He was born in a large (as in thousands of acres and an island included) ranch in the Tamaulipas/Veracruz border before the Mexican Revolution. His father owned the ranch, and it was so far away from any road or rail, that it was easier to get to Europe by boat, than to go to Mexico City, or to the US border by land.
Boats came every month into Tampico (nearest seaport) and from there, it was only a 2 week trip by mule/oxcart to the ranch. Horses were for racing, or cattle wrangling, my GrandPa was a true "Charro".
Family lost the ranch to the Mexican Revolution, but his childhood was spent there and he went to the US, "sent" by his father to San Antonio, TX to escape the Revolution, where he bought an "Indian" motorcycle and studied Accounting. Though THAT is another story.
He prided himself to be crackshot with his airgun, and when the time came, he was the one that taught us the Marksmanship bases. He never had a firearm.
Of course, back then I didn't know what I know about airguns, their workings and their mysterious ways (which is why, for ME they are all female and that is another story all of its own), but he did provide a role model in many aspects:
- Make sure the FIRST shot is the last one.
- Make sure that IF YOU MISS, the pellet will not harm anyone/anything
- Take care of your things and your things will take care of you.
- DO NOT take more from Nature than you need.
Later in his life, he contracted Hodgkin's Disease which he survived for 10 years, in the end, he died when I was living in the UK (post-grad school) and I have always missed him.
Sheridans were hard to work on, and then-current Benjamins were not that good.
I re-barreled a few 2100's into 0.20" cal when the best pellet in the world was the 14.3 grs. Premier in the cardboard box.
And the Lothar Walther barrels then in use also performed well with wadcutters:
Setup one for FT and won several National Matches with it. Scope is a BSA 10-50X60 in BKL mounts. Do note that the sling is not attached to the gun (which was against the rules at the time) but attached to the upper forearm. Now, FT rules have gone vice-versa and it is against the rules to attach a strap to the body, but not to the gun . . . go figure.
It is VERY special as it reminds me of my friends Mike Pearson and Jeff Wolgast.
Lots of good memories.
Fast forward a BUNCH of years and I find out that there is an MSP version of the DIANA Stormrider. It was called "The Seneca Dragonfly" and shared quite a number of parts with the Stormrider.
I started looking into it and the possibility arose to craft another 0.25" cal MSP that would be a proper "wood and metal" version of my beloved 2500. As happens with many of the gunsmith's personal projects, this had to wait, and wait, and wait . . .
It waited so long that the Dragonfly is no more under the Seneca brand, it seems it got displaced by the humongous "Aspen". This tells me that the people buying airguns nowadays have NO field experience.
"Urbanization" we'll call it, I guess, for lack of a better expression I can still print.
Soooooo . . . . all this to say that I have a very special connection to the MSP's and the persons that like them.
It shows that the shooter has a peculiar frame of mind. That he understands the rhythm of life and the balance of things. He understands the idea of using "just the right amount and not too much".
In short, a person close to my heart even if I haven't met him/her, yet.
And so, Mr. Mark G. enters the picture. Someone in Crosman told him to contact me to see if I could build ONE good gun out of two different variations of Crosman guns. He did, and we started corresponding.
The project interested me, even though I KNEW that the Artemis LR700-W that I had been saving for conversion to 0.25" was going to go. But Mark was so passionate about MSP's that it was impossible to not get energized and enthused with his ideas.
After some serious discussions, the argument came down to:
"Would you invest $200 in a Crosman 2100? I would not. But I would invest $200 in a Dragonfly."
And so he said, "OK, let's have a go at it"
The Crosman 2100 currently retails for about $70, the Dragonfly/LR700 retailed for $179. So, sinking money into a cheap thing will still be a cheap thing, but sinking money into a rough diamond, . . . that is different.
Having had the experience of all the previous MSP's I had definite ideas to implement:
- We were not going for power on the top end.
- We were going for power on the LOW end (1-4 pumps), and
- We were interested in reasonable accuracy with open sights BUT a fiber optic had to be used for the front sight.
And with all these ideas the conversion began:
- Gun was completely stripped off, cleaned and checked.
- Orings were replaced for good quality and material Orings.
- A part to replace the rubber "overpressure buffer" was turned from aluminum. This part was to allow the lubrication sponge to still do its job, and yet, NOT to compress at 6 pumps so that the effort required to overcome the friction of the expanded "plug" made the pumping effort unrealistic. The gun HAD to be useable at 8 pumps.
- We used a Stormrider barrel that had been de-burred, fire-lapped, and the chamber had been trued. We used it because it already had the moderator.
It ended up like this:
As you can see, the front "Fire Sight" (by Williams) is dovetailed to the front sight base of the Stormrider.
And it gathers quite the lot of light.
Initial testing was very encouraging, uniformity of MV's at all power levels was rewarding and accuracy at 10 meters was nothing short of impressive:
Well, after some tests, I have to concur.
Sighting in at distance threw back these:
And again, testing at 35 yards proved that the RS's were the pellet to go to.
A 1½" group at 35 yards with open sights is nothing to sneeze at. Still . . . practice is in order, LOL!
The other test that is important in MSP's is the overnight shot. You pump it up and let it sit overnight, then check the MV the next morning.
I have to say that this gun passed with good grades as the last average MV for a 50 shot string was 735 fps, while the first cold bore shot next morning was 721 fps. Not bad at all and perfectly understandable just from the cooling of the air chamber.
One of the differences between the Artemis' version and the Seneca's is the slant cut at the division between the pump handle and the forearm. Different strokes and all that . . .
Some have argued that there a need to add a barrel band between the pump tube and the barrel. The targets dispel that theory. Further, the pump tube is severely stressed when pumping, you do NOT want to transmit that to the barrel.
In the present arrangement, there is a slight contact between barrel and end of pump tube, but that was not detrimental to the accuracy.
The front end of the Stormrider barrel is a true moderator, it is glued for legal reasons and it was left like that because one of the problems with ANY gun that dumps ALL the air, whether MSP or SSP, is that they are LOUD. This one, even with the small LDC is comfortably quiet.
As received, the gun yielded 12.7 ft-lbs with the Baracuda FT at 8 pumps. If we compare that to the other available MSP's we have that a UMAREX NXG will yield 5 ft-lbs, a Crosman Mk 177 will yield 5.7 ft-lbs. I do not know if the Mk 177 is still available, but it IS an interesting gun for youngsters. Personally, I do NOT like the "envelope" too military for my tastes, BUT I do understand the value of role play in the education of youngsters. Length of pull and weight are more geared towards the young crowd (as in 10 year olds), and the sights are/¿were? REALLY GOOD. But I repeat, I do not know if it is still on offer.
After the fitting of all the parts, this particular LR700-W yielded 13 ft-lbs on the dot but, more important than that was the performance at low power:
at 5 pumps it yielded 9.7 ft-lbs
at 7 pumps, it yielded 11.5 ft-lbs
This with the Baracuda FT.
But, once tuned to the RS's (7.33 grs.), even though the yield came in lower in energy, the accuracy was there, and that is what is important.
So , final stats were:
# of Pumps.- MV±sSD
1.- 388 ± 0
2.- 554 ± 4
4.- 700 ± 0
5.- 746 ± 2
6.- 783 ± 2
7.- 812 ± 3
8.- 840 ± 2
So, where to from here?
These results, and other experiments I have been conducting lately tell me that there is much to do in this architecture.
Would I use this mod as an SSP in a Match capability? Yes. With the right barrel and the right sights, there is no doubt in my mind that it could easily replace anything in the Avanti series.
At present, part of the conflict is in the "reach"; you need really long arms to get the whole pump cycle done without standing. For a youngster, that MAY be a problem.
A re-design is in order and there are a TON of things to improve.
Whether Air Venturi will decide to bring more into the USA is up to them. I may contact SPA separately.
One thing is for sure: EVERY airgunner should have one of these in his collection. Once modified, they are practically eternal airguns.
Keep well and shoot straight!