Sunday, September 28, 2008

I found a Benjamin air rifle in the garage......

I like to say my first gun was a Marlin bolt action .22, given by my father as a working tool to carry on the farm.
That’s true, as far as it goes, but only for a given value of true.

My first rifle was a Sheridan Blue Streak pump air rifle; Still made today as the Benjamin- Sheridan, and now a division of Crossman. It’s the only air rifle I know of with a .20 caliber bore (5mm). For years the pellets were just known as ‘Sheridan pellets’. Bought five hundred at a time, I went through thousands upon thousands of those little lead wonders.

Squirrels and rabbits ran at the sound of the pneumatic pump on that air rifle. Squeek..wooosh…squeek..wooosh. Five pumps for target practice, ten for small game.

At ten pumps it’s pellet would make a squirrel go quiver-tail with any good hit. Out to twenty five yards it was good for everything from tin cans to rabbits. No fancy optics needed, just a good eye for a blade front sight

Single shot, bolt action, and every time you fired you got a work out. It taught marksmanship like nothing else. At the least, it developed upper body strength!

I learned that it would kill a woodchuck… something everyone else swore was near impossible. My method was simple….. I walked up on the chuck and watched him dive for cover. Examining his holes, it was usually pretty easy to figure out which way he would emerge, and which direction his head would point.

I simply laid down a blanket about ten yards away, balanced the Sheridan on a rock, and went prone for a nice nap in the sun. Inside fifteen or twenty minutes Mr. Chuck would rise up for a look see, and get a pellet in his ear for the trouble. A solid hit was required or he might come out of that hole very, very angry.

Dad said he never saw the like, and happily bought me more pellets, to a certain limit. Wasting them was not allowed, and any dropped in the dirt had to be recovered and washed off.

I wore out one Sheridan, and blew up another. Not the rifles fault… strictly mine. Lets just say that ether will compression ignite very nicely….

My son learned to shoot with a Sheridan, and he too wore his out over the years. Like me, he bought himself another and uses it to this day. Mine was donated to a young shooter long ago, but the house here has a Benjamin air rifle in it, and the family lineage is clear. Bored in .22 caliber, this one has many years under it’s belt and still puts out a pellet with authority.

Brings back a lot of memories too…. Like shooting apples from the tree…. and skipping pellets off puddles…. and ………


Somerled said...

When I was a freshmen in college, a ROTC instructor taught a rifle marksmanship and gun safety class in the basement of the PE building. We used the Blue Streaks.

Sgt. Ray was a fine teacher and a gentleman from Georgia who didn't throw a fuss when people brought their weapons on campus for show and tell. He toted a Colt 1911A1 in his briefcase. It was the first time I had seen the silver and blue-enamel Combat Infantryman badge up close.

It wasn't long after the Vietnam War, and some still treated servicemen badly. Sgt. Ray was a man who commanded respect without saying a word.

immagikman said...

Ever hunt Wasps after a rain at mud puddles? :) You had the satisfaction of taking out those annoying wasps and making big craters in the mud. Ahhh the memories.

I think you were pretty brave to take out woodchucks with a BB Gun though, I reserved that for my bolt action single shot .22

The Hermit said...

Air guns are popular here. There's even a club. On Saturdays, if I drive into town, I see probably 30 people bench shooting air guns at red targets. They have a nice range.

Old NFO said...

I had one, but I thought it was a .177... It was a fun little learning gun, took many a can off many a fence post :-)

Brigid said...

7 up cans were my enemy. Their legions were small once Mom taught us how to shoot on (yes. . my MOM).

Rio Arriba said...

Ah, the deadly Sheridan 5mm! I have a Blue Streak also. An excellent little tool. The wife, when I had one of those, was a crack shot with it. Killed more than one garden-marauding 'chuck with it. One tried climbing a tree to escape (yes, they will do that) and she brought it down with one nicely placed neck shot. Nothing will teach the value of shot placement like an air rifle.

My son learned to shoot with ours. He's now 40+ and into Class III stuff. See what those little 5mms can cause!

rooster said...

I have the rifle and the pistol.Bought them both together at a lawnsale for next to nothing Its a CO2 sidearm. It heavy, has wood grips and it looks and works good.Almost a luger look to it.Id like to hear some tales of oldschool bb pistol owners.

JAFO said...

I had one of these when I was young, as well. Also a few air pistols.

I've recently rediscovered air rifles, and use them here at the house to take out rabbits that maraud into my back yard-- rabbits removed from where they don't belong, dogs calmed, stewpot filled. ;)

Ambulance Driver said...

Man, that brings back memories.

No small critter or bird was safe from me and my Benjamin within 25 yards.

To this day, I've killed far more rabbits and squirrels with my Benjamin .22 than I have with all my shotguns and rimfires put together.

Anonymous said...

I purchased a 22 caliber Benjamin 32 years ago, and it still shoots like new. I put a Benjamin scope mount on it which unfortunatly raises your cheek off the stock. I cut the stock, inserted two dowel rods to raise it up about 1 1/2 inches, now your eye is in line with the scope! My stepfather just borrowed it to keep varmints out of his garden.

Anonymous said...

I jusdt purchased a "Blue Streak" that appears to be quite old.
I bought from a man who said he bought it 40 years ago, used.
Anyone have an idea how i can date it.
The saftety is on Top of the gun aft of the breech.

Any help or comments will be appreciated.



Anonymous said...

Make no mistake,this is no BB gun.I am 59 years old and have had my silver streak since 1966. Will not part with it.

Anonymous said...

The new Benjamin/Sheridan rifles built by Crosman have a smaller receiver and will take a bolt-on scope mount that the older rifles cannot use. I grew up with a Benjamin 392 and sold it to a younger friend before entering military service. He was the 4th owner at minimum and the rifle never failed to function for me, although it had lots of use when I bought it. In 1992 I bought one of the last Benjamin manufactured Sheridan Blue Streaks before Crosman took over the company. The old Benjamin cylindrical pellets are only moderatley accurate in my Blue Streak. JSB Exact .20 cal and H&N Barracuda .20 cal are considerably more accurate. Have not tried the new Benjamin .20 cal waisted pellets. Blue Streak is OK for small game and small varmints. Skunks, porcupines, large jackrabbits, etc. are better dispatched with my BSA Lonestar .25 cal precharged. .20 cal 14 fpe of the Blue Streak cannot compare to the 31 grain pellet at 45 fpe that the .25 cal BSA Lonestar pushes at 2600-3200 PSI charge. But the Blue Streak doesn't need a $275 Swedish PCP rifle pump to get it filled with air. But the Lonestar sends 10 pellets downrange at optimum pressure before needing to be recharged. I commonly hunt prairie dogs out to 100 yards with the .25 cal Lonestar, something the .20 cal Blue Streak is entirely inadequate for. Pigeons in the barn is a Blue Streak specialty, as the variable charge doesn't blow through the walls and roof like the Lonestar does. The Lonestar punches through 1.5" of pine board, and the Blue Streak maybe half that.