Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Back To Basics

It's the height of winter here in Iowa. That means daytime highs below zero, snow, screaming winds, and cabin fever. Cabin fever inevitably leads me to new-gun-fever. There's a gun show this weekend, and payday was Friday. Luckily, James talked me down from buying a Beretta CX4 with a 92 series mag well. I still got a new gun though.

Using my logical brain parts, I decided on a Crosman 1377C. This air pistol has been in production since the dawn of time, and for good reason. It's durable, accurate, simple, and very affordable. In fact, it's such an all-arounder that it can be bought with a bolt-on rifle stock. And the rear sight can be converted from notch to aperture. I've only had this machine for about a day, but I already love it, and I've got big plans for it in the future.

We've been in the deep freeze for about a month now, and I've been thinking of getting a CO2 powered M&P clone. Reviews were hit and miss regarding reliability, and having too much farmer in me to waste $50, I let it go. However, I couldn't really find anything negative about the old stalwart 1377C.  And when the fever struck today, I had no choice.

I built my own pellet trap, which is SUPER overkill even for my Gamo Shadow 1000 piston-powered rifle. And as luck would have it, my basement is about 40 feet long, so I made a 10 meter range. And airguns at 10 meters is pretty serious business for some folks. For the rest of us, it's just good practice. Bullseye shooting has sort of gone by the wayside, but it's a discipline that can only help your action shooting or defensive shooting. And even though it's "just an airgun", the fundamentals still apply. You're never too old or too good to practice your fundamentals.

There's a video circulating of the Glock ladies shooting silhouettes at 200 yards with their G34s. Assuming it's an IPSC metric, that's 17" wide and 29" high (roughly). Shooting a 1" dot at 10 meters is about the same apparent size (roughly 8 MOA). So assuming you can hit the 1" dot at 10 meters, you're almost as good as Glock's 19-year-old yoga pants model.


So onward to the gun. The Crosman 1377C has been in production since 1977, and remains largely unchanged. The reason is that this gun is very good, and very ruggedly built. There's some barn-door engineering, and it's certainly built to a price point. However, the good by far outweighs the...quirky.

The Bad:
Upon doing some research, I found that the 1377 and it's big brother, the 1322 (which is a .22 caliber clone) often suffer from excessive elevation and sometimes canted front sights. In fact, the sights aren't all that good. The front blade is crudely cast plastic, and mine is canted. And had excessive elevation. The rear sight is crudely adjustable with a set screw that you loosen, make your adjustment, and re-tighten. This is not optimal, but damn if it doesn't work. Also, the trigger, out of the box, is a bit heavy. Ok, it's quite heavy. But it is fairly short, and quite crisp.

Remove that screw and you can flip the rear sight leaf over and make it an aperture, ideally for use with the bolt-on shoulder stock kit ($25 online). Cool idea executed very simply.

The Good:

All of the quirks are easily fixed for free or for pennies. Once those quirks are fixed, this thing is capable of really excellent accuracy. It doesn't seem to have any preference for ammunition types (.177 pellets come in all shapes and weights) and isn't terribly sensitive to how many times you pump the gun. Six to ten pumps gets the exact same point of impact at 10 meters on my indoor range. I tend to use five to six pumps because it's much quieter and less work.

Five shots at ten meters. This is my best group so far.

Get Your MacGuyver On:

I need a pen cap, some super glue, sand paper, and sharp scissors.

I cut the pen cap stem to fit, then glued it on (and let it set for 15 minutes) and sanded the top and sides flat to give me a sharper sight picture. It's an easy fix, and works really well. That target took twenty rounds from ten meters, and I only screwed up the trigger pull twice.

Next, I'll need a small flat screwdriver.

The grip panels are each held in place with a single screw. That spring is the only trigger spring, and it's easily modified. Remove it by compressing it slightly. I did this with my fingers without too much cursing. Once out, lay it on a piece of white paper, and make a mark at each end. Now use your fingers to compress the spring down and make it take a set shorter than it used to be. I smashed mine about 3/16" and the trigger is really nice now.

By The Numbers:

The Crosman 1377C is a variable pump pneumatic pistol, operating on three to ten pumps (if you go over 10, you don't get higher velocity, you just trash your seals.). The advertised max speed is 600fps, which is really not bad. I've seen chrono videos of the 1322 where it actually meets or exceeds its listed maximum velocity. I have no reason to believe the 1377 won't do the same, especially if you shoot newfangled lightweight pellets. The pistol is 13.5" long (which is also the sight radius), weighs 1.875lbs, and MSRP is $79.99. However, I got mine at the local Sportsman's Warehouse on sale for $64 out the door, and similar deals are available online.

So What?

If you live somewhere you can shoot in your back yard or indoors without a visit from the local SWAT team, you NEED to own this gun. It's a fantastic training tool that is extremely affordable to purchase and to shoot. It's about as simple and rugged of a design as you'll ever see, and with minimal maintenance it should last the better part of a lifetime. Dry fire is all well and good, but this pistol allows you to put rounds downrange and see the results of your work.

I mentioned earlier that there is a rifle stock that bolts into the pistol grip. This is available for about $25 online. So for a total of $89, you can have a very good pistol that is also a very good rifle. And you can convert the sights over to aperture and squeeze even more accuracy out of it. The only question is "can you afford NOT to own one?".

Good shooting, I'm off to purchase more pellets. Lots more.

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