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  • Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs and speedloader: Part 1
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Marksman BBs
    Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs and speedloader.

    This report covers:

    • Steel BBs
    • Steel doesn’t give!
    • Will they fit any BB gun?
    • Do I have a BB gun with a big barrel?
    • Loading through the magazine
    • What now?
    • Benjamin 700
    • More testing
    • Weight
    • The speedloader
    • Summary

    No history report today, but there will be a lot of history as the report unfolds.

    Steel BBs

    If you are a veteran reader of mine, you know that I have harped for many years on the fact that steel BBs are labeled as 4.5mm, when they are really 4.3mm or so. Steel BBs range in size from 0.171- to 0.1735-inches in diameter. If you are curious about where the BB came from, read this report.

    And then came the Marksman Premium Grade steel BB. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only steel BB in the world that comes close to 0.177-inches in diameter.

    I measured five BBs and got the following:

    BB……….diameter in inches
    1……………0.176-0.177 — a range, depending on where on the BB I measured
    4……………0.1755-0.176 — a range

    Steel doesn’t give!

    Lead bullets and balls have been famous for centuries because they are malleable and conform to steel rifle barrels. Steel BBs are not malleable. They do not deform. They are what they are and there is no changing them in any easy way. So, a larger steel BB presents a problem for smooth bores that have been manufactured to accept BBs that are 0.171 to 0.1735-inches in diameter.

    What does this mean? It means that the Marksman BB is going to be very tight in most or all modern BB guns, and indeed if you read the reviews on the Pyramyd Air website, that’s exactly what everyone says.

    Will they fit any BB gun?

    What good is a BB that doesn’t fit any guns? Will the Marksman BBs fit any gun? The reviews say they will. They even feed through some magazines, according to those reviews. But they also got stuck in several guns, according to those same reports, so now I have to figure this out for myself.

    Do I have a BB gun with a big barrel?

    Right away the Pioneer76 BB gun came to mind. I know from past testing that it isn’t that accurate. Perhaps that’s because the bore is too big for most BBs. So I grabbed the gun and started evaluating the BB’s fit.

    Step one was to drop a BB into the Pioneer’s muzzle and see how it fit. It went into the barrel about 3/8-inch and then stopped.

    Marksman BBs Pioneer muzzle
    The BB dropped about 3/8-inch (0.375-inches/9.525mm) into the Pioneer bore, then stopped. I’m showing this angle to show the depth, plus not be overpowered by the camera’s flash.

    So, the BB seems too large for the Pioneer bore. But what if it’s just that one spot and what if it’s only slightly too large? I didn’t push the BB any farther because I didn’t want to get it stuck hard, but I tried something different.

    Loading through the magazine

    I tried loading three Marksman BBs through the Pioneer’s 50-shot forced-feed magazine. They went into the mag all the way, dropped to the bottom and seemed to make it around the curve at the bottom to line up with the bore.

    Marksman BBs in mag
    Three Marksman BBs are in the Pioneer magazine. The arrow points to the first one that has turned the corner and aligned with the barrel.

    When I released the magazine follower the third BB was pushed into alignment with the barrel. Now I tried to install the barrel back into the BB gun. As you may recall, when this is done, the long air tube that sticks out from the plunger (piston seal) pushes the BB deeper into the breech.

    But the shot tube would not go into the gun. I tried to push it in and it resisted. That means the air tube has pushed the BB into the barrel as far as it would go and the BB is now stuck. I can’t show you a picture of that because the BB is too deep in the barrel. But I can show you how we can tell that it is stuck

    I tried to rod the BB out of the barrel with a cleaning rod from the muzzle. The shot tube was out of the gun while I did this. The BB is so stuck that the jag on the end of the rod was bent.

    Marksman BBs bent jag
    The Marksman BB is stuck hard enough in the Pioneer barrel that it bent my brass jag tip and still didn’t come out!

    I will keep beating on that BB and eventually it will come out. How much damage I have done to my Pioneer magazine remains to be seen. But, am I dead in the water?

    What now?

    What more can I do? We know that the bores on modern BB guns are mostly going to be too small for this giant BB. Do I have anything else I can try?

    Benjamin 700

    Remember the Benjamin 700? I wrote about it last year. I remembered that it was supposed to have been made for steel Air Rifle Shot, but such things don’t exist — or at least I didn’t think they did! Air Rifle Shot was the name Daisy gave to the LEAD balls they downsized from 0.180-inches (size BB) to 0.175-inches to save lead and increase velocity. They did that around the turn of the 20th century. But I tried some of that in the Benjamin 700 and it didn’t work. It jammed in the feeding mechanism. But did it jam because of the size or because it is lead? I didn’t know.

    Marksman BBs Benjamin 700
    So far the Benjamin 700 seems to feed and shoot the Marksman BBs fine.

    Then I dropped a Marksman BB down the muzzle of the 700 and it disappeared from sight. I cocked the gun, shot it and the BB came out. Next I loaded a BB into the spring-loaded magazine on the gun and it dropped all the way down. I released the follower and it went down all the way. I pumped the gun and shot that BB, which came out, as well. So, at least one BB fed through the Benjamin 700 magazine as it should!

    More testing

    I originally thought this would be a one-time report, until I read where people are shooting Marksman BBs with success. So more testing is in store. Now I need those of you with experience to tell me the BB guns you are shooting these giants in.


    Speaking of giants, the description says these BBs weigh 5.1 grains. But that’s impossible unless they have air pockets inside them. They are steel spheres that are larger than conventional steel BBs that weigh 5.1 grains. These have to weigh a little more. So, I weighed them. I weighed the same BBs whose diameters I measured. The lightest was 5.6 grains, the next was 5.7 grains and three were 5.9 grains. So, there!

    The speedloader

    Buyers seem to like the speedloader better than the BBs themselves. It’s a soft rubber affair that looks like you have to cut the tip off — like a bottle of glue — but you don’t. It comes with a hole that’s just large enough to hold the BBs in place until the tip is squeezed. Then it releases the BBs one at a time.

    Marksman BBs speedloader
    Squeeze the speedloader bottle where my hand is and the BBs pour into the tip. They line up but cannot exit the tip until you squeeze at that point. There’s one BB caught at the tip now (arrow).

    You fill the tip by squeezing the bottle behind it. And you fill the speedloader by removing the soft black plastic cover at the rear and pouring BBs in.


    Marksman Premium Grade BBs are larger and heavier than conventional steel BBs. That means you have to match them to the gun you plan to shoot. I will do some more testing of this BB for both velocity and accuracy, but I don’t plan to do any destructive testing, so don’t ask me to try them in my Daisy 499.

  • Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle: Part 5
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Air Venturi TR5 repeating pellet rifle.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

    This report covers:

    • The test
    • First up
    • Stock
    • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads
    • Heavier pellets were too long
    • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads
    • Baracuda with 4.52mm head
    • Discussion
    • Baracuda Match 4.50mm the second time
    • Baracuda Match 4.53mm the second time
    • Summary

    Today we discover whether cleaning the barrel of the Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle makes any difference to the accuracy. I am going the extra mile on this airgun because it satisfies a large group of shooters who just want an accurate plinking rifle. No, it’s not a target rifle despite the name. But is it a handy and compact spring-piston plinker that sells for a reasonable price?

    The test

    I shot the rifle from 10 meters off a sandbag rest. I held the rifle in a non-artillery-hold way, with my off hand around the forearm. I had mounted the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight because I felt the rear sight notch might be a little too broad for the best accuracy. All groups will be 5-shot groups until I find a pellet that’s accurate.

    First up

    I sighted in with JSB Exact Heavy pellets yesterday, so they were the first pellet to be tried today. The first five went into an open group whose size I can’t report because one pellet went off the paper. Four pellets went into 1.064-inches at 10 meters. Since I can’t show the 5th shot I’m not showing this group. I fired a second group right away, after dropping the dot sight three clicks.

    Group two is 5 shots in 1.353-inches at 10 meters. Not that good. So this pellet is out!

    TR5 JSB group
    Five shots at 10 meters went into 1.353-inches when JSB Exact Heavy pellets were used.

    Okay, now it was time to try the larger pellets I selected because of the large bore. Maybe these would do the job? But before I get to that — a word to reader GunFun1.


    GF1 asked me how loose my adjustable stock was and, if it was loose, to try shooting with the stock fully collapsed. Well, the TR5 is supposed to be a target rifle, so that’s how I have been shooting it — with the stock collapsed. You shoot a target rifle with a very short pull, usually, to bring your eye close to the rear peep. I didn’t have to do that with either the factory open sights or the dot sight I installed, but I did it anyway.

    However, GF1 asked me to extend the stock, which I did. To my surprise, the stock was no looser extended than when fully collapsed. I shot groups with it both ways and could not detect a difference. Okay — back to the test.

    H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads

    The next pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match with a 4.50mm head. I tried it because I wanted to try the same pellet with larger head sizes to compare to this one. However, this pellet surprised me with 5 in 0.929-inches at 10 meters. While that isn’t a great group, it is the smallest one I have seen so far. Maybe cleaning the barrel did help?

    TR5 Baracuda Match group1
    Five H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads went into 0.929-inches at 10 meters. It’s the smallest group so far.

    I resolved to return to this pellet and shoot another group with it at the end of the test. Maybe this was a good one.

    Heavier pellets were too long

    I did attempt to load JSB Exact Beasts and H&N Baracuda Magnums into the TR5 clip, but both of them were too long to fit into the rifle. They stuck out both ends of the holes in the clip. That’s a problem with some repeaters — their clips can’t accept longer pellets.

    H&N Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads

    Next I tried the pellet I thought might do the best — the H&N Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads. Five went into 0.861-inches at 10 meters. That’s slightly better than what the same pellet with a 4.50mm head did, but not enough different to be conclusive. Are we onto something? I definitely have to try this pellet again at the end of the test!

    TR5 Baracuda Match 453 group1
    The first group of Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads produced a nice group measuring 0.861-inches between centers.This is now the smallest group.

    Baracuda with 4.52mm head

    The last new pellet I tested (making 16 different pellets in all, between Parts 3 and 5) was the H&N Baracuda with the 4.52mm head. But they didn’t do well at all. Five made a 2.306-inch group at 10 meters. Yikes!

    TR5 Baracuda Match 4.52 group
    Five Baracuda Match pellets with 4.52mm heads made a 2.306-inch group at 10 meters.


    I’m not seeing much improvement from the cleaning I did. Maybe a couple groups are smaller, but overall we are almost at the same place we were in Part 3. However, I still have those two Baracuda Match pellets that did the best to try again. Let’s see what they can do on the second time.

    Baracuda Match 4.50mm the second time

    By this point in the test I was dialed-in. The dot sight was working perfectly and I knew just how to hold it on the target. On this second go-round, five H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads went into 1.121-inches at 10 meters. That’s about two-tenths of an inch larger than the first group with the same pellet.

    TR5 Baracuda Match 4.5 group 2
    The second time I shot them, five H&N Baracuda Match with 4.5mm heads went into 1.121-inches at 10 meters.

    Baracuda Match 4.53mm the second time

    I tried 5 Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads next. They made a 1.466-inch group at 10 meters. That’s 6 tenths of an inch larger than the first group.

    TR5 Baracuda Match 4.53 group 2
    Five Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads went into 1.466-inches at 10 meters the second time around.


    The Air Venturi TR5 pellet rifle is a recreation of the now-banned IZH61 pellet rifle. It’s lightweight, small and handy and has a nice trigger. But, despite everything I did and all the pellets I tried, I could not get the one I tested to shoot very well.

    Reader Michael uses his to shoot at soda cans at 10 meters and he says it works well for that. If that’s what you want, the TR5 may be just right for you.

  • Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle: Part 4
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Air Venturi TR5 repeating pellet rifle.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3

    This report covers:

    • Complex repeating mechanism
    • The test
    • Don’t do this
    • No barrel swap
    • Cleaning the barrel
    • Cleaning
    • Assemble the rifle — oh oh!
    • Which pellet to choose?
    • Sighting in
    • At 10 meters
    • Too much time
    • Summary

    Today I clean the barrel of the Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle then mount the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight. I will sight in after that, but not shoot any groups in this report. You will understand why as you read this report.

    Complex repeating mechanism

    The TR5 has a very complex repeating mechanism. It’s practically identical to the repeating mechanism on the IZH 61 that it copies. Repeaters don’t usually offer good access to the breech, and this mechanism is particularly difficult to deal with. There is no room even for a flexible cleaning line or a bore snake. For me to clean the barrel of this rifle properly, the barrel had to come off!

    Don’t do this

    I’m doing this to test the accuracy potential of the TR5. I don’t recommend anyone taking off the barrel of their rifle. I know several readers have done just that and that’s fine, but I can tell you this isn’t as simple as it looks or sounds. If it were simple, like taking the mainspring out of a TX200 Mark III, I would publish the directions with pictures. One reader has mentioned how it’s done, but he left out a couple of important steps and points that may seem obvious to a clever person, but will baffle somebody else. When I get to the problem area I’ll elaborate.

    No barrel swap

    I know that reader GunFun1 has swapped his TR5 barrel for one from Crosman. He seems to be getting better accuracy from it, but here is how I see that. The TR5 either works or it doesn’t. Shooters don’t want to buy an airgun that they then need to change barrels on, just to make it shoot. I understand the fun in tinkering, but I’m evaluating this air rifle for the average potential buyer — someone who doesn’t want to do all that. They want to shoot it as it comes out of the box — period.

    I’m cleaning the barrel today to see if that is what’s keeping the test rifle from grouping. If I find that it can shoot, then maybe we need to find a way to clean the barrel without removing it.

    Cleaning the barrel

    So, I took off the barrel and examined it. It did have some lead in the rifling grooves that I was able to get on film for you.

    TR5 barrel clean
    Cleaning the TR5 barrel turned out to be a long process.

    TR5 dirty breech
    The TR5 breech is a little dirty, but it doesn’t look that bad.

    My examination revealed that the TR5 barrel was a little dirty, but it didn’t seem that bad. Was I wasting my time?


    The first step to clean a rifled barrel is to run a brass or bronze brush loaded with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound through the bore. When the barrel is dirty, the brush usually meets a lot of resistance. But not this time! The brush sailed through the bore with almost no resistance at all. Know what that means? The bore of this rifle is large.

    I searched through my cleaning kit for the largest .177 brush I could find, which was in an RWS cleaning kit. With that brush on the rod there was some resistance, so the bore is large but not too large. I then scrubbed the bore with the JB bore paste about 100 times in each direction.

    At first the brush pulsed through the bore like there were spots of resistance every quarter inch or so. But after about 50 passes in each direction, the rod smoothed out. That’s why I scrubbed it so many times. Normally I don’t make more than 20 passes.

    Then I used cleaning patches with bore solvent on them. Since the barrel was out of the gun there was no reason not to use the most aggressive gun cleaning solvent I could find. Patch after patch revealed that the barrel was dirtier than it had initially looked. In all it took about 30 patches before the barrel was clean. You know that its clean when dry patches start to come out clean. I did try the brush again, but now the barrel was smooth.

    Then I examined it the bore again. This time it was hard to see the rifling, which is one way to know it’s as clean as it can get. This is hard to get on film, but I think I managed it.

    TR5 clean breech
    The barrel is now so clean that the rifling is difficult to see.

    Assemble the rifle — oh oh!

    With the barrel clean it was time to install it back in the rifle. That’s when I learned I had removed a screw I should only have loosened — the barrel locking screw! It took me the next 45 minutes to extract the Allen setscrew that holds the barrel tight inside the action. It was down deep in its cavity and refused to shake loose. This is the main reason I don’t want to explain how to remove the barrel.

    Now that I have removed and reinstalled the barrel one time, it’s not that difficult to do, but I don’t want to risk a lot of people having the same experience I had. Let’s just say it took a very small magnet and extreme dexterity to get that screw out of the action! With that done the rest of the rifle went together easily.

    Another reason I don’t want people attempting this is because the plastic stock parts are held together by wood screws. Wood screws will strip out of plastic very easily if they are tightened too much. It takes a skilled hand to not strip them!

    I left the rear sight off the rifle because the UTG dot sight was going on next. That only took a few minutes and the rifle was ready for sighting in.

    Which pellet to choose?

    Given the size of the bore I felt that the largest pellets I had would be the best. But I also read what GunFun1 said about his most recent experience with his TR5. He found that JSB Exact Heavy pellets worked the best. But his rifle has a Crosman barrel and I’m using the barrel that came on the TR5 — the one I just cleaned. However, for some reason I went with the same pellet for the sight-in.

    Sighting in

    I initially sighted in at 12 feet. I used the dot on maximum illumination, because I was shooting offhand with a door jamb for a rest. I wasn’t going for precision yet. The UTG dot sight adjusts easily and I had the rifle almost where I wanted it in three shots. Then I backed up to 10 meters.

    At 10 meters

    At 10 meters I dialed the illumination of the dot down to the lowest level. Now it was a tiny bright pip in the center of the black bullseye. The first shot at 10 meters was low and right, but I knew how many clicks to use at this distance. And, I nailed it! Shot number two went through the 10-ring of the bullseye. Sight-in was finished!

    Too much time

    I normally try to take 2 to 2.5 hours to do whatever test I’m doing for a given report, because it takes another 3 to 5 hours to write the blog. That time varies depending on how many pictures there are and how much work I have to do to them in Photoshop.

    Today the test took me 3.5 hours, most of which was involved in cleaning the barrel and then assembling the gun after cleaning. That put me behind schedule just a bit. So, I didn’t shoot any groups.

    I’m going to finish this report tomorrow with groups at 10 meters. I’ll start with the JSB pellets that were used for sight-in and then I’ll use the other pellets I selected. I have hope that we will see some good results from this work.


    I’m doing all of this to see if the TR5 is worth the extra effort. I know owners have reported roughly the same accuracy that I got in Part 3, and I want to find out whether the TR5 has any accuracy potential beyond that.

    Buyers shouldn’t have to change barrels to get accuracy. But, if a good barrel-cleaning produces results, then the next step might be to discover how to clean the bore without removing the barrel. If the TR5 is accurate, then the extra effort is worth it.

  • Artemis PP700S-A PCP pistol: Part 1
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Artemis pistol
    Artemis PCP air pistol.

    This report covers:

    • Not from Pyramyd Air
    • Impressive from the start
    • Description
    • Finish flaws
    • Fill
    • Fill adaptor
    • I filled it!
    • Sights
    • Scope rail
    • Manual
    • Operation
    • Trigger
    • Power
    • Discussion
    • Summary

    Today we start something different. The Artemis PP700S-A (what a mouthful!) is a single-shot precharged pneumatic (PCP) air pistol that comes in both .177 and .22 calibers. This pistol I am testing is a .22.

    Not from Pyramyd Air

    This pistol is made by Shaoxing Snowpeak Air Gun Factory in China, and sold all over the world. Here in the U.S. it’s only carried by smaller dealers. I ordered mine overseas from a large European exporter and had the airgun in about two weeks. I have no idea whether it’s a good air pistol or not, but after this test we should all know.

    Come on, Snowpeak! Give this pistol a real name. If you don’t there will be worldwide confusion about it and you will lose sales. It doesn’t have to be an American name. I would rather call it a Licking Cow than a PP700S-A. What is that — somebody’s password?

    This pistol seems to retail for around $240 worldwide. Some overseas websites eat the shipping, so the markup must be pretty good. Artemis has a website, but it’s hosed-up and just shows a black screen on my Chrome browser. On Firefox I get the black screen and some Garage Band noodling on a piano, so they have a problem in their IT!

    Impressive from the start

    I will say the Artemis pistol has been impressive from the start. It arrived in a decent package and the manual, while lacking in some points, does give a lot of information.

    The accessories, however, are lacking any tools for adjustments. There is a fill probe that I will discuss, a large pressed steel wrench for disassembling the reservoir for resealing (!!!) and the o-rings to do the job. The manual tells the owner that the seals will need to be replaced at some point, and there are sparse instructions of what to do.

    Artemis accessories
    This is what you get with the pistol, plus the manual. Notice the fill probe is a male Foster on one end!

    Let’s now look at the gun.


    Just looking at the gun you would think that it’s heavy at the muzzle, and it is, but not to the extent that the appearance implies. It weighs 2 lbs. 4 oz. The manual cautions that the weight may vary according to the density of the wood, but there isn’t a trace of wood on this airgun. The grips are synthetic and everything else on the outside of the gun is metal, so the manual was pieced together like most airgun manuals.

    The gun is just shy of 15-inches long overall with what appears to be an 11.5-inch barrel, so it’s a big ‘un. I say the barrel appears that long because the last 0.825-inches are threaded inside for a silencer. The grips are somewhat ergonomic and fit my hand very well. They are slightly rough, but not in a real grippy way.

    I mentioned the threads inside the barrel. There is also a solid barrel shroud that does nothing to moderate noise.

    Artemis muzzle threads
    The Artemis has a threaded shroud at the muzzle. You can bet that it’s a European silencer thread (1/2 UNF).

    Finish flaws

    One video blogger criticized the pistol he examined for having touchup marks, which is common with Chinese airguns. The test pistol I have does have a small nick on the barrel shroud on the left side beneath the front sight that has been touched up with black paint, but in general I would say this pistol is finished as well as most airguns at this price level. I’m not as critical of small imperfections as many people, so take that into consideration.


    The manual clearly states that the maximum pressure is 250 bar (3,626 psi), but there is worldwide confusion over the fill pressure. Some sites say to fill it to 3,000 psi, or 206 bar. I will learn a lot more when I test the velocity, but there are a lot of shots between 206 bar and 250 bar and I don’t want to give any of them away. The air reservoir has a 69.7cc capacity.

    Fill adaptor

    The fill adaptor has a 7mm proprietary probe on one end and a male Foster quick-disconnect coupling on the other end. That means that all you need is an air tank or hand pump (or a dedicated air compressor like the Nomad II, these days) with a female Foster coupling on the end of the hose to fill the pistol. Given the pistol’s small reservoir, I would be careful when filling from an air tank.

    I filled it!

    I was curious about the fill pressure so I filled the pistol. I filled to 250 bar/3,626 psi. then I shot it. The gun seemed to function perfectly and the shot was loud. Until I chronograph it we won’t know for sure, but I would say the manual is correct. Perhaps they ship different guns to other market and they have lower fill levels?


    The sights are a squared-off post in front and a u-notch in the rear. The rear sight is adjustable for windage by loosening a 1.5mm locking screw and sliding the notch in its dovetail slot. The manual makes no mention of this that I can find.

    Artemis rear sight
    Loosen that screw on the left and the sight slides in its dovetail.

    Scope rail

    There is a 4-7/8-inch scope rail on the top rear of the receiver. In front of that the rail does not have a dovetail but there are three grooves that seem to serve no purpose beyond aesthetics.


    This pistol comes with a manual that’s clearly written — as far as it goes. But it gives some instructions that I need to address.

    1. The manual says to lubricate the surface of the valve pin and the seal of the loading port with mineral (petroleum) oil every 1,000 shots or three months. I would not do that because the mineral oil could get into the reservoir where it becomes explosively dangerous. Use high-temperature silicone oil to lube these areas.

    2. The manual says to clean the barrel every 1,000 shots of three months. I recommend waiting until accuracy drops off. Over-cleaning can ruin an airgun barrel from damage to the shallow rifling.

    3. The manual says to take the gun to a gunsmith every year for examination, even if it is working properly. Maybe that works outside the U.S., but in this country most gunsmiths know little or nothing about airguns and represent a real danger to their sensitive mechanisms. An airgun that’s working properly is best left alone.


    Once the pistol is filled, you can load the gun by first cocking the hammer. It comes back farther than you think and it takes some force to cock the gun. Once it’s cocked the breech block, which the manual calls the loading door, is rotated to the right, giving access to the breech.

    Artemis hammer back breech open
    With the hammer cocked the loading door can be swung to the right for access to the breech.

    There is no safety. The hammer will fall if the trigger is pulled with the loading door open, but no air can get behind the pellet because the air transfer port is inside the loading door. So, by swinging the door open, the pistol is as safe as it can be.


    The trigger has one adjustment for the length of the stage-one pull. The pistol comes from the factory set for a two-stage pull that seems crisp enough, though I will have more to say about it in Part 2. I adjusted the one 1.5mm screw in to the point that stage one disappeared altogether, giving you a single stage pull, if you like.

    Artemis trigger
    The one screw in the trigger determines the length of stage one — all the way to no stage one!


    The manual say we can expect the pistol to shoot a one-gram.15.4-grain .22 caliber pellet at around 600 f.p.s. That would produce 12.31 foot-pounds at the muzzle. Of course I will test that for you in much greater detail.


    The rest of the performance remains to be tested. What I can tell you right now it the pistol accepted a fill and is holding a charge. And the discharge is a loud pop!


    I expect several of you know more about this pistol than I do. I think it’s been on your radar for a while. So BB will be the one learning on this one!

  • The AirForce Ring Loc Kit: Part 3
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Ring-Loc Kit
    AirForce Condor Ring-Loc Kit.

    Part 1
    Part 2

    This report covers:

    • Update
    • The .22
    • 0.232 orifice
    • 0.166 orifice
    • 0.145 orifice
    • 0.125 orifice
    • Discussion 1
    • .177 Condor
    • 0.166 orifice
    • 0.145 orifice
    • 0.123 orifice
    • 0.145 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open
    • 0.123 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open
    • Temperature affects the results
    • Discussion 2
    • Summary

    I’m not doing an historical report today because there are too many current airguns and other things on my plate. Today I will tell you more about the performance of the new Ring Loc Kit from AirForce. They have given me mounds of test data to choose from and I am abbreviating it for you. Today we’ll look at the performance in .22 caliber, as well as a glimpse into the world of the .177.


    The Ring Loc Kit contains orifices in sizes 0.232-, 0.166-, 0.145- and 0.123-inches. There is also that experimental orifice that has a pilot hole of 0.070-inches that’s too small to shoot anything, but serves as a pilot/guide for a small drill bit. I hope to get to that one soon.

    The .22

    The Condor first came out in .22 caliber in 2004. As I have reported, we tested the first 100 of them to make sure they all shot 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets at 1,250 f.p.s. or more. That was what we promised in our first ad campaign. That Condor produced up to 65 foot-pounds with the heaviest .22 pellets of that day, but since then AirForce has added the .25 caliber barrel which has pellets that are much heavier. Also several new very heavy pellets have come to market in .22. So the factory energy is now 80+ foot-pounds out the door. We looked at some of the .25 caliber performance data in part 2 and saw muzzle energies up to 102.77 foot-pounds, and AirForce has seen energies of up to 105 foot-pounds in their testing. So today’s Condor with a Ring Loc Kit puts out the same energy as a standard speed .22 long rifle cartridge at the muzzle. However, the air rifle is still safer than the firearm. The diabolo pellet design (wasp waist and hollow tail) slows the pellet much faster than the solid .22 long rifle bullet, making the Condor much safer downrange.

    0.232 orifice

    Let’s look at the .22 Condor’s performance with the 0.232-inch orifice. Remember, this orifice is the size that comes standard on the rifle as it comes from the factory (no kit). With a 32-grain pellet and the rifle set at maximum power it produces a top speed of 1100 f.p.s., which is 86 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! It shoots a 21 grain pellet out at a maximum of 1200 f.p.s., which is 67.16 foot-pounds and with a 14-grain pellet it sends it downrange at 1350 f.p.s. for a maximum energy of 56.67 foot-pounds. All these numbers come from an information page AirForce is making for their website, and some rounding has been done, but it still gives you the idea of where things are.

    0.166 orifice

    The 0.166-inch orifice is going to give less power than the 0.232-inch orifice but will have more shots per fill because it conserves air. Using these same three pellets and with the rifle’s power wheel still set on maximum, here are the numbers.

    32-grain pellet — 1000 f.p.s. — 71.07 foot-pounds
    21-grain pellet — 1130 f.p.s. — 59.56 foot-pounds
    14-grain pellet — 1245 f.p.s. — 48.2 foot-pounds

    0.145 orifice

    This is the orifice that gives the Condor much more control over velocity. The power wheel really works with this orifice, rather than what it does when it’s running wide open. You can equate this to the jets in a carburetor. With large jets you can get a lot of power but the engine may never idle right. With small jets you get less power but better mileage and more stabile performance.

    32-grain pellet — 925 f.p.s. — 60.81 foot-pounds
    21-grain pellet — 1050 f.p.s. — 51.42 foot-pounds
    14-grain pellet — 1160 f.p.s. — 41.84 foot-pounds

    0.125 orifice

    This smallest orifice is better-suited to the .177 and perhaps to the .20 caliber than to the .22 and .25 calibers. Once more we look at maximum numbers.

    32-grain pellet — 780 f.p.s. — 43.24 foot-pounds
    21-grain pellet — 910 f.p.s. — 38.62 foot-pounds
    14-grain pellet — 1035 f.p.s. — 33.31 foot-pounds

    Discussion 1

    That is a very broad range of powers! But that’s not everything. All those numbers are with the power wheel turned wide open. We know that there is some adjustment possible with the 0.166-inch orifice and a lot with the 0.145-inch orifice. We haven’t looked at any of that yet.

    I will get to that when I start testing the Ring Loc Kit myself, but for now I am still briefing you on the overall performance at the top end, using numbers provided by AirForce.

    .177 Condor

    A .177 Condor is a strange beast. It’s like a Chevy Corvette with a 6-cylinder engine. The first Corvette did have only 6 cylinders. The Blue Flame Six was Chevrolet’s stopgap in the 1953 ‘Vett because their first modern V8 (they did make one in 1918-19, but only around 4,000 were built) was still two years away. And that is exactly what most Americans think about the .177 Condor. If you’re going to build the world’s most powerful smallbore air rifle (and from 2004 through the present day, that’s exactly what the Condor is), don’t hamstring it by making it in .177. HOWEVER — there are Condor owners who have .177s they love, and AirForce has to think of them, too. The Ring Loc Kit does work on .177 Condors, with the exception of the 0.232-inch orifice. AirForce cautions people not to use that one because the smaller bore tends to hold the valve open and exhaust all the air or to not open at all — depending on the ambient temperature!

    They do have data for the other orifices. Let’s look now.

    0.166 orifice

    The three pellets they tested were 16 grains, 10 grains and 7 grains. Let’s look at the results.

    16-grain pellet — 1170 f.p.s. — 48.65 foot-pounds
    10-grain pellet — 1300 f.p.s. — 37.54 foot-pounds
    7-grain pellet — 1430 f.p.s. — 31.79 foot-pounds

    0.145 orifice

    This orifice is probably the best all-around one for the Condor in all calibers. In .177 it is on the large side, but still give some control over velocity through the power wheel. Let’s see what it does wide open.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any results for the 0.145 orifice in .177 caliber with the 24-inch Condor barrel. I do have results for the 18-inch CondorSS barrel, and I’ll show them in a moment.

    0.123 orifice

    The 0.123-inch orifice is made for the .177 caliber. It works best with that caliber and not that well for the .25. We’ll look at it with the 18-inch barrel in a moment.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any data for this orifice with the 24-inch barrel, either. However, I did have a long conversation with Ton Jones last Friday. He told me he did more testing of the .177 with the smaller orifices than with any other combination. Like me, Ton wanted to know how low the Condor could go, so he could safely shoot squirrels in his back yard. He wanted a quiet gun as well as lots of shots, and the smaller orifices give you both things.

    0.145 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open


    16-grain pellet — 1050 f.p.s. — 39.18 foot-pounds
    10-grain pellet — 1180 f.p.s. — 30.93 foot-pounds
    7-grain pellet — 1280 f.p.s. — 25.47 foot-pounds

    You can probably boost the energy by 10 percent for the additional 6 inches of barrel on a 24-inch Condor.

    0.123 orifice with .177-caliber 18-inch barrel and power wide open


    16-grain pellet — 960 f.p.s. — 32.75 foot-pounds
    10-grain pellet — 1070 f.p.s. — 30.93 foot-pounds
    7-grain pellet — 1190 f.p.s. — 22.02 foot-pounds

    Once more you can probably boost the energy by 10 percent for the additional 6 inches of barrel on a 24-inch Condor.

    Temperature affects the results

    Ton noticed that the ambient temperature affect his results. In warmer weather the air is less dense and he got faster velocity and fewer shots. On low power in .22 with the 0.145-inch orifice he got 60 shots in warm weather and 75+ when it got cold.

    Discussion 2

    When AirForce tested the kit they shot and shot until the tank pressure dropped to a certain level. When I test the rifle I will be looking for a velocity spread that doesn’t grow larger than a certain number of f.p.s. — like 20. Those two different tests are going to give two different sets of results. But the relationships will stay the same. The 0.232-inch orifice with give the most power with the fewest number of shots and little to no ability to adjust power. The 0.123-inch orifice will give the most shots at the lowest power and the greatest amount of adjustability. It would be humanly impossible to test all the possible data points that the Ring Loc Kit provides, I believe. They are:

    4 calibers,
    three barrel lengths,
    every pellet of each caliber, and
    all the power settings on the power adjustment wheel for each of the above conditions.

    That is a set of hundreds of thousands of data points. No one will ever test it all. But you don’t have to! You can set up your Condor to do whatever you want — indoor plinking at 25 feet or groundhogs at 75 yards and anything in-between. Just select the right orifice, caliber, barrel and pellet. The Condor is a systems airgun and with the Ring Loc Kit it covers almost the entire spectrum!

    Next I’m going to show how the Ring Loc Kit is installed and then do a little testing of my own. I plan to drill out the 0.070-inch orifice to see how very low I can get the Condor to go, which should be a lot of fun.


    If you like shooting, this kit gives you so much more to like! From squirrels in the trees at 10 yards to jackrabbits way out there, the Condor now does it all.

  • Diana 35: Part 1
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Diana 35
    Diana 35 pellet rifle.

    A history of airguns

    This report covers:

    • Older 35
    • What was the 35?
    • Soup-up
    • The spring isn’t the thing
    • Back to the Diana 35
    • This Diana 35
    • Trigger
    • What to do?
    • Summary

    Today begins a long report on the Diana 35 air rifle. If you just found this blog, here is how we came to this point. Several months ago I tuned a Winchester model 427 (really a Diana 27) breakbarrel air rifle for reader Michael. That 9-part report is pretty thorough and worth a read. At the end I told everyone that Michael’s rifle is now the smoothest spring-piston air rifle I have ever experienced and I thought it would be nice to acquire the larger Diana 35 and tune it for smoothness. That would give me an adult-sized breakbarrel that was as perfect as can be — or at least I think so.

    One of our readers, Carel from the Netherlands, contacted me, telling me he had a nice Diana 35 he would sell me and after a short conversation I bought it. I also bought his Diana 26 that I had never heard of and a Diana 27S that I also never heard of. I have already reviewed the Diana 26 and the 27S is still to come. But this Diana 35 is the gun that I really wanted to examine and tune.

    Older 35

    Carel’s Diana turned out to be a lot older than the one that I once owned. It has a finger groove along both sides of the thinner rounded forearm instead of checkering on a thicker squared-off forearm. That’s the European influence, rather than the more westernized forearm that came later. If you own a Blue Book, this rifle is something like the rifle that’s shown in the book, with one major difference. The rear sight on this rifle is unlike any I have ever seen. I’m going to show you several pictures rather than try to describe it — except to say there are no plastic parts anywhere on this sight. It is 100 percent steel!

    Diana 35 rear sight 1
    The rear sight on this Diana 35 is one I have never seen before. The notch is protected by steel ears.

    Diana 35 rear sight top
    Looking down on the top of the rear sight you can see how different it is. The elevation wheel is polished and blued steel!

    Diana 35 rear sight back
    And this is what it looks like from the shooter’s perspective.

    The front sight is a hooded post that’s fixed. The post is tapered, but it fits into the rear notch well, and, because the notch is so small, it should prove easy to sight well. We shall see!

    What was the 35?

    The Diana 35 was the older brother of the Diana 27. It was produced from 1953 through 1964, when it was revised into a modernized version that lasted through 1987. So, that’s 1953-1964 for the first run, of which there are several variations and 1965-1987 for the rifle that most Americans will know. It was supposed to be larger, heavier and more powerful than the model 27. It is both larger and heavier without a doubt, but the power, while greater, isn’t that much greater. It’s not enough to justify the difference in size and weight — at least in my opinion. And the additional cocking effort is a real put-off.

    Diana 35 and 27
    The Diana 35 (top) isn’t much longer than the Diana 27, but the thicker stock makes it feel larger.


    Back in the 1970s when the 35 was being made the “velocity wars” were just getting started and airgunners around the world were starting to learn how to modify their guns for more speed. Everybody “knew” that adding a more powerful mainspring was the way to increase velocity and we all suffered through a learning curve that lasted several decades. Feinwerkbau taught us all that a long piston stroke was the best way to get higher velocity, but that didn’t stop each of us from learning the lesson the hard way.

    I was one of the ones who learned and I did so with the Diana 35. But I was late to the party, because experienced airgunsmiths already knew about longer piston strokes and the Diana 34 was silently revolutionizing the world of breakbarrels. Meanwhile, I was building a rifle that cocked like the bow of Hercules, yet didn’t increase in velocity.

    The spring isn’t the thing

    I will cut to the chase and tell you that I once owned another air rifle that was based on the Beeman R1, yet was 25 percent larger and heavier, yet did not increase the velocity one iota! I wrote about it in a report titled, Steel Dreams. That rifle taught me a lot about airgun power and where it comes from. I now know that it isn’t just the mainspring or the diameter of the piston.

    Back to the Diana 35

    Now let’s get back to the Diana 35. The 35 never delivered the power we expected it to, but the Diana 34 that followed it (1984-present) was everything the 35 wasn’t. It had the power, though at first it was quite raw and uncivilized. Over the years Diana has refined the powerplant until today the 34 is quite refined.

    But I already own a 34, and it’s a very nice one that I have tuned quite well. I don’t want another gun like that. What I want is a vintage 35 that’s as sweet to shoot as a Diana 27, though in a slightly bigger package.

    This Diana 35

    This rifle is 43.5-inches long overall, with a barrel that’s just under 19 inches. the pull measures 13.5 inches, which is identical to the pull of a Diana 27. The stock is thicker than a Diana 27 stock, though this particular rifle has a stock that’s thinner than the stock Diana switched to in the 1980s. The buttplate is black plastic with horizontal ridges to prevent slippage. It works — sort of — though a soft rubber butt plate would be better until it hardened over time.

    This rifle weighs 6 lbs. 15 oz. That’s about a pound more than the 27. It’s still a lightweight air rifle by today’s standards, but not so light that it feels insubstantial.

    The rifle is nearly 100 percent wood and steel. Excluding the buttplate, I don’t think there is another piece of synthetic on the outside of the gun.


    The trigger is the classic ball-bearing trigger. On a 35 the trigger has one additional spring guide that I will show you when the time comes, but other than that the parts are quite similar, if not all interchangeable (most are) — due to the difference in the spring tube diameters between the 27 and 35.

    What to do?

    So I now have the rifle. It came to me with a breech seal that’s in need of replacement. Carel told me all about it before I bought the rifle and, knowing that T.W. Chambers carries the parts I need, I ordered them.

    Diana 35 breech seal
    This leather breech seal is shot!

    I have shown uncharacteristic restraint by not firing a single shot from the rifle until that breech seal is replaced. I now have the new synthetic breech seal I need, plus a new mainspring. It should put 7-grain .177 pellets out at around 650 f.p.s., if everything is in order. If not, I will strip it and replace the mainspring but only lubricate it sparingly. That way we can see what a new Diana 35 should shoot like before I get into tuning it the way I want. That assumes the piston seal is okay, which we won’t know until we look at it.

    I won’t overwhelm you with back-to-back reports on this rifle like I did with Michael’s Diana 27 or the RWS Diana 45 I tuned a couple years ago. Not everyone is as enamored with these vintage breakbarrels as I am, so there will be other old airguns mixed in to keep everyone happy. But I wanted to get this rifle started, now that the parts are on hand.


    We are about to embark on another journey to tune yet another vintage Diana spring-piston air rifle. Yippie!

  • Remington 1875 BB and pellet revolver: Part 2
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Remington 1875
    Remington 1875 pellet and BB pistol.

    Part 1

    This report covers:

    • Finish
    • Big report!
    • The cartridges
    • Velocity
    • Marksman BBs
    • Remove the cylinder
    • Crosman BBs
    • The test
    • Air Venturi Steel
    • Dust Devils
    • Smart Shot
    • Black Diamond
    • Trigger pull
    • Safety
    • Summary

    The first report on the Remington-revolver didn’t elicit the response I expected. I thought that because this is not a common firearm, the fact that there is an airgun lookalike would be met with enthusiasm. The Colt SAA is certainly very popular, and with good reason, but the S&W Schofield that tried to compete with it back in the day isn’t — either as a firearm or as an airgun. Now we have the 1875 Remington that is just as rare as the Schofield and airgunners are saying, “Ho hum.”


    Several of you wish that this air pistol was produced with a finish other than nickel. I hope Crosman is listening. Oddly enough, the 1875 firearm I once owned was a nickel gun, as well. Of course my gun was old and pitted with rust and the nickel was flaking off. I don’t think that’s the sort of finish airgunners want. They want a gun that looks like it has been there and done that. Look at the success of the SAAs and the Webley Mark VI that have such a finish! Those guns are as popular as the shiny ones — more popular, perhaps.

    I don’t think Umarex appreciated the appeal of the worn finish for buyers and it’s clear Crosman hasn’t yet, either. So, here is BB Pelletier’s open letter to the airgun industry. If you are considering selling lookalike airguns, also consider their finish. A gun that’s been in service a long time does not look right if it has a shiny new finish. If ever anyone builds an airgun replica of the Liberator pistol from World War II, make it look right. Those guns weren’t pretty when they were new!

    Could the Liberator be the next lookalike air pistol? Would it sell?

    Big report!

    Today’s report will be broken into two sections because of all I am going to show you and tell you. Part 3 will be where I test the velocity of pellets.

    The cartridges

    Obviously the cartridges that fit this airgun are not the same as those that fit the Colts, because there are two different airgun companies involved — Crosman for the 1875 and Umarex for all the SAAs. The Remington cartridges are smaller than the Colt cartridges They measure 0.374 just behind the case crimp and 0.383 just in front of the rim. The Colt cartridges that the new Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun also use measure 0.388 at the case crimp and 0.404 just ahead of the rim. They are clearly bigger and will not even go into a Remington chamber. So, it’s 1875 all over again, and Crosman decided to retain the realism in this 1875 of the non-compatible cartridge.

    Nevertheless, additional cartridges are available for the Remington from Pyramyd Air. From what some who own the gun say it might be best to just load each cartridge while it is still in the cylinder, which is both possible and easy. That’s how I will do it today.

    Remington 1875 loading
    You can load each cartridge by putting the hammer at half-cock (the first click as the hammer is pulled back) and opening the cylinder gate. Load a BB or pellet into the cartridge base, then rotate the cylinder clockwise by hand to the next cartridge.

    If you do load the gun this way, be sure to always hold it with the muzzle pointed down. Otherwise the cartridges will fall out of the cylinder!


    Today is the day we test the velocity of the airgun. This one shoots both BBs and pellets, so both need to be tested. I will cover some BBs today and pellets in the next report.

    Marksman BBs

    There are several types of BBs to be considered. I received the new Marksman Premium BBs while I was testing the gun. They measured around 0.177-inches, as many readers have said. Since this gun can also shoot pellets I thought the bore may be large enough to accommodate the larger Marksman BBs, but a quick test demonstrated that it isn’t.

    Marksman BB
    A Marksman Premium BB selected at random measured 0.1765-inches in diameter. That’s larger than any other steel BB!

    BB in breech
    When I tried to drop a Marksman BB through the 1875 barrel, it stuck in the breech (arrow).

    Remove the cylinder

    I told you in Part 1 that I would show you how to remover the cylinder in this report. It’s not a matter of not knowing what to do. To remove the cylinder the cylinder pin must be pulled forward as far as it will go. It is a captive pin, just like on the firearm, so you’re not going to loose it. It is also the “secret” to removing the cylinder

    Step 1. Remove all 6 cartridges. They can slip back and jam the cylinder in the gun if you don’t.

    Step 2. Cock the hammer to half-cock. It must be done to pull the bolt down out of the way — otherwise the cylinder will remain stuck in the frame.

    Step 3. Press in the cylinder pin release on the right side of the frame while pulling the cylinder pin forward. THIS IS THE TRICK. When the gun is new the cylinder pin does not like to come out. To facilitate it moving, spin the cylinder a few times as you pull on the end of the pin.

    cylinder pin release
    Press in on the cylinder pin release (yellow arrow) to move the cylinder pin. The blue arrow points to the safety.

    cylinder pin out
    The cylinder pin must be pulled out this far for the cylinder to be removed from the revolver.

    If you have difficulty removing your 1875 cylinder the first few times, don’t despair. That’s normal because all the parts are new and tight. Remember to half-cock the hammer from the down position and don’t lower it from full cock to half cock. It must be pulled from all the way down to retract the bolt.

    The cylinder pin may be tight, but rotate the cylinder as you pull it out and it should free up. Once you have removed the cylinder a few times, the parts will be smoother and it will be easier. And don’t forget to remove all the cartridges first!

    Crosman BBs

    Since this is a Crosman gun I wanted to test it with the new Crosman Black Widow BBs. They are steel but weigh more than most premium steel BBs, which leads me to suspect they are a trifle larger. I don’t have any at present, but I will order some.

    So, there are several interesting things happening in the world of BBs and BB guns and I’m playing catch-up. We’ll see!

    The test

    Since this is a six-shooter I’ll test it with a string of 6 shots instead of the usual 10. That way I can test more types of ammo. Let’s begin with BBs first. Because this is a CO2 gun I waited 15-30 seconds between all shots for the gun to warm up. Ten seconds just wasn’t enough.

    Air Venturi Steel

    Six Air Venturi Steel BBs averaged 431 f.p.s. from the Remington revolver. The low was 415 and the high was 443 f.p.s., so the total spread was 28 f.p.s.

    Dust Devils

    Six Air Venturi Dust Devils averaged 438 f.p.s. in the 1875 revolver. The low was 429 and the high was 445 f.p.s. That makes the spread 16 f.p.s.

    Smart Shot

    Next I tried 6 Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot lead BBs. They averaged 370 f.p.s. The low was 359 and the high was 389 f.p.s., so the spread was 30 f.p.s.

    Black Diamond

    The final steel BB I tested was the Hornady Black Diamond. They averaged 430 f.p.s. with a low of 426 and a high of 438 f.p.s. That makes the spread just 12 f.p.s. — the tightest of the test.

    Trigger pull

    The 1875’s trigger is single-stage and breaks cleanly at 3 lbs. In my younger days I used to gunsmith single actions for better triggers and lighter cocking. I would shoot for 3 lbs. which is safe with this type of revolver. This is a direct-sear trigger and making it any lighter than 3 lbs. puts it into an unsafe area when it can slip off full cock and fire unexpectedly.


    I didn’t mention it in Part 1 but this revolver has a safety switch on the bottom of the triggerguard plate. Complain if you want — this is 2019. You can’t buy Lawn Darts at toy stores anymore, either.


    That’s a lot to take in, but this revolver has a lot to see. The advertised velocity is 410 f.p.s., so this one is much hotter than that. The test gun works well, is smooth and has a nice trigger pull. I don’t like silver guns, but this one is very nice. Let’s just hope it’s accurate!

    Remember, the pellet velocity test will be next.

  • Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun: Part 1
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Umarex Lever Action
    Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun.

    This report covers:

    • Description
    • The cartridges
    • Will it shoot pellets?
    • Sights
    • Loading the CO2
    • Discussion
    • Summary

    The moment I saw the Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun at the SHOT Show this year I knew it was going to be a hit.

    This is a lever action repeater that holds 10 realistic cartridges, each holding a single BB that’s loaded into the base. The cartridges load into the rifle from the right side of the receiver and feed through the action exactly like firearm cartridges.

    Lever Action Loading
    The Umarex Cowboy Lever Action gun is loaded exactly like a lever action firearm.

    When the lever is pulled down the bolt slides back, ejecting the now-empty cartridge, and the next cartridge is fed by spring pressure onto the elevator. As the lever is returned, the cartridge is aligned with the breech and fed into the breech. It takes a few moments to describe but far less time to happen — making a lever action almost as fast as a semiautomatic.

    Lever Action lever down
    When the lever goes down the spent cartridge is ejected and a new loaded cartridge is pushed onto the elevator. As the lever is pulled up the new cartridge is pushed into the breech for firing.

    The experience

    What’s it like to shoot a lever action? Right away you realize that your hands move faster than your eye can sight, so you need to speed up your reflexes to keep up. When the lever is smooth you can leave the butt of the gun against your shoulder, speeding up the time it takes to acquire your target. Maybe you can’t do it with a Red Ryder-style BB gun, but with this one, it’s easy! In a short time you will start to speed up because the gun helps you do everything but pull the trigger. Lever actions require more movement than semiautomatics, but they are nearly as fast.


    Don’t confuse this BB gun with the Walther Lever Action Rifle. That one is rifled and shoots pellets. It doesn’t use cartridges but has an 8-shot circular clip that flips out of the right side of the action for loading and unloading. The two airguns look very similar but the price difference of $260 alerts you that there are differences.

    Walther Lever Action Rifle
    The Walther Lever Action Rifle looks similar to the Umarex Lever Action BB gun.

    The Legends Cowboy BB gun is all metal and wood on the outside. Well, a reader pointed out that it isn’t real wood, but it’s so realistic that I was fooled! That’s pretty good!

    The trigger, hammer, lever, saddle ring, both sights and even the cap at the end of the forearm are all cold metal! At 6 pounds, the gun feels about right, though there is a touch of butt-heaviness.

    The Umarex BB gun has a smoothbore barrel. It is powered by two 12-gram CO2 cartridges, rather than the single 88-gram CO2 cartridge that’s in the rifle. According to the specifications, it gets velocities up to 600 f.p.s. That should please many shooters, though I must warn you that a BB going that fast will do a lot of damage if it hits you. I was hit by a BB that bounced back from a 10-meter target, and the BB split my lip and drew blood. That, despite traveling 66 feet and rebounding off a hard target. And that BB only left the muzzle at 510 f.p.s., so this gun is one to be careful with!

    The cartridges

    No doubt someone wants to know if these BB cartridges will interchange with those found in the Colt SAA BB guns that are so popular. I took a cartridge from a Weathered Duke Colt BB Revolver and cycled it through the action several times. It fed perfectly. Also, the headstamp on the base of both cartridges is the same — “UX 4.5 mm and a capital S inside a circle.” Checking it that way isn’t scientific, but I think they do interchange. I also asked Umarex USA, but they didn’t answer me before I scheduled this report for publication.

    Will it shoot pellets?

    Some readers will be interested in knowing whether this smoothbore gun will also handle pellets. I can find no caution in the manual to not use them, so I will give them a try. But a smoothbore BB gun should not be considered as an accurate pellet gun, even if it does function with them.


    Besides the BB cartridges, the sights are among the most realistic of the features on this gun. The front sight is a post with a gold bead on top — very reminiscent of the type of front sight you might find on a .22 rimfire lever action rifle.

    Lever Action front sight
    The front sight looks like a .22 rimfire front sight from 1940.

    The bead is very bright! I can see it in most lighting situations. Thank you, Umarex, for not burdening us with a fiberoptic sight!

    The rear sight is a true semi-buckhorn that can also be seen on vintage .22 rimfires — and even on some centerfire rifles! And it has been designed right! The front bead fits exactly in the lower notch, which it is supposed to. Whoever on the Umarex team designed these sights is a real shooter!

    The rear sight adjusts for elevation, only. I can see no provision for windage adjustment.

    Lever Action rear sight
    Now — THAT — gentlemen, is a rear sight for shooters!

    Loading the CO2

    The two CO2 cartridges go into the buttstock, fat end to fat end, so they are pierced at either end of the stack. The butt plate comes off the gun with a cap that’s attached by a bayonet fitting. Insert a coin in the slot, press in and turn 90 degrees to the left to open

    Lever Action butt cap
    A coin goes in the slot. Push in and turn to the left.

    Lever Action butt off
    A coin in the slot. Push in and turn to the left.


    We have had good single action revolvers for several years. We have had the Walther lever Action rifle for even longer. Now there is an affordable BB gun lever action. And there are Air Venturi Dust Devil BBs that fragment when they hit metal. Can cowboy action shooting with airguns be far off? Cowboy Star Dad — whaddaya think?


    A lot will depend on accuracy. The realism is superb, so if the gun can hit what it shoots at Umarex will have a mega-hit on their hands!

  • What’s in a picture?
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    This report covers:

    • What is important
    • Opportunity seized
    • All is not lost
    • Bad picture — something’s wrong
    • What to do?
    • Lit the fire
    • Poor descriptions
    • Bad description
    • Blessings in disguise
    • Summary

    Today will be different. It’s sort of a guest blog, with help from me. I’ll explain as we go.

    Several years ago I wrote two multiple-part blogs about taking pictures of airguns. Several readers were having difficulty taking the pictures they wanted, and I tried to coach them a little. The most recent report is a 2-parter from 2014. It’s okay and even has a few useful tips, but the first report from 2008 is more detailed. I think it’s the better one.

    What is important

    Taking good pictures is indeed important, but it’s not the subject of today’s report. Today I want to discuss how a bad picture can cost you a fortune! I have addressed this subject in the past, but there hasn’t been a specific blog devoted to it. So, here we go!

    Opportunity seized

    One of our readers, Kevin in Connecticut, is also a gun collector who frequents the Gun Broker auction website. I’ll let him tell you the story.

    Hi Tom, last week I was bidding on an S&W Model 629, it’s a Model 29 in stainless. The thing was that this was a “no dash” model, meaning that it had the very desirable pinned barrel and recessed chambers. Long story short, the bidding was very lively and I made the mistake of falling asleep (or maybe not, as you will see). I was outbid by someone, and the darn thing wound up going for over 18 hundred bucks! My high bid was 16 hundred something and I doubt that I’d have gone higher, but still, no one likes to be sniped.

    Nobody likes to be sniped (outbid at the last second), but on Gun Broker it’s not really possible. If a high bid comes in during the final 15 minutes of the auction, they set the clock back to 15 minutes and start counting down all over again. That happens as many time as a higher bid comes in during the final 15 minutes. It’s very frustrating for those of us who do snipe (I am now raising my hand), because it gives everyone time to rethink their bid. And that is the purpose of doing it that way — to raise the selling price as high as possible. It helps both the seller and Gun Broker, who gets a higher commission.

    All is not lost

    So, Kevin lost the gun he really wanted. But then something wonderful happened. He got a second chance. Here is what he says about that.

    Anyway, I came across another one and the opening bid was $1050, I held my fire until a few hours before the ending and put in a bid with a max of $1500.00. Turns out that no one else bid on it and I got it for the $1050.00.

    I believe that poor product photos and a very lackluster writeup were the reasons this happened. I’ve included a link to it, and as you can see, the first photo is absolutely horrible. To me it makes the gun look like either hard chromed or the old Armaloy process.

    bad pic
    If you already know what revolver this is, the picture isn’t so bad. But, if you plan to risk more than fifteen hundred dollars to buy it, this picture is horrible. That is the point of this report!

    Most people would pass this listing by. In fact — most people did. Kevin looked at the rest of the pictures for the same listing.

    The rest of the pix clearly show the pinned barrel, recessed chambers, and the true stainless steel finish is very apparent.

    better pic
    Same gun, same listing, better picture. Why wasn’t this the first picture used for the listing?

    Bad picture — something’s wrong

    I spoke to Kevin yesterday and he confirmed what I thought. When we see a bad blurry picture, we know something is wrong. Is the guy trying to hide something? I have known people who use blurry pictures to do just that.

    Or, doesn’t the guy care? Is he lazy or sloppy in all that he does? A blurry picture or one that isn’t oriented correctly (sideways instead of straight on) tells me either the guy doesn’t know how to use the software or he just doesn’t care about anything he does. Or perhaps he’s most familiar with social media on a smart phone. He thinks everyone is looking at his listing on their phone and can turn it sideways to straighten it out. But some folks are sitting at a computer with a 50-inch high-rez monitor bolted to the wall that they won’t be turning.

    So, if you are interested in the gun he’s selling, what could be wrong? Are the screw slots buggered? Is a chamber bulged? Did he flip the cylinder closed and bend the crane? A blurry picture tells you none of that.

    But his additional pictures were clearer and let Kevin see the real condition of the gun. It looked good, so he took a chance.

    What to do?

    Here is what Kevin did. He patiently waited for several days while the time on this auction ran down. If he had submitted his bid earlier many people could have seen it. Yes, the first picture is bad, but some guys get all macho when they see that someone else has bid on an item they might want. A bid would have incited them to look deeper into the listing and they would have seen the better pictures that were lurking behind the first picture. By leaving the bids at zero (no bids) Kevin lulled those guys to sleep.

    But he also didn’t wait to bid in the last 15 minutes, because of the clock resetting. That triggers people to act, as well. He put in a bid a few hours before the end of the auction, hoping that no one would notice it — which they didn’t! Here is what he says.

    Turns out it was my good luck!! I thought you would find the story interesting and your readers might profit from knowing how much good photos and a proper description go to maximizing a sale.

    Kevin has now received the gun and it is in beautiful condition. For all of you who aren’t firearm collectors, what Kevin has done in this transaction is equivalent to buying a 95 percent $1,500 Sheridan Supergrade for $800.

    Lit the fire

    Kevin and I share a passion for good pictures and decent product descriptions, and this incident really lit his fuse. He also sent me a picture of another gun seller on Gun Broker, to contrast with this one. This is a seller whose pictures he really likes. Look at the difference in the main photo.

    best pic
    This is what a picture should look like when someone wants to sell a gun for thousands of dollars! What a contrast!

    Poor descriptions

    Bad pictures are one thing, but poor descriptions are just as bad. When trying to sell an expensive collectible gun you should tell potential buyers as much as you can. Kevin gave some clues in his description of the gun he wanted — pinned barrel, recessed chambers in the cylinder, etc. Those are things to note for buyers.

    If you are selling a Sheridan Supergrade don’t just tell them the serial number is very low, if it’s true tell them, “This is one of the first 200 rifles whose serial number was engraved by a jeweler!”

    The more you can tell a potential buyer, the more buyers you will have. You’re not just selling a Smith & Wesson 78G pellet pistol — you’re selling, “… an early model with the high-gloss finish and the adjustable trigger.”

    Bad description

    Kevin also linked me to a poor description for a different gun on Gun Broker to prove his point. The S&W model 60 snubnosed revolver in stainless steel with a pinned barrel is a highly collectible handgun today. They sell for a lot of money. They are also made in .357 Magnum and without the pinned barrel and those guns are much cheaper. There are plenty of those but not so many of the .38 Specials with the pinned barrel.

    Here is the complete information on one of the pinned-barrel models.

    poor description
    This is all the description given for a very collectible handgun! No mention is even made that it is a pinned barrel (it is).

    There should be a paragraph of description telling buyers why this gun is the one they want, over the other 50 that don’t have a pinned barrel. But no, it’s being treated as if it’s just another gun someone needs to get rid of. The seller says “Please see pictures.” in the hopes that seeing them will tell you everything you need to know. Well, it does if you know what you’re looking at. If not there are a host of S&W model 60s selling for half the price and less.

    Blessings in disguise

    Kevin and I could have written this report from a completely different viewpoint — one telling you how to locate diamonds in the rough. Because that is what these sellers with poor pictures and thin descriptions are doing — asking people to please pick up all these glassy rocks that are littering their ground. That’s kinda what happened with Golconda. The owner sold the land to finance a worldwide search for diamonds and walked away from the richest diamond mine in the world at the time. I’m enough of a collector to look for things like this.

    I won’t cheat the widow who just wants her late husband’s guns out of the house, but I will conspire with the bitter divorcee who sells her husband’s trap gun for a dollar because the court ordered her to share the proceeds of their property equally.


    It really does matter that the pictures you use when selling something are the best. Take the time to make them good or find help if you need it.

    And the description you write has to inform the potential buyers of all the advantages your item offers. Remember that some buyers don’t know everything you do, so help them make their decision.

  • Pioneer model BB76 BB gun: Part 2
  • by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Pioneer BB gun
    Pioneer BB76 BB gun.

    Part 1

    A history of airguns

    This report covers:

    • More about the gun
    • Feeding
    • Velocity
    • Hornady Black Diamond
    • Dust Devils
    • Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot
    • More ammo
    • Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs
    • Cocking effort
    • Anti-beartrap
    • Summary

    Well, well. I finally found something to write about that a lot of you didn’t know about. You guys are getting so savvy that it’s harder and harder to do. I actually did write about this BB gun back in 2005 when the blog got started, but that was a one-time report and this will be a full test. So, it’s the same gun but different stuff being reported, and a whole lot more this time.

    More about the gun

    I said I’d have more to say about the gun as we went, so here are a couple new things. The first is that the rear sight is adjustable — sort of. It slides up and down on an inclined ramp, and, because the notch is only fastened by a single screw, you can also swing it to the right and left — a little.

    Pioneer 76 rear sight
    The rear notch slides up and down and can be swung to either side a little. So much for adjustment!


    The second thing I want to report is how the Pioneer’s forced-feed magazine feeds. What I’m about to tell you is typical of how all these 50-shot forced-feed magazines work.

    The magazine has to be removed from the gun to be loaded. You unscrew it and pull it completely out of the gun. After loading, when you install it again, the air tube on the end of the plunger (called the piston in a pellet gun) enters and sticks up into the shot tube breech. The magazine will stop going into the gun about two inches from where it can be screwed down and you have to wiggle it around until the air tube enters the rear of the shot tube. A second way we did it when I was a kid was to cock the gun before inserting the magazine. The air tube was withdrawn all the way then and the shot tube went in all the way to the threads, where it could be screwed down. That usually worked, but if the air tube wasn’t aligned with the rear of the shot tube you could wreck your gun when you fired it. I don’t recommend doing it that way.

    Most Daisy 25 guns will have a BB pushed out when the air tube goes through the base of the shot tube. They are designed that way. This Pioneer looses two BBs this same way almost every time.

    You can shoot this loose BB (or BBs) out if you like, but that means your first shot will always be a multiple shot (two or three BBs will come out). The BBs will be slower and far less accurate. You can also point the muzzle down and let the BB roll out. Then your first shot will then be just a single BB as it is supposed to be.

    Pioneer 76 BBs
    When I tipped the muzzle of the Pioneer down after loading the magazine into the gun, two BBs rolled out almost every time.

    I didn’t show you the small differences in the Pioneer mag in Part 1, but they are there. If you look at the picture below you’ll see that the spring tube for the BB follower does not go all the way to the muzzle like it does on a 25 magazine. The space in which the follower spring is fully compressed is the same in both magazines, so Daisy’s shot tube is shorter overall. Even so, this follower spring is weaker than a typical Daisy 25 spring.

    Pioneer 76 magazine
    The spring that powers the BB follower is compressed to fit into the portion of the tube that’s between the two arrows. Even so, it doesn’t push as hard on the follower as a Daisy 25 spring pushes.

    I have to say the Pioneer magazine does not appear to be as well-made as a Daisy magazine. Daisy was the top BB gun maker in the world, so they naturally engineered all their parts quite well. Miroku, on the other hand, is a firearms manufacturer who made just this one attempt at a BB gun, as far as I know. It works as it is supposed to, where a Daisy is over-engineered many times.


    Okay, let’s get into the velocity test. I will begin with a conventional steel BB. Reader Siraniko wondered if the Pioneer, having the same 50-shot forced-feed magazine as the Daisy 25 “pump” BB gun, would be just as fast. The older 25s will push a BB out at 350-375 f.p.s.

    Hornady Black Diamond

    I chose the Hornady Black Diamond for no particular reason. Ten of them averaged 350 f.p.s. but the spread was larger than I liked — from 341 to 363. That’s 22 f.p.s. I would expect about 10 f.p.s. or less for a BB gun.

    Dust Devils

    I tried Air Venturi Dust Devils next. But they gave me all sorts of problems. They didn’t feed right (often shot 2 instead of just one) and they also didn’t want to register on the chronograph. I shot perhaps 20 of them and got only 3 recorded velocities — 285, 331 and 339 f.p.s.

    Dust Devils are lighter than conventional steel BBs, so we would expect them to go faster, but instead they go slower. I think that’s because they are smaller than the bore and allow more air to pass. The fact that they often shot two at a time reinforces that thought. They apparently slip through the base of the magazine and pop into the breech of the shot tube two at a time.

    Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot

    In 2005 I tested the Pioneer with some 4.4mm lead balls. Since then Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot has come to the market. They are essentially the same as those 4.4mm lead balls and they are much easier to buy, so I tested them.

    They averaged 270 f.p.s. with a spread of 74 f.p.s. The low was 220 and the high was 294 f.p.s. That’s huge for a BB gun. I don’t expect them to be accurate.

    More ammo

    I could have tested other BBs, but I think we have learned what we need to know. The Pioneer is indeed a powerful spring-piston BB gun, but from careful observation we see that it is not made to the same tight tolerances as a Daisy. I don’t expect it to be very accurate. My 2005 test showed the 4.4mm balls were the best, but I only tested the gun at 12 feet that time. I also got three-inch groups from conventional steel BBs, which leads me to wonder what I need to do in the accuracy test. I’m not as concerned with accuracy as I am with safety. I might miss the trap altogether at 5 meters!

    Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs

    I was contacted privately by a reader who told me that the new Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs measure a true 0.177-inches in diameter. I find that astounding and a little hard to believe, because that would make them too large for many BB-gun barrels, I would think. They should also weigh more than 5.1-grains if they are really larger.

    I ordered some and Pyramyd Air was good enough to expedite the order. I hope to have them for the accuracy test. I may even do a special blog on that BB, if it turns out to be what I was told.

    Cocking effort

    The Pioneer has a short underlever that you can see in the picture in Part 1. The cocking effort is 15 lbs.

    Trigger pull

    The 2-stage trigger (yes, it really is 2 stages) breaks at 8 lbs. 6 oz. There is considerable creep in the second stage. And, while examining the trigger I discovered a screw through the trigger blade that apparently is there for some sort of adjustment! I’ve owned this BB gun more than 20 years and this is the first time I have noticed that little screw. And I know what it does!

    Pioneer 76 trigger
    That screw pushes the sear out of engagement to fire the gun.

    When the gun is cocked it won’t fire until the plastic hammer is pulled back. When that happens a metal plate inside the gun flips in place so that the end of this screw can contact it when the trigger is pulled all the way. That plate is either the sear or a lever that contacts the sear and it connects the trigger to the sear via the action of the plastic hammer. Adjusting that screw won’t make the trigger pull lighter, it could only affect how far it has to come back to fire the gun. But there is no hole through the plastic triggerguard and trying to adjust that screw without a direct link to the thin slotted head is a guarantee of disaster.

    Anti beartrap

    I wondered whether there was an anti-beartrap device to prevent shooting the gun with the lever extended. Yes, there is. I wouldn’t trust it for a second, but it is reassuring that Miroku put it on the gun!


    This has turned out to be a more interesting report than I expected. I discovered a lot about the Pioneer magazine and the trigger. I also gained considerable respect for the engineering Daisy did on their BB guns. Can’t wait for the accuracy test!

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