Wednesday, May 5, 2010

CO2 and the QB-78

Before I dive into the review, I would like to offer an explanation as to how this particular rifle ended up in my care.

Some time ago I decided to move from collector and shooter to shooter only in air gun ownership.

This meant eliminating numerous pistols and rifles along with both a floor and wall rack. I retained my gun safe and one floor rack.

When the dust settled I found to my dismay that I had over sold and had an empty spot!

I decided to turn to the forums to solicit help in filling the spot. I offered an explanation of my situation and needs along with a list of current and past rifles and then waded through the replies.

Expectedly, many guys just listed their favorite. However, the two relevant and recurring suggestions were an older 10-meter target rifle or a tuned QB-78. The QB-78 intrigued me the most.

How could a sub $80 rifle have such a following?

When I asked questions about the QB-78, they suggested I spend some time on the Chinese forum, which was not written in Chinese as I had long suspected.

It seems the QB-78 is a copy of the now defunct Crosman 160 & 167. Crosman still offers a 1760 and 2260 that I will assume are the modern day replacements in their line up.

Similar in size and weight to the Crosman Discovery, the QB-78 is svelte rifle, which was one of the attractions for me. I also felt I would give CO2 another chance due to its zero effort factor and my ever increasing age. I have not been an advocate ever since my experiences with leaky CO2 pistols in the 70’s.

No pumping or spring compressing needed, I justify the CO2 cost by the reduction of effort required. The 12-gram cartridges are also attractive in my book. More readily available then the 88 gram and very affordable, they are a simple power source.

I could achieve a similar result by adding dive tank for my PCP’s, but for now this seems a cost effect alternative. Be sure to calculate the cost per cartridge when you buy, for example the 25 count at PA is much more ecominical then a 15-count box.

You can save even more by ordering a 100 bulk.

Thoughts on Tuning – perhaps when I retire my stance will change, but for now I feel most things are best lefts to the experts.

Going back to the mid 1960’s the start of every summer was marked by a visit to the back porch with my old man and his hair clippers in tow. While our town boasted two Barbershops, he felt a summer buzz cut was too easy to waste money on.

I would sit nervously inhaling the 3 and 1 oil the clippers were dripping with. Never a question of if, but when the nick would come to an ear or the back of the neck. With the unfiltered Camel in the corner of his mouth a “sorry about that son”, would follow as the blood slowly dripped.

Some things are best left to the pros.

Since the rifle was affordable to start, getting it tuned still keeps it well within reach. After a little research, I went with a Mike Melick QB-78.

When the rifle arrived I was pleasantly surprised that he had written a short note and signed the box along with including two supplemental manuals. I have to say the disassembly instructions he supplied are the most thorough I have ever encountered.

The rifle is mostly all wood and steel. The stock is nicely finished, although a slightly odd dark reddish color. The wood species is unknown to me, but the grain is very nice -almost highly figured. The only flaw is a substantial patch containing wood filler. While this would be unacceptable at a higher price point, it is forgiven at this cost.

Overall fit and finish is good.

Loading the CO2 is painless, open the bolt and unscrew the cap. You can use either one or two cartridges to charge the rifle. If one is used, you simply insert a spent cartridge in first. I use the obligatory Pellgun oil.

I pick a Leapers 3x9x40 scope that seems ideal based on cost and size for the rifle.

My first shot is very close horizontally, but hits a few inches high. I fire a second without adjustment and it over laps the original. Intrigued, another shot also connects with the first two. Now I cannot stop and two more disappear in the hole started by 1-3. What I find impressive is I am shooting off my knee. No rest, no locked field target position.

I skip the rest of the sighting in process and move to the Chrony, excited by the potential of the rifle. The factory claims 600 fps in .177. Mike states after his tune to expect 700 fps, however this particular rifle was claimed to have hit 800 fps. I grab CPL’s as a gauge, simply because I have tested them in so many rifles I can easily make a mental comparison.

They average 756 fps in my 63-degree basement. That is about 10ft lbs, not bad at all. I suspect in a warmer environment with a hobby pellet the 800 fps mark would be readily attainably.

Round lead balls are also well suited to the rifle. Awkward in a barrel break with a tight breech, they seem made to load in this bolt action. No need to look, you just drop one in. Accuracy is also good.

The trigger clearly has been worked on and is very light. I keep telling myself I need a trigger pull gauge, but this one is very light. Maybe too light, because if I skip the “setting the safety step” and smartly smack the bolt home the rifle fires. I can duplicate this at will. I will have to see what Mike thinks will correct this. The trigger has three separate setscrews. I will use the safety until I can sort this out.

After numerous pellets and hours with the rifle, I have to admit I am more impressed then I felt would have been possible. I have tried dozens and dozen of rifle over the years, and this one turned out to be real sleeper. Power for pests, accuracy for targets, all with almost zero physical effort and minimal cost – a nice addition to any arsenal.


  1. Volvo,

    As always, I both enjoy and find myself envious at your comfortable writing style.


  2. Volvo,

    Nice review, and for me particularly informative, since I'd never done any homework on the QB-78. How loud is it? Wait - probably a bad question. How about this - is it noticeably or significantly louder than a 1077?

    I didn't realize you were starting a real blog here, but I'm always tickled by your sense of humor and way with words. Should I expect to add this to my daily read?

    - Orin

  3. Nice article, Volvo. I hope you can post regularly :)

    Love the QB's, I should really play with mine more. The .22's are outstanding, by the way.

    Hey, Orin: the QB-78 family guns are not too awfully loud. More so than my anemic Crosman 1077, but less loud than CO2 pistols (less wasted gas). Much quieter than 8 pumps in a Sheridan Blue/Silver Streak or Benji 392. :)

  4. That's a classic: formatting, rifle and article.

  5. Volvo,

    I love the format and content of your blog. i will be checking in nearly daily. Good review of the QB. never heard of it until this morning.

    DSW (kidagain)

  6. Derrick,

    Thanks for the info on the trigger adjustments via e-mail. The QB-78 is on loan to my nephew who owns a landscaping business and uses it for pest control. I think I played with it enough to get it safe, but will double check the next time I see him.

    As Joel states they are not too loud, and mine is much quieter as Mike installed a permanent full length shroud on it.
    This is his site:

    I am going to shoot for 3 new posts a week, but just like with squirrels I may miss on occasion.
    : )

  7. Volvo,

    Have I entered the twilight zone? Maybe some sort of flashback.

    You never cease to amaze. Your own blog. Nice surprise.

    I've noticed that the QB-78 seems to have a cult following which usually merits a closer look. You drank the kool-aid. The gun intrigued me but in my climate I've convinced myself that CO2 is too limiting.


  8. Kevin,
    Yes, you are correct that CO2 does present some challenges and cold weather use is one of them. A PCP is infinitely more versatile. I was just surprised to get FWB 124 power and accuracy out of a rifle that cost less than a mid price scope, and that included a tune and shroud.

  9. Volvo,

    Great post. You definitely have a lot to offer the airgunning community. I hope to see more of these!



  10. Volvo,

    Nice blog! I guess I will have to add it to my daily list!


  11. Bobby and AR,

    Thanks. I’ll try and keep it interesting. I’ve had the Blog site since January, and now is as good a time as any to get it going.

  12. I have a QB78 from Mac1. Great rifle. Makes me look good. So I have another blog to read! Keep it going.

  13. It looks like Mike may no longer carry the QB-78, but check with him to be sure?
    It is available here as of this posting:
    As noted by Ton above, Mac 1 has supplied tuned QB-78 rifles in the past:
    (I am pretty sure he was also instrumental in the actual development of the gun)

  14. The QB78 is the small block chevy of air rifles. There are so many things you can do to them. The really nice thing is that they have gotten better and better quality wise over the years. My latest one will shoot one hole groups all day at at 20 yards with JSB 10.2gr .177 pellets. The trigger is a single stage but with some stoning of the contact points and moly grease it can be VERY good.