by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
While I was at the courthouse awaiting jury selection the other day, I was reading a favorite gun book, Yours Truly Harvey Donaldson, edited by David R. Wolfe and published in 1980 by Wolfe Publishing Company, Prescott, Arizona. In the book, Wolfe assembles letters and articles written by Harvey Donaldson, one of America’s top shooters, and cartridge developers. He is best-known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp cartridge, but he actually worked on dozens of different centerfire cartridges over the 89 years of his fruitful life. And he was a schuetzen shooter on top of all of that. Schuetzen rifles are single-shot rifles with incredibly accurate barrels that shoot lead bullets at low velocities. They typically shoot at 100 and 200 yards, either offhand or rested on a bench. The best of them have been known to put 10 bullets into a group that measures under one-half inch at 200 yards, which is a challenge that’s difficult to equal with modern arms today.
So, Donaldson knew how to shoot. And that’s the connection to today’s report. I read a paragraph that Donaldson wrote for an article that appeared in American Rifleman magazine in May 1936 – Rest Shooting and Schuetzen Loading:
“The secret of fine rest shooting is to hold the rifle so it will be free to recoil in the same way for each shot. I like to have my rifle come straight back, and when I see the crosshairs rise toward 12 o’clock in a straight line above the bull, I know that all is well and I can expect a good group. If the shooter will carefully perfect his holding so as to get this effect, the matter of making small groups will come much easier.”
That’s a good description of the goals of the artillery hold airgunners use, with one exception. Donaldson describes firearms that, while their bullets don’t travel very fast (never over 1,400 f.p.s.), still leave the muzzle before the major vibrations and movement of the gun begins. With a spring-piston airgun, the heavy steel piston has already jumped forward violently and then come to a sudden stop before the pellet begins to move. Vibrations in the gun have already started well before the pellet leaves the bore, which is why airgunners have to take this special hold even farther than Donaldson describes.
Important point — please read and understand!
Remember this — Donaldson was talking about firearms when he described his hold. So, the basic tenets of the artillery hold apply to firearms as well as to airguns. I have known that all along, but I haven’t harped on it because it really doesn’t matter to most shooters. A hold like this is only important to those who want the absolute last bit of accuracy potential from their firearms. Some of our blog readers who have competed with firearms, like Victor, understand the importance of hold consistency without my saying anything. They might call it something else, like follow-through perhaps, but we’re speaking about the same thing. For the rest of the shooters who are just plinking with a .22 rimfire or shooting anything offhand, it wasn’t important that I drill down to the absolute bottom bedrock fundamentals of shooting to explain my points. Either they understood it without me commenting or it wasn’t important.
But I’m going on record today and saying that an artillery-like hold, or at least a repeatable hold that allows the firearm to recoil in the same way every time, does have a positive influence on the accuracy of a firearm as well as a spring-piston airgun. And I’m also going to say that the artillery hold has a positive effect on other types of airgun powerplants — including the precharged pneumatic (PCP).
It’s still true that a PCP is much easier to shoot accurately than a spring-piston gun, but only with a proper hold will any PCP be capable of delivering its full accuracy potential. Because PCPs do not vibrate very much, nor do they recoil, the benefit of a consistent hold gets lost in the noise. Most good PCPs shoot very well regardless of how they’re held.
What is special about the artillery hold?
Okay, we know that the consistency of the hold is important to accuracy. But is the artillery hold different than what Donaldson describes in the passage above? Yes, it is. Donaldson rested his schuetzen rifles front and rear. The barrel of his rifle rested on the forward rest and the buttstock rested on the rear rest. There’s foam rubber between the barrel and the rest, but my point is that Donaldson does not rest the rifle on its forearm.
To be honest, there are photos showing benchrest rifles rested on their forearms, too, so it can be done either way, but the barrel rest was by far the more common in these older times.
Donaldson shown with a rested schuetzen rifle in the 1930s. The barrel is resting on foam rubber on the front rest. Photo from the book, Yours Truly, Harvey Donaldson, Wolfe Publishing, 1980.
What’s special about the artillery hold is that we don’t normally rest the rifle directly on sandbags or other rests. Instead, we rest it on our hands, which are placed on the rest. The flesh of the hand cushions the rifle in some unique way that even sand cannot. There are some gel-filled pads that seem to work as well as the hand; but when you examine them, you find that they feel quite a lot like the flesh of your hand. There’s something about the consistency that a spring-piston air rifle needs in order to have repeatable recoil and vibration patterns.
What you rest the rifle on is important, but so is where you rest it. I often have to try sliding my off hand back and forth under the stock, from the triggerguard to out as far as I can hold it — searching for a point where the rifle responds the same with every shot. Sometimes, I never do find the right place, and then I resort to resting the stock on the backs of my fingers and even directly on the sandbag. I don’t use the backs of the fingers unless absolutely necessary because it often hurts. And the number of airguns that can be rested directly on a sandbag and still shoot well is very small, although the TX 200 is one that can.
The point of this report is that the artillery hold is nothing new, and I didn’t invent it. It was already very old when I picked a quirky name for it, so airgunners would remember it and be able to talk about it. This hold is one of the fundamental tools in a good shooter’s kit. You can ignore it, but do so knowing what you’re giving up — because this is the “secret” to shooting a recoiling spring-piston air rifle well.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m retesting an airgun that I tested over a year ago. One of our readers called Daisy and said he was getting much better accuracy from his Daisy model 35 multi-pump air rifle than I had gotten in my test, and he asked Daisy if they would look into it. Well, they read the accuracy report (Part 3) and agreed with him that I should have gotten better accuracy than I did. So Joe Murfin, Daisy’s vice president of marketing, called and asked if I would be open to a retest.
Joe told me that Daisy engineers were getting groups of about 1.25 inches to 1.5 inches at 10 meters. I’m sure he meant 5-shot groups, and of course I shoot 10-shot groups; still, his groups were significantly smaller than what I’d gotten from the last gun. My 10-shot groups were in the 2.5-inch to 3-inch range.
I don’t like to retest
Normally, retesting airguns leaves me cold. My philosophy is that I test what users get, and it’s whatever it is. I look at the gun the same way a user would, except that I may know a few more things than the average user and am able to do things most people wouldn’t think to do. That gives the gun a fair test and also educates people who may learn a new trick or two by reading what I’ve done.
I have to admit that over the past year I’ve learned a lot about accuracy with diabolo pellets and the things to look for. More recently, I have become aware of the tremendous accuracy potential of some smoothbore airguns. From that standpoint, a retest of this smoothbore airgun is warranted.
This is not life-saving equipment, and the outcome isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things; but wouldn’t it be nice to know if this $35 airgun is really better than we initially thought? I agreed to retest the gun, and Joe sent one directly from Daisy. Instead of the black stock I had last time, this new gun is finished in camo. Other than that, though, it’s identical to the gun I tested before.
Upon reviewing the last accuracy test, I see I used the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet, RWS Hobby pellet and some vintage Daisy Superior Match Grade pellets I had laying around. At the time, that sounded like a good idea; but after spending more time with the Diana 25 smoothbore in recent months, I think there are some other pellets I ought to try — namely the JSB Exact RS pellet and the RWS Superdome.
In the last report on the model 35, I wasn’t specific about what number of pumps to use for each shot. There was nothing to go on for this test except my experience with other multi-pumps. I would only be shooting at 10 meters, and high velocity wasn’t necessary. Six pumps sounded good to me, and that’s what I used for every target. If this was a larger, more powerful multi-pump, I might have opted for 5 or even 4 pumps, but the Daisy 35 is pretty small, and 6 sounded about right.
First target revealed loading problems
I shot the first target with JSB Exact RS pellets. They did well for the most part, but 3 shots landed apart from the main group. I was having difficulty loading the gun, and I think I may have loaded several pellets backwards because of how easily they flipped around on their own in the loading trough. I was shooting in a dark place to overcome the fiberoptic open sights and was unable to see the breech when the pellet was loaded. Those 3 stray shots might be explained as loading errors. Before I move on, I should note that the size of this first 10-shot group is close to what Daisy told me to expect from 5 shots at 10 meters.
Nothing to do but shoot another group with the RS pellets — making sure each pellet went into the breech the right way this time. I used a portable spotlight to shine on the breech during loading to see which way the pellets were oriented. I think Daisy could spend a little time fixing this problem because that loading trough is almost too small to work with.
The second group was much better. Ten more JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.108 inches. This is better than what Daisy told me to expect, and my interest was piqued. How good would this gun get?
The second pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome that so many people love. The first 10 pellets made a 1.119-inch group. It’s actually too close to the second group of RS pellets to see the difference, but that’s what the caliper read when I measured it. And these pellets hit the target in approximately the same place as the JSBs even though they’re heavier.
The second group of Superdomes wasn’t quite as tight as the first. One stray pellet that I hesitate to call a flier landed below the main group, opening it up to 1.243 inches. But that’s still the best that Daisy said to expect from this gun!
But wait –
Well — there you have 4 groups that are all significantly better than any of the groups I got in the last test. The Daisy model 35 can shoot after all — just like our reader said. I wondered if there was any more accuracy beyond what the gun had already delivered. So, I fired a fifth group, this time with JSB RS pellets. Instead of 6 pumps per shot, I gave it the full 10 pumps for each shot. This time, they all landed in 0.76 inches, or as close to three-quarters of an inch as it’s possible to get.
Obviously, using the right pellets made all the difference in the world. That’s a lesson I’ll try not to forget. Even an inexpensive airgun like the Daisy 35 deserves a fair chance to perform its best.
I would love to press the 35 into service as a dart gun, but the tiny breech prevents the loading of darts. I may be able to load them through the muzzle, but you’ll have to wait to find out because I seem to have misplaced my .177-caliber darts. But there’s still 25 yards to test, so you haven’t seen the last of this airgun.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This test of the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 at 10 meters was requested a couple weeks back by a blog reader, and several of you seconded the request. It was in response to a discussion of the spin rate of projectiles and what benefits it conveys.
After I agreed to write the report, another reader asked me to test not only the Avanti Precision Ground Shot that’s made specifically for the 499, but also some more common BBs. So, today, we’ll see how the 499 performs at the 5-meter distance for which it was designed, as well as at 10 meters. I think we’re in for some interesting ballistics.
For those who don’t know, the Avanti Champion 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun. It’s the only BB gun to compete each year in the International BB gun Championships at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Like the wheels and axels on Soap Box Derby racers (the All-American Soap Box Derby is an annual race where children race home-built cars powered by gravity, alone), the 499 is so specialized and ahead of the competition that there’s nothing that can touch it. Unlike derby wheels, though, anyone can own a 499 because they’re sold through specialized airgun dealers like Pyramyd Air (along with their special ammunition).
Although it may look like a Red Ryder to the casual observer, the 499 is as special among BB guns as a Formula One racer is among automobiles.
The 499 is a single-shot BB gun that has a precision smoothbore barrel. It’s loaded through the muzzle by dropping a BB down a funnel-shaped spout, where it enters the true barrel and rolls to the rear to be captured by a magnet. Regular BBs take 0.50 to 1.00- seconds to roll down the barrel, while the Precision Ground Shot can take up to 5 seconds.
The gun was developed by Daisy for their National BB Gun Championship Match. They noticed that coaches were ordering many shot tubes for their teams’ model 99 and 299 target BB repeaters that were used in competition at the time. The coaches were looking for the most uniform barrels that would shoot the best. When Daisy recognized that, they simply designed a gun to be accurate from the start. Once the 499 became a reality, all other BB guns were obsolete because nothing else could keep up.
For over a decade, the gun and ammunition was available only directly from Daisy, until I discovered it while writing The Airgun Letter. The guns were hand-built and Daisy didn’t really think they could sell them to non-target shooters because of the extra cost; but once the word was out about how accurate they are, everything changed. They’re probably still made by hand today, and I’m sure they’re not one of Daisy’s most popular products; but if you like accuracy, you really should look into getting one of these.
Baselining the gun
Before I shoot at 10 meters, I thought it would be nice to see what the gun can do at the regulation distance of 5 meters. I could have found old images for this because I’ve done this test many times before, but I always welcome the opportunity to shoot this marvelous little gun. I shot it on NRA 15-foot targets because I don’t have any of the slightly larger official 5-meter BB-gun targets on hand. The NRA is out of touch with BB gun competition and is stiill using the 15-foot target, where the rest of the world has backed up another 1.4 feet to 5 meters.
For this test, I selected three types of ammunition — Crosman Copperhead BBs, Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs and Avanti Precision Ground Shot. When I load the gun, I listen to the BB roll down the barrel and strike the magnet at the bottom. Copperheads roll the fastest — taking about a half-second to make the trip.
Crosman Copperhead BBs
I shot 10 shots with each BB at 5 meters. I used the back of a chair as a rest because this was a test of the gun — not me. There were no called fliers, and the 10 Copperheads grouped in 0.574 inches. That measurement is approximate, as BBs do not tear clean holes in target paper.
At 5 meters, 10 Crosman Copperhead BBs tore this hole, which measures 0.574 inches between centers.
Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs
Next up were Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs at 5 meters. These are ever-so-slightly larger than Copperheads and take 0.50 to 1.50 seconds to roll down the barrel. They made a 10-shot group that measures 0.361 inches between centers — and keep in mind this is approximate, at best. But you can see in the photo that this group is tighter than the first one.
Ten Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs made this 0.361-inch group.
The final group was shot with Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot that is specially made for the 499. If anything is going to group well in the gun, this is. Ten shots made a group measuring 0.224 inches between centers. The hole on the target tells all, as it is either a score of 99 or 98 — it’s too close to tell.
Avanti Precision Ground Shot shows what the 499 can really do. Ten went into this 0.224-inch group at 5 meters. This is almost a perfect score.
On to 10 meters
Now that we know how well the gun can shoot, it’s time to back up to 10 meters and test what we all came to see — namely, how well the 499 does at 10 meters. This is the first time I’ve done this, so I am just as interested in the results as all of you.
Crosman Copperhead BBs
First up were the Copperheads. I didn’t change the sight setting, so we’ll forgive the placement of the shots in this test. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 1.118 inches between centers. That’s actually slighly smaller than double the 5-meter group size (which would be 1.148″); so, allowing for the measurement error, it seems to be right-on.
Notice the two shots that landed below the main group. There were no called fliers, so those BBs are probably not the same size as the others.
At 10 meters, 1o Crosman Copperhead BBs made a 1.118-inch group. Those two at the bottom were not called as fliers.
Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs
Next up were the Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs that do so well in this gun for normal BBs. Ten of them made a group measuring 0.828 inches. That’s larger than double the 5-meter group size, which is what I expected at 10 meters. Again, there were no called fliers, and one stray BB hit below the main group.
Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot
Finally, I shot the Avanti Preciaion Ground Shot at 10 meters. The picture tells the story. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.755 inches across. This group is larger than double the 5-meter group with the same BB, which is what we would expect. Let’s talk about that next.
Why aren’t the groups just double the size at 10 meters?
This is a common misconception that I’d like to address. Groups don’t open up on a linear scale as distance increases. A 10-meter group should not be twice as large as a 5-meter group. And here we must differentiate between a spin-stabilized conical bullet and a round ball fired from a smoothbore.
A ball that’s not spin-stabilized will deviate much faster than a ball that’s stabilized by the spin introduced by rifling. A rough comparison can be made to a baseball that is intentionally thrown without spin — the famous knuckleball. It will go straight for a short distance, then suddenly deviate wildly and unpredictably from its ballistic path. The comparison is not perfect because a baseball has seams that affect its movement through the air, but the principle is similar.
Don’t run out and buy Avanti Precision Ground Shot for your Red Ryder. That would be like putting premium gasoline into a lawnmower! On the other hand, don’t buy a 499 and then try to shoot it with standard BBs. That’s false economy going the other way. Back up a few feet and look at what you are paying for ammunition, and then buy what makes the most sense.
The 499 is a special gun that’s purpose-built to do one thing — shoot BBs as close to where you aim as possible. I rested the gun for this test, but every year there are children who shoot similar targets offhand in competition.
I would like to thank everyone who requested today’s test because it was something I’ve never done before. Now, we all know what an accurate smoothbore shooting a steel BB can do at 10 meters.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today’s test is shooting the Crosman MAR177 at 25 yards, both with and without the magazine. We’ll also shoot it with the best wadcutter target pellets and the best domed pellets to see what differences there are.
Rather than shoot the rifle myself, I let Mac shoot it this time. He is the better rifle shot between us, and I just wanted to see what the rifle would be like in his hands. He shot it off a bag rest at 25 yards indoors. Ten pellets were shot from the magazine, then another 10 of the same pellet were shot using the single-shot tray. Mac tested both domed and wadcutter pellets, so we get to compare the relative accuracy of both today. And the results did not turn out as I expected.
I’d noted in an earlier report that the particular 10-shot magazine I’ve been using has two chambers with tight entrances. Mac found the same thing without being prompted by me. I had him use the same magazine as I did so I could compare his results with all other variables remaining the same.
You’ll recall that I mentioned not liking magazine guns because of how they handle the pellets. So, today was also a test between the magazine and loading each pellet as you shoot. I’m not saying that all pellets have feeding problems, but that some magazines may have a problem. But when you load each pellet singly, you have less chance of damaging the pellet.
That said, the MAR177 has a gap at the front of the single-load tray that can catch the nose of certain pellets and make it very difficult to load. The H&N Field Target pellets that were the most accurate in an earlier test had this problem and had to be exchanged for a different domed pellet. The H&Ns have a semi-wadcutter rim around the head that just catches in the gap on the tray and causes the pellets to flip up and possibly get damaged on loading. I substituted 7.3-grain Air Arms Falcon pellets that fed perfectly through the tray.
On to the shooting
Let’s get right to today’s test. First, Mac tested the domed pellets at 25 yards.
Mac tried the H&N Field Target pellets first, and they were very accurate, but a couple of them refused to feed through the magazine. But the Falcon pellets fed flawlessly, so we changed the test to use them as the domed pellet of choice. Once again, I want to say that in another magazine this pellet might have fed better, but this is a quirk you get with mags that you don’t get when loading singly.
Clearly the single-loaded pellets are more accurate than those loaded by the magazine. That may not hold from magazine to magazine; but for this one mag, you’re better off loading the pellets one at a time. Let’s see how the rifle does with wadcutters at 25 yards.
The trend continued with the wadcutter pellets. The R10s grouped even tighter than the Falcons at 25 yards, and those that were loaded singly did much better than those that fed through the magazine.
What have we learned?
First, we’ve learned that some magazines do influence the accuracy of the gun with all ammunition — or at least with the pellet types used in this test. A different magazine might well give different results, but one thing it will never do is outshoot loading the pellets by hand, one at a time. As a 10-meter shooter, I knew this going into the test. But it was nice that we were able to demonstrate it so clearly.
Next, we see that wadcutters were more accurate than the domes in this test. Even though both pellets were very accurate, the wadcutters had the edge. That was the part that surprised me. I’d expected the domes to take over at 25 yards.
The bottom line
The Crosman MAR177 is a valuable addition to an AR and a wonderful target rifle in its own right. It was held back in this test by the use of an AR National Match trigger, which is by no means as good as a target trigger on an air rifle. Even so, we see accuracy that any 10-meter precision rifle would be proud of.
I think Crosman has made a winning rifle in the MAR177. And when they bring out more powerful versions of it in the future, it’ll be all the greater justification for owning an AR! My thanks to Crosman for the loan of this MAR177 for both this test and for the feature article I am writing for Shotgun News!
Every airgun show is unique. I’ve said that many times before, but it’s always true — and this one was no different. What I look for when I try to describe an airgun show is how it stood out from all the others. That’s what I’ll do today.
An airgun show is small, in comparison to0 a regular gun show, but there are more airguns on a single table then you’ll see at most big gun shows. And the guns range from inexpensive Daisys and Crosmans to then most exotic airguns imaginable. So go to gun shows for and crowded aisles, but to airgun shows to find airguns.
I didn’t get away from my table for the first half of the first day. When I finally did, the show immediately began to reveal itself. It was jam-packed with big bore air rifles! I mean jammed! Dennis Quackenbush and Eric Henderson are always the mainstays of the show; but this time I met Robert Vogel, whose business is Mr. Hollowpoint. Robert casts each bullet by hand from lead as pure as he can make it. His bullets mushroom on game perfectly and rip huge holes in living flesh, making the most humane kills possible. I bought a bag of 68-grain .308-caliber hollowpoints for the Quackenbush .308 test I’m conducting, and he threw in a second bag of .22 pellets for free. These will have a special debut in a smallbore test in the near future.
Robert Vogel (standing) is Mr. Hollowpoint. He has thousands of different bullets for big bore shooters to try.
But Mr. Hollowpoint wasn’t the only bullet maker at the show. Seth Rowland, the show’s host and promoter, also supplies the big bore airgunning community with cast bullets in numerous sizes and shapes. And their customers can hardly appreciate the untold hours they spend at the lead pot, casting and sizing these silver slugs one by one.
Need bullets? Seth Rowland has them in different sizes, shapes and weights.
Another theme that’s common to all airgun shows is 10-meter target guns. This year’s Arkansas show had plenty of them, both from dealers like Scott Pilkington of Pilkington Competition Equipment in Tennessee, as well as numerous private individuals. I mentioned several weeks ago that Mac was bringing some recently overhauled FWB rifles to this show, and on day one an interested buyer sought him out. This man was serious about buying a target rifle, and he had done his research on the internet. But this was the first time he’d seen, felt and shot these rifles.
Mac took him out to the shooting range to try out an FWB 150 and a 300; and from his testing, he decided the 300 was the gun he wanted. Because it lacks the barrel jacket, it’s lighter than a standard 300S. He was buying the rifle for his wife to shoot in competition. They made a deal, and he went home with the exact target rifle he wanted — an overhauled ex-club rifle at a price that was several hundred dollars below what he would have paid for a gamble on the internet. For this man, driving all the way to Arkansas made good sense.
I’m sure that same scenario was played out numerous times at this show, because that’s what happens at an airgun show that also has a shooting range. You get to try out the guns before you buy — something that’s impossible at a regular gun show.
The odd and wonderful
You never know what you’re going to see at one of these shows, but there are a few people who always seem to have interesting things. Larry Hannusch, the top airgun writer for the past 30 years, is one person who can always surprise you. This year, our tables were together, giving me the opportunity to look at his guns more closely than normal. He had a Crosman 113 bulk-fill CO2 rifle, which isn’t unusual, except the owner of this one had inlet a pellet box into the right side of the stock — much like the patchbox found on certain muzzleloading rifles.
Some owner made this patchbox in the stock of his Crosman 113 bulk-fill rifle.
He built the “patchbox” with a built-in spring. There were pellets inside.
When was the last time you saw one of these? A French ball-flask pistol from the 1700s.
The big find
Often there will be a big find of some certain airgun that shows up at a particular show. I remember one year someone was selling piles of brand-new-in-the-box S&W 78G and 79G pistols. There were at least 50, but as my memory serves there might have been as many as 100 brand-new guns that were at least 20 years old at the time. Another year, it was Scott Pilkington who brought almost 300 club target guns for sale. You could buy an FWB 300 for $150-$200! Of course, it would have been a beater and would have needed to be resealed, but it certainly was the budget way into a 10-meter gun.
Then there was the year that someone had over 20 Johnson Target Guns, the submachinegun-looking plastic catapult BB gun from the late 1940s. They were all new in the box, and the cloth backstop that was in the box to stop the BBs inside the box lid that also served as a backstop had turned to dust. But they were complete. To collectors, they were a wonderful find. I actually saw two of these at this year’s Arkansas show; so even after more than 10 years, they’re still slowly dissolving into the collector population.
Two brand-new Johnson Target Guns in the box with all the literature and accessories.
When I walked into the second large room in this show and turned the corner, I ran into Randy Mitchell’s booth, where he was selling a pile of recently discovered TS45 sidelever air rifles for $20 each! I blogged this rifle several years ago, and Vince also wrote a guest blog about the same rifle. Until now, there were no new guns you could buy. You had to find one by chance and would always be one somebody had owned and possibly modified. Now, Randy Mitchell, who runs his Adventures in Airguns store, has a huge pile of these rifles to sell. They aren’t very safe and are the very guns that chopped off thumbs when their anti-beartraps failed; but if you cock them safely and load while restraining the sidelever, they’re fun to shoot and are often accurate.
Randy Mitchell found these old/new TS45 sidelevers and brought them to the show. It’s stuff like this that keeps me going to every airgun show I can make!
Of course, there are too many modern guns to name here, but know that at any show you’ll find almost every modern classic airgun for sale. If you’re looking for good TX200s or old R7s, they’re usually available — and they were at this show, too. But what you also see are airguns that are so rare and hard to find that some of them won’t even be seen in airgun books. This yearm Ingvar Alm had both a Winsel CO2 pistol in the box and a Giffard CO2 pistol from the 1870s on his table. Giffard invented the application of CO2 for gun use, and Winsel made only 50 guns in the early 1950s. Neither gun is represented well in any airgun book I know.
The Winsel pistol was a bulk-filled CO2 pistol that required the owner to mail his tank back to the company to be filled. Yeah, that’s going to work! They made 50 and quit. Today, they’re a prized collectible.
Giffard pioneered the use of CO2 in guns in the 1870s. His pistols are many times rarer than his rifles. The empty pop bottle is for contrast — like Cindy Crawford’s mole.
There were more big bores at this show than I see at other shows. Perhaps, that’s because the focus of big bore airgunning seems to center around Texas, where the LASSO match is held. Dennis Quackenbush delivered his guns to eager buyers, but the only rifle he had to show was his own .308, which he doesn’t want to sell. Eric Henderson and Big Bore Bob Dean were both there with some guns to sell, as well as Robert Vogel. But the one maker with a lot of guns on display was Jack Haley, whose table was a rainbow of laminated stocks.
Jack Haley’s table was a colorful display of big bore rifles.
Then there was the big bore that has been a joke in the airgun community for many years. The gun itself is fine. It was made back in the 1980s by Ben Patron, whose name is clearly on the side of the receiver. Somewhere along the line, some person got ahold of it and displayed it at the Springfield, Missouri, gun show as a “U.S. military .50-caliber sniper air rifle.” The label for that display was still inside the guitar box that held the gun, and Dennis Quackenbush remembers seeing it at the Springfield show. After that, it somehow ended up in an Arkansas pawn shop where Big Bore Bob found it and bought it.
Some previous owner had concocted a colorful background story for the Patron big bore of the 1980s.
Many shows have a drawing, but airgun shows are so lightly attended that you actually have a chance of winning! This year, they gave away several very nice prizes at the close of the show, including a scoped TalonP pistol from AirForce! Then came the drawing for the frame-extended silencer for the Talon SS. I knew before the little girl picked my ticket that I would win it. How ironic is that? I’m testing a Talon SS with a bloop tube right now, so of course I’m going to win another one! But the supreme irony came when Randy Mitchell, a big bore hunter, won the .50-caliber Dragon Claw donated by Pyramyd Air.
Randy Mitchell (right) won the Dragon Claw. Show host, Seth Rowland, standing, ran the drawing. The young lady added a lot of sparkle and enthusiasm to the show. I see an airgunner in the making!
On the trip home, Mac and I relived the show many times. That’s another benefit. I can remember snippets from most past shows, and this one will now be filed away in the library.