Traveling light

Monday, October 7, 2013
Total weight: 3 pounds, 14.9 ounces.

Total weight: 3 pounds, 14.9 ounces.

For me, one of the best ways of spending an afternoon – besides shooting airguns with a friend – is reading, or watching, a man-on-the-run thriller. I have a particular fondness for some of the older ones, like The 39 Steps by John Buchan which first appeared as a magazine serial in 1915. In it, an ordinary guy – Richard Hannay – finds himself thrust into international intrigue and on the run from sinister forces. Buchan was both the 15th Governor General of Canada and the author of dozens of books, both novels and non-fiction. Talk about an overachiever! The 39 Steps is available as a book and has been turned into a film several times. I recommend it.


Recently I had the opportunity to watch another man-on-the-run thriller that I had not seen in several years: Rogue Male. Based on the 1939 novel by Geoffrey Household, the 1976 film stars Peter O’Toole as Sir Robert Hunter, a British sportsman who stalks and takes aim at Adolph Hitler with a high-powered rifle. He misses and is captured and tortured by the Gestapo, who make up a fanciful story about why he is missing, throw him off a cliff, and leave him for dead. But Hunter doesn’t die, and he makes his way back to England only to find that the Gestapo is still after him. To escape his pursuers, he literally “takes to ground,” burrowing into a hillside in far out in the countryside.

As I watched Rogue Male, I couldn’t help but think, “Sir Robert really would have benefitted from having a small, light air rifle for collecting small game. And that’s where the trouble began.

I got to thinking about what would be the smallest, lightest air rifle that could be reasonably counted on for taking small game, at say, 20 yards. I’m not aware of any really featherweight springers. The venerable Benjamin 392 tips the scales at 5.5 pounds. The Crosman 2100 weighs 4.8 pounds. The Crosman 760 weighs only 2.75 pounds, but I would want something that breaks down easily to a smaller size for easy transport. The 1377 pistol with a steel breech and red dot weighs 3 lbs. 6 oz., and as I have written before — — can be challenging to shoot accurately to harvest small game (even though it is a lot of fun to shoot).

The Kip Karbine in its original configuration.

The Kip Karbine in its original configuration.

Then it came to me: what about the Kip Karbine? Some years ago, Kip at built for me a tiny air rifle based on the 1377 multi-stroke pneumatic pistol. It featured a pumping forearm from the backbacker rifle, a plastic detachable shoulder stock, a steel breech and a .22 barrel. When it arrived at El Rancho Elliott, I mounted a muzzle brake from a Daisy target rifle (mainly because I liked the look of it, and it protected the muzzle) and a diminutive Bug Buster scope. The whole rig weighed about five-and-a-half pounds, and I used it that way for some time.


I mounted a globe front sight.

I mounted a globe front sight.

But as I looked at the Kip Karbine and thought about Rogue Male, I wondered what I could do to reduce the weight even more. I took off the Bug Buster scope and mounts. They were surprisingly heavy – 1 lb. 5.8 ounces. The Daisy muzzle brake already had dovetails for mounting a front globe sight, so I clamped one to the rail with a post-and-bead insert mounted inside.

The rear peep sight clamps to the scope rail.

The rear peep sight clamps to the scope rail.

The rear sight was more of a problem. I couldn’t use any sort of peep sight that hung over the rear of the breech because a screw got in the way. A Williams peep sight looked like it would interfere with the operation of the bolt. But while rummaging through my parts drawers, I came upon a peep sight – I believe it is from Mendoza airguns – that looked like it would clamp to the dovetail on the breech. It worked! Even better, when I went outside, I found that it had sufficient vertical travel that it would sight in.

Here's what the finished Kip Karbine Ultralight looks like compared to a Sheridan (the same size as a Benjamin 392).

Here’s what the finished Kip Karbine Ultralight looks like compared to a Sheridan (the same size as a Benjamin 392).

The final question was: would it generate enough power for reliably taking small game at 20 yards? I began banging away at a tin can at 20 yards, increasing the number of pumps until it penetrated both sides of the can. At twelve pumps, the Crosman Premier pellets punched through with authority. I chronographed the gun – which I have no dubbed the “Kip Karbine Ultralight” – and found that it was launching 14.3 grain .22 caliber Crosman Premier pellets at 484 feet per second. That works out to 7.4 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, and ought to be enough to get the job done. I really like shooting it, and since there are no custom parts, it ought to be possible for readers of this blog to put together their own version of the Kip Karbine Ultralight if they so desire.

Kip Karbine Ultralight 007-001

For those who would like a much higher quality way of traveling light, I understand that FX airguns makes a sight attachment accessory which allows most FX’s (or anything with a standard threaded muzzle) to have a front sight rail:

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott


  1. Harry Chu says:

    Mr. Elliott,
    Your idea is good, did you try to internal mod the guns you mentioned, specially the 2289 backpacker with the after market (valve and piston flat top) from AirgunSmith. the result is amazing, when comparing the performance of my 2289, with the original barrel at 18 pumps, it goes trough both sides of the same can you used at 33yards, and the 2289 changed to 18″ barrel it can do the same thing out to 50yards. The 392 with Mac 1 mod using Kodik 21 grains pellet, it may out shoot the M48 side-lever.
    Harry Chu

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I specifically wanted to stay with stock parts to provide a concept that the readers of this blog might be able to build for themselves without resorting to custom parts. I was also going for the lightest weight, so that’s why I ruled out the 392.

  2. Ernest says:

    “A Williams peep sight looked like it would interfere with the operation of the bolt.”

    No, the Williams Notched Rear sights I have on my Crosman Custom Shop 22xx do not really interfere with a standard bolt handle’s operation much, Jock.

    How long is the barrel of the “Kip Karbine” and was it a problem putting the Daisy brake/sight mount on? Any shimming needed?

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      The barrel of the Kip Carbine is approximately 14 inches, and the Daisy sight mount just slid on and I tightened the set screws. It probably could be shimmed just a bit, but I didn’t bother.

  3. Steve says:

    I was given an old 1317 that wouldn’t hold air and had a barrel that was shot out by using bb’s. I did nothing with it for years. Then I discovered how these pampers were being modified.

    I replaced the barrel with a 14″ .22, re sealed it, had the valve flattened, added a flat piston, put on a steel breech, a red dot sight, crosman carbine stock, smoothed up the trigger, adjustable sear spring, silencer and a home made sling.

    This is my new favorite airgun and I own a couple of nice springer rifles. It is light, handy, accurate. It shoots one hole groups with crosman premiers 14.3gr domed at 50′. From sandbags of course. It will go through both sides of a large tin can (not aluminum) at 50′ and it is very quiet (neighbor friendly). It dumps 15 pumps but not 20. I don’t have a chronograph so I don’t know the velocity.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Sounds like a very nice gun. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Rocky Mountain Airgunner says:

    I’m not sure I understand what the “kip carbine” is. Is it the Crosman Apocalypse Bug Out Kit air rifle? Please let me know! I’d love to build one of these out!

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Rocky Mountain Airgunner,

      Sorry for the long delay in responding. The Kip Karbine is a 1377 with at 14 inch .22 barrel, Crosman steel breech, shoulder stock and backbacker forearm/pumping arm grip.

  5. fenix says:

    Sounds exactly like the Doomsday bug out rifle (2289 backpacker). Is there something different about it to warrant a different name?

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      This was built up for me by Kip at based on a 1377. The sights and the muzzle brake/sight mount are different, and it’s a .22.

      1. tom says:

        I’ve been looking for the muzzle brake/sight mount, for the Crosman barrel. Where can I find this product?

      2. Jock Elliott says:


        Try customer support at

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