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SI takes a look at the airgun scene at the 1989 SHOT Show.


The 1989 SHOT SHOW did not generate a big splash in the area of airguns. Unlike other SHOT SHOWS, in which a sizable number of new airguns had been introduced, this year's event brought forth comparatively few new models, but there certainly were some surprises.

Airgun Ammo

One area in which there were numerous new entries, however, was in airgun ammo. Several major airgun companies introduced new pellets specifically intended for a given facet of the sport, from traditional 10-meter target shooting to the new field target events. This is a good sign, because airgun ammo, with some exceptions, had been largely relegated to a hit-or-miss situation in many instances. It now seems clear that most of the major airgun companies intend to expand their offerings in a much more vigorous manner than in previous years.

Here, then, is a look at the new airguns and related products that appeared at this year's 1989 SHOT SHOW, in alphabetical order.

Air Rifle Specialists continues to import and distribute the outstanding Theoben gam-ram air rifles from England. The latest Theoben model, called the Imperator, is a .22 caliber underlever-cocking rifle that incorporates a pellet magazine, enabling the shooter to fire several shots quickly and without having to fumble with the pellets while trying to reload. Unfortunately, the only sample of the Imperator to arrive in the U.S. did not clear Customs in time for the show. The Imperator, while not as powerful as the Eliminator model, still generates about 15 ft/lbs of muzzle energy and is beautifully made. Its suggested retail price will be around $1,450. Product Inquiry No. (312).

American Arms, Inc. has taken over distribution of the Norica line of airguns from Spain. Finally available this year in the Norica line are the Jet air rifle and the Commando carbine. The Jet is a full-fledged magnum that produces an average 855 fps of m.v. in .177 caliber, while the Commando generates a more sedate 540 fps. The Commando, however, sports a collapsible skeletonized shoulder stock and a plastic pistol grip. The rest of the stock is made of hardwood with a camo paint finish. There is also a Jet Jr. model that produces 540 fps, too. All models, including the long-available Norica air pistol, are barrel cockers and are affordable. Product Inquiry No. (313).

Beeman Precision Arms, Inc. did not introduce any really new airguns this year, but in the field of pellets they brought forth a couple of new entries.

The Beeman "Kodiak" pellet is now available in .20" (5mm) caliber. This proven pellet has been a favorite with many field target shooters in its .177" caliber version, so the new offering should be well received by devotees of the .20" caliber bore. The new .20" caliber Kodiak, incidentally, is just a couple of grains lighter than Sheridan's own original bullet-shaped pellets in that caliber.

Another new pellet offering from Beeman is the Ram Point pellet in .25" caliber. Fans of the big No. 3 bore -- long considered "obsolete" by some pundits -- can now blaze away with their .25" caliber air rifles using the new Ram Point pellet. The pointed head design assures good penetration, in addition to the indisputable knock-down properties of the quarter-inch bore. Product Inquiry No. (314).

Crosman Air Guns unveiled a couple of new airgun models, the 1389 Backpacker Carbine and the SSP-250 silhoutte pistol. The Model 1389 is basically a long-barreled version of the highly popular Crosman 1377 pneumatic pistol. The new model also sports a detachable shoulder stock, a wider forend that doubles as the pumping arm, and a newly designed bolt-operated loading port. Available in .177 caliber only, this carbine/pistol combo can produce up to 560 fps of m.v. with ten pumps.

The Crosman Model SSP-250 pistol also boasts a long .177" caliber barrel, but is powered by CO2. Interchangeable barrels in .20" and .22" caliber are available as accessories, adding great versatility to this hard-hitting and accurate pistol. One 12-gram CO2 Powerlet yields around 100 shots at low power (approximately 425 fps in .177" caliber) and 40 shots or so at high power (around 530 fps in .177" caliber). I dare say that the Model SSP 250 should become a "hot seller" in short order.

In the area of pellets, Crosman has introduced three new precision types under its Copperhead logo. The .177" caliber Super Match is a flat head design for regular 10-meter competition. Also new is the Domed Special Purpose pellet, available in .177", .20", and .22" calibers. These round head pellets are just the ticket for all-around shooting.

Finally, the Pointed Special Purpose pellet in .177" and .22" calibers combines optimum penetration with the necessary accuracy required for small-game hunting. Product Inquiry No: (315).

The Daisy Mfg. Company was very much in evidence at the SHOT SHOW this year. Their recently introduced Power Line 93 BB pistol is now available in a deluxe, customized version called the 693. This new offering differs from the regular 93 in its silver-tone frame and black grips, giving it the jazzy looks of a super-expensive "custom" autoloader. Along the same lines, the Power Line 144 Nickel is a standard Daisy model 44 revolver with a flashy chrome finish and black grips, for those who like "glitz".

The only truly new airgun offering from Daisy was the Power Line 889. Made by El Gamo in Spain, the 889 is a CO2-powered 12-shot pellet repeater with the heft and fell of a big-game rifle. This pump-action rifle can shot those .177" caliber pellets real fast, at an average muzzle velocity of up to 558 fps. With a rifled barrel and excellent, fully adjustable open sights, the Power Line 889 looks like a superb fun gun for a variety of recreational shooting, from casual plinking to informal target practice.

Daisy now offers six different kinds of airgun pellets, which include two .177" caliber and one .22" caliber match styles, a .177" caliber round head pellet, and a .177" and a .22" pointed head style. Thus, the shooter has a good selection for just about any possible application.

The biggest attention-getter at the daisy booth, however, was not an airgun at all! It was Daisy's new Quick Skill Target Shooting System, a truly novel adaptation of an old idea. The Quick Skill kit consists of special handgun cartridges in the most popular centerfire calibers (.38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 and .45 ACP) that shoot an infrared beam whenever the firing pin strikes the base of the cartridge. Each cartridge is totally self-contained, with its tiny battery and infrared diode neatly tucked inside -- truly a marvel of miniaturization adapted to the shooting sports. The other half of the system is the target, which flashes a red light to signal a hit when the infrared beam strikes it dead center. This remarkable system enables shooters to practice with their favorite centerfire handguns right in their own living rooms, and could also be of tremendous value in training situations. Product Inquiry No. (316).

Dynamit Nobel-RWS, Inc. introduced, finally, the long-awaited RWS Diana Model 100 Match air rifle. This single-stroke pneumatic rifle boasts all the refinements sought by a serious world-class competitive shooter. From its sleek walnut stock to the new Diana rear diopter sight, the Model 100 reeks quality and accuracy.

A recoilless, barrel-cocking match air rifle scaled down for young shooters of up to around 12 years will be introduced by Dynamit Nobel later on in the year. A prototype on display at the show revealed that this practical new offering boasts the same quality throughout as its full-sized counter-parts.

In the pellet department, Dynamit Nobel has introduced the RWS Club and the new RWS Super Mag. The former is a slightly heavier version of the ever-popular RWS Hobby match-style pellets, except that it comes with a smooth (instead of ribbed) skirt. The RWS Super Mag is a heavy field pellet specifically intended for field target and silhouette shooting. Product Inquiry No. (317).

Interarms had on display the new Walther CG90 match rifle. This state-of-the-art tack driver is powered by CO2 and has already established itself in international competition. With a suggested retail price of $1,225., the CG90 is on the same lofty world-class league as the Feinwerkbau C60, Steyr CO2 Match, and Crosman Model 84. Product Inquiry No. (318).

MAC-1 Airgun Distributors was very much in evidence at the show with its entire line of custom paint-ball guns and accessories. From the superb Avenger and Annihilator models to the standard Sheridan/PMI PGP pistol. MAC-1 can supply any paint-baller's equipment needs. Tim McMurray, the driving force at MAC-1, has pioneered the concept of the custom paint-ball gun, producing some truly outstanding combinations based on the Sheridan/PMI models. In addition to paint-ball equipment, MAC-1 carries a complete line of regular airguns, including most of the Venom magnum models from England. Product Inquiry No. (319).

Mandall Shooting Supplies, Inc. is now distributing the Cabanas RC200 series of adult spring-piston airguns in the U.S.

These Cabanas models, of which there are five rifles and one pistol, are manufactured in Mexico and run the whole gamut from the massive top-of-the-line RC260 to the lightweight model RC220. All models, including RCP55 pistol, are barrel cockers and pack an authoritative punch. Suggested retail price runs from around $115.00 for the aforementioned pistol on up to approximately $190.00 for the model RC260, which is modest, indeed, considering the many features offered by these adult airguns from south of the border. Product Inquiry No. (320).

Marksman Products was undoubtedly the heavy hitter at the show this time around. This company, long known for its slingshots and youth-oriented BB guns, is truly taking the world of adult airguns by storm with its latest offerings. These include the Model 1790 Biathlon Trainer air rifle, the models 56-FTS and 58-S field target rifles, as well as a wide range of useful accessories and twelve different kinds of pellets. Among the many airgun accessories offered by Marksman there are six different pellet traps, including the new magnetic model that resets itself when the center target is struck by a pellet.

The Marksman Model 1790 Biathlon Trainer is intended specifically for those who aspire to compete in that demanding winter sport, and sports a skeletonized stock like that found on the original Biathlon rifles. It also comes with a set of match sights, a fully adjustable rear diopter, and a front tunnel that accepts interchangeable inserts. This spring-piston barrel-cocker comes in .177" caliber only and has a rifled barrel.

The Model 56-FTS is a full-fledged adult field target rifle supplied with a stock that has an adjustable buttplate and cheekpiece. The .177" caliber barrel comes with a muzzle weight and, as befits a rifle designed for field target events, it has no iron sights so that the shooter can mount the sight of his choice. The Model 58-S is a simpler version of the 56-FTS, intended primarily for metallic silhouette competition. The 58-S has a full-length barrel sleeve and also comes without iron sights. Both models are barrel cockers and also feature adjustable triggers. Product Inquiry No. (321).

National Survival Game, Inc. had on display its brand-new Splatmaster Rapide Comp gun, a modular version based upon that company's recently launched .68" caliber Rapide semiauto repeater paint-ball pistol. The Comp consists of a kit that includes a skeletonized shoulder stock, 40-round spindle magazine, long barrel with "flash suppressor," sling, forward grip and--for those who want to go full out -- a 7-oz. constant-air CO2 bottle. Having tested the basic Splatmaster Rapide, I can only say that in its Comp configuration this rig should be nothing short of awesome. In looks alone, the Comp -- which comes with a navy-blue finish all over -- would feel right at home in any current "sci-fi" movie set. Product Inquiry No. (322).

PMI, Inc. introduced its new Piranha paint-ball blaster. The .68" caliber PMI Piranha is an extremely compact model that still retains the constant-air, high-firepower features of its larger cousin in the PMI line-up. With a suggested retail price of around $290., there is no doubt that the Piranha will be a "hot item" among paint-ball enthusiasts in 1989. Product Inquiry No. (323).

One new airgun that was not represented at the SHOT SHOW but which deserves to be included in this report, nevertheless, is the Airrow line that will be distributed by Atlantis Marketing.

The basic Airrow Series 8, for instance, looks like an AR-15 assault rifle and comes with an original CAR-15-style, collapsible stock. This gun is designed to shoot standard aluminum arrows at approximately twice the speed developed by conventional compound bows. Although the basic concept is not new -- I have fired an experimental version of similar design in recent years -- it is certainly novel enough to open up a whole new category of adult airguns. The Series 8 is available in a short-barreled carbine version, as well as in a hunting version with an 18" barrel capable of producing up to 450 fps of m.v. and in a target model with 20" barrel and diopter match sights.

The Airrow Series 10, on the other hand, is designed primarily for commercial and underwater fishing purposes. Another version of the series 10 was developed as a line-throwing gun for rescue purposes.

These highly unusual guns aren't cheap, as can be expected, given their unique characteristics. Suggested retail prices currently begin at over $1,000.00, and production is scheduled to be fairly limited initially. Product Inquiry No. (324).

PHOTO : This is the carbine version of the new Airrow Series 8 CO2 gun. Standard aluminum arrows

PHOTO : are propelled at over 300 fps.

PHOTO : The Marksman Model 56-FTS is a magnum-powered air rifle designed specifically for field

PHOTO : target shooting.

PHOTO : Daisy's new "Quick Skill" infrared target shooting system comes in several popular handgun

PHOTO : calibers.

PHOTO : The new Crosman Model 1389 "Backpacker" carbine is extremely compact, yet packs a hefty

PHOTO : punch.

PHOTO : The Beeman/FWB 100 (top) and CO2-powered Beeman/FWB C10 are state-of-the-art match

PHOTO : pistols.

PHOTO : Also new from Crosman is the superb Model SSP250 CO2 pistol -- powerful and accurate.

PHOTO : The Daisy Power Line 889 is made by El Gamo in Spain. This new CO2-powered rifle features

PHOTO : a fast pump action and a magazine with capacity for twelve pellets.

PHOTO : For young shooters Daisy offers the moderately powered Youth Line 914, a BB/pellet

PHOTO : spittin' image of the famous Ruger Mini-14.

PHOTO : NSG's brand-new Rapide Comp model combines ample firepower, accuracy, and high-tech

PHOTO : styling.

PHOTO : The new Norica "Commando" carbine is handy, accurate, and reasonably powerful. It uses the

PHOTO : spring-piston system.

PHOTO : Dynamit Nobel/RWS now has available the superb Diana Model 100 match air rifle, a

PHOTO : single-stroke pneumatic.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Galan, J.I.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1989
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