Minuteman Air Rifle

Minuteman Air Rifle – a piece of history – and more on Air Guns. 

The Minuteman, short, sturdy, lightweight, photos of it here are of my air rifle, I bought used, several years ago. Solid feel rifled barrel and barrel to receiver tube interface. The bluing has become brown with age, so often seen on older firearms.

Air Rifle Minuteman - 4

The breech O-Ring needs replaced with a proper one, I have a make-shift one in place now.

Air Rifle Minuteman - 6

The air rifle fires well, but I figured I’d have it restored somewhat, and I’ll look around for a place willing to take on unusual projects and not merely drop in replacement parts. All the parts work, but after years, the spring weakens, the piston dries out, and I’m sure it could use some TLC.

My Minuteman is .22 Caliber, but as a youth a friend had the .177 version. He would reliably harvest rabbits with it, never getting more than a few rabbits at a time, and take them home to eat. Rabbits that he shot he’d hang by their rear legs on his belt loops, leaving his pants somewhat bloody.

Shot placement is critical, he’d take the rabbits on one shot, but I shot two rats, one with the Minuteman another with a considerably more powerful RWS Air Rifle, and they both got away, more I think like an Archery Wound bleed-out than from a clean kill.

Mentioned in a previous comment on Air Guns was the methods used to supply the Air or CO2 as a propellant. These are:

• CO2
• Pneumatic
•• Multi-Pump
•• Single Pump
•• Pre-Charged Pneumatic
• Spring Driven Piston compressing propellant air
• Gas Spring (durable sack permanently filled with air functions like a spring)

The Minuteman Air Rifle uses a Spring Driven Piston used to compress the propellant air. Now, there’s nothing unusual about that, Daisy Air Guns; such as the Red Ryder used in “A Christmas Story” about the trials and tribulations of a child trying to get a BB Gun for Christmas; used that principles for many decades at that time. The thing that was unusual was the method of cocking and loading the air rifle, and the sturdiness with which it was made.

Air Rifles of the Spring or Gas Spring types use:

• Break Barrel to cock and load
• Under Lever
• Side Lever
And Including Daisys
• Lever Action
• Pump Action

This Minuteman Air Rifle used Barrel Cocking to compress and latch the spring and permit loading. In my youth, I had never seen that before:

Air Rifle Minuteman - 7

• Just pull down on the barrel, it unlocks, pull down more and it swings through a range, using the barrel as a lever to compress the spring, and once at the end of its travel, the spring latches back and the barrel can be returned nearly all the way, a pellet placed in the barrel, and the barrel is finally locked in it’s closed position. The gun is aimed, the trigger pulled, the piston is released, the spring drives forward, pushing a simple piston in front of it, compressing the air and forcing the pellet out of the barrel.

One thing the Minuteman doesn’t have that most Modern Spring Air Rifles do is an automatic safety. On these air guns the automatic safety serves a vital purpose, namely from preventing the trigger from being accidentally pulled, thereby releasing the spring, and shoving the barrel rapidly closed, one would not want to be struck by the barrel, or when loading it, when a pellet is being inserted, fingers may be pinched if the barrel slams shut. But this was in the late 1960’s early 70’s, it was assumed you weren’t supposed to do stupid things.

Spring Air Guns must not be fired with no pellet, as the piston would slam against the end of its travel absent the cushioning effect of air being compressed. And reasonable quality pellets should be used, one of my rifles the pellet was dropping into the chamber, a clear sign that the pellet was too loose and I could hear the piston slam upon firing, so I had to stop using the rifle until I got better pellets. And the air that gets compressed, it heats, to such a significant degree that an improper lubricant can ignite, causing a .22 Rimfire level report when the gun is fired, greatly increased velocities, and possible damage to internal components, destruction of the gun, or injury.

About the air heating when compressed, Daisy at one time made an Air Rifle that used “Caseless .22 Ammunition”, and the solid fuel on each bullet was ignited by air being compressed by a Spring Driven Piston.

Daisy VL rifle

In the video linked above, the rifle is a Underlever, and if you notice each time he cocks it, the safety automatically is applied. That’s important here because his fingers in the loading area would be crushed by the piston if the trigger was pulled.

• Spring Air Guns, once cocked, and no pellet introduced to fire, can be uncocked, even the ones I own with the automatic safety, including Barrel, Side Lever, Under Lever, or Daisy Lever and Pump Actions (pump action is the only one of this group I don’t have).

• • The component used to cock it needs pulled fully to the same position required to cock it, hold the component firmly, hold the gun firmly, then pull the trigger.

• • The cocking component will then be holding the spring, then gently return the cocking component to the uncocked position while holding the trigger pulled. If an automatic safety is present, you need to gently pull the cocking component to the full position, which activates the automatic safety, then slightly ease up on the cocking component until just away from the automatic safety position, then push the safety to fire and pull the trigger, etc., as described herein.

Spring Piston Air Guns should not be carried for extended periods cocked, or stored cocked, as the spring more quickly loses it’s strength that way. I believe the Gas Spring (durable sack permanently filled with air functions like a spring), can be carried cocked for extended periods, I would not suggest storing it that way.

That said, I think (of Air Guns) they are the best Survival Weapon. Sure, you won’t be shooting Kodiak Bear with it, or Wolves, but it likely is the most Trustworthy of the various choices, no CO2 needed, or pumps, and no seals that could instantly fail, rendering it unusable. There are seals, such as an O-Ring on the Breech of a Barrel cocking, but it’s well protected and likely could be temporarily replaced by natural material fashioned into a seal. Other style spring piston air guns have different seals, but overall, since the charge is not stored, but propellant air generated upon firing, that I tend to believe some utility could be had with slightly compromised seals.

Next, never owning one, but a childhood friend did, I’m going to write on the Crosman M1 Styled BB gun, a Spring Piston Design with an unusual concept. One of the following is an Actual M1 Carbine, the other a Crosman BB gun:

Author: Dr-Artaud

A Doctor that is not a Doctor, but named after a character in the movie "No Such Thing", as is the Avatar.

2 thoughts on “Minuteman Air Rifle”

  1. Váš the minuthemann je Slavia 622 vyrobená v Československu a vycházela z modelu Slavia 618 lišící se ráži. 177. Produkce tohoto modelu Zbrojovkou Uherský Brod, dnes Zbrojovka CZ, činila přes 1,6 milionů ks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kamil Friedrich comment Translated:

      “Your the minuthemann is Slavia 622 made in Czechoslovakia and based on Slavia 618 model with different calibre. 177. Production of this model by Zbrojovka Uherský Brod, now Zbrojovka CZ, was over 1.6 million pieces.”

      My comment in English

      Thank you Kamil for the input, Czechoslovakian Made makes it especially appealing to me as my fathers parents came from there and I am otherwise impressed with Czechoslovakian designs.

      Můj komentář v československém jazyce přes překladač

      Děkuji Kamil za příspěvek, Czechoslovakian Made je pro mě obzvlášť atraktivní, protože odtud pocházeli rodiče mého otce a jinak mi československé vzory imponují.


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