An Idea Is Born
by Tom Gaylord
It started with an idea
Everyone has had a “great idea” at one time or another. You know what I mean, a What They Ought To Do kind of idea. Most of those ideas die as daydreams, but once in a rare while one comes along at the right time and also happens to be the idea everyone is looking for.
I approached Crosman in October of 2006 about an idea I had on how to convert one of their stock CO2 rifles to operate on air. It wasn’t something hard to do – heck, it was something that many hobby airgunsmiths had already done. But I wanted to do something different than a standard conversion. I wanted to create an entirely new airgun, and not one that Crosman Corporation was making at the time – or had ever made! I wanted to create a new type of precharged pneumatic (PCP) rifle.
My idea was to take a current CO2 rifle from the Benjamin line and convert it to use high-pressure air, only not such high pressure that filling it from a hand pump would be difficult. Because filling a precharged airgun has been the biggest roadblock to the popularization of this type of powerplant thus far. Filling, and, of course, the high cost of the gun.
Precharged airguns have so much going for them
Precharged airguns act like most shooters imagine all guns should act. They are trouble-free, highly accurate and they require no special techniques to get them to shoot well. They can operate in very cold weather without suffering a great power loss and all you need is the gun and pellets. Once they are filled, there is no pumping the gun, no worry about the outdoor temperature, and you certainly don’t have to learn any special gun-holding techniques. Just shoot and shoot, until the gun needs to be refilled, which these days won’t be for many shots.
Filling is the problem
Precharged guns are so desirable that once shooters hear about all their benefits they want them. Until they learn about the filling! Until now you either had to fill a PCP gun from a scuba tank or from a special high-pressure hand pump, either of which was a significant additional expense. The standard fill pressure of PCP guns has hovered around 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi), which is difficult to achieve with a hand pump. Up to about 2,000 psi the pumping is relatively easy, but above that point it gets progressively more difficult, and over 2,500 psi, there are adult men and women who lack the strength and body weight to operate the pump. So filling PCPs has been a major drawback.
And so is cost
PCPs have traditionally made by companies catering to a few thousand shooters in each country, shooters with the financial resources to afford the best guns. Because the guns are so inherently accurate, the makers have naturally used the finest barrels, finishes, wood stocks and expensive internal components like regulators – all of which has driven the price of the guns very high. Most European PCP rifles today sell for $800 and higher. The few models that cost less than $500 are Chinese airguns of questionable reliability. So cost has been another major roadblock to the popularization of the PCP.
Crosman could change that!
My flash of insight was that the Crosman Corporation could change the face of PCP airguns if they put their resources to the problem, and if they didn’t go about it in what many would consider the conventional way. If Crosman could convert a CO2 rifle to operate on air, and if the pressure at which the firing valve operated was 2,000 psi instead of 3,000 psi, the world would have the first affordable PCP that could also be easily filled from a hand pump! And Crosman could keep the cost down on such a rifle like no other airgun company in the world. That was the foundation of my idea.
I didn’t design the parts of a gun, nor did I build a prototype of anything. I simply defined what the airgun world wanted and had never known who to ask. And now the Crosman Corporation fell into my plans because, frankly, they are the only company in the world that was poised to do what I thought needed to be done. So I prepared a presentation for them.