Pioneer BB76 Airgun

By Hugh Bodey

The really nifty Model BB76 Pioneer Air Gun was produced by Ultra-Hi Products Co., Inc, of Hawthorne, N.J. - back in 1976 to celebrate the the Bicenteniel of America. It was actually made in Japan, under contract.

A beautiful gun to look at, but upon closer examination, you see a lot of plastic used. The locks, trigger guard, false patch box, butt plate and false end cap of the non-existant ram rod are all made of brass colored and solid black plastic.

The unique feature of the functional hammer/lock assembly is that of a "safety" for the gun. One must actually cock the hammer before the gun will fire, which, other than for reality appearance, is its only purpose. How-some-ever, I have heard reports that it is not alway reliable - and sometimes fails in its purpose!

The inner barrel, or "shottube" as it is commonly termed, is of the same design as that of the force feed tube of a number of Daisy b.b rifles, only it is longer, and holds more b.b's! (50 of 'em)

The walnut stained wood stock is in two pieces, with the joint neatly concealed by a metal band clip. And the gun is cocked by an under the barrel cocking lever, long enough to make for fairly easy cocking.

As said before, it is a beautiful gun to see - I liken it to the Kentucky Squirrel Rifle, not being overly bright about all the various makes and models of muzzle loaders, although I have admired them most of my gun awareness life I haven't really studies them. I've also heard this one called the "Tennessee Poor Boy Rifle" of the mid 1800's. Call them what you will, the Pioneer BB76 are very unusual in the airgun field, and, to me, most desireable.

I own two of them at the present time - one complete and working, the other broken and badly in need of repair (which is why I got it so cheap), at least compared to the working one. Working on the broken one, however, has inspired me to build a similar gun, that will shoot harder and straighter. I admit I was rather disappointed in the accuracy level of this particular b.b gun. I had hoped, with the longer barrel, (the overall gun length is 44 inches) I'd have a light weight (4 lbs) super b.b gun that I could knock a squirrel's eye out at 90 feet - as the old song goes- but, alas, no way Jose!!! I'd be lucky to even hit the squirrel with a body shot at that distance! (Probably couldn't even see his eye, anyway!)

So, with the above inspiration, I am working (in my mind, mostly, so far) on a single shot, true muzzle loader, air gun, with all metal features on a beautiful wood stock - probably maple - in .22, or perhaps .25 caliber. However, from info I have been able to gather so far, I may even have to go on up to a .32 cal. in order to have the barrel rifled. Lots of considerations and calculations involved in making a gun from "scratch". At any rate, I want one that is actually capable of knockin a squirrel's eye out at 90 feet. Now whether I do ever take it hunting, or not, is optional.

Whether you are an actual gun collector, shooter, or just enjoy something that is different - the Pioneer BB76 is sure to catch your eye as an interesting bit of history and ingenuity.

Hugh N. Bodey

B.B/Airgun Web Site: Audrey & Hugh

Click here to post your comments on this article.
Well, Dad bought me one of those "critters" almost like the Pioneer BB gun back in 1953. He found it in a store in Beeville, Texas. We were there waiting for mother to give birth to you "Banjo". Believe it or not but Rocky Reagan Jr.carried mother from the hospital to our car when it was time to go home after the birth.
- Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 12:58:48 (EST)
Hugh: Thanks for an interesting look at a unique shootin' iron. If Lefty and JD had had one of those critters back during the Daniel Boone / Davy Crockett crazes of the old days, there's no telling how many imaginary savages would've been sent to the happy hunting grounds!
Banjo, Mike, Llewdeb, Whatever
- Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 22:55:11 (EST)

Henry Golden Boy

Lever action repeating rimfire rifle

By JD Bedwell

December 18 2005

Manufactured by Henry Repeating Arms Company of Brooklyn, New York.

Now, this is the rifle that will bring out the WEST in you ! It sure does me !

The gorgeous rimfire is the image of the famous Winchester model of 1866, carried by early frontiersmen, cowpunchers on the big drives, the wily Apache & Commanche warriors and used for years by the hard riding & shootin" Texas Rangers ! From the crescent butt plate on the beautiful wallnut stock to the polished "brass" colored alloy reciever to the muzzle of the deep blued octagon barrel this is pure "old West" !

The Buckhorn rear sight really helps fast alinement with that front post sight....just like the old Winchesters ! The action is S M O O T H as silk right out of the box. These Henry Repeating Arms come in several calibers. There is the "Big Boy" in several centerfire big bore calibers. All will bring out the WEST in you !

Hasta manana -- JD Bedwell

just a note: Maybe Clyde can do a write up on that Savage single-shot .22 .
- Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 19:45:04 (EST)
Lefty The Henry rifles in small calibers (,22 lr, .22 Mag. and the new .17 cal.) have alloy recievers that have a polished brass plating to resemble the Civil War era Henrys and early Winchesters. The small calibers are low pressure rounds that won"t harm this type of reciever. The "Big Boy" Henrys of large calibers have true solid polished brass recievers. Comparing the Henry with the Savage is like the difference between a Jeep Cherokee and a WW2 Army Jeep. Both are fine vehicles and reliable but that Cherokee will get you there faster and in a lot more comfort.
- Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 13:35:10 (EST)
JD, last night Clyde showed me a Savage 22 single shot rifle that looked just like the Henry, except for the golden plating. He says he got traded for it with you. So how come you never did a write up on that gun?
- Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 18:09:33 (EST)
Yep, these lever-action rifles remind me of that famous old photo taken in front of the "Bucket of Blood"saloon of a trail worn Billy the Kid in his scruffy range clothes, six-shooter and trusty Winchester carbine at his side.
- Tuesday, December 27, 2005 at 15:32:33 (EST)
Goshomighty, JD, I think maybe you must kinda like that Henry rifle! Where's your objectivity?
- Sunday, December 25, 2005 at 10:51:29 (EST)

Bisley Model Colt

By Mike Bedwell

November 13 2005

In the late 1890’s Colt’s Patented Firearms Company introduced an odd-looking variation of its legendary “Peacemaker” Single Action Army revolver known as the “Bisley” Model. Designed specifically for target shooting, it featured an elongated grip frame, a hammer with a lowered cocking spur and a wide trigger with a pronounced curve.

I had seen pictures of the Bisley, but had never actually handled one until my brother, JD, acquired one in a trade with our good friend, Bobby Shannon.

My first impressions were mixed. Mechanically, the Bisley was identical to the standard model, but its “feel” was completely different. It was simultaneously familiar and strange.

I pointed it at a nearby fence post and touched the trigger.

The old sixshooter roared and big hunk of mesquite bark flew.

There was an impressive hole where I had aimed.

For the next several years JD, Bobby and I traded that old Bisley back and forth between ourselves. It was chambered for the .38-40 Winchester cartridges which were difficult to find and expensive in those days. Consequently, the trusty Colt got handled and holstered more than it actually got fired.

I owned it at least twice, maybe three times. JD had it a couple of times. Bobby had it, traded it and then traded back so many times we lost count.

You can be sure a little “boot” was involved each time the pistol changed hands. Sometimes it was a few dollars. Sometimes it was a pocketknife or a holster or maybe a hat. The profit or loss of each transaction was of small moment compared to the value of the time we spent in the “swappin’” process.

Regrettably, in a weak moment, I finally sold the well-worn pistol to a stranger and it left our friendly circle forever.

That was a long time ago but I still think of it now and then and wonder if that Bisley could still be making the rounds somewhere out there.

Somehow, I like the idea.

I never shot any bear with the Bisley, but I made a nasty leak in an unfriendly motorist's radiator with it one evening on Viggo Road, west of Beeville.
Banjo, Llewdeb, Mike, Whatever
- Friday, November 25, 2005 at 15:55:11 (EST)
That old Colt Bisley that I packed in my horse riding job had a 4 3/4 inch barrel with a slight bulge an inch or so forward the forcing cone. I put some Jay Scott "pearl" grips on the old sixshooter. A 38=40 round is a darn good accurate hard hitting caliber .I had an old 1892 Winchester lever action in same caliber at the time. An old timer told me there were lots of bears killed using that caliber.
- Wednesday, November 23, 2005 at 12:42:37 (EST)
By the way, Lefty, that little metal-scaled pocket knife pictured along with the Bisley and is an antique keepsake from Granny Calliham. She used to carry it her purse many years ago.
Banjo, Llewdeb, Mike, whatever
- Monday, November 14, 2005 at 00:44:55 (EST)
Lefty: The photo is not of the original Bisley model, but another one in the same caliber. The original had been refinished and had a shorter barrel length, as I recall.
Banjo, Llewdeb, Mike, whatever
- Monday, November 14, 2005 at 00:41:11 (EST)
I was wondering, Mike. Is the photo made from the actual weapon, or is it a picture of a similar gun?
- Sunday, November 13, 2005 at 09:40:48 (EST)

Tenderfoot Jay and the Daisy Duel

By Mike Bedwell

August 28 2005

Not long ago my cousin, Jay Harris, recalled an incident from those humid, happy days of my youth in “old” Calliham that made me laugh aloud.

He recounted that his family came to visit us and he found me and some other kid out in the pasture having a real “Gunsmoke” style duel with Daisy Model 179 BB pistols. The other kid was probably one of my other cousins, either Clyde or Dale Semar, but Jay didn’t remember with clarity.

Anyhow, we were just blazing away at each other from a few feet away… seemingly oblivious to the whelps and bruises we raised on each other’s hides when the shots found their mark.

All this boyish bravado apparently impressed Jay who was a little younger than the rest of us brats.

He recalled asking me at the time: “Wow! Doesn’t that hurt when you get hit?”

I sardonically replied, “Nah. It don’t. See?” and promptly popped him solidly atop his foot.

“It hurt like hell and I wanted to cry but I didn’t,” he recalled. “I didn’t want you to think I was a sissy.”

To tell the truth, I retain only a vague memory of the event, but got a big kick out of hearing him retell it. If nothing else, it surely illustrates a bit of the color of our daily lives in those primitive times before the world went digital.

Thinking back on it now I realize that shooting each other with BB guns was really pretty darned stupid. It's a thousand wonders someone didn't lose an eye. And, it should be noted that our parents certainly would've blistered our butts had they known what we were doing. I surely don't reccomend such wreckless foolishness to anyone!

The Daisy 179 has been out of production for several decades now, but it was very popular back then. It was a life-size reproduction of the famous Colt “Peacemaker” single action revolver, except it was made of cast pot metal and shot .177 caliber BBs via a fairly powerful spring mechanism.

In my pre-teen years, mine saw plenty of use. I perforated scores of prickly pear cactus pads, sent many housecats scurrying and mutilated several green lizards. I spent untold hours practicing fast drawing and point shooting.

Due to its shape, the little pistol had most of the fine handling characteristics of the real revolver, plus it was potent enough to make a red spot on your butt cheek even through your denim jeans at about 10 yards.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Jay.

I ordered one of these Cowboy style BB pistols back about 1961 from a Herter"s catalog. It was $3 back then. It looks like a real gun...but they wouldn"t shoot hard enough to make a dent on a marshmellow at 40 feet !!
J D Bedwell
- Friday, September 09, 2005 at 07:45:12 (EDT)

Long Shot, Short Gun

Banjo remembers target shooting with the .357 Smith & Wesson

July 31 2005

Shortly after my 21st birthday I acquired my very first handgun chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. It was a Smith & Wesson double action revolver with a four-inch barrel and I could scarcely wait to try it out.

I had already read reams of magazine articles and books by the great modern gun writers such as Elmer Keith, Col. Charles Askins and Skeeter Skelton, attesting to scores of marvelous shooting feats performed with such handguns. Still, I remained skeptical that a “one-handed” gun could be accurate and powerful enough to hit and penetrate a target at ranges normally reserved for scoped deer rifles.

My brother Johnny cobbled up a scrap piece of tank steel about three foot wide and four feet tall and we propped it up against a sapling mesquite tree near the earthen damn of the stock tank south of our parents house. I made a makeshift rest atop the hood of my truck parked on the caliche road that ran in front of the house – which is now paved and runs through one of the campsites in the Choke Canyon State Park.

With cotton packed in each ear to dampen the noise, I fired three rounds. Anticipating the bullet would drop dramatically, I held my sights well over the plate for the first shot. Seeing no dust or movement, I held dead center for the second shot and the bullet struck the ground a few feet in front of the target.

I was beginning to think I was simply wasting expensive ammo, but I held the sights at the top edge of the plate and fired one last time. Even with the earplugs I heard the “clang”.

We drove down and inspected the rectangular sheet of metal. To my amazement, my third bullet had created a dent in the center of the 3/8” plate deep enough to crack the metal. We found where my first shot had completely penetrated the little tree’s green trunk about four inches in diameter, well above the plate. The distance between the steel and my shooting position measured about 325 yards.

Since then I have owned and enjoyed many .357 magnum handguns, the most recent of which is pictured here – a 3.5 inch Smith & Wesson manufactured in 1954. I don’t do much long-range shooting with a handgun nowadays, but I seldom handle a .357 without remembering that first one.

Mike Bedwell

This is a factual account my brother speaks of about the 357 Smith & Wesson. I was right there and remember it well. We were novices at the time but learned quickly of the awesome power of magnum handguns !
- Monday, August 22, 2005 at 14:38:55 (EDT)
Great write up, Mike. Thanks for the contribution. Also, its a great picture.
- Tuesday, August 02, 2005 at 21:10:04 (EDT)

The Arm of the British Empire

The WEBLEY Mk. VI .455 double-action service revolver.

July 3 2005

This old 1918 British Government issue sidearm is a real heavy duty "no nonsense" workhorse!! Used in both WW1 & WW2 as the "Arm of the British Empire" It"s a hinged frame,top breaking, ejecting all the spent cartiridge cases at once. Six inch barrel & lanyard ring on the squared butt.

I use half & full moon clips to seat .45 auto ammo in the massive cylinder. .455 Eley or the old service round may be extremely difficult to scrounge up.

Just hefting this old warrior brings to mind visions of Sherlock Holmes, shoot outs in darkest Africa with the Zulu tribes on the warpath, Indiana Jones in some remote jungle hell-hole protecting some sacred important artifact. But for now I have it on loan and will pack it in the south Texas mesquite, granjeno, tasajilla & prickly pear "jungle ".

Muy buenos dias y God bless. -- JD

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