Crosman 38T Target revolver: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Grips & tips

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman ashcans
  • How did they do?
  • The test
  • RWS Superdome
  • Crosman ashcan pellets
  • RWS Superpoint
  • Discussion and summary

Today will be the last report on this .177-caliber Crosman 38T target revolver. Reader Billj commented to Part 2 that ashcan pellets were the most accurate in his 38T, but after some discussion he mentioned that they weren’t Crosman ashcan pellets. They were Ampell pellets.

Crosman ashcans

Ampells I can’t remark on, but Crosman ashcans I have. For the record, they aren’t called ashcans. Crosman called them Superpells. We call them ashcans because they look more like that than they do a conventional diabolo.

38T Ashcans
Crosman “ashcan” pellets are uniquely shaped. But are they accurate?

The first thing I did was weigh 10 of them for you. Here is what I saw.

Pellet….weight
1……………8.4
2……………8.3
3……………8.3
4……………8.4
5……………8.3
6……………8.3
7……………8.4
8……………8.3
9……………8.3
10..…………8.3

That’s pretty consistent. Most modern pellets don’t do any better.

How did they do?

Well, for starters ashcan pellets didn’t load into the rotating cylinder very well. The spring-loaded pellet loading tool wouldn’t push them all the way into the chamber unless I pressed down and pushed on it very firmly. It felt like they were much larger than average diabolos.

38T ashcans loading
Every ashcan pellet went into the rotating cylinder this far and then had to be pushed in the rest of the way by hand. They went in with a click.

Just for fun I measured the heads of a few of the ashcans. They were all larger than 4.56mm, which is as large as my Pelletgage goes. So they are large!

The test

I shot off a sandbag rest at 10 meters today with my hands resting on the bag. I shot 6-shot groups because that’s how many pellets fit into the 38T cylinder.

RWS Superdome

I started the test with RWS Superdome pellets. In Part 3 they grouped the best, with 6 going into 0.97-inches at 10 meters. Today these were the first pellets I tested, with the hope that they would groups similarly. And they did. Today 6 Superdome pellets made a 0.999-inch group between centers at 10 meters.

38T Superdomes
Six RWS Superdomes made a 0.999-inch group at 10 meters. 

That was close enough to the group shot on Day 3 that I feel this 38T really likes this pellet.

Next up were the ashcans.

Crosman ashcan pellets

I already mentioned the ashcan’s sluggish loading. That gave me hope that these Superpells might be wonderful because of how large they are. But alas, they turned in a 6-shot group that measured 1.455-inches between centers at 10 meters. 

38T ashcans
The 38T put six vintage Crosman “ashcan” pellets into this 1.455-inches at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint

The last pellet I tried today was the RWS Superpoint. The 38T put six of them into 1.587-inches at 10 meters. This is the largest group of today’s test, and it’s also larger that all the groups in Part 3.

Superpoint
Six RWS Superpoints made a 1.455-inch group at 10 meters.

Discussion and summary

Well, that’s it for the .177-caliber Crosman 38T. I always wondered how this air pistol shot and now we all know. The airgun is powerful and accurate. It looks very realistic and functions quite well. For an airgun made no less than 36 years ago, I have to say it gives up nothing to an air pistol made today.

Now, the good news is, we are just half finished with this report. Yesterday’s guest blog by 45Bravo, Grips & Tips, was written about the left grip panel of my .22-caliber 38T that I sent to Ian for a reseal. I told him the left grip panel was wonky and he turned the repair  of that into a guest blog, with a second report on resealing the pistol that’s yet to come.

Then I will test that pistol for you and, because Ian sent me some .22-caliber ashcans, I’ll also test it with them. When this series is over you should have a very good understanding of the Crosman 38T!


Grips & tips

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today we have another guest blog by reader Ian McKee who goes by the handle 45Bravo. He tells us about fixing some vintage Crosman plastic grips and some other tips he has for us.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Take it away, 45Bravo.

Crosman 38T
Crosman 38T.

Grips & tips

This report covers:

  • The grips
  • Now for some useful tips
  • Barrel alignment
  • Velocity adjustment
  • Leaks
  • Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

Judging by the interest in B.B’s Crosman 38T blog, this is a very popular vintage CO2 revolver that seems to have flown under some people’s radar.  Since I have one on my workbench at the moment, I thought I would share a few helpful tips from the Crosman Factory Service manual, and some things I have learned from working on one. 

The grips

I’ll start with the grips. Unlike the Crosman Mark I & II pistols that have a metal tube in the grip frame to house the CO2 cartridge , the 38T is different. In this model you have to remove the left grip panel to change a cartridge. The grip panel is held in place by a metal clip that is attached to the grip and clamps onto the CO2 cartridge when it is installed in the gun. The grip then aligns to the frame by two locator pins on the pistol’s grip frame.

Since the grip is held in place by a CO2 cartridge, people sometimes left a cartridge in place thereby shortening the life of the CO2 face seal.  

TIP: If you decide to leave a cartridge in the gun, tighten the piercing screw just enough to hold the cartridge in place, not enough to compress the face seal. 

The plastic grips are now over 40 years old, and may have become brittle. On this pistol, the lower grip alignment post is broken and the top one is deformed from repeated use.

Crosman 38T left grip bottom
The locating pin hole at the bottom of the left grip panel is broken. Where the metal spring clip attaches there is also a hairline crack on both sides.

Crosman 38T left grip top
The locating pin hole at the top of the left grip panel is deformed from use.

All of these faults should be repaired. They will only get worse in time, so now is the time to fix them.

[Editor’s note: I discovered when searching for Crosman 38Ts, that damage to the left grip panel is a common problem with these guns. Several guns are being sold with either a damaged panel or even a missing left grip. There are no replacements other than from donor guns, so fixing the panel is the only way to go, unless you plan to make custom grips.]

I chose to use superglue and baking soda for the repair. When mixed these materials create a chemical reaction that hardens instantly. I don’t know the science behind it, but I remember some readers discussing the science after I used it on the Beeman P17 sight fill in blog.

To give the plastic post some extra support I wound part of a ballpoint pen spring around the damaged part. I then used the superglue and baking soda to build up the area in layers. Once it had hardened, I used small files to shape it to the approximate size, and shape.

Crosman 38T spring repair
This section of ballpoint pen spring reinforces the location pin hole, so the superglue and baking soda has something to shape it.

Crosman 38T locating hole repair
The baking soda/superglue mixture hardens right away. The next step is to file it flush or just below flush.

When you finish the posts need to be either flush with the grip level, or just a smidgen below level. 

Crosman 38T locating hole repair 2
Here I am cleaning up the repair of the bottom locating hole.

I used a drill press with a Dremel tool round ball bit to make the dimples for drilling the alignment pin holes. That allowed me more precision than if I had just tried to drill them out freehand.

Another reason I chose the superglue/baking soda repair is, as you can see, the white repair area stands out like a sore thumb. 

When both locating holes were repaired I used a Minwax stain marker that’s used to cover scratches in wood furniture, as the baking soda/super glue absorbs the color readily. The red mahogany color is a perfect match for the grips on this pistol.  

(Note: the color and pattern of the grips vary from pistol to pistol, no two are identical).

Crosman 38T wood stain
Minwax 225 Red Mahogany stain marker blended the two repairs very well.

Now for some useful tips

According to the new Blue Book of Airguns, the Phase I pistol has a metal rear sight and cylinder as mentioned in Part 1 of the 38T blog. The Crosman Factory Service Manual shows that it also has a 1-piece cylinder base pin and screw that the cylinder rotates on, and holds the outer barrel in place. 

The Phase II pistol has a plastic rear sight, a plastic cylinder, a 2 piece cylinder base pin, and a screw that holds the outer barrel on. Like Tom, I have no clue how the Phase III model differs.

[Editor’s note: one of our readers said that in Phase III only .177 caliber was available. But no other differences were mentioned.]

Barrel alignment

Sometimes the sights may not have enough adjustment to get your point of impact to meet your point of aim. The manual says to remove the outer barrel, and then loosen the grub screw on the top strap (38-050). Then you can rotate the inner barrel to a different position to adjust your point of impact.

Crosman 38T parts

Velocity adjustment

The manual says there may be two reasons for a low velocity, first improper lubrication of the moving parts. Or, the velocity adjuster is either missing, or not in the correct place. Yes that’s right, this pistol has a velocity adjustment! It is a small spool-shaped spacer between the frame and flat hammer spring, shown as part # 38-104 in the exploded parts view above. If yours is missing, you can use a small nut, or plastic spacer

Crosman 38T power adjust
That spacer (arrow) puts variable tension on the hammer spring to vary the power of the gun.

For best results, the service manual suggests it be placed about 1 ¼ inch from the bottom of the spring, but since we don’t know the diameter of the original, it will be trial and error. 

Leaks

If the pistol is leaking from somewhere other than the CO2 piercing seal, you will have to remove the left side cover to locate them. 

DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER WHILE THE GUN IS PRESSURIZED!

The piercing block is under 800 psi or more when there is gas in the gun, and the block is held in place by the side cover only.

Once the gun is degassed, remove the sear spring and plunger (38-89 & 38-39), and the ball detent and spring (600-079 & 38-064) so they don’t get lost.

You have to hold the piercing block in place while you pressurize the gun. Use a parallel clamp or something similar, do not use vice grips, or other sharp-jawed tool that will damage the softer pot metal of the gun’s frame.

Crosman 38T clamp
Use a clamp to hold the piercing assembly in place when you pressurize the gun to check for leaks.

Put a several drops of Pellgun oil on the indicated areas (three arrows) to see if any bubbles form from leaks. If there are leaks, you can try tightening the connections just a little, if that does not stop the leaks, put your small parts back in and just wait until your seal kit comes in the mail. 

Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

I have been using Renaissance Wax for a while on my airguns, and for others I have worked on for friends. It is a brand of microcrystalline wax polish used in antique restoration and museum conservation. It cleans and protects the surface; so far I am quite pleased with the product. 

Crosman 38T Renaissance Wax
After repairs I use Renaissance Wax to protect the surface of the guns.

So there you have it, a quick repair, and hopefully some insights into a very neat vintage CO2 pistol. 

Take care, and be safe.

Ian


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante dot sight
Crosman Vigilante.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 
Part 4

This report covers:

  • BB cylinder
  • The test
  • Crosman Black Widow
  • Air Venturi Smart Shot
  • The trigger
  • Marksman BBs
  • Beeman Perfect Rounds
  • Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision shot
  • Get a good dot sight
  • Summary

Today we shoot the Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver with BBs. Some real surprizes are in store!

BB cylinder

To shoot BBs we have to use the BB cylinder that holds 6 BBs, instead of the ten pellets we have been used to. So the groups today will be 6 shots.

The BB cylinder is loaded outside the gun from the front. The rear of the cylinder is too small to accept a BB of any size.

Vigilante BB cylinder
The Vigilante’s BB cylinder is loaded from the front. Three plastic “fingers” apply tension to hold the BB in place. These are 6 Marksman BBs.

The test

I loaded a fresh CO2 cartridge for this test because I plan to shoot a lot. I shot at 5 meters seated with the revolver rested on the UTG Unipod. I shot 6-shot groups so I could test more BBs.

The Vigilante has the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight mounted, because it did so well in the pellet accuracy test.

Crosman Black Widow

First up were Crosman Black Widow BBs because the Vigilante is a Crosman airgun, after all. And we have learned through testing that Black Widows are premium BBs that usually test among the best in any gun.

Six Black Widow went into a group that measures 0.923-inches between centers. I watched the group grow and I knew this test was going to turn out well.

Vigilante Black Widow group
Six Crosman Black Widows went into 0.923-inches at 5 meters when shot from the Crosman Vigilante.

After shooting this group I adjusted the dot both up and to the left. 

Air Venturi Smart Shot

Next up were six Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs from Air Venturi. We know that these are on the large side for BBs, measuring about 0.173-0.1735-inches in diameter. And they are lead, so we are safer from rebounds than we would be from steel BBs.

Six Smart Shot went into 1.496-inches at 5 meters. Three of them went into the same hole that looks like two BBs instead of three.

Vigilante Smart Shot group
The Vigilante put 6 Smart Shot lead BBs in 1.496-inches at 5 meters.

The trigger

The Vigilante trigger breaks at 5.5 lbs. in the single-action mode. This is a bit too heavy for such a light revolver. Even though I was steadied by the monopod, the dot was dancing all around the bull, and sometimes it was outside.

Marksman BBs

The Marksman BB is a steel BB that we don’t know what to do with. They measure 0.176-inches in diameter, which is super-large for a steel BB. I tried them because the Vigilante has a rifled barrel for lead pellets, so it should be fine with these. And, it is! Six of them went into 0.841-inches at 5 meters. I was impressed!

Vigilante Marksman group
Six Marksman steel BBs went into a group measuring 0.841-inches between centers.

Beeman Perfect Rounds

The next “BB” I tested isn’t really a BB. It was supposed to be shot in rifled pellet guns and H&N made them for Beeman. Perfect Rounds measure 0.176-inches in diameter, like the steel Marksman BBs, but these can take the rifling of the barrel. The Vigilante put them into a group that measures 1.04-inches between centers at 5 meters.

Vigilante Perfect Round group
Six Beeman Perfect Rounds went into 1.04-inches between centers at 5 meters.

After the Perfect Rounds I adjusted the dot up another three or four clicks. The Perfect Rounds landed lower because of their weight, but the Marksman steel BBs had also landed low on the target.

Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision shot

The last different BB I tried was the Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision shot. The Vigilante is shooting so well that you guys would have been after me to try it if I hadn’t. And they were great! Six of them went into 0.907-inches at 5 meters.

Vigilante Avanti Match BBs group
The Vigilante put 6 Daisy Avanti Match Grade Precision BBs into this 0.907-inch group at 5 meters.

This revolver can really shoot — BBs. And that’s my recommendation. Buy the Vigilante for BBs and be pleased that it can also shoot pellets. But it’s perfect for BBs.

Get a good dot sight

And get a dot sight that works! This Reflex Micro Dot is expensive; I understand that. But ASG, Crosman (Centerpoint) and UTG all make less expensive reflex dot sights that should work as well. They may not be as small as the UTG Reflex, which is one of its chief selling points, but these don’t cost more than the Vigilante.

One more time

The Markman BBs were the best thus far, so I fired a second group of them. Now that the sight was adjusted they should go into the bull, or close. Six BBs went into 0.693-inches at 5 meters. It is the smallest group of the test!

Vigilante Marksman BBs group2
The last group of 6 Marksman BBs was the smallest of the test. Group size is 0.693-inches between centers.

Summary

I always wanted to shoot a Crosman 357, and with the Vigilante I feel I have done it. The revolver is red-hot with most BBs and okay with pellets. If a lookalike CO2 revolver is what you want, this is one I recommend.


Crosman 38T Target revolver

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Realistic
  • Single and double action trigger
  • Loading
  • Adjustable sights
  • Accuracy
  • Power
  • .22 is coming
  • She can also cook
  • Summary

Today we start looking at a vintage air pistol that many of you already love — Crosman’s 38T revolver. The T stands for target. This will be an in-depth look at the CO2-powered revolver that came in both .177 and .22 calibers. I hope to review both calibers for you in all the usual ways, plus I’m hoping that we’ll get a look inside the gun!

History

The 38T was produced from 1964 until 1985. It is distinguished by its 6-inch barrel. There was also a 38C (Combat) revolver in both calibers that had a 3.5-inch barrel. It also started in 1964 but ended in 1981. I bought a .177-caliber 38C brand new and used it for perhaps 20 years, but until this report I never owned or even handled a 38T. But other than the barrel length everything I say about the 38T also holds true for the 38C.

There are three variations of the 38-series air pistols. The first variant (1964-1973) has a metal rear sight blade and revolving cylinder. Variation 2 (1973-1976) has a plastic rear sight blade and revolving cylinder. And I haven’t got a clue how Variant three (1976 to end of production) differs from the other two, but the Blue Book of Airguns claims that it is separate, while giving no reason why.

There is also a chrome-plated version that is extremely rare. The Blue Book says it was a salesman’s sample, but other references say it was never issued. Maybe they are all agreeing because salesmen’s samples were never supposed to be sold to the public.

Realistic

These revolvers are very reminiscent of Smith & Wesson’s Hand Ejector revolvers — the ones with shrouded cranes. The grips are very reminiscent of later Hand Ejectors. The outside of the gun is nearly all metal — cold to the touch and heavy.

Even today, 36 years after the last one was made, the 38T is regarded as one of the most realistic pellet pistol lookalikes ever made. It has the weight, the size, the correct grips, the adjustable sights and all the features of the firearm it mimics with no condescension to plastics. It stands as an icon, together with the S&W 78G /79G and the Crosman Marks I and II.

The barrel is rifled so the pistol has the potential to be accurate. Naturally that will be something we test.

Single and double action trigger

The revolver has both a single and a double action trigger. The single action trigger pull is reasonably crisp, though there is a tiny bit of creep. The double action pull is heavy and creepy. It feels like the trigger parts need to be lubricated and just that may slick up the whole action.

While is looks to have a normal cylinder at first glance, only the thin front part of that cylinder rotates. That’s the part that holds the pellets until the gun  fires.

Loading

These revolvers loaded in a unique and peculiar way. On the left side of the gun there is a spring-loaded cover. To load, place a pellet in the U-shaped groove in the thin forward part of the cylinder that rotates, then cover the pellet with your finger or thumb and slide the pellet to the rear with a wiping motion. The pellet pushes the spring-loaded sliding cover back and when the pellet is over the open chamber that the sliding cover conceals, it drops right in. Finally, release the spring-loaded sliding cover and it pushes the pellet forward and into a chamber in the rotating cylinder.

38T pellet
To load a pellet, place the pellet in the groove in front of the spring-loaded sliding cover.

38T pellet finger
Put your finger or thumb on top of the pellet in the groove and press downward and to the rear in a wiping motion. The tail of the pellet’s skirt pushes the sliding cover back.

38T pellet drops
The sliding cover is all the way back and the pellet has dropped into the chamber. Release the spring-loaded cover and it will push the pellet into the chamber of the rotating cylinder of the revolver.

Adjustable sights

Like the revolvers they copy, the 38T and C both have adjustable sights. The .177-caliber gun I am testing for you in this report is either a second or third variation and the rear sight adjustment has no detents. This is the plastic sight and that might be the reason why.

Accuracy

I read reports of owners who say the 38T is quite accurate. That’s one of the big reasons why I wanted to test it. The 38C I once owned was not that accurate, because if it had been I would have remembered. At the time I owned it I was shooting a number of .357 Magnum revolvers that were shaped similarly and were also quite accurate, so I’m sure I gave the 38C a fair shake.

Power

From the reports the .177-caliber 38T should put lighter lead pellets out in the high 300 f.p.s. region — perhaps 375-390 f.p.s. The .22-caliber 38T will put light lead pellets out at around 350 f.p.s., so not that much slower. Of course that will be something we test.

.22 is coming

As I mentioned in the beginning, there is a 38T in .22 caliber in the works, as well. That one will be a special look at the gun, as well as a full test.

She can also cook

You may think that you don’t like lookalike airguns that much. Well, the 38T isn’t just for looks. If you were to set about to make a fine repeating air pistol today, you would be hard-pressed to do much better than this one. In other words it looks great and it also works. I think this is the real reason why the 38T has achieved the status of an airgun icon.

Summary

This series that will include several airguns from the past should be a good one. Once some of our collectors get on board we should all learn a lot about these fine air pistols.


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante
Crosman Vigilante.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • 10 meters
  • Cylinder advance
  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Crosman Premier Light
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • H&N Finale Match Heavy
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Discussion 1
  • Premier Light 10-shot group
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle 10-shot group
  • Discussion 2
  • Summary

Today we start looking at the accuracy of the Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver. I have read a lot of comments about how accurate this revolver is, but many of them never seem to give any facts. They just rave. One person did say his 357 (the forerunner of the Vigilante) was more accurate than his Smith &Wesson 586, but again, no data on what that meant — how many shots, at what distance and with what pellet. It was just more accurate.

However, I looked at the customer reviews on the Pyramyd Air website. Some were vague like the ones mentioned above, but several were detailed. One guy even wrote a list of the pellets he tried. Where there was detail I found guys were getting groups around one inch or a little larger at 25 feet, so I expect to get two inches or hopefully better at 10 meters, which is just shy of 33 feet.

10 meters

This test was what precipitated the whole report on pellet traps last Friday. I dragged my trap out of the garage and was going to set it in my bedroom, where I can get 10 meters and more, shooting from the living room. After dragging the trap out I realized that I needed at least one more trap. I will keep the new trap in my office, but will use the silent trap whenever I test the discharge sound of an airgun. Now back to today’s report.

Cylinder advance

Remember that I told you the cylinder on the test gun does not advance all the way when the hammer is cocked? Reader Benji-Don commented that his Vigilante cylinder stopped a little short, too. He noticed that a small lever behind the trigger advances the cylinder the rest of the way, and I was able to confirm that today.

cylinder almost
After cocking the hammer the cylinder is almost in position. It goes up as it rotates in this image.

cylinder locked
After squeezing the trigger the cylinder advanced just a little more (rotated a little more up) and locked in position.

trigger
That lever behind the trigger blade advances the cylinder the final amount.

I pulled the trigger but didn’t let the hammer fall. Pulling the trigger is what pushes that lever to advance the cylinder the final bit. This means I don’t have to test the Vigilante both ways — with and without manually advancing the cylinder. The trigger always advances the cylinder and locks it tight in battery.

The test

I shot the revolver off a sandbag rest from 10 meters. The revolver was held in my two hands off the bag. I shot at 10-meter pistol targets and I used the open sights that come on the airgun. I wore reading glasses to see the front sight clearly and I used a 6 o’clock hold on the target.

I shot 5-shot groups so I could test more pellets. But at the end of the test I shot 10 shots each with the best two pellets. I shot single action only.

RWS Hobby

First up was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. The first shot landed at the bottom of the target paper so I adjusted the rear sight up. Shot two hit the bottom of the bull so I left the sights where they were for the rest of the test.

Five Hobbys went into 2.157-inches between centers at 10 meters. This group is a little large for my taste, so Hobbys are not a good pellet in this Vigilante.

Hobby group
The Vigilante put five RWS Hobby pellets into a 2.157-inch group at 10 meters.

Crosman Premier Light

I don’t have a very wide sample of Crosman pellets, but I do have a box of the 7.9-grain Premier Light domes. Five of them went into 1.483-inches at 10 meters and I thought that was more like it. I had imagined before this test that a good group would be closer to one inch than two.

Premier Light group
Five Premier Lights went into 1.483-inches at 10 meters.

Air Arms Falcons

Next up were five Air Arms Falcons. I hoped this light dome would do well, but with five in 2.453-inches, it didn’t.

Falcon group
Five Falcon domed pellets went into 2.453-inches at 10 meters.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

I had a hunch that fatter and heavier pellets would do better. Either it was a hunch or a reader mentioned it. At any rate the next pellet to be tested was the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter. And my hunch was right! Five pellets went into 1.828-inches at 10 meters. I know that’s not small, but I could tell just by looking at the group that the Vigilante wants to shoot them.

Meisterkugeln Rifle
Five RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets made this 1.828-inch group at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Heavy

The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Heavy wadcutter. Five of them went into 3.186-inches at 10 meters. This is definitely not the pellet for the Vigilante revolver!

Finale Heavy group
The H&N Finale Match Heavy pellet is not for the Vigilante. Five went into 3.186-inches at 10 meters.

JSB Exact RS

The final pellet I tried in the Vigilante was the JSB Exact RS dome. They are often very accurate in lower-powered airguns, but not in the Vigilante. Five went into 2.959-inches at 10 meters.

JSB RS group
Five JSB Exact RS domes went into 2.959-inches at 10-0 meters. This is another pellet that’s not for the Vigilante.

Discussion 1

Looking at the results of the test I saw that the heavier pellets that might also fit the bore tighter seemed to shoot better. So I took the two best and shot 10-shot groups with each of them.

Premier Light 10-shot group

First I shot 10 Crosman Premier lights. They went into 2.979-inches at 10 meters. I had hoped to do better, but that was what they did.

Premier Light 10-shot group
Ten Crosman Premier Lights went into 2.979-inches at 10 meters.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle 10-shot group

The last pellet I shot was the RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle. I thought they did well before so I decided to give them a chance to show off. Ten of them went into 2.251-inches at 10 meters, but look at the group. Seven of the ten pellets are in 0.945-inches and I think they represent what people have been saying about the Vigilante. Not many folks shoot groups of 10 shots and not many consider all the groups they shoot — just the good ones.

Meisterkugeln Rifle 10-shot group
Ten RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets went into 2.251-inches at 10 meters, but seven of them are in 0.945-inches.

Discussion 2

After seeing this last group I now wonder how much better I can do, if any, with a dot sight mounted. So before I shoot BBs in the Vigilante I plan to shoot another round of pellets with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight mounted.

Summary

The Crosman Vigilante is the latest version of Crosman’s 357 revolver. This is my first time looking at it, but I already see why airgunners think so much of it. I have been pulling the trigger in dry-fire in an attempt to lighten the trigger pull a bit. So far, no change. But we are going to shoot this one a lot more, so we’ll see.


Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Vigilante
Crosman Vigilante.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • RWS Hobby single action
  • Circular clip doesn’t advance all the way
  • Hobby double action
  • Air Arms Falcon domes single action
  • Air Arms Falcon domes double action
  • RWS Superdome single action
  • RWS Superdome double action
  • Shot count
  • Discussion
  • BBs
  • Crosman Black Widow BB
  • Air Venturi Dust Devils
  • H&N Smart Shot
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the power of the Crosman Vigilante CO2 pellet and BB revolver. I learned a few interesting things about the revolver’s operation during this test. Let’s get started.

RWS Hobby single action

The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. I shot the revolver single action for this string by cocking the hammer for each shot. The first string of 10 averaged 408 f.p.s. but the spread went from a low of 399 to a high of 440 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 41 f.p.s. At the average velocity this 7-grain pellet produces 2.59 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Circular clip doesn’t advance all the way

While shooting the pistol I discovered that the cylinder doesn’t advance all the way to where the pellet lines up with the barrel. The amount is small but there on every shot and it doesn’t matter whether I advance the circular clip with the hammer or by pulling the trigger. This will make a difference when it comes to accuracy and it could affect velocity, too, so I made sure to manually index the clip for every shot.

Hobby double action

When fired double action the Vigilante launches Hobbys at an average of 402 f.p.s. At that velocity the Hobby generates 2.51 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The spread ranged from 395 to 411 f.p.s. — a difference of 16 f.p.s. So the spread was tighter but the average velocity was lower. I think that may partly be due to the fact that I was taking a little less time between shots in this mode. I will continue to check this for the two other test pellets.

Air Arms Falcon domes single action

The second pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon dome. They averaged 394 f.p.s. in the single action mode. The spread went from 385 to 402 f.p.s., which is a difference of 17 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 2.53 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Air Arms Falcon domes double action

When I pulled the trigger to advance the clip and pull the hammer back (double action) the same Falcon pellet averaged 380 f.p.s. The spread went from 367 to 384 f.p.s. — a difference of 17 f.p.s., just like the single action mode. At the average velocity this pellet generates 2.35 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

RWS Superdome single action

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. When I cocked the hammer for every shot Superdomes averaged 375 f.p.s. The spread went from 362 to 390 f.p.s. — a difference of  28 f.p.s. At the average velocity Superdomes generated 2.59 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle when fired single action.

RWS Superdome double action

I tested the Superdomes double action next. The averaged 360 f.p.s. with a spread from356 to 366 f.p.s. That’s 10 f.p.s. difference. At the average velocity Superdomes generated 2.39 f.p.s.

Shot count

At this point in the test there were 60 shots on the cartridge. I now fired another string of Hobby pellets to see how they did. I will show each shot

Shot..……….Vel.
61…………..428
62…………..416
63…………..407
64…………..391
65…………..379
66…………..366
67…………..359
68…………..352
69…………..360
70…………..330

An hour later after lunch I shot another 10-shot string. That gave the revolver time to warm up again.

Shot..……….Vel.
71…………..337
72…………..325
73…………..314
74…………..296
75…………..282
76…………..265
77…………..247
78…………..232
79…………..217
80…………..208

The Vigilante is definitely off the power curve now. I’m going to say it fell off around shot 63. If you were outside and just shooting it you would hear a difference in the report around shot 78 and know to stop. Given the power the revolver has, this is a lot of good shots on a CO2 cartridge.

Discussion

The Vigilante is clearly a little faster in the single action mode. Since that is how I’ll shoot it for accuracy, that’s how I’ll test it from this point forward. Now let’s look at BBs

BBs

I will test a standard steel BB, a Dust Devil and a Smart Shot. The circular BB clip holds 6 BBs so the test will be strings of 6. Here we go!

Crosman Black Widow BB

First up was Crosman’s new Black Widow BB. Six of them averaged 414 f.p.s. The spread went from 392 to 449 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 57 f.p.s. I noted that the BB clip also didn’t advance all the way and had to be hand-indexed.

Air Venturi Dust Devils

Dust Devils turned out to be too small for the Vigilante’s rotary clip. Two fell out as I was shooting. But I reloaded and did get an average of 427 f.p.s. for 6 shots. The velocity ranged from a low of 410 to a high of 438 f.p.s. That’s a 28 f.p.s. spread.

H&N Smart Shot

The final BB I tested was the H&N Smart Shot lead BB. They averaged 322 f.p.s. and the range went from 322 to a high of 344 f.p.s. That’s a 22 f.p.s. spread.

Trigger pull

In the single action mode (with the hammer cocked) the trigger is single-stage and releases with 5 lbs. 8.5 oz. Because the revolver grip fit my hand so well, it felt like several pounds less.

I said I would report on the double-action trigger pull but it is well beyond the range of my trigger scale. I’ll estimate it between 15 and 18 lbs. If you know firearms it’s approximately equivalent to a double action Colt revolver trigger of the 1930s to the ’50s.

Summary

The Crosman Vigilante is doing well so far, and I’m excited about the accuracy test. I think I will break that into two reports so I can take my time testing both pellets and BBs.


About as new as you can get

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

S&W 79G Boxed
45Bravo stumbled into this treasure! A like-new S&W 79G in the box with everything — and more!

Merry Christmas everyone!

History of airguns

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. Today he shows us his latest acquisition — which is a real find!.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected]

Over to you, Ian.

About as new as you can get

Ian McKee 
Writing as 45 Bravo

This report covers:

  • The right place and time
  • Limit yourself
  • Exposure drives prices up
  • A good one?
  • Back story
  • A tidbit for everyone
  • The air pistol
  • The S&W CO2 cartridges
  • The S&W pellets
  • A question

The right place and time

The deals are out there, you just have to be in the right place at the right time. This time I lucked out and stumbled onto a gem!

I have said before I have a standing notification on Gunbroker for any new listing that include 78g, and 79g, and anything with Daisy 780, 790 and 41 in the listing, along with Crosman MK1 or MKII listings. I am always looking for one of these, to pick it up at a good price and reseal it. Then to get it back in circulation. 

Limit yourself

I limit myself at about a $125 bid price for one that needs resealing, so I can buy parts, and reseal the gun, and still resell it at a reasonable price. That gives someone else a chance to get addicted to these vintage airguns.  

Exposure drives prices up

As you readers know, I have written a lot about this type of air pistol already. This series has apparently sparked a renewed interest in the guns, and inadvertently, has driven up the asking price of the Smith & Wesson air pistols at online auctions, but you also see fewer and fewer that need resealing offered for sale. 

I frequent the online airgun classifieds also, but some sites are a haven for scammers, so you have to be careful. 

A good one?

I saw a listing on one of the sites for a Smith & Wesson 79G in the box with the box of CO2 cartridges.  Asking $110 shipped. The photos were a little fuzzy, but it still looked good. 

SW 790 boxed stuff
This one came with all the paper and things not normally found.

The seller listed a phone number, so I called him and we talked awhile. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t think he was a scammer, so while we were on the phone, I sent him the money. 

Back story

The back story was he had bought this pistol at an estate sale years ago, for his collection, but had never tried to shoot it.  Now, years later, he wanted to pass it on to someone who would use it and enjoy it.

I am now the proud owner of a like new 79G. I did not own one of my own, so I have been using a Phase 2, Daisy 790 that I had resealed and after finding out how well it shot, I upgraded it to an adjustable trigger from a 78G someone was parting out on ebay a few years ago.

This pistol is serial number 104159, so it is later production, late enough to have the German Freimark, denoting a power level of less than 7.5 joules, and the darker grips, and no trigger adjustment. Come to think of it, I have never seen a 79G with an adjustable trigger.

SW 790 serial freimark
Here you see the serial number and Freimark.

A tidbit for everyone

From what I understand, unlike the UK, that has a hard 6 foot-pound (8.1 joules) limit on their pistols, the Germans have a tolerance built into their system, it has to average less than 7.5 joules, and no single shot over 8.5 joules. [Ed: Now I’m learning things I never knew! If that is true it is a surprisingly enlightened law!]

This pistol came with all of the factory paperwork, and 5 unused CO2 cartridges in the blue Smith & Wesson co2 box, and a pellet sample pack with 3 CO2 cartridges and 150 pellets in a ziplock bag, and the pellets were in a partition of their own. I had never seen this sample packaging before.

SW 790 package pellets
Apparently Smith & Wesson used this packaging near the end of the production cycle to reduce the number of pellets and CO2 cartridges that came with a new pistol.

From searching for parts for the Daisy 41, I have become acquainted with several airgunsmiths around the country who specialize in this series of pistols. 

One of them informed me that he had seen the packaging before. It should contain 3 S&W CO2 cartridges, and 150 pellets, which works out to 50 shots per cartridge.

That makes sense if you remember some of the pistols came with a 5 pack of CO2 cartridges and a tin of 250 pellets, that again, is 50 shots per cartridge. 

Smith & Wesson saved money by reducing the number of cartridges and pellets included in the kit, and eliminated the cost of CO2 and pellet packaging.

The sample pack did include 2 unused CO2 cartridges and 1 used CO2 cartridge, and 125 pellets.

The air pistol

This air pistol does not have a mark or blemish on it. And, after resealing it, I firmly believe it has only fired 25 pellets in its life!

SW 790 loading tray
No wear on the loading tray.

SW 790 bolt release
No wear on the bolt release.

I can tell you I had sweats while working on this one trying not to put any marks on it accidentally. I used urethane o-rings, and a rebuilt factory valve stem, it should shoot to factory specs, and be good for another 50 years.

It is now holding gas, but I have not shot it for velocity or accuracy yet. 

The S&W CO2 cartridges

I have weighed the CO2 cartridges and compared them to the empty one. The empty one weighs 32.83 grams. The lightest one weighs 42.02 grams, 9.19 grams heavier than the empty one. The heaviest one weighs 44.14 grams, 10.31 grams heavier than the empty one. So I think they are all still holding gas.

The S&W pellets

I have weighed 10 of the pellets, but haven’t measured them for head size as I don’t have a pellet gauge. Of the 10 pellets I weighed, they ranged from 8.02 grains to 8.33 grains. They look a lot like the Crosman “flying ash cans” from the same era. 

SW 790 pellets
The pellets that came with the pistol look like Crosman “ashcans” to me.

If its accurate, it will probably become my personal gun. However, if it can’t out-shoot the Daisy 790 I mentioned, it may get passed on to a collector.  

A question

I wanted to ask you, the readers, should I test it with one of the factory Smith & Wesson CO2 cartridges and some of the included pellets?

I don’t think Tom has tested one of the guns with the supplied pellets and gas. At least he hasn’t printed about testing them. [ED. No, Tom hasn’t tested one with the supplied pellets and gas.]

So sound off — should I test it with the factory sample pack? Or should I just save them and test it with modern pellets and CO2?

Cheers and Merry Christmas, Ian.