by B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Vince is back with another fantastic tale of gunsmithing, gun renovation and making parts. No matter who you are, you just can’t help but learn something new from him. Settle back and have a good read about the Beeman GT600 Vince bought.
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Take it away, Vince!
Once upon a time, there was a highly educated airgun enthusiast and business man named Dr. Robert Beeman. He imported airguns and was determined to import nothing but the finest mass-produced guns he could obtain. He eventually associated himself with, perhaps, the premier airgun factory in Germany for the sole purpose of developing and bringing the best of the best to the blessed U.S. shores. After some years of success, he took a well-deserved retirement and sold his business to a large conglomerate of sporting goods.
Well, not quite. The large conglomerate knew that there was considerable marketing value – and, let’s admit it, snobbishness – attached to the Beeman name. Since making a little money lots of times can be more profitable than making lots of money little times, increasing the volume of Beeman sales via popularly priced models became something of a corporate priority. To their credit, the original Beeman models were kept, but the line would have to be expanded to include guns priced well under the level of the famed R-series that built the Beeman reputation. While Robert Beeman also imported some moderately priced non-German guns, the new owner of the Beeman company expanded the selection immensely.
Norica had a respectable name in airgunning, with a reputation for reasonable build quality and longevity. No, they weren’t Weihrach, but they certainly weren’t junk. The large conglomerate, still paying some due respect to the Beeman reputation, started bringing in a number of Norica models to round out the line and appeal to a more cost-conscious clientele without totally trashing the Beeman name.
Thus, the Spanish Beemans came into being: the S1, GS, GH and GT series along with some others that I don’t know about. After all, I’m no Beeman expert. These guns generally seemed to be well accepted by even semi-serious shooters although, you know, they weren’t REAL Beemans (just like the 914s and 924s of the 1970s weren’t REAL Porsches). But, it was acknowledged that they weren’t too out of place in the Beeman lineup.
What were they like? My first Norica Beeman was an S1, the predecessor to the GS950/1000 series that eventually got cloned in China as the AR1000 (that’s a whole ‘nuther story). I found that the S1 was pretty accurate, had fair power, a REALLY NICE trigger and some rather unfortunate wood shaping. Wavy is the best way to describe it. Even though Beeman was inscribed on the compression tube, that stock (which made a Gamo 440 stock look like a custom piece of craftsmanship) just killed the whole effect. A real Beeman it obviously wasn’t.
That S1 stuck around for a while before I decided to sell it off and move on. I was young (45!), silly and all hung up on velocity. That S1 had the nerve to shoot 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellets at under 900 fps. I’ve matured considerably since then (Yes! Really!). Since moving, I find that I have to do all my shooting indoors. I’m more interested in moderately powered guns, and I started hanging around the classifieds a lot more than is generally healthy. Worse than smoking? Harder to quit? Perhaps. I foolishly passed on a reasonably priced Gamo Gamatic (waited too long), but a Beeman GT600 caught my eye.
The Beeman GT600 is dressed better than my old S1. Maybe they’re just trying to boost its self-esteem!
Beeman logo on the Norica air rifle.
The GT600 is a relatively lightweight rifle and is in the R7 or TF49 category for weight and power. Not quite a youth rifle, but certainly suitable for mid-teens as well as adults. Right off the bat, I could recognize one aspect of the Norica design — from the shape of the stock around the triggerguard, it was obvious that the GT600 had that Norica trigger. As opposed to the Norica trigger. You see, the trigger (the one that Shanghai cloned for the AR1000) is a fairly involved 4-lever affair that, with proper adjustment (and maybe a little stoning), can be tuned into the sweetest pullin’ thing this side of a Rekord. That trigger, on the other hand, is as bad as the trigger is good. It’s a direct-sear — and without an awful lot of leverage, I might add. It’s the same trigger that shamed the Shanghai-built Beeman SS1000H and dragged down the Hämmerli Storm (also a Norica product).
GT600-style trigger above, GS-style trigger below.
But the price was certainly tempting. The seller was getting rid of it for $100 shipped, and that included a soft case and a 3-12×40AO Barska airgun scope. Besides, with the lower spring pressures of the GT600, maybe the direct sear wouldn’t be too bad. So PayPal went out, UPS came in and I got my GT600.
Yup. Those classifieds can be as bad as smoking. Especially, when you buy a gun from an avid smoker. The stench made it real annoying to shoot that first evening…heck, even the scope smelled! I figured the soft case is a lost cause; I’ll leave it hanging up for about 5 years and see if it gets any better. But, I hoped that metal, finished wood and glass wouldn’t be real tenacious when it came to holding onto that Marlboro Man smell.
In any event, smell or no smell, those first few shots revealed plenty of that endearing Spanish buzziness. While I’m waiting for the gun to de-odify, I’ll tear it down and give it the usual going over.
Stay tuned for part 2, which you’ll see tomorrow, for an in-depth look at the innards of the GT600.