A Peek into the Beeman Airgun Collection
Updated 30 June 2007
We hope to share some of the items in the Beeman Airgun Collection with you. This section is in preparation and will be changed and enlarged at irregular intervals in the future. The plans are to show photographs of selected vintage and antique airguns in the collection and also to include "Mystery Airguns" which will illustrate items in the Beeman Airgun Collection for which we would welcome inputs of information from viewers. (See also the end of the For Sale and Wanted section for list of some of the airgun models that we want). Eventually we would like to add sections on our collection of airgun projectiles, the collecting of airgun projectiles, and collecting of airgun literature.
NEW!! To view our major presentation on this website about our Girandoni Airguns and Girandoni-system airguns just click on this title: Austrian Airguns.
DON'T FORGET TO CLICK ON THE THUMBNAIL PICS TO SEE AN ENLARGED VIEW OF EACH PICTURE !
Unless noted as being from another source, all images in this entire website are copyrighted by Robert Beeman.
Note that you often can use our brass numbered tags as an
indication of size. Their diameter is 7/8" (22 mm).
(The source and use of such tags in gun collections is discussed in the Collection Protection section of this website).
More information, and some excellent photos, of the Beeman Airgun Collection are available in the article "Das ist was, Doc! (Outstanding, Doc!)" in the VISIER gun magazine featured on this website at "Outstanding, Doc!".
Click on the pic for a better view.
Fig. 1- Combination powder/air rifle
A wonderful double barrel, combination powder/air rifle, apparently built in Austria about 1850 for a royal customer. The left barrel is part of a muzzle-loading percussion firearm system. The right barrel is part of a breech-loading .40" caliber pneumatic airgun system. Pushing a lever within the trigger guard forward causes a breech-block, its incredibly fine fitted, surface outline hidden by the deep engraving, to pop up for loading a lead ball. The airgun system is cocked by pulling back the right hammer; note that there is no percussion cap nipple on the right side of the receiver as there is on the left. On the left side of the receiver there is a power adjustment lever with marks from I to IV, perhaps representing prey levels such as "wild boar, deer, fox, rabbit". Very deeply engraved and deeply inlaid with gold. (The color figures only in Figures 1 through 12 were taken by R. Valentine Atkinson for Gray's Sporting Journal, Sept. 1992).
Click on the pic for a better view
Fig. 2 - Five Air Canes
Air canes represent the ultimate evolution of the pneumatic airgun firing mechanism which began with a structure identical to that of a true firearm flintlock and ended as an elegant, concealed mechanism, cocked by a separate key. A sample of the many air canes in the Beeman Airgun Collection: From left to right: a.) Massive air cane with a .70" caliber barrel and a visible trigger guard. Horn handle. b.) Beeman/Harper air cane made for Robert Beeman with engraved initials and a carved wood handle to represent "Black Powder" one of his Labrador Retrievers. c.) Metal air cane built to resemble a knobby stick. d. Metal air cane painted to resemble a bamboo cane. Horn handle. e.) All metal air cane with crooked body to facilitate aiming.
The four stout air canes apparently were made in England in the late 1800's; the top half of each cane could be unscrewed and attached to a hand pump for charging with compressed air. Most had both a smooth shot barrel and a rifled barrel; one screwed inside of the other. Each was designed with fearsome power to shoot shot, lead balls, or even fish/frog spears. The Beeman/Harper air cane was made in England in the 1970's. It uses a removable air cartridge. Beeman collection.
Fig. 2a. Stocked Air Cane
British air cane with walnut skeleton shoulder stock attached in place of the ivory walking stick cap. The stock was carried in a long pocket within the shooter's great coat. When desired, the stock was removed from the coat and just screwed onto the air cane in the place of the grip cap (to right of the key). It was cocked by a detachable key and triggered by a small button which protrudes from the side of the cane. Note the separate air pump. Photo by R. Beeman. Beeman collection.
Fig. 2b. Air Cane with Pump Attached
A breech-loading cane with pump attached. The upper half of the gun conceals an air reservoir. After unscrewing the upper and lower halves of the gun, the pump could be threaded into the valve end of the reservoir. The same valve serves as both intake and knock-open exhaust valve. The item at the top is the lower half of the air cane. Its left-hand section contains the lock mechanism (the striker pin can be seen in the firing position), the concealed lockplate and leaf mainspring. The large right area contains a rifled barrel. Careful examination of this lower half of the gun reveals a simple bead and notch sight arrangement and a ball-loading port. The muzzle is concealed and protected when the gun is used as a walking stick by a rugged brass cap. Note the mold for casting lead shot projectiles and the typical key for cocking the firing lock mechanism. This air cane was made by John Blanch who lived in London from 1801 to 1900. Beeman collection.
Fig. 2c. An American Air Cane
Before leaving air canes, let us note that not all air canes are the same, or even similar. This gun is unusual in being an American air cane and that it has its pump built in rather than separate. The handle is in the form of dog head carved from ebony. A small ball would have to be screwed onto the tip of the pump handle, which protrudes from the top of the handle, before the gun could be pumped up. Photo by R. Beeman. Beeman collection.
Fig. 2d. Haas air gun with shot barrel insert
Air canes were not the only airguns which have screw-in barrel inserts. This wonderful, large, antique airgun has a huge .46" (11.7 mm) caliber rifled barrel, plus a long .33" (8.4 mm) caliber smoothbore brass insert. The insert is slid into the muzzle and then turned to screw it securely to threads in the internal end of the barrel - an arrangement that certainly would not be suitable in powder guns. The dual nature of this gun would allow the owner to use it for prey ranging from big game to upland birds. This is one of our oldest airguns, made by Johannes Haas in Neuenstadt in Württemberg, Germany, between 1655 and 1704. As is typical of the period, it is marked: I. Hass, with the I representing our modern J for Johannes. The lock is especially interesting. There is the standard flashpan and frizzen (powder cover/striking plate) of a flintlock but the hammer simply has a small notch with no pretense of a clamp for a flint. The air reservoir is within the detachable buttstock, completely concealed under a handsome wood cover. Except for the lack of flint-clamp, this gun has exactly the appearance of flintlock firearm. Photo by R. Beeman. Beeman collection.
Fig. 3 - Four Antique Pneumatics
Four large bore pneumatic airguns from the Beeman Airgun Collection selected to represent four different styles of mechanisms made in airgunning's glory days. Left to right: a.) Mortimer butt-reservoir airgun with interchangeable rifle and shotgun barrels. The buttstock air reservoirs of such British air rifles generally were covered with sharkskin. This unusually elegant specimen from gunmaker T.J. Mortimer was made with a reservoir covered with smooth calfskin. Circa 1810. b.) Pneumatic shotgun with ball air reservoir. Made by Bate with a fake flintlock mechanism. c.) Massive pneumatic .58" caliber "flintlock" style air rifle by Bate. The air reservoir is a full length brass cylinder which is concentric around the barrel. A pump is built into the buttstock. About 1780. d.) Girandoni Military Repeating Pneumatic Rifle. .464" caliber. Each soldier was provided with two of the cone shaped, butt-reservoir, air tanks, good for up to 65+ quiet (but NOT silent), smokeless/flashless shots each. These large bore Austrian military rifles were capable of firing twenty two well-aimed lead balls in less than one minute while enemy troops were reloading their muzzle-loaders one shot at a time. They could properly be considered as the "assault rifles" of their period. The stories that they were used against Napoleon or that Napoleon issued a death warrant for carrying one do not seem to have any basis in fact. This specimen is believed to be the airgun that Meriwether Lewis (click on Lewis name to read about our research on this gun) carried in the famous 1803 "Voyage of Discovery" expedition to the explore the future areas of America west of St. Louis..
Fig. 3A. The huge Bate ATB air rifle above, and in the group to the left, has always been one of our favorites. Recently we were thrilled to be able to obtain its "baby brother". The lower specimen, also marked Bate, is virtually the same gun, although much smaller and without an internal pump. (Photo by Ulrich Eichstädt). Beeman collection.
NEW!! To view our major new presentation on this website about our Girandoni Airguns and Girandoni-system airguns just click on this title: Austrian Airguns.
Fig. 4 - Bate "Around the Barrel" Air Rifle, Left Side
Left side detail of the Bate Around The Barrel (ATB), flintlock style air rifle shown in Figure 3. The elaborate panoply reveals great attention to detail and use of military themes, even on a sport hunting rifle such as this.
Fig. 5 - Bate "Around the Barrel" Air Rifle, Right Side
Right side detail of the Bate Around the Barrel pneumatic air rifle shown in Figures 3 and 4. Note the full flintlock mechanism. The hammer is clamping a piece of wood rather than a flint and there is no flash-hole leading from the powder pan to the barrel. However, the lock is fully functional in its own way: The hammer serves to cock to the gun and the "frizzen" serves as a handle to turn the internal faucet breech which feeds .58" caliber lead balls from a magazine hidden under the barrel. (The balls and tools shown are .40 caliber ones from the Mortimer gun, much smaller than those actually used by this gun. The photographer arranged items by artistic composition value rather than by actual association.)
Fig. 6 - Mortimer Air Rifle/Shotgun Cased Set
The Mortimer air rifle of Figure 3 is shown here in its fitted case, complete with shotgun barrel, air reservoir buttstock, pump, and tools. This is an unusually elegant version of the pneumatic airgun sets made for the British landed gentry in the mid-late-1800's. By switching between the .40" caliber rifle barrel and the 36-gauge shotgun barrel, the owner of this airgun was ready for game ranging from deer to upland birds. Beeman collection.
Fig. 7 - Two Bellows Air Rifles
Airguns such as these were powered by a bellows, not unlike a fireplace bellows in action, which was hidden within their beautiful, hollowed-out buttstocks. Created only in a small area of central Europe during the late 18th or early 19th centuries, it thought that the bellows airguns were designed as nostalgic replicas of wheel-lock firearms made in the "good old days" of the 1600's. They fired darts, up to .50" caliber, which were used over and over, at indoor targets. Their elaborate design and beautiful engraving suggests that the owners were wealthy and/or royal. The lower specimen is an early single-spring version; the upper specimen apparently was made at a later date. (The air pump, balls, and tools in the lower part of the picture belong to our Mortimer butt-reservoir air rifle; they were added here by the photographer for artistic balance). Beeman collection.
Fig. 8- Two Very Different Antique Air Pistols
There were several basically different mechanisms used in the antique airguns. The top pistol is powered by a spring-piston powerplant, cocked by the visible hammer. The caliber is 8mm; the style indicating that it probably was intended as a dueling practice pistol. It was made and signed, probably about 1830 to 1850, by J. Adam Kuchenreuter, a member of a very famous German gunsmith family who have been working, since 1640, in the same town called Cham ("kahm"). This is a small town in Bavaria, near the better known city of Regensburg, which is usually given as the location of the Kuchenreuters. The senior Anton Kuchenreuter is still alive and working. There is today an official muzzle loader discipline, for percussion pistols at 25 meters, named for the Kuchenreuter family. (Again, my thanks to Ulrich Eichstädt for some of these details.)
The lower air pistol is a pump pneumatic, with the air stored in the reservoir grip. Though smaller than the above pistol, this 9 mm gun probably was a serious weapon. It was crafted by the famous Austrian gunmaker Girandoni, perhaps built as a demonstration specimen of the Girandoni rapid-loading repeater airgun mechanism for the Austrian emperor Joseph II, about 1780. It has a gold receiver, extremely deep engraving, and wonderful silver inlays.
The right hand illustration shows the lock area of the Girandoni air pistol. The "In Wien" engraving reveals its birthplace as "In Vienna". His full name is engraved on top of the gun. (Most of the rather few Girandoni style airguns in the world's museums do not bear his name and may have been made by other gunsmiths.) The initials JG or GG (?) appear just below the base of the hammer. The transverse speed loading bar and its long lateral flat spring on the side of the magazine can be seen just forward of the hammer. Beeman collection.
NEW!! To view our major new presentation on this website about our Girandoni Airguns and Girandoni-system airguns just click on this title: Austrian Airguns.
Fig. 9 - Fly Magnum
In 1979, the Dianawerk Factory (RWS brand) in Germany made a surprise present of this little air rifle to Robert Beeman. The gunsmiths at Diana had made just one working miniature version of a Diana air rifle in .031" (0.9mm) caliber, 7.25" (18.5 cm) long! We dropped a major hint to H&N, our German pellet maker, but they have not yet come up with some matching pellets. Beeman collection.
Fig. 10 - More Miniature Airguns
These cased air pistols are fully functioning, each firing number 9 or 12 birdshot with a sharp report and surprising force. The top gun is a miniature Beeman/Webley spring-piston air pistol while the bottom gun is a Crosman style pump pneumatic. Note the 9 mm Parabellum cartridge on the right for scale. Beeman collection.
Fig. 11 - The Brightest Airguns Ever
In 1898, the Rapid Rifle Company produced what must be the most reflective airguns ever made. The Cycloid and New Rapid BB guns shown above were made entirely of shiny nickeled plated metal! The effect on a young boy seeing one of these guns glittering under the Christmas tree lights must have been very special, but perhaps not nearly as great as his delight in rushing out to show it off to the "other kids on the block"! However, the guns cost so much more to produce than other BB guns of the period that they sold for the then elevated price of 95 cents. The company went out of business even before its patents were granted in 1901. Now the guns are among the rarest and most delightful specimens in the airgun collecting field. Beeman collection.
Fig. 12 - A Barlock Airgun
One of the least known of antique airgun mechanisms has been called the barlock for the pivoted bar on the hammer which can be swung into position to strike or avoid the air valve release pin protruding from the top of the receiver. This mechanism is especially interesting to me because this is basically the mechanism found in the otherwise unique striker arrangement of air rifles made about 1800 by Seneca and Isaiah Lukens. This early European specimen from the Beeman Airgun Collection shows an unusually large air reservoir flask. Everything about this gun suggests that while it is beautifully constructed, it was indeed a serious hunter's gun. Beeman collection.
Note: Figures 1-12 are items from the Beeman Collection photographed by R.Valentine Atkinson.
Fig. 13 - Four Blowguns
Blowguns were the first airguns and are still in use around the world, by both advanced and primitive cultures. At the top is a modern blowgun made of aircraft aluminum. It is very easy to fire accurately. One my first attempt, I placed six of the steel darts, as shown below the 49" (125 cm) gun, in a 4" (10 cm) circle at 33' (10 m)! Imagine how precisely a native, with years of experience, could place the darts from a blowgun more than twice as long! Second from the top is 57" (145 cm) blowgun from Peru. It is made from a split wooden tube, held together by tree bark strands wrapped along its entire length, except for the bone mouthpiece. The third specimen is a "carbine" blowgun from the Amazon river jungles. At the bottom is a European "blow cane", hidden in the form of a bamboo walking stick. Perhaps it was used for shooting birds and/or just amusement. For a little additional information on blowguns see Beeman (1977) and Janich (1993) in the Literature Review section of this website. Beeman collection.
Fig. 14 - Blowguns from the Amazon
The top specimen is the largest and longest blowgun in the Beeman Airgun Collection. It is 7'8" (2.3 m) long. Note its handsome dart quiver and the hardwood dart with soft air seal material ready for loading into the mouthpiece. This gun consists of two tubes, one forced inside of the other - tubular plywood as it were. The large, carved mouthpiece is attached to the barrel with melted resin. We obtained the lower specimen (59", 150 cm), from the Jivaro Indians along the Amazon River in Ecuador. The two halves of the barrel were wrapped and then heavily covered with a melted black resin; the mouthpiece is bone. Note the gourd attached to the side of the quiver. It contains "tree cotton" or kapok which is wrapped around the rear area of the dart as an air seal. If you look very carefully straight up from the forward edge of the gourd you may see a little bump on the upper edge of the blowgun. This is a small cup which contains the poisonous curare, obtained from the local Wourali vine, into which the darts are dipped just before they are loaded. Reportedly, before a native hunter fired at monkeys, he would partially cut through the tip of the dart. When the monkey attempted to pull out the dart, the poisoned tip would remain within the wound. This drug kills within seconds after injection and does not affect the edibility of the prey's meat. Beeman collection.
I hope to add many more illustrations of other blowguns that Mrs. Beeman and I have collected on our expeditions to the jungles of the Amazon, Indonesia, and Borneo. (Retirement is a tough job, but someone has to do it!).
Fig. 15 - A Mechanized Blowgun? Mystery Gun!
What I am showing here is the most unusual airgun in the center. This is one of our "MYSTERY GUNS". I have never found any references to it; it has no markings, and we have seen only one other one - in the Milwaukee Public Museum airgun collection. It has a .50" (12.5 mm) caliber, 67.5" (170 cm) long wooden barrel with a thin brass liner. The brazed brass "butt reservoir" brings the total length to 74.5" (190 cm). Under the barrel is a pump mechanism for forcing compressed air into the air reservoir. A simple lever serves as a trigger to press against an air release pin during firing. It can be loaded by unscrewing the barrel and sliding it forward a little ways through the loose ring attached to the forward end of the air pump. The pump handle is missing. It seems like a blowgun which, instead of getting its propulsive power from a mouthpiece like the blowgun below, obtains its power from a handle-shaped air reservoir incorporating a simple trigger and valve. Although this gun is much longer than a man is tall, it must be fired by a two-handed grip and not supported against the shooter's shoulder. That unusual feature is shared by the antique Japanese matchlock firearm at the top. Thus we suspect that it is an oriental airgun, perhaps from the Philippines or Indonesia. We look forward to information from viewers. Beeman collection.
Fig. 16 - Three American Airgun Delights
When he was studying our airgun collection in the summer of 2001, Ulrich Eichstaedt photographed these three airguns together just because they were such delightful items. Top gun is one of the most desirable of all American airgun collectors' items, the Crosman Model 1923 - Crosman's first airgun. This pump pneumatic is charged by a pump rod at the muzzle - like the early Benjamin air rifles, from which it may have been developed. Center gun is a 1990's replica of the almost unobtainable St. Louis air rifle, the 1899-1901 precursor of the Benjamin air rifles. This is a beautifully made, perfectly functioning replica, even reproducing the original printing in the stock, but is not intended as a forgery. This is the only replica airgun in the Beeman collection. There have been a very few other replica airguns made, such as reproductions of the First Model Daisy. (We were fortunate to obtain the original receiver molds and several cast receivers from one of the first craftsmen to take on the reproduction of the Daisy first model - will try to present some pictures of these later.) Hopefully we will see the development of airgun replicas to parallel the wide range of replicas of antique firearms, such as those pioneered by Navy Arms. In the meantime, airgun collectors should begin to be cautious of specimens of very rare airguns or airguns that are unknown models. The bottom is a Cycloid BB rifle, an all-metal, nickel-plated beauty made in 1899 or 1900 - as noted earlier, this is perhaps the brightest, most glittering air rifle ever made! Note the unusual cocking lever. Beeman collection.
Fig. 17 - Two Modern Oriental CO2 Rifles
Top specimen is a Howa bolt-action CO2 rifle from Japan. Howa mainly has produced absolutely top grade production firearms under their own name and the names of several American firearm producers. Their air rifle shows the same attention to quality and solid construction.
Bottom specimen is a "Mountain
Rancher's Rifle" from the Philippines. This CO2 rifle is made with a .50"
caliber brass barrel with inserts for .177", .22", and .38" caliber
Photos 16 and 17 are items in the Beeman Collection, photographed by Ulrich Eichstädt.
Fig.17A - Airgun Torpedoes!
These devices, beautifully lathe-turned from brass, are "torpedoes", designed to be charged with shaped-charges of high explosives, such as TNT, and then fired from Philippine .38" and .50" (9 & 12.5 mm) caliber CO2 rifles, such as the specimen to the left. When he left several different versions of these rifles at our office, the factory representative presented us with these specimens. He also had some, which he took with him for trials with a relative in Southern California, that were already charged. When we asked him how he brought them, when he flew in, he replied: "In my vest pocket"!. Talk about airport security!
There are both .38" and .50" caliber torpedoes here, some with round heads for surface detonation, others with pointed heads for deep detonation. He indicated that they use them for killing animals up to the size of water buffaloes. But, he added, the problem is that they may blow away "one-quarter" of the water buffalo"!
Fig. 18 - Heavy Revolving Air Pistol - MYSTERY GUN
A really beautifully made, extremely heavy, .177" (4.5 mm) air pistol about 11" (280 mm) overall. Looks like a semi-automatic pistol, but that convex area just above the trigger guard area is the side of an eight shot revolving cylinder. Spring piston in the pistol grip like a Walther LP 53 or Lincoln Air Pistol. Cocking the gun is done by releasing the latch at the left rear side of the receiver and pushing the end of the barrel and the pistol grip towards each other, just as on the LP 53 - this also indexes the cylinder to the next position. Extremely difficult to cock and fires very strongly. Beautifully blued, every piece is a masterpiece of machined steel. No information, no marks (except 3, 5, 7, and 10 on the sight elevation plate - presumably referring to range in meters). Wes Powers, the well known airgun dealer/collector, had one like it at the 2001 Reno Airgun Conference - the only other specimen that I have ever seen. Wes' specimen had a more Luger-angle grip, and loaded from the rear - apparently an improved, later version, and it also weighed about four pounds. It was clearly made by the same designer. Don Raitzer now has the gun that Wes had. What can you tell us about this beauty? Beeman collection.
Fig. 19 - Shooting with a Twist
After one of the big SHOT trade shows, the owners of the Westinger & Altenburger Co. (Feinwerkbau) of Germany presented us with this amazing feat of airgunsmithing - a Beeman/Feinwerkbau Model 2 CO2 pistol with the barrel making a complete twist around the gas cylinder! The gun actually shoots quite well! Note that the all-important final inch(25 mm) or so is straight - that and the crown are the only really important parts of the barrel as far as accuracy is concerned. When some shooter would say " I think I see some little defect in the rifling way down inside my barrel, or the middle is a little off, or the barrel is not quite straight, and that is why I am not shooting well" , the airgunsmiths loved to bring out this gun and ask if his gun was more off line than this one! Beeman collection.
Fig. 20 - Vincent Air Shotgun
Shotguns are basically wasteful of their energy and airguns generally do not have extra energy to waste. Nevertheless there have been numerous attempts to make a successful air shotgun. One of the more interesting of American efforts to produce a viable air shotgun was this Vincent .410" (10.4 mm) air shotgun. The nature of the metal work and woodwork indicates that while Vincent airguns clearly were indeed production items, they were limited production items. Quite possibly designer Vincent was the only worker. This gun is a pump pneumatic with a swinging pump lever. Original loading tools are shown below the gun. Hopefully, we will have pictures of the " matching" Vincent air rifle later. Photo by R. Beeman. Beeman collection.
Fig. 21 - Three Yewhas
If an airgun collector knows about Yewha air guns, that knowledge probably is centered around the top gun shown here: the Yewha BBB "Dynamite" .25" ( 6.33 mm) air gun. Beemans purchased a small quantity of these from an agent of the Rev. Moon's Unification Church in the early 1970's. (A newspaper reporter, searching for young people "captured" by that church, was going to name us as agents of the Unification Church until we showed him that we had no connection with that group!). Because Korea's shooters are not able to purchase firearms, the airguns get pressed into service for a broad range of hunting. He showed us photographs of hundreds of Chinese Ring-Neck Pheasant that had been shot with this model in Korea! There are other airguns which also share the now obsolete "pump-rod at the muzzle" method of charging these pneumatics.
While the "Dynamite" has become almost a "cult" item among airgun collections and is much sought after for its great power, the bottom two guns are extremely uncommon. In the middle is the Yewha "Volcanic rifle, actually a revolver. Note the small revolving cylinder on the receiver, just foreword of the double action hammer. The bottom gun is a massive match rifle on the same powerplant plan. The rear sight is a copy of the Feinwerkbau match aperture (diopter) sight - but the sides are made from recycled tomato paste cans! Photo by Rick Murai. Beeman Collection. (Click on this title: A Shot of Humor, to read an amazing true story about our dealings with the makers of the Yewha airguns!)
Fig. 22 - Triumphs of the Basement -MYSTERY GUNS
Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of our collection are the "Workshop Wonders" - airguns that apparently were made by individual craftsmen to express some ideas that they had concerning airgun design.
The top specimen has a cocking lug above, and a bit back of, the trigger. This accepted a separate crank or large key which was turned to power the mainspring. However, in this amazing gun, the spring was a huge group of rubber bands! The gun operated just exactly the opposite of most spring piston airguns; here the spring shortened, rather than lengthened, to move the piston in compression. Note that the left side of the buttstock is a shaped panel which can be removed to reveal the entire internal mechanism.
The air rifle below uses a Winchester style cocking lever to compress a mainspring in multiple strokes. This allowed the shooter to power his gun with a few easy strokes, rather than with one very difficult cocking stroke, or to vary the power. Thus, it combined advantages of both spring piston and pump pneumatic airguns.
These guns are completely unmarked and we know nothing of their makers or history. So, they join our MYSTERY GUN club. What can you tell us about either of them?? Photos by Rick Murai. Beeman collection.
Fig. 23 - "Certus" by Cogswell & Harrison
A wonderful British air pistol. Marked "CERTUS", REG. COGSWELL & HARRISON TO
LONDON. Thanks to Paul Kanieski, this is no longer a mystery gun for us. He
brought our attention to an Airgun World article which indicates that the
patent number for the Certus was 330105 and dated 1929, taken out by Edgar
Harrison. An English shotgun manufacturer, Cogswell & Harrison,
apparently manufactured the gun sometime in the early 30s. Further information
reportedly is available in the July 1983 issue of Airgunner magazine.
There is a small number 23099 on the right side of the frame, just above the trigger. It is boldly marked 367 on the butt of grip frame. Since it is reported that very few of these guns were made, the 367 probably is the actual serial number. It evidently is one of the rarest of British air pistols.
Operation of the gun is just the opposite of a Webley Tempest. The barrel pivots at the rear. Pushing that little tab, below the muzzle end, allows the barrel, and cocking lever, to swing back for cocking - while a faucet tap loading port opens automatically on the top of the receiver. The mainspring is compressed on the downward stroke; a pellet is inserted into the loading tap and the tap is closed by means of a small lever. Handsome, solid, very well made. Beeman collection.
Fig. 24 - BB "Tinplates" from Europe?
Not all BB "tinplates" are from America. At the top is a single shot, breech-loading BB rifle sold in America under the HyScore label, but made, and mainly sold under the Diana and other names in Europe, by Dianawerk of Rastatt, Germany. The lower specimen is a solid, handsomely nickel-plated specimen of the Haenel XV smooth bore BB gun from the eastern area of Germany. Beeman collection.
These specimens are representatives from factory collections that the Beeman company was fortunate to obtain. The HyScore rifle was in the HyScore factory collection which came to us when the late Steve Laszlo, our good friend, former business competitor, and the founder of HyScore, passed away. And, when the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. factory collection was transferred from the Winchester factory to the Cody Firearm Museum in Cody, Wyoming, they didn't want the airguns that Winchester had gathered for decades. So we helped them out by taking the entire airgun collection into the Beeman Airgun Museum. Most of the Winchester airgun specimens are engraved "W.R.A." This Haenel air rifle was among the dozens of other interesting airguns in that collection.
Click on above pic to get a better view.
Fig. 25 - Pump Pneumatics and
CO2 Rifles in Europe!
(including military trainers with a trick)
Many airgun collectors think that non-match pump pneumatic and CO2 rifles were made only in the United States. Here are two wonderful exceptions. The top two rifles are the Excellent brand, pump pneumatic rifles from Sweden (the upper one is an early model, the lower one is from the 1980's). We hope to illustrate our even rarer Excellent pistol later. The bottom two guns are CO2 repeating rifles with tubular magazines for lead BBs. In the third edition of the Blue Book of Airguns, I indicated that both of these were from Armigas in Italy because they seemed very close in construction, both even having the same unusual shaped receiver. The bottom gun is marked with Armigas as the maker, and Olimpic as the model. The bottom one is marked only with the brand name TyROL (printed that way). Closer examination and the acquisition of another air rifle changed my mind and added new questions. The new specimen (not pictured) is a barrel cocking, spring-piston target rifle which bears exactly the same brand name, TyROL, in the exact same strange font, and "MADE IN AUSTRIA" and has identical little Austrian eagle logos. Both the TyROL CO2 rifle shown here and a CO2 M1 Carbine copy repeater also both bear the same TyROL brand name and little eagle stamping. There is some "clear confusion here": probably TyROL was a brand name of Tiroler Waffenfabrik Peterlongo, Innsbrück, Austria, also known as Richard Mahrholdt & Sohn, founded in 1939 and reportedly still making airguns into the 1970s. The barrel cocker also bears a large Austrian eagle logo which features the letter "M", supporting the association with the name Mahrholdt. Production of these guns has sometimes been attributed to Tiroler Jagd- und Sportwaffenfabrik of Kufstein/Tyrol, Austria, a gunmaker associated with Voetter & Co. of Vöhrenbach/Schwartzwald ("Black Forest"), Germany, but that "Tiroler" company was not founded until 1965 and some of these guns are stamped with dates in the 1950s. These guns, esp. the M1 Carbine trainer copy, may have been supplied to Voetter & Co. who reportedly was the official supplier of arms to the Austrian Army. Voetter also used the well-known brand name of Voere. The association of these Austrian TyROL guns and the Spanish Armigas "OLIMPIC" is a real puzzle. While the "civilian" versions shown here appear to be the same, closer examination shows that virtually every part is similar and with similar styling, but none actually are the same and they certainly are not interchangeable! My research in 2005 indicates that the TyROL CO2 repeater was inspired by, but not copied from, the OLIMPIC CO2 rifle from Armigas. It would seem that the TyROL design was then the basis of the Golondrina air rifles and pistols in Argentina and the Golondrina was the basis for the Brazilian Fionda! (See Blue Book of Airguns, 6th edition. Page 67 states this correctly, although the English was edited incorrectly. I corrected the note on page 411 in my draft submitted in early 2006 to Blue Book Publications for BBA6. The copy, about a third of the way down the page should read: "Perhaps the TyRol was the inspiration for the OLIMPIC from Armigas, or MORE likely, the reverse." The same editing clerk that messed up the English on page 67 evidently failed to incorporate my substitution of the word MORE for the previous "less". However, the page 67 note makes it clear that I presently consider the evolution to be Armigas - TyRol - Golondrina - Fionda).
While these four related CO2 rifles are basically designed to operate by being charged from a separate supply gas bottle, at least some of them have the amazing ability to use four internal 12 gm disposable CO2 gas cylinders.
Markings - Tyrol Spring Piston Target Rifle
Markings - Tyrol
CO2 Repeating Rifle
About 1955, the German, Austrian, and Dutch armies were partially armed with the .30 M1 Carbine. The Tyrol CO2 rifle was introduced about 1959 as a military training rifle. It was known as the Üb01, Übungsgeweher 01, or "Training Rifle 01" or as the Übungsgeraet KM 1, "Training Device KM 1". It had a trick 30 shot magazine which stopped automatic reloading after 15 shots. The shooter then had to release a small lever to continue shooting. This took about the same amount of time as a magazine change with the .30 M1 Carbine; this provided some reality to training for firing a M1 Carbine under stress.
The CO2 charge was refilled from small gas cylinders and a connection hose (which often leaked). Accuracy was excellent. Eichstädt reports that he obtained groups of 0.53" (13.5 mm) ctc at 33' (10 meters) with the .177" (4.5 mm) lead balls. Muzzle velocity was about 530 fps (163 mps). German versions had a front sight hood and a sling slot in the buttstock. Those could not be sold in Germany unless that sight hood was cut off and the sling slot was filled - to make them politically correct! Thus Austrian and Dutch versions generally are the only ones to be available in unaltered condition. They are in demand by both European and American airgun collectors and military collectors (esp. M1 Carbine collectors). We finally obtained a lovely new military version! Beeman collection.
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Fig. 26. The First Diana Air Pistol?
This interesting cast iron air pistol came to us in a box of junk included with the auction purchase of an air rifle. The most intriguing feature is the cast markings "MGR" (look very carefully just to the upper right of the top of the trigger). Just as HWZ was the name used for early Hermann Weihrauch airguns made in their former factory in Zella-Mehlis, the initials MGR stand for "Mayer und Grammelspacher in Rastatt" which is the correct full name of the Dianawerk (Diana) company. It clearly came from about the turn of the 20th century but unfortunately, most of Diana's records were destroyed in World War II - so they do not have clear records of their older production. I spoke to Diana Director Herr Windt at the 2002 SHOT trade show and he agreed that the MGR name must belong to his company, but could tell me nothing more at this time. Ulrich Eichstaedt and myself are trying to clean up the Diana story for the third edition of the Blue Book of Airguns so we hope to get much more information, on site in Germany, during the coming year. If you can help supply any information on this matter it would be most appreciated.
Note: Photos 2a-2d, 13-15, 21-22, and 24-26 are items from the Beeman Collection, photographed by Richard Murai.
Click on above pic to get a better view.
Fig. 27 - A Complete Mystery
This specimen has puzzled me for a couple of decades. I think that we acquired it from the Milwaukee Public Museum with some trades when we were studying the collection there. The "P18" painted on the frame may be a museum number. It is a spring piston gun which is cocked by pulling by the rear knob. The piston head goes all the far to the front of the specimen so it is reasonable to think that there was a barrel which was broken off. Solid brass with traces of nickel plating. There must be someone out there who has seen a complete specimen or an illustration of one. Beeman collection.
Click on above pic to get a better view.
Fig. 28 - Sometimes the Obvious is Elusive
Sometimes it takes awhile for the obvious answer to arrive. The "First Model" (1923) Crosman air rifle had a bicycle type pump rod which was pumped in and out of the muzzle end of the compression tube underneath the barrel. The idea of a swinging lever arm to operate the pump mechanism arrived the next year in the "Second Model", shown here. However, it seemed necessary to have a handle on the lever - hence the big "beer barrel" handle under the forearm. It wasn't till the next year that the Third Model introduced the "obvious" idea of separating the forearm from the buttstock and using the forearm itself as the pump handle. This has been the basic arrangement of the many millions of swinging-arm pump pneumatic air rifles produced since then! Beeman collection.
Fig. 29 - Plaster Prototype of Beeman P1 -During its development, when we were having some trouble communicating exactly how we wanted the Beeman P1 to appear, we made this exact scale plaster model. Look carefully - this is a fragile Plaster-of-Paris model, complete with real P1 grips and rear sight. This was the precursor of the Weihrauch HW 45 air pistol.
Fig. 30 - Beeman P1 20th Anniversary Commemorative Model. Produced only during 1992, this handsome combination of black and silver color plating, with Beeman Combat Fingergroove Grips, inletted with the 20th Anniversary disk, is now one of the most desirable of all Beeman collectibles.
Fig. 31 - A Fully Fitted-Out Deluxe Beeman P1 - Complete with Beeman Model 25 Air Pistol Scope, Beeman Deluxe Scope Mounts, and Beeman Combat Fingergroove Grips. One of the world's finest sporting air pistols.
Fig. 31 - Beeman R1 20th Anniversary Commemorative Model. Produced only during 1992, this rifle also features a stainless steel look plating contrasted with blued barrel and other parts, and a commemorative logo disk inletted into the side of the stock. Handsome, rare, and desirable. The Beeman R1 was the precursor of the Weihrauch HW 80. The HW 80 rifle generally is sold in a lower powered, simpler version consistent with the legal and economic realities of airgun markets outside of the USA.
More to come later. Please check the revision date at the beginning of this section once in awhile.
Visitors interested in the collection of airguns certainly should obtain a copy of the Blue Book of Airguns and get a perspective of the information available about airguns from the Literature pages of this website.