A Brief History of the Sheridan Air Rifle

By Andrew Leung


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Almost everyone must have said the words: "boy, I can build it better than this!" This was a response typical of people who after discovering that mass-produced products did not live up to the expectation you have after spending your hard earned money on. Well, this was pretty much how Sheridan came to be. Ed Wackerhagen, dissatisfied with a pellet gun used by his son Philip set out to build one of the finest airguns in history. The design was to incorporate the philosophy: "performance is the some total of many small functions whos combined result must spell'Bulls-eye'." This gun was to fill the gap between the "BB" gun and the .22. It was to be called the Super Grade, a SHERIDAN Super Grade (named after Civil War's General Philip Sheridan, for which his son Philip was named after). A partnership with I.R. "Bob" Kraus and with a successful prototype in mid-1944, and production beginning in March 1947, the Model A Super Grade was born.

Part 1: the Rifles

Model A (1947-1953) Total Production: 2130 Velocity: Variable to 700 fps With a large cast and machined aluminum reciever, bronzed barrel and pump tube, walnut stock with Monte Carlo cheek-piece, ball-type valve mechanism, adjustable trigger, and peep sight, you could get one for $56.50. The price (at that time) gave the gun its slow sales.

Model B (1948-1951) Total Production: 1050 Velocity: Variable to 700 fps Using the same gun, but without the cheek-piece, a revision of soldered ventilated rib type barrel, less expensive paint finish and various slight changes it was to be a cheaper alternative to the slow selling Model A. Dubbed "Sporter" the price was $35 when introduced, $42.50 when production stopped.

Model C (1949-1976, 1976-1992, 1992-present) Velocity: to 700 fps Even less expensive construction and "Manchilcher" styling, finally Sheridan became profitable. Though "cheap" when compared to the Super and Sporter Grade, it still used walnut stocks, aluminum receiver, bronze barrel and pump tube, but a different valve mechanism. Patterned after the Benjamins, it was $19.95 when introduced. It was dubbed the "Streaks" with the Silver Streak being first with its nickle finish, followed by Blue Streak a few months after. This is the gun when people think of Sheridan, their longest production gun ever. There are three time lines to the Model C: first being owned exclusively by Sheridan, then Benjamin acquired it, and finally Crosman. Though being acquired by Benjamin and then Crosman, the Streaks still remains (somewhat) intact today. Early Streaks incorporated a shotgun styled "Hold-down" safety (till 1963), then the "Rocker" safety survived till 1992 with the "Push-pull" safety used today. The Streaks which had the "Rocker" safety is by far the most common of the Sheridan model. Though in terms of collecting, the earlier "Hold-down" is now becoming more scarce, if you want one in good condition.

Model F (1975-1976, 1976-1992, 1992-present) Velocity: 515 fps The first CO2 gun made by Sheridan. Similar to the Model C in design , it used 12-12.5g CO2 "powerlets". Available in both nickle and blue finish, the earlier production units had a large solid aluminum rod which filled the action tube with a ligher small diameter steel rod following a few months after and is still used today. This was the only model which a small quantity were furnished with maple or ash stocks made from an outside supplier. It was dropped quickly due to poor quality control.

 

Sources:

  1. US Airgun magazine: The Sheridan Story by Ted Osborn, Vol III #2

  2. 45 years of Sheridan Airguns by Ted Osborn

  3. Know Your Sheridan Rifles and Pistol by Ronald E. Elbe

  4. Airgun Digest 2nd edition by Jess I. Galan

  5. Shooter's Bible (various editions)

  6. Gun Digest (various editons)

  7. Guns Illustrated (various editions)

  8. Guns: Sheridan CO2 Blue Steak by J.I. Galan, Feb, 1977

 

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