Peep sights: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • First encounter
  • The front sight
  • HOWEVER!!!
  • Irony
  • The deal
  • Problems with the post sight
  • Other front sights
  • Contrarians
  • Dial-a-sight
  • The best front sight insert
  • The clear aperture front sight
  • Summary

Today we will look at the front sight that works with the peep sight. Remember, the whole purpose of the peep sight is to eliminate the rear sight from the equation. So the front sight is of extreme importance.

First encounter

The first peep sight I even looked through was on a Winchester model 52 target rifle in an NRA-run course that taught me how to shoot. While other boys my age (10) were interested in baseball and football,  I was only interested in shooting. So I listened to every word the instructors said and I tried to do what they told me, to the best of my ability.

Winchester 52 rear sight
The Marble target sight on the Winchester 52 seemed remarkable to a 10-year-old boy!
read more

Crosman MAR 177: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

History of airguns

This report covers:

Tested before
From 2012
The AR system
The lower
National Match lower
Stopping here
Buying the MAR
The purpose of the MAR
What is the MAR177?
Where did it come from?
What about THIS one?|

Today is the big day and now you know. This report will be about the Crosman MAR177. As I told reader Brent on Wednesday, this gun is no longer being made, yet I believe the one I am testing is brand new. By sheer luck as I was researching another article I stumbled across this New in the Box MAR177. Apparently it has never been out of the box, because the accessories are still factory wrapped. read more

A tale of two Red Ryders – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

=&0=& Improvements continue! One of the doctors mentioned that they’re starting to look down the road to see when he can be discharged. Nothing definite yet, but things look promising!

Today’s guest blog is a continuation of last Thursday’s, comparing a vintage Red Ryder with a new one.

Part 1

by BG_Farmer


Both guns have identical view ports, through which you can see that a BB has been fed correctly. Externally, of course, I cannot detect any difference in the feeding and loading mechanisms. The old one is a little less particular about correct orientation during cocking. The 1938B loads reliably but is more particular about the orientation of the gun than the older 1938.


The new cocking lever (bottom) is plastic, whereas the old one is cast aluminum.

The 1938 cocking lever makes one solid “clack” at the end of its arc, whereas the 1938B makes seven clicks during its travel due to an internal ratcheting mechanism. This is a safety feature to prevent mashing fingers if one pulls the trigger with the cocking lever extended. I can attest that this was a fairly uncomfortable occurrence on the old 1938, but a pretty common dare as well! Despite the increased safety, the old 1938 feels a bit more solid when cocking, since the 1938B’s plastic lever is much less substantial and vibrates a little with the ratcheting.

Note that my 1938 has had a couple of nuts missing from the receiver since the 1980s, and the cocking lever pivot bolt and nut are a juvenile replacement; the bolt is undersized, and I don’t believe there was a nut originally, simply tapped metal. I replaced the original with an undersized bolt, necessitating the nut. The missing nuts on the receiver were seemingly for appearance, as the folded metal receiver is tapped for the screws also.

The 1938B has a plastic trigger and safety, whereas the 1938 has only a folded metal trigger (with a notably lighter pull). The 1938 has no safety! The 1938B’s cross-bolt trigger safety is part of a plastic unit that seems to be integrated with the trigger. Although wear on the older gun is a consideration, it also seems likely that the trigger-pull on the newer ones was increased on purpose, in addition to adding the safety.

Another significant functional difference is in the loading ports.

The 1938 loads by turning the metal cap that forms the muzzle (it looks like a bottle cap), which moves the tab over the feeding tube. Loading is easy…by cupping the hand into a funnel over the opening, one can pour 650 BB’s into the reservoir. read more

A tale of two Red Ryders – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

=&0=& Tom is walking around the hospital halls several times a day (using a walker). The doctor said he seems to be recovering faster than expected. Today, Tom’s moving to a different floor…where patients go when they need less nursing care. Good news!

Today, we have a guest blog from BG_Farmer. It’s a two-parter, and you’ll see the rest of it on Monday.

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.

Now, on to today’s blog.

by BG_Farmer

After digging my old Red Ryder out of the basement at my parents’ house and finding that it had been left cocked (no doubt by a younger brother or nephew) for perhaps years, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it functioned just fine with a little oil in the “oil here” hole. My wife and son both enjoyed shooting it, but I feared that it was on borrowed time for active duty, so a new model Red Ryder 1938B was purchased in 2007. Though they are unmistakably both Red Ryders, I thought it would be interesting to examine the changes made between the two models and see how the newest version compares to my childhood classic. I hope this will be useful to fans of the Red Ryder, as I was able to find little information of this type when I researched it.

Yesterday and today…a vintage Red Ryder (top) and the current model.

The two guns pictured above are both examples of the post-1972 revival of the classic Red Ryder BB gun. My personal Red Ryder, a model 1938 carbine from approximately 1977-8, is the one on top. The new 1938B is on the bottom. B.B. covered a predecessor (No. 111 Model 40) of the no. 1938 bought in 1972 in some detail here (part 1) and here (parts 2 and 3).

The picture below shows the model identifications. The metal on the 1938 is rusted where many grimy fingers wore off the paint and younger siblings neglected to oil it.

The top image shows what happens when you don’t wipe off fingerprints after handling a gun or don’t properly store it…rust!

I date my gun to 1977 or 1978 due to the placement of the lariat logo on the right side of the gun. Previous years of the revived 1938 apparently have the logo on the left side, just as the model they copied did. The lack of a safety, which would make it a 1979 or later model 1938A, helps date it fairly accurately. The 1938A (not shown) and 1938B differ mainly in regard to the safety construction, if my understanding is correct.

While the two guns are remarkably similar at first glance, there are many differences on close inspection. First, the wood is finished differently. The 1938 has a lighter stain and clear finish, with much nicer grain, while the 1938B has a darker, reddish, almost opaque finish. The newer gun also has a more angular and simplified shaping, with not as many rounded edges. My 1938B also differs in finish from the one pictured on the Pyramyd Air website, so there is obviously a great deal of variance.

Note the safety sticker on the vintage 1938 model…still legible after 30-something years!

On the right side of the stock, the famous lariat logo is similar, but not identical. The guns vary subtly, with the most significant difference I can detect being that the lariat itself is both wider and coarser on the 1938B.

The vintage gun’s lariat and logo appear crisper and thinner than the current model (right).

There are also significant differences in the metal finish. The older gun seems to have been painted with enamel, whereas the 1938B appears to be powder-coated. Whatever it is, the newer gun’s metal finish is much nicer than I ever remember the old one being. The placement and finish of the barrel bands differ. The old 1938 has a bare steel band, while the new gun has a painted band placed relatively further back on the forestock. The forestock on the 1938B is also thinner at the front and more sharply tapered than that on the 1938.

A steel band on the vintage gun is placed further forward on the forestock than the current gun’s band, which is painted.

There are also significant substitutions of plastic in the newer gun, including plastic in the muzzle “plug.” read more

Vintage Quackenbush airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

Update on Tom/B.B.: Tom’s eating more and feeling better. A new doctor with a good bedside manner has taken over his case and has a game plan to help Tom recover and finally go home.

Today’s blog originally appeared in Airgun Revue #6, which was published in 2000.

Do you sometimes wish you were alive around the turn of the 20th century so you could see all the new airguns that are now valuable collector’s items? How wonderful it must have been to walk into a store at that time and see a brand new air rifle displayed with its original box and all the accessories that originally accompanied it.

Some collectors are fortunate enough to have a few of the old guns still in their original boxes…guns that have threaded their stealthy way through time, missing the ravages of kids and not-so-young adults, who can be pretty rough, too. Although the values of those times were not the same as in our current disposable era, many vintage things eventually did get tossed on the trash heap, for living space if nothing else. The term modern has long been the siren song of the salesman, who has to convince you that what you have is in no way the equal of what you could buy from him. Hence, material goods pass through cycles, from useful to old to outdated to obsolete to quaint and, eventually, to antique and very desirable. In that time, the ephemera, such as boxes, papers, sales receipts and such, got winnowed on the threshing floor of practicality.

Three fine Quackenbush airguns. At the top, a fine late-model No. 1. In the center, a very nice No. 2 that came boxed with accessories. On the bottom is a less-common No. 3.

Collector Donald Cotton sent me these pictures of his Quackenbush airguns. In the above picture, the top gun is a late version of the famous Quackenbush first model. It was definitely made in the 20th century because the buttplate is not as deeply curved as the earlier version.

The gun on the bottom is the third model Quackenbush. Although it looks like a second model, which is the gun in the center, it’s different in that it has a steel barrel with the bore centered rather than offset (as in the second model). Instead of a wide loading port, this gun has a smaller round port and only accepts size F shot. It won’t shoot darts or slugs. It’s a curious member of the Quackenbush lineup that you don’t see very often.

But that gun in the middle is the one that got my motor running! As an airgun, it’s pretty common…only slightly less so than the ubiquitous first model. It’s in nice shape, and that’s always a plus, but that’s not the attraction this time.

The boxed Quackenbush No. 2 airgun makes an interesting collectible.

A closeup view of the darts and the Quackenbush screwdriver.

The gun is in its ORIGINAL cardboard box with all the accoutrements! The box is tattered after a full century of being kicked around, but the original label on the outside of the top (the top is the darker part of the box) is still readable, with a line drawing of the gun inside. Inside the box is a caution label with some other technical information.

Also with the gun came what appears to be two spare mainsprings, although they are wound to different strengths, so there’s probably more to it than that. There’s also a box of darts, which were this gun’s principal ammunition. It did shoot felted slugs, as well, but they were not as efficient as the darts because of the gun’s relatively low power. A bore cleaning rod is included, though it’s anyone’s guess how a smoothbore airgun would ever get dirty enough to need it. Still, that was what was done at the time. You didn’t want to go against tradition! Finally a screwdriver for maintenance rounded out the accessories.

What’s missing is an original Quackenbush claw-type dart puller. Made of cast iron, this tool looks like a short Ford Model T wrench, except that one end is shaped in a “V” for pulling out those pesky darts from wherever they were stuck.

A complete boxed set like this is a window into life a hundred years ago, and especially what it looked like to an airgunner. Thanks to Donald Cotton for sharing a part of his collection. It gives hope to other collectors that these things are still out there somewhere. With toys like this, who wants to grow up?