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You Nailed it!

This is sort of a Barnes 501 page ... you'll need some patience to enjoy it ...

I got a great e-mail today. You have to read it as written. It's from a customer who's taken alot of time to read, and who's asked me dozens of questions. After my last response, he wrote ...


Hello Gary:

Thanks for answering my questions. About the concern of we, the people, with
the number of shots... It comes from the market, the branding and the way
that most air rifles are promoted. I know that you put a lot of effort
explaining how accurate your rifles are, but we, as regular people, usually
believe that all air rifles are as accurate as the others. Other thing is
that there are not so many disciplined shooters with the ability to
determine that an air gun is accurate or not. Probably if we can't make a
minute of angle or close groups like the ones you show on your web, we
blamed it on ourselves and our lack of experience, technique or dedication
to this sport.

Then assuming that all rifles are of the same accuracy, what we have left is
fps, fpe and shots per fill. You usually don't emphasize much on the fps,
even though you have a coffee break discussion on that topic, but you do
emphasize on the fpe. On that category you are way ahead of the group, like
in a separate league. So we are left with the shots per fill. Because we see
how you set your own standards in the air rifle industry, by building what
no other manufacturer can and breaking much of the rules, then what we want
is an air rifle that display the performance of your rifles with the air
usage of the other less powerful ones. That would be nearly impossible, but
keep in mind that you are getting us used to the nearly impossible in air

End Copy.

Wow ... what a mouthful. And, all correct.

At times, I do feel I've spent my whole life answering the questions: "How many shots does it get?" and "What is the velocity of the slug?"

Add onto that ... "What does it weigh?" and you have quite a plateful to answer. But why? Can't I just say "50 shots / 1000fps / and 5 lbs?" like I am supposed to say? And, if not ... I must be hiding something ... right?

As the wise customer points out ... you all learn the correct answers to the above questions from every article, advertisement, and web post you read. The answers, and the questions they fit, came from commercial .177 airgun companies. However; once everyone learns the list, they want to apply it to everything.

I've asked you before, dozens of places on the site, to burn up a few extra brain cells and consider the fascinating psychology which goes with everything we do. Take a brief test ... just let your brain coast and look with amusement at the answers it comes up with first. Think just enough to identify the number or answer that your brain is offering you ...

1). How many miles per gallon does it get?

2). How fast can it go?

3). How fast can it fly?

4). How many are there anyway?

5). What does she weigh?

6). How many bedrooms?

7). How hot is it?

8). How long will that last?

OK ... that's enough for now. Did your brain try to answer? I'll bet it did. Can you say why? There's not enough information provided to answer any of these questions. However; facts are never a problem where advertising has had access. Your brain has been stuffed with so many standard knee jerk reactions from decades of advertising input, that it answers no matter if the question is complete or not. ;?)

Want me to take the test? Hope no psychologists are reading ...

1). 35 mpg

2). 200 mph

3). 500 mph

4). millions

5). 125 lbs

6). 5 bedrooms

7). 105 degrees F.

8). 100 years

Now, instantly, some of you can see that some of my answers are wrong ... correct? Be honest. The questions were incomplete - no topic was identified - yet you know some on these answers are wrong anyway. Fact is, those answers were just tossed out by my oh so helpful brain ... even without enough information provided in the question to even tell what we were talking about. It's clear from my answers now, which topic my brain volunteered for each question ...

1). Modern automobile

2). Exotic car

3). WWII fighter plane

4). People

5). Mature Human Female

6). Nice house

7). Summer day

8). House / good furniture

What if I were from a different background - different day, etc. I could have imagined the questions referred to totally different things and given totally different answers. May have envisioned:

1). Tractor Trailer truck

2). Cheetah

3). Missile

4). Nobel Prize Winners

5). Battleship

6). Hotel

7). The surface of the Sun

8). A rash

And ... don't you suspect the answers would be pretty different than I first gave? ha ha.

Now, when it comes to my airguns. I'll even be fairly specific ... but let me ask you:

1). How much does a 500 fpe capable airgun weigh? (Have you ever weighed another one?)

2). How fast does a 500 fpe capable airgun shoot? (Have you stated with which weight slug?)

3). How many shots should a 500 fpe capable airgun get per fill? (Have you counted the shots from other 500 fpe airguns per fill?)

You get the idea. I don't dwell on the velocity figures because advertising has played this stunt forever: shooting some little custom fly speck of a pellet to some high fps - no matter if it will shoot accurately, transfer energy, or skew off into the ozone after it crosses the chronograph. My big rifles will all shoot 1,000 + fps with some slug. That won't be the most accurate slug, carry the most energy, or be most effective on target.

No, nobody's seen, weighed, shot, etc. other 500 fpe capable airguns, but their mind is trying so hard to be helpful ... it's still making estimations. "Well, my FT gun gets 70 shots ... Good Grief ... this one should at least get .... I don't know ... 10-15?"

"Ah, but there are other big bore airguns ... And they weigh this and they get this many shots" .... Wait.... REALLY? Are they 500 fpe capable? "Well, no ... but ... maybe half that much ... " Ahhh. And, how many shots at what psi fill? Oh, 10 shots @ 3,000 psi fill ... standard answer. Big Smiles. Then, however; you read that the quoted bigger energy shots were from a modified rifle - shooting 3,800-4,000 psi, and they only one shot at that. Oh. But ... the answer is 10 shots @ 3,000 psi.!!! I went and ruined the fun with facts again.

I understand that most people WANT a Red Ryder BB gun in scale and weight. Where the compass had been inlaid in the stock, ideally; they'd like a new rotary dial marked 200fpe, 300fpe, 400fpe, 500fpe. Sure - it's fantasy. It simply doesn't work that way. If you manufacturer a medium or lower power PCP, you can fiddle with the power alittle with a simple hammer spring adjust screw. This works if you are dialing in settings (as I told someone recently) between 1. Really weak, 2. Weak, 3. Mildly weak, and 4. Not quite so Weak. You can turn that small bore adjust screw between 10-20 fpe. Maybe between 30-50 fpe. You can turn that big bore adjustment screw between 100-200 fpe, etc. But, you can't just dial in the 100-300-500 fpe range with one simple adjustment. Sure, you can always keep turning anything down, but it's no small task to produce 300 fpe with an airgun. It's one heck of a job to produce 500 fpe + with an airgun. You need more structure, more machinery, more air, more everything. As with most things in life and mechanics, it takes four times the effort to accomplish just twice the performance.

The balance of a PCP airgun is determined by a combination of caliber, slug weight, firing chamber pressure, hammer weight, hammer spring strength, hammer free travel before striking the firing valve, internal porting sizes, porting lengths, and a few others. You can't just hook all this up to a dial to go between 1). Home use ... thru, 2). Beast ... thru, 5). Out of Control Beast settings. ;?)

So, it's not even a matter of comparing Apples to Oranges. You have to compare Apples to Apples. Even closer than that; One Granny Smith Apple to another Granny Smith Apple. If you don't, then you are comparing Apples to Lemon Cake and it's just all irrelevant. I make every hunting beast of a rifle to have at least it's primary and secondary shot - very nearly alike. As I often tell folks ... we're working magic here, to produce these numbers with air. No point in being disappointed in the quality and duration of the magic.

I do all this work and I make available to customers the machinery to exactly duplicate what I've demonstrated. Some will. Many will listen to their helpful mind while it recites everything it thinks it knows on the subject. It will immediately suggest a lighter slug ... "let's go faster". It will immediately suggest a higher fill pressure ... "let's get more power". It will want to adjust the trigger and wonder aloud about a dozen other things it's pretty sure it knows ... from somewhere. "Why doesn't it just look like a Winchester ... isn't it alittle heavy ... are you sure Girandoni started this way" ;?)

The most difficult thing to do when buying something exotic is to yield one's frontier pathfinder image over to the guy that's already done the research and is producing the product. If you have to be the guy that discovered the "real way" to make the rifle shoot, then you'll likely try everything "except" what I've already documented, and you'll be disappointed.

Summary thoughts again: They don't look like firearms because they are totally different machines - performing their tasks in completely different manners. They have many times the machinery of a firearm in order to harness the simple elasticity of breathable air into a power plant able to propel a projectile. They weigh what the accumulated machinery required to perform the task weighs. That's neither more nor less than identical products. There are no identical products. They get the number of shots allowed by the physics of the volume of air stored on board and the consumption required by the machine to perform it's state of the art task. They use no more or no less air than identical products performing the identical tasks ... Please compare the identical products performing the identical tasks.

Settle for less power, I can give you more shots per fill. Settle for less features, I can give you less weight. Recognize that we are dealing with the physical expansion rate of air as a propellant (roughly the speed of sound) - we can't just keep going faster and faster unless we choose a different motive force ... like dynamite ... i.e. - firearm. The accuracy potential of my work is seldom realized by those who don't shoot the rifles. You can buy a Porsche and impress a heck of alot of folks just having it in your garage and never drive it hard. You will, however; have chosen to draw all of your satisfaction potential from just a single aspect of the product ... ignoring the engineering and technical mastery while expecting the paint to somehow entirely justify the price.

Some spend $5k on one of my rifles and are hoping to get a $4,950 stock ... and the rest. 'Cause it's that stock, hanging on the wall, that's gonna be 95% of their satisfaction in owning the rifle. Some spend $5k and are hoping to get $4,950 worth of engraving ... and the rest. Etc.

In reality, I build the complete experience, from the initial idea, thru the holes in the target. The folks who get the most out of my work will be the ones who appreciate the entire spectrum of my work. The gentleman nailed it in this e-mail by stating a fact I'd long suspected: Most folks assume all guns are mosty alike ... especially in accuracy. BIG mistake ... but you must shoot alot to find out. The inaccurate guns are getting a pass and mine won't show 80% of their value unless they are proofed. That was part of the reason for shooting festivals such as Standing Stone. What we found was that folks didn't want to find out how their rifles shot, 'cause they hung on the wall just fine and everybody assumed they were accurate anyway. No point in lining up and bursting the bubble.

Gosh, I loved that e-mail. I thought I was loosing my mind there for awhile ... he he ;?) It's a very difficult task to refocus the beam of light cast by each individual customer. One fella will have a laser beam focused on the stock. He's hoping for that $5k stock to arrive. Another will have his beam of light focused on the shots per fill number - hoping it will be a record number. Another the weight - maybe five pounds "including" the three pound scope! Another will be a trigger collector, etc. I clearly can't alter each rifle to devote 95% of the effort to each person's pet focus - And - probably - they don't really even know they are doing this. My purpose here is to have you consider if some of this might fit - not to poke a finger in your eye.

I have to make the entire balanced project to a very high standard. Try to see the entire body of work. Allow it to shine on the range. And, after witnessing the performance; perhaps be alittle amazed that there was any time left to build the whole project to this quality level.

Thanks for reading.