The buying public
I just got home from the Midwest Airgun Show in Columbus. Great show, and many thanks to the organizers. I shared a table with my shooting buddy. We left at O dark thirty to get there and set up around 8 AM. I had a mix of long guns, some customized Crosman pumpers, a CO2 match rifle, and a few really nice spring guns. My buddy had mostly handguns. A couple of really nice FWB CO2 match pistols, some classic Crosman bulk-fills, and a P1 that didn't sell at $200! We had a good location right by the entry door, so everyone HAD to walk past our table. All of our guns were reasonably priced well below recent classifieds sale prices. Nobody ever said something was too costly. They just weren't interested.
I sold absolutely nothing! I think during the day, we were visited by maybe 4 or 5 people who didn't have nametags, meaning most of the interest in what we were selling came from "within the ranks." We wound up loading almost everything back into the car.
PCP seems to have taken over even the show market. The interest just wasn't there for "traditional" airguns.
Please don't interpret this as sour grapes. We had a great time seeing old friends and talking airguns. And again, many thanks to the organizers for a well-run show. We had a good time, and the food was great.
But it appears that the market for traditional airguns is fading, as the old guys like me who love them are getting older and less involved.
How can a fully restored and refinished perfectly tuned $85 BSA Meteor compete with a $3000 Daystate Redwolf?
I think you are correct that the majority of springer guys are getting older and less involved or, at least, not increasingly involved and fewer new shooters with the wherewithal to attend gun shows are interested in spring guns. There are spring guys whose bucket lists include owning one of everything at one time or another and they will always be in the market. Other spring guys are hopeless tinkerers and always looking for lower end guns to try to make better. But I don't think their numbers are great.
I enjoy owning and shooting a handful of high quality HW and FWB springers and in my mind they pretty much represent the pinnacle of spring guns. Getting more performance is a matter of kits/tuning, not buying new guns.
Love them or hate them, Robert Law and Bob Beeman were hugely successful in reaching the public, educating shooters and selling spring guns. There just aren't any champions like them left.
Just my opinion.
A lot depends on how educated your shoppers are. I have a Red Wolf and absolutely love it. However at the show today I picked up a daisy 777, Webley Senior, Webley Mark III and a Diana Model 50. All spring guns with the exception of an Avanti ssp.
However when all the talk you see on multimedia outlets like YouTube, Facebook, and forums is PCP it is easy for new Airgunners to get swept up in the momentum.
Hope to see you back at the show next year. There were so many nice rifles for sale it was absolutely ridiculous.
In full disclosure I’m a relatively young Airgunner at 39 😉 and one of the organizers of the show.
I was actually back and forth in front of your table several times eyeballing the selection of 10M pistols that you and the supergenius had laid out. That was Wile E. wasn't it, he just lost some weight correct?
Unfortunately my funding ran out quick when I ran across 2 Allen Z rifles. I would have definitely had those CO2 pistols if I had padded my slush fund a bit more. You fellas had some nice stuff, and it was certainly priced right.
By the way, I am the guy that sold you a Tau 200 at Findlay a while back. You would have noticed me today by the ridiculously long pony tail. I should have said hello, but was too busy doing maths in my head trying to afford everything that I saw.
I had a great time at the show and sold half of my two tables of vintage goodies. Quite a few went to repeat customers (thank you), and others to folks who mostly knew what these older guns are about. Seems to me that although the latest fashionable PCP's draw lots of interest, their owners are still interested in the simple enjoyable classic stuff as well.
Airguns are a lot like antique toys, the stuff the collectors want is what's rarely available in good condition, so scarcity = value. Often the reason something is scarce is it wasn't very good new, so it either broke quickly (schimmels, second model benji pump pistol) or was changed to work better, and the original poor quality piece is very rare.
The other reason that "like new" airguns of a certain model are rare, is if they were intended to be cheap entry level guns, designed and built to be used up, as the owner moved on to something better. A BSA Meteor is in that category.
The reason non collectors buy old toys (or airguns) is nostalgia ...they want what they loved (or wanted but never had) as a kid. that's where the inflated prices for old Sheridans comes from...they were a "rich kid's gun", so even a very worn, non functional specimen often has a $100 plus price tag. even at a garage sale.
Add in the fact that almost anyone can use their smart phone to get an accurate idea of the market value of almost anything, in seconds, and that this decade's wave of mass production PCP's pushed down the value of even the early cottage industry pcp's (that went for insane prices only twenty years ago)...yeah, break barrel springers are seeing a price correction. In my personal opinion, that type has been way overpriced until very recently.
I think shooters in general have to recognize that our numbers are dwindling fast, and that the market for old airguns, valued for anything other than function, is shrinking even faster.
A C02 gun would be better than MY $3000 Red Wolf (seen here):
Safe and Happy Shooting!
Ed, the Airgun TuneMeister
Jim, it was good seeing you and John. Chad and Dennis and the others put on a nice show. I moved several pieces and bought some more. Made some trades and looking forward to trying out my new toys. Thanks for everybody who stopped at my tables. I always enjoy seeing the airgun community.
Bob in WV
I had a table at the show too. I sold 3 rifles 2 of which were springers and I also bought 2 springers. So while the flow of springers may be being passed up by PCPs, there’s still a market for them. I remarked to a guy at another table that I was really surprised that his FWB 124 priced at around $350 didn’t sell. The only reason I didn’t buy it was because I already have 3 of them. So maybe the springer fans, that are probably dwindling, already have a decent collection of classic springers and are only looking for a few specific or unusual springers and you just didn’t have what they were after.
Hi! Jim from Pgh. and all who attended this wonderful show!! I am fairly new to airguns (my second year) and have become totally addicted to the sport of field target, my main interest is PCP's but I have had a' hankern' for a good quality spring powered rifle. I was one of the guys that was very interested in the Air Arms tx200 that you had on your table (at a VERY reasonable price) I might add!! but I ended up buying a FWB 300S from Mark Ohlburg instead as I just love the classic target rifle look and they are and I think many feel a true classic that will always have a following. I would have surely bought you rifle but I only had so much MAD money to play with so I made my decision which was not an easy one as there were SO many great rifles to choose from that it was almost absurd!! This is only the second year for the show and I think it has a great future!! Hope you come back next year and have better luck !! You guys had a great table of stuff!! Seems to me that Big Bore is all the rage in the air gun community at the present time but its not for everyone I don't think!! I live about twenty miles south of the Burg , and shoot three times a week with a group of guys from the Steubenville area. Hope to run into you soon, Jeff L. McMurray Pa.
That 350$ FWB 124 was a deal, and was still sitting there when I left at 1:00 PM. I already own one or would have had it. Both of those fellas set up back in that corner are good guys. Mike Reames and I think Don Raitzer was the other fellow.
There were some really good deals to be had. A friend's nephew bought a JM kitted Diana 48 with a cut barrel and custom muzzle weight, BSA scope mounted for a Hondo. Perfect squirrel rifle for him, all for a measly 100 bones! There was another 48 laying on a table for a 100 dollar bill, several Slavia 634 rifles and so on for low money.
The fella with all the Ripleys, Daystates, And US FT rifles managed to make a sale or two, I was afraid to ask the prices of anything on his tables. That guy had the GOOD STUFF.........
Chuck covered my shopping list above.
I'd like to chop and shroud a 48 in 177, mill the stock down super svelt and light. $100 gun sounds awesome!
Other than those well known models with dedicated following, all others are noise. Like the old girlfriends who's names you forgot.
The truth ain't pretty.
In the next 20 years some of the nicest items ever on the collectables list WILL be coming to market at a corrected price, pun very much intended.
Y'all have inspired me to look for the next gun show.
There you have it, the world according to John.
Some times things are not as they seem. I could care less for anything P C P sure some may look cool and special but other than that they do nothing for me, I am a springer guy thru and thru.
One thing though is I have a lot of springers pretty much all the ones I wanted , Iam at a point where I am finally good there are a few springers I could of bought but knowing I have something better or close just rules them out.
springers will never die its the mechanical feel and inner working that draws a certain type of person to them and nothing else can give you that/ sure theres alot of pcp guys it doesn't bother me one bit , I hope it doesn't bother you either, I would not even give the experience another thought