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Recent Frequently Asked Questions
We need to have a discussion. I'm,
all of the sudden, getting buried in questions. And, alot of them
are similar in subject matter. Now - I'm going to be truthful
(as I always am) ... so, somewhere out there, more than one person
is going to feel like I'm beating up on them. That's not purposeful,
I don't have anybody in mind. But ... I cannot candy coat and
PC every answer to the point where it's generic and meaningless.
A huge percentage of folks have completely
lost sight of what it means to "hand build" something
as complex as a PCP rifle. Seems it's about 85%+ taken for granted
by now. As if anyone could do it, with a few tools, on the kitchen
table. This is painfully clear every time I look at the webstats.
They keep going up. The general comments keep going down. But
the questions and requests for more optional features keep rising.
During the week, I may have spent several
hours preparing special pictures, with text ... and posted a complete
new section of work. By Monday, I look at the Web Stats and see
that those materials have been read several thousand times during
the last week. However; if I received three to five thoughtful
comments on those materials, it's average - even good. Anytime
I've ever mentioned this phenomena before, I've gotten a string
of e-mails saying ... "hey ... we expect nothing less from
you ... haha".
And, I always say to myself ... "Why?"
Yeah ... I know my work has been displayed
here for many years now. However; that comment/explanation just
means that people feel I would need to be involved in a "constant
escalation of never ending wonderment" if I am ever to warrant
a slap on the back from them again.
I'm convinced that very few have any
concept of what's required to make one of these objects. I probably
have several hundred thousand dollars invested in my shop and
tooling. That's due to the variety of tooling and different operations
that are required. That's not because I have some super special
quality tooling. My stuff is complete junk compared to the TV
boys at Orange County Choppers or American Hotrod ... believe
me. I don't have a new state of the art computer driven wonder
machine for each new episode. ;?) My shop is not push button laser
guided. It's simply complete (barely) to perform the tasks required
(with my personal experience).
What's overlooked in most people's
mind, is the VAST amount of tooling that's needed to build a complete
project. Ask folks what they think you may need and they say:
"a milling machine and a lathe". I could laugh ... or
cry. That's maybe one percent of what you need. And, please go
price just those two units sometimes. Hah!!!. See how far ten
grand goes on cheap Chinese units. And, of course ... everyone
thinks I have nothing but handmade Swiss milling machines in my
shop. Wink. ;?)
Once you acquire the base machines,
you need AT LEAST as much investment in small tooling, to run
on each machine, as each machine cost you to acquire. You don't
need "a few" milling bits ... you need hundreds of milling
bits. You don't need a few reamers ... you need hundreds of reamers.
Not a measuring device ... but dozens of measuring devices. Even
the small stuff: It's not a box of machine screws ... it's hundreds
of boxes of machine screws - all different. Not a bag of O rings
... but hundreds of bags of O rings. Not some materials .... it's
literal tons upon tons upon tons of materials ... in a hundred
different sizes and variety.
Once you begin to get a mind picture
of the tooling needed ... consider that you need "ALL"
of this equipment to function .... AT ALL TIMES. If something
breaks, you don't just push it into the corner. Doesn't matter
if 99% of things are functional ... everything stops when one
thing breaks. I can't make one part without using several major
stationary machine tools and a dozen minor machine tools. Along
with about two dozen small pcs. of tooling like drill bits, reamers,
clamps, set up jigs, etc. Any broken link in that chain of the
tooling process, and it stops the shop dead in it's tracks, until
that link is repaired. Not because I'm obsessed with it all working.
Because I need it all to do the job.
Once you get beyond that mental picture,
consider that nobody gives you a shop to run a commercial business
from. You buy it, heat it in 10 degree weather, pay taxes on it,
maintain it, cool it in 100 degree weather. My shop is several
thousand square feet - on two levels. But it's so stuffed with
equipment that I can barely walk thru it on paths. It's like working
inside a WWII submarine. Maybe I should expand? Maybe buy some
industrial real estate and put up a new building? ...... I'll
start another coffee can savings account. ;?)
The response to the information presented
in the above paragraphs is usually ... "Well, if we don't
understand what's involved, then show us. "We'd love to see
the extent of your shop ... all of your equipment, see what each
one is used for ... maybe have a demonstration ... and lecture
describing why you are doing what you are doing at each step along
the way ... with pictures ... and maybe video." Think about
it ... when would I produce this endless entertainment channel
material? Obviously, there isn't time of money for that.
However; the burden does fall on me
to explain, and then to clarify, and then to become specific,
and then to relate how any single given question relates to the
engineering decisions I've made on about ten different models
of PCP. Once that's done, I'm requested to compare the units
one to another ........ on an easy to understand chart.
Beside the vast amount of equipment,
materials, and infrastructure, I have to know how to use each
one of those pcs. of equipment to a high degree of professional
quality, and be my own WebMaster. I have to know how to maintain
each machine. Know how to sharpen each cutter. Know how to design
each part ... make all the drawings ... and then follow them.
Locate and order, in any and all materials needed ... and keep
them in inventory. Keep track of the overall progress of each
project. And manage all customer relations issues with each client.
Meeting all expectations is impossible.
I'd need a staff of twenty professionals. And they could not do
it without my personal knowledge of each step anyway. Honestly,
quite a few of my good customers tell me I should just pull the
plug on the website. That I need not entertain the world for free
and try to meet all expectations. Many of them tell me that they
"Get it" ... and don't see why I need to get more people
to understand. However; if I'd can the website ... even those
good customers would find themselves in the dark regarding the
day to day here. They'd have to call individually .. and ask "What's
new?" "Can you send me a picture?" There's not
a perfect answer. Best is study what's here - try to enjoy it
- absorb it over time.
Interested parties need to be able
to ask questions. And, I've spent ten years trying to assemble
the pages to answer those questions. However; it's the "endless
escalation"questions that I have no pages prepared for. And,
more and more ... those are the first questions asked from new
contacts. Makes for a full week and late
Why do I think people don't realize
all of this? Because, rather than simply be stunned that such
a vast array of products are produced and available on this website;
I'm questioned, in such a way that can only lead me to believe
that they want there to be something added to "perk up"
the offerings shown here, and make them interesting. I don't really
think it's just my "artist thing" taking the meaning
wrong in the format of e-mail. People mostly always start with
the "disclaimer" ... I love your work .... but immediately
follow with their list of items which seem, to them, to be "lacking"
in a complete and interesting package. Let's deal with some of
those often repeated repeat questions:
This will all take
awhile. Can't make it shorter and cover the needed ground. Take
a break if you want. Hey ... here's an idea I've had for a long
time: I've often said I wanted to ask everyone interested in one
of my guns to first .... personally build me a bird house. Any
bird house. Not a solid block of wood fake painted to look like
one. But ... a real scratch built wooden bird house. One a bird
would use. One that can be taken apart and cleaned after each
season. With the right sized smooth hole, a solid perch, a decent
roof, a solid hanger, and weather proofed inside and out. Colorful
- something I can hang in my tree. You know ... a bird house.
Figured I could give you a credit of .... oh ... say fifty bucks
for it. You send it to me, then we could talk handmade PCP airguns.
OK ... what
are some of these questions?
I first made
a long list. But I've pared it down to the most asked of the
most asked lately.
Number 1). Why don't
you make semi-automatic airguns? Everybody wants one ya know.
2). Which one of
your guns is most accurate, most powerful, shoots the flattest,
shoots the farthest, and is the most quiet? I want to shoot 200
3). What's coming
up? What new models are you going to make during the next three
years? What are the velocity, slug weight, overall weight, overall
length, muzzle energy, and shots per charge specs. of each those
new projected ones you haven't made yet? I can only buy one gun.
4). Why don't you
shroud the big caliber powerhouse guns? I don't have a private
range and I hate noise.
5). Why don't you
inventory all of the ammo for all of your guns ... in every caliber,
in five or ten different designs for each caliber? I'd rather
just buy it. I'm busy.
6). What about titanium
and aluminum air tubes to save weight?
7). What is THE
velocity for each of your guns? ... I can't find the chart.
First, I hope you might see that the
questions do not simply require an answer. Rather; in order to
answer, they require me to teach a vast number of subjects related
to modern PCP guns. I must lay enough background knowledge with
the customer to allow my answers to make any sense at all. In
addition; I'm being asked to justify the engineering decisions
which I've previously made (in light of what's currently fashionable).
Now - you might say, "forget it then ... let people educate
themselves". However; when such a number of people ask the
same things, it's clear that they don't have an easy place to
gain the knowledge. And, in their mind, these items are relevant
to them deciding as to if they wish to own a handmade Barnes PCP
rifle. So, we try to answer ... or show why the question is missing
the important issues.
Start with #1). "FINALLY!!!!!" ... I heard you say it ;?) Another example of needing
to lay the groundwork for anything to make sense.
Now ... by Popular
demand ... Semi-Automatic discussion.
Number 1). Why don't
you make semi-automatic airguns? Everybody wants one ya know.
Answer: In firearms, they work
pretty well. You note firearm projectiles are jacketed and installed
within a brass or steel cartridge. The projectile unit is relatively
robust. A soft lead airgun projectile is not robust. We do not
have the power to shoot (engrave) jacketed rounds, and our projectiles
are not contained in individual cartridge casings. The gilt edged
accuracy of a soft lead airgun slug can be ruined in a heartbeat
with a small mashed defect - easily inflicted. They can't be slammed
around at high rates of speed inside magazines.
CAN TO!!! I've seen semi-automatic
Are you sure you haven't seen designs
which carry the rounds in individual compartments (revolver wheels)
or slide (harmonica) magazines? So what? Well, some of those fire
from "within" that magazine itself. They are "fire
thru" magazines. Makes a breech seal problem and a problem
transferring the projectile from the magazine into the barrel
breech proper. Some designs just might have a following bolt nose
to push thru that magazine and inject the round into the breech.
If so, they have to work on relative low power ratings to seal
the breech (just because ... it's a long story) ...and .... the
long range accuracy of the rounds are suspect.
I'm sure you'll tell me if I'm wrong.
However; please show me the 700 foot pound, 200 yard, silenced
semi-automatic Sniper PCP rifle ya'all want. I'd like to see that.
Don't cheat now. Top of the line accuracy required.
In addition. Let's just consider for
a moment. "IF" I'd decide to make one. Within ten minutes
2/3's of the ledger would insist I add the semi-auto feature to
their order. Adding another few years of work onto the required
build time of the same existing orders.
Beyond that; the first time one of
those soft lead rounds jammed inside the mechanism ... which they
would ... I'd get back a charged, cocked, loaded, and jammed PCP
gun in the mailbox. A lovely thought. Besides the whole thing
being my fault ... there'd be postage cost issues out the ears,
and miles of customer relations to smooth.
I make what is reliable. Unfortunately,
most people feel they "need" alot more to shoot than
they "actually" shoot. Features pile on and pile on
until the projects become so involved they can't get built, and
won't be used when they arrive ... for fear of a scratch.
Semi-auto is an unrealistic feature
to build into handmade airguns at this time. I do not care to
handle the headaches of poor accuracy and jammed rounds which
would result from the soft lead projectiles which airguns fire.
Question 2 discussion:
2). Which one of your guns
is most accurate, most powerful, shoots the flattest, shoots the
farthest, and is the most quiet? I want to shoot 200 yards.
The basic premise here
is that I have some secret access code to the real "good
stuff" here on the website. Everything is relative. All of
my guns are accurate. The most powerful is hardly the most quiet.
200 yards is an absurd distance to expect to shoot an airgun.
I am the victim of my own development here (heard that a hundred
times). When I started making airguns professionally 11 years
ago, 50 yards was the end of the earth. One hundred foot pounds
of muzzle energy was an absolute MONSTER. And a "pie plate
group" of big bore slugs at 50 yards was ... state of the
Well, not so anymore.
However; as with any given feature or disclosure here on the site,
show it once ... and it's expected and nearly boring tomorrow.
I shot MOA at 50 yards nearly ten years ago. Therefore; ordering
one of those spectacular creations which could actually perform
such an amazing task ... is just so "yesterday" now.
Anybody could build one ... if they wanted to. ;?)
I have to tell you
that I personally hate to hear that term "FLAT SHOOTING"
tied to airguns. The premise is that you don't have to learn to
judge yardage if you can buy a gun that shoots just like a laser
beam points. I know what it means ... and I've had it explained
to me several thousand times, however; that isn't the pure heart
of this sport. You're mixing in firearms waaaay too much if "flat
shooting" is at the top of the list. This is a sport closer
associated to ... God forbid ... Golf. Or, older yet ... Archery.
It's the skill of the shooter, who has learned his craft (while
using his finest equipment) which provides the opportunity to
be celebrated. Give anybody a laser pointer and they can shine
it on any target.
The "most quiet"
thing, I'll deal with in another question.
The "shoots farthest" is
always misunderstood. Everybody ... and I mean ALOT of everybodys
.... thinks that the lightest slug will go the fastest and therefore;
go the farthest. Wrong. You need MASS to CARRY the energy way
out there. A light projectile floats off into lala land after
traveling some distance. It fizzles out. Don't give me firearms
jargon now ... I'm not talking some jacketed round blasted out
at five thousand feet per second. I make airguns.
So; 32, 45, 58 caliber. They ALL go
waaaaay out there. But ... folks want me to tell them that they'll
only "drop" some miniscule amount ... couple inches
or something. That's not realistic. Doesn't happen. You'll have
to buy a firearm if you can't learn to judge distance or
use a range finder.
Power is relative to the task required.
Punching a hole in a distant pc. of paper isn't the same as punching
a hole clear thru a Buffalo at 50 yards. There's no simple answer
to any of these questions. They require years of research and
an understanding of the physics of shooting airguns.
Question 3 discussion: 3). What's coming up? What new models
are you going to make during the next three years? I'm afraid
to order til I know. What are the velocity, slug weight, overall
weight, overall length, muzzle energy, and shots per charge specs.
of each those new ones? I can only buy one gun in a lifetime.
OK, the first and obvious
answer is: "I don't know". The development of my work
goes on hour by hour. Keeping current tells you whatever I'm prepared
to tell you at any time. If I don't have the data for the guns
that I have not yet produced, I can't tell you that information.
The concept of "one
gun fits every purpose" is somewhat flawed. Currently, the
Woodsman series comes closest to that goal. But it hardly covers
anything you could EVER find yourself wanting to enjoy regarding
shooting airguns. This is one of the reasons I occasionally encourage
people to allow me to actually finish a simple gun ... rather
than turning them all into the "loaded baked potato"
version upon which I work, and work, and work, and work ... while
the world wonders .... "what - in - the - HECK is he doing
...?" You may want more than one in a lifetime. One that
cost half as much gives you the chance to own two. Hummmm. Opens
This question also
relates to the issue of: "Gotta know all, before I can choose
any". This is a very high self-imposed standard to go thru
life with. It limits current enjoyment for the fear that you "might
be able to" have "more" fun "if" at a
later time. It's always hard for me to believe that someone who
really understood the rare nature and incredible difficulty factor
involved in my work, could not find SOMETHING of interest among
the vast number of models offered ... from small pistols to Buffalo
Question 4 discussion:
4). Why don't you shroud
the big caliber powerhouse guns? I don't have a private range
and I hate noise.
This one worries me.
Because, it tells me that, if I'd make them, people would be happily
shooting 700 foot pound shrouded guns in their back yard.
If you don't have access
to the safe area required to shoot a powerful gun, then making
it quiet isn't going to do anything but create an extremely dangerous
situation. I'm not going to have any part in "enabling"
such a foolish practice.
Question 5 discussion:
5). Why don't you inventory
all of the ammo for all of your guns ... in every caliber, in
five or ten different designs for each caliber? I'd rather just
buy it. I'm busy.
Mostly, because I'm
busy too. And, I don't have anyone who wants to work for half
of minimum wage to cast slugs by the wheelbarrow load.
The art of producing
your quality projectiles is as old as the shooting sports themselves.
It's part of the game. Part of the mystique. Part of the badge
of honor when you succeed. Ya know ... most of the Doctors, Engineers,
and other professional people who enjoy my work ... cast their
own slugs from my molds. I don't know of one of them that isn't
busy. I mean ... seriously busy. Their airguns are their relaxation.
Turning them into a commodity is counter-productive.
And the follow-up question:
Then why in the world don't you make your guns to take commercial
ammo? Answer: Commercial
ammo ... for what? ... for all the OTHER 700 fpe airguns available
It's a fallacy to assume
that ammo produced for firearms is going to have a perfect crossover
to airguns. And, as I've said dozens of times on the site ...
I'm not going to invest hundreds of hours into the finest airgun
I can make .... and then take the rap for lousy accuracy when
someone buys five dollars worth of "deer slugs" from
Walmart and shoves them in my gun. I design projectiles according
to the realistic needs of my guns. The actual physical requirements.
It's not my purpose to make crossover ammo work in my custom guns.
Fine matched ammo (or projectiles) has always been part of any
shooting sport. Nobody buys a state of the art set of golf clubs,
and then goes and buys a bucket of used driving range balls to
play with. ;?)
Question 6 discussion:
6). What about titanium
and aluminum air tubes to save weight?
Mainly, I don't feel
the pressing need to save the weight. Feather weight guns are
not accurate. You can't hold them steady. Oh ... I know ... "but,
but ... you could make the air reservoir twelve times bigger and
have it weigh the same thing". But, I don't need the air
reservoir to be bigger. When it needs air, I just fill it. "OHHHH!!!
You can be SOOOOOO aggravating!!!!".
I simply do not have
the need to incorporate all the trendy buzz tricks - redesign
everything to do so ... and find out tomorrow, that now it's all
"yesterday" again anyway. There's a timeless nature
to my work which I place there intentionally. There are disciplines
which go along with the sport and with my contribution to the
craft. Filling the airgun when it needs air is not one of my burdens.
(I have a truckload of real burdens if you'd like to hear them
... haha. ;?)
Discussion on question
7: 7). What is THE velocity
for each of your guns? ... I can't find the chart.
There is no chart.
This question is unintentionally simplistic. It's sort of like
asking, "What color dress does your wife wear?"
When? Where? For what
occasion? What season? It's all relative.
Knowing that customers
are highly, highly velocity oriented (assuming that must mean
power and range) ... manufacturers hype VELOCITY. It's like motorcycle
manufacturers who argue over whether a given bike "goes"
150 mph or 155 mph. I don't know anybody I'd trust with sanity
who rides a motorcycle 155 miles an hour. (Please don't write
and admit that you want to ... ;?)
This question can only
be answered after hours of detailed discussion regarding bullet
weight, bullet design, bullet purpose, expected gun usage, accuracy
expectations, shots per group, shots per fill, power range, and
A given PCP can be
set up many ways. Mostly my customers want them adjustable - to
cover various hoped for opportunities. Some don't. Even so ...
I can "build" the various models a host of ways. The
website shows many different 32 caliber guns. Each set up for
different purposes. Any given model can be built to favor a couple
of powerhouse shots or a more balanced "group" of relative
equal velocity shots. When someone asks for a velocity number
... you know that 100% of the time they are wanting to be impressed
by some number currently considered to be "hot". Say
anything else, and I'm a "feeble" excuse for a custom
This was part of the
nature of the survey questions we asked last week. The underlaying
premise is that anyone asking many of these questions is actually
"verifying" that I know what "I'm" doing.
They have a number in mind ... they are checking the validity
of mine. Nobody asks ... what's the velocity ...? and when I say
523 fps says ... "OK". That situation would be followed
by a long explanation of "shooting flat" and "rainbow
trajectories" and countless reasons why such an artifact
would be impossible to shoot.
Much to the disgust
of everyone, I don't endlessly hype the velocity figures of my
guns. As Rolls Royce always said when grilled regarding the horsepower
ratings for their automobiles ... they were said to be "adequate".
They also knew that they'd never raise the eyebrows of anyone
who asked, unless they had "today's" highest in the
industry number to quote.
of this long discussion:
I don't intentionally
compete against myself in an endless escalation war of features,
velocities, distance, and "one-up" efforts. From time
to time, I do become aware that the larger segment of the readership
has become somewhat "jaded" to what they are really
looking at. This often co-incides with a sharp increase in the
number of similar questions asking for an explanation as to why
I don't "up the ante". Go for another 50 fpe ... another
50 yards ... another 50 fps. That's an endless game of hype.
What you'll find here,
if you dig for it; is of a vastly more timeless value. If I can
point you toward information which I've archived here, which might
help you sort out your enjoyment of the sport, I'm very pleased.
Some of what is asked requires the long time study of a vast amount
of specific knowledge. I cannot give short answers to those questions.
They can only be understood as your experience with airguns grows.
Thanks for reading.