Ever since I was a kid reading Boy’s Life magazine, I have been fascinated by stories of people who got themselves in a tough spot and how they survived the ordeal. As a result, it is my habit to check out www.survivalblog.com almost every day. It is a fascinating website with lots of information about survival and preparedness.
On August 6, 2010, I was checking out survivalblog when I ran across a post by “D.M.” on “Pellet Rifle Hunting.” In it, D.M. claims that, due to economic circumstances, he found himself living out of his pickup truck on public lands in the Southwest. During that period, he hunted extensively with a pellet rifle, and it “put at least 70% of the meat on the spit over my fire throughout that summer.”
Further, he adds that “Living in the field for a while really proved out my gear. Sadly and expensively, most fell to the way side, but the [pellet rifle] turned out to be an unlikely sleeper candidate for one of my personal top 10 gear awards!”
So what was his pellet rifle . . . a Weihrauch, an RWS, perhaps a PCP with a pump or maybe a Sheridan? Wrong! – none of the above. The air rifle that sustained D.M. in putting game on the spit was the humble Crosman 2100. The 2100 is a multi-stroke pneumatic (MSP) air rifle that shoots both BBs and .177 pellets and that can be purchased for well under $70.
D.M. has a number of reasons why he favors the 2100:
- Reliability. He figures he put 3,000 BBs through it at an average of 6 pumps per shot with no failures.
- Accuracy. He was easily able connect with game within 25 yards.
- Handling. Just a bit over 5 lbs fully loaded and scaled to be handled by adults.
- Critter “bagability.” Birds at 50 yards, rabbits at 30 yards, turkeys at 25 yards, raccoons at 10 yards.
- Variable power. Birds at 5-6 pumps; 10 pumps on bigger game.
- Stealth. A modest report means greater opportunity for a second shot if needed.
I was fascinated by what D.M. had to say. (You can read his entire report on the survivalblog here: http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/08/pellet_rifle_hunting_by_dm.html). So I called up the folks at Crosman and asked them to send me a 2100 for testing, which they did.
The 2100 stretches 39.75 inches long and weighs 4 lbs, 13 oz. The buttstock is made of brown plastic with a wood grain finish. At the extreme aft end is a hard black plastic butt plate, attached to the stock with a white spacer. There is a black cap on the pistol grip with a white space. If you slide the black plastic cap toward the buttstock, a hole is revealed into which you can pour BBS. More about this in just a bit.
Moving forward, you’ll find a black metal receiver, metal trigger guard, and metal trigger with pushbutton safety. Moving forward again, there is the brown plastic forearm which serves as a pumping arm for pumping up the MSP action. Ahead of that is the black plastic pivot housing and barrel clamp. Above that is the barrel which has a fiber optic sight on the muzzle end. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the rear sight mounted on the barrel just forward of the receiver.
Slide the grip cap at the end of the pistol grip toward the rear of the air rifle to load BBs through this hole into the BB reservoir.
This shows the "visual magazine" with the BB follower stem in the forward position.
The BB follower stem in the rear position for loading BBs into the visual magazine.
To load BBs into the 2100, slide the black plastic cap at the end of the pistol grip back and pour up to 200 BBs into the hole. Next, slide the “BB follower stem” on the left side of the receiver toward the buttstock and hook it in the slot. Next, point the barrel at the ground and twist and shake the air rifle to fill the “visual magazine” on the left side of the receiver. Now unhook the BB stem follower and allow it to move forward to hold the BBs in place. Next, pump the 2100 up to ten times, pull the bolt back (it will pick up a BB from the visual magazine on the magnetic tip of the bolt. Slide the bolt forward to its original position.
Now, you’re good to go. Squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at 1 lb. 5.7 oz. At about 4 lb. 14 oz., the shot goes down range. At ten pumps, the 2100 launches steel BBs at an average of about 650 fps. But the speed is highly variable. The high was 670 fps, and the low was 637 fps.
The breech closed.
The breech open, ready for loading a pellet.
Loading pellets is much simpler. Pump the 2100 up to ten times, pull the bolt back, roll a pellet laterally into the breech, and close the breech again. Note well: if you plan to shoot pellets, you can’t have any BBs in the visual magazine. Otherwise, the 2100 may try to load both a pellet and a BB. You can, however, have BBs in the buttstock reservoir and shoot pellets at the same time. I found that, at 10 pumps, the 2100 launches Crosman Premier 7.9 gr pellets at an average of 620 fps (high 627, low 616).
So how does the 2100 stack up as a survival tool? I found I could shoot half-inch groups (edge to edge) at 13 yards with Crosman Premier 7.9 pellets, and they would penetrate one and sometimes both sides of a baked beans can at that distance. Groups with BBs were problematic, possibly because of the variation in speed, but the BBs always penetrated both sides of the can at 13 yards. Still, I think the BBs could be effective for ambushing game at close range at places where they come to feed or drink.
The clack-clack-clack sound the gun makes while pumping is non-stealthy and could frighten off game, but gluing a piece of felt inside the pump arm might solve that problem. Nevertheless, the pumping effort was easy.
The iron sights that come with the 2100 work well enough, particularly with the fiber-optic front sight, but older folks (like me) will want some sort of scope. Still, I liked the light weight of the “naked” 2100, and in that form, it makes a dandy plinking rifle.
So, could the Crosman 2100 be used as a small game getter in hard times? I certainly think so. If D.M.’s comments about the reliability of the 2100 are correct, and when you factor in its very modest cost, it makes sense to have a 2100 tucked away, just in case.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott