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Making and Heat Treating a Benjamin/Sheridan Valve Tool

Much of my email relates to the vintage Benjamin/Sheridan videos that have been posted at our youtube channel here;

And many of those emails relate to the valve tool that is necessary to remove the valve retaining nut and the valve itself. Quite a few people have asked about the dimensions of the valve tool, with the idea that they would make their own tool.

So that’s what this two part video is about. First, we take a look at the dimensions of the tool. Included at the end of this blog are my (childlike) drawings, which should be enough for a person to work from. Then we make the tool, taking it through the Logan lathe and Sherline mill to complete all machining operations.

Finally, we heat treat the tool, to both harden it so it won’t deform in use, and to make it tough so the brittleness caused by hardening doesn’t result in the tool breaking. We used our little heat treating kiln for the hardening process, first hardening by quenching after the part reached its critical temperature (1475 degrees F), and then tempering at a lower heat (475 degrees F) and cooling slowly.

Some might ask why not just temper at 475 degrees and be done with it? Well, you can’t get there from here! To get the proper combination of hard and tough, you first have to fully harden the tool. Then you can ‘soften’ it a bit to make it tough by tempering at the lower temperature.

I hope you enjoy the videos and appreciate the work that can go into making the valve tool. It puts into perspective the price to buy one. At $15+/- it seems pretty reasonable.

Feel free to leave comments here at the blog, or contact me at, or use the ‘contact us’ function her on the blog site. Here’s Part A;

And if you need help finding it, Part B;


Benjamin Sheridan Valve Tool P2

Benjamin Sheridan Valve Tool p1

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SHOT Show 2015 – Monday, Media Day at the Range

This year I’m putting the video up by day, i.e., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, instead of by manufacturer. I’ll list who’s in which in case you just have certain makes that you are interested in. So, there will be two, perhaps three more, videos to follow.

But as for Monday, it was Media Day at the Range and I had a blast checking out the Air Force Texan and the Crosman Armada and especially the new Bulldog 357. These big bores kick a bit, which was a surprise to me, and the bigger or heavier the bullet, the harder the kick. Still, not particularly unpleasant, just a kind of soft push to the shoulder, much more gentle than my Remington .270. And even the unmoderated Texan did not have a particularly loud report, while the Bulldog, with the shrouded barrel, was actually almost silent.

I’m also very excited about a new chronograph available from MagnetoSpeed. You can forget about lighting with this one, because it doesn’t work off of light sensors. Instead, it has magnetic sensors that track metallic materials, including non-ferrous metals like lead, passing over. The timing of the sensors at a precise distance allows for the technology to accurately estimate velocity. I hope to get one and try it out in my garage, with all the lights out. That would be way more handy than my current chrono, which goes berserk if there’s a fluorescent light nearby.

Finally, I included the Ready Range, which could be a handy airgun target system. With an appropriate backstop, and if kept dry, it could actually last for quite a while. Everything in our society is now based on convenience, and this is too. But at least it’s useful. I’d like to get a closer look at this product too.

Here’s Media Day at the Range;

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WHAT!!!? A Crosman 1377?

Yup, this is a teardown video of the venerable and ubiquitous Crosman 1377. This pistol has probably been held in the hands of more American airgunners than any other, at least in recent years. And the beauty of it is that it has tons of aftermarket customizing parts and modifications available. Just go to eBay and search for Crosman 1377 or 1322. There are pages and pages of stuff available for this platform. Or DUckDuckGo it. Another ton of ‘stuff’ for it. You can turn it into a smoother, more efficient pistol, or convert it to a carbine rifle, or bling it crazy.

So, we here at Northwest Airguns thought we would put together a few videos, NWA style, showing the basics and maybe some common modifications. First up, we thought we’d tear it down and show the basic mechanisms. Later, the fun stuff. Here’s the video;

Check back, because the plan is to clean and rebuild this thing, then try a flat top piston to see how that affects performance. Then a carbine barrel then an aftermarket transfer port, then who knows? There are so many things that you can do with this pistol, its hard to limit yourself. Get on with the mods!!!

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Well, your chance is coming:

Pacific Airgun Expo III
March 7 & 8, 2015
El Dorado Fairgrounds, Placerville, CA

As for myself, I enjoy going to airgun shows so much that I organized the first two Pacific Airgun Expo’s!!!

The initial Pacific Airgun Expo was held in 2011 in Roseville, CA. I started that show because there hadn’t been an airgun show nearby since the Reno show in 2001, and I got tired of waiting for someone else to put one on. As promoter for the Roseville show, I can testify that it was a lot of fun and a great success. Here’s a peek at how it went;

With the encouragement of a team of airgun enthusiasts, we moved the 2013 show further south to Fresno, CA. You may have seen it on the TV show American Airgunner;

The Fresno show was the best show ever, with field target demonstrations by the Norcal and S. Oregon clubs; a 10 meter competition by local JROTC cadets; demonstration of historic replica Austrian military air rifles by Martin Orro and Hank Elwood; airgun repair classes with Randy Bimrose; and one of the most extensive raffles you’ll see anywhere. Plus, of course, a ton of airguns, parts, optics, and accessories for sale, and airgunsmiths available to take airguns in for repair. The only disappointment was the attendance, which was down a bit from the Roseville show.

I still want to go to another airgun show, but due to health, time, and finances, am no longer in a position to organize it. That’s why I’m glad that Michael McKeown has stepped up to take it on. Michael is a long time airgunner and was a vendor at both previous Pacific Airgun Expo’s. With his airgunning background, computer and web skills, and experience in promoting other types of events, Michael is sure to bring new energy to the show.

With a new promoter, some things are bound to be different. But the core of the show, airgunners, vendors, and casual or just curious shooters coming together to buy, sell, trade, try out, learn about, get repaired, or just show off anything related to airguns, will carry on.

I’ll have a table at the show, and encourage all of you who made it to the 2011 and 2013 shows make it to this one as well. Reserve your tables early (wall tables go first), spread the word, and contact Michael to see if you can get involved. You can reach him via the website at or at (707) 337-9410.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all there. Don’t miss it!!!

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Airgun Review – Sheridan Model A Supergrade

Yup, thats right, we are reviewing a gun thats been out of production for over 60 years.  But we wanted to make our first review effort something a bit different.  And these guns still generate quite a bit of interest, though most air gunners have never held one.  And they are still considered to be the ‘gold standard’ for multi-pump pneumatic air rifles.  So, here it is;



Almost forgot, if you are interested in the classic Sheridans, another good resource is the site maintained by UJ Backus, here;



As for our long hiatus; health, money, and time have all been in short supply recently.  I’ve changed jobs, moved from my home of 35 years to another city, and made some other changes, often kicking and screaming, to how I’m living my life.  Airgun blogging and video making have had to take a back seat for a while.

But, hopefully, this is just the first of several new projects I’m working on, and hope to bring to the blog over the next couple of months.  Plus, the 2015 SHOT Show is just around the corner, and Northwest Airguns will be bringing our unique point of view to covering the event again.  Check back to see whats going on here, I’ll try to put new stuff up as quickly as possible.

And thanks to all those who have offered encouragement and support.

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Benjamin 312 Air Rifle Strip, Teardown & Dis-Assembly

If it seems like I’m putting up a lot of video about this particular airgun, well, I am.   I can’t help it, I love the old tootsie-roll forearm Benjamin pumpers.  And the later versions too.  It may be a childhood thing, bringing back memories of riding my bicycle with my air rifle across the handlebars, searching for pop bottles along the roads (yes, people used to just throw the empties out the car window!!), then redeeming them at a little country store to buy more pellets.  Roaming the hills around the (then) undeveloped east side of the Napa Valley, shooting at whatever seemed a suitable target.  Lightweight, easy to cock, reasonably accurate, I associate these Benjamins with  independence and freedom, especially during my summers off from school.

Fast forward to 2014; as an airgun accumulator (always got my eye open for one, but am not a collector), I hate to see these classic air rifles fatally damaged during a ham-fisted repair.  Even worse is a trip to the dump after grandpa or Uncle Bob dies and the heirs are clearing (throwing) out his stuff.  Grandchild to heir; ‘This old thing doesn’t even work’.  Heir;  ‘Awwww, just throw it out with the rest of his junk’.

So, maybe these videos will be of interest to someone who has come to posses a ‘soldered valve’ Benjamin that doesn’t hold air anymore or shoots weakly, and who wants to get it back in trim.  Maybe others, after seeing the detail involved, will decide that it is better to send the old Benji off to a professional airgunsmith for repair.   Either option is preferred to the scrap heap.

We have other video’s showing a ‘cut out’ of a Benjamin 312, and how the internals work.  But this video deals with the tear-down of a repairable Benjamin 312.  The same basic process also applies to the 310 and 317, and the later 340/342/347 series (although the safety is different).  Even a few early 392/397’s had a soldered valve, and are similar in dis-assembly.  Here’s the video;

I haven’t shown re-assembly, but it’s pretty much the reverse of dis-assembly.  Just make sure the inside of the tube is clean, and that the seating surfaces for the check valve and exhaust valve are polished smooth and flat.  The main tube and barrel are brass, and won’t rust;  you can clean it up in the bathtub if the rest of the household doesn’t mind, and it won’t hurt anything.   One last thing, I usually put the pump assembly in before the valve components;  it’s just easier for me to adjust the pump rod length that way, without any possible back pressure from the valve.

If you decide to rebuild your Benjamin, you will need to have ‘THE TOOL’, which is available from Bryan & Associates and other suppliers, to remove and re-install the valve retaining nut and valve body.  You will also need a rebuild kit with new seals and pump cup and other odds and ends.   I tend to use the Mac1 Airgun Shop kits, which I find to be of top quality, but Bryan & Associates, AB Airguns, Precision Pellet, Pyramid Air and maybe some others also offer kits that should enable a rebuilder to get ‘er done.

So, with that, I hope this video is informative and helpful.  Feel free to comment if you can  suggest better ways to do things or have questions about the process.


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SHOT Show 2014 – It’s a wrap!!

This will probably be my last blog post related to the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  So, to wrap it up, here are my parting thoughts, notes, and odds and ends, in no particular order;

  1. Note to self;  don’t go to Las Vegas and get sick!!!!  My nightmare come true, courtesy of some bad shrimp or water or something. My range of movement was limited to around 25 yards from the restrooms, Monday through mid-Thursday, and so I did not get nearly as much done as I had planned.  And even when I was able to break my tether for a few minutes, I just wasn’t at my best.  Sorry, I had big plans for killer reports, just wasn’t in the cards this time.
  1. Before the show, I had marked my show planner with 187 exhibitors that I wanted to see.  Of course, that is impossible even at full strength.  I did whittle that down to a serious 110, and ended up actually visiting about 20.
  1. This was the year of the Gas Ram, since all makers seemed to either come out with one or to improve on an existing version.  Alternately, this could have been the year of the Big Bore, since we are getting into 50 cal semi-autos now and almost every maker is building at least a .25 cal gun.  Or, it could be the year of the USB drive, as many of the catalogs were provided on USB drive instead of paper.  I like it, less to lug around.
  1. Jeff Foxworthy was supposed to be signing autographs at an exhibit, but cancelled due to illness.  I could relate.  I had a joke I wanted him to tell for me on camera, if he was willing;  “you just might be a redneck airgunner if you bought a pellet gun because it was advertised as a ‘good beer can shooter’, but you just can’t figure out how to load the cans in the gun”.
  1. Yup, Media Day at the Range was very cool.  Only one airgun vendor (Crosman), but plenty of other stuff to do, see, and yes, to shoot.  I hope to go for the full day next year.
  1. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with interviews, and brought my trusted lavalier microphone and audio system.  But I’ve never interviewed in a room with background noise of 100 + decibels.  So my equipment was pretty much useless.  Paul Capello let me borrow one of his ‘spare’ directional mics or I wouldn’t have had any audio to accompany my video.  Thanks Paul!!  And  I brought all my lightest video equipment,  thinking that I would get tired from hauling the heavier stuff around all day.  That may be so, but the quality is so much better with the good equipment that it would have been worth it, even if I had to hire a bearer.
  1. Odd, with some 65,000 people at the show, you still randomly run into people you know.  Or know of.  Let’s see, Michael McKeown, Tim McMurray, Rick Eustler, Ted from Madison, Joe Brancato, Eric Henderson, Terry Doe, and even Wayne LaPierre and Ted Nugent.  Others I had made arrangements to meet up with, like Randy Bimrose, Bob Sloan, and Jim Stanis.  And I gather there were many more airgun types around that I didn’t meet.  Maybe next year.
  1. So, who else didn’t I meet?  How about Yellow Forum owner Steve in CT, or Jim Chapman, or Tom Gaylord, all of whom were apparently wandering around the show.  I must have just missed them here and there.  I did get together with everyone I had scheduled, just not always as scheduled.  And while I met Ton Jones of Air Force, I never got a chance to take him aside and do a proper interview.  Same with Paul Capello.  Bummer.
  1. My biggest regrets?  Aside from spending most of the show in the restroom,  I regret that I didn’t get an interview with Simon Moore from BSA, who was said to be stationed at the GAMO exhibit.  I mean, really, does anybody know what the heck is going on at BSA?  For that matter, I regret that I didn’t spend any real time at GAMO, Webley, Walther, Pardini, or hardly any of the optics or target/range exhibitors.  But my biggest regret is that I didn’t get a  formal interview with the Air Force folks.  They are just great people and I would have loved to have them tell the story of the new Escape rifles directly.  Missed opportunity, it seems.
  1. If you notice in the videos, almost everybody at the Show has a Gamo tote bag.  Gamo was giving them away in 2012 when I was there, and was still giving them away in 2014, sometimes by the same people handing them out.  They must have gotten a heck of deal on these bags to be giving them away year after year.
  1. But swag just wasn’t as big of a deal to me this time.  I guess because I was working.  No time to wander the halls and find all the cool little doo-dads and such.  I did score a Diana hat, shirt, and pen, a lot of usb drives, some other pens.  And even some pens that had the usb drives built right into them.  But not too much airgunwise.   Oh well, less to pack home.
  1. I had two main goals for the Show.  First, I wanted to report to the airgunning public about what was being presented at the Show.  That was my job, and I did as much of that as I could.  Second, although the Show is not the story, I hoped to provide a glimpse of the SHOT Show experience for those who don’t attend.  I am very fortunate that I do, and yet am enough of a neophyte that I am still dazzled by the spectacle.  I’m hoping some feel for the Show came through in the videos and posts.
  1. That’s a wrap!!!  Now back to the real world of reviewing and fixing and posting videos about it.   Check back often, and thanks for stopping by!!