 2007.

You’ll see the neat X-rays of the trigger. Very similar. If you want to try to smooth the trigger action, all you have to do is smooth the areas circled above. I hope that the hardening treatment at the factory went deeper than .0000001 inches. You could even play with the angles! Given that this is a sliding-cylinder gun that can de-tip your digits, I’m going to leave it be.

Next, out comes the pivot for the cocking lever: a simple screw that also contains the front sling swivel.

The whole cocking linkage assembly just lifts out. That leaves the trigger interlock exposed, which can be yanked after removing the one screw that holds it in.

Tune in tomorrow to see the rest of Vince’s disassembly and the reassembly!