Gun Review: Crosman 1377 ‘American Classic’ Air Gun

The Crosman 1377 / PC77 for this review was provided by Pyramyd Air.

Crosman’s 1377 ‘American Classic’ lives up to its name. This air gun really is a classic and it probably defines the upper limit of how much shooting fun you can have for $140. I shot this one until my hands were raw and covered with lead residue, and most of the few ‘issues’ I could discover were so tiny they could be cured with a scrap of emery paper and a sliver of plastic shim. The gun itself is only $55; the balance of this frugal but worthwhile investment provides you a cherry-picked and chrony-tested gun from Pyramyd Air, a shoulder stock and enough pellets to last you for years of casual weekend shooting . . .

History: Then

The Crosman 1377 is, as its name suggests, a .177 caliber airgun. It’s a single shot, multiple-pump pneumatic with a hand-pumped piston beneath the barrel. They have fallen from the cutting edge of airgun technology, but back before the days of 1,000 fps spring-piston airguns, multi-pump pneumatics like the Daisy 880 Powerline, Crosman 760 Pumpmaster and various Benjamin rifles absolutely ruled the back pages of Boys Life magazine.

I had a Daisy 880 as a boy, and all my friends had Crosman 760s, and we were each convinced that ours was the best. It was, in retrospect, our seventh-grade version of the AK vs. AR fanboy feud. None of us knew that the 1377, a mere air pistol, could launch its pellets just as fast as the 760, and nearly as fast as a pumped-up 880. If we had, we all would have wanted them.

The 1377 was introduced in 1977 (which may have contributed to its nomenclature) in a very slightly different configuration. A college buddy had one of the early models back in the mid-1980s, and we spent hours covertly sniping at rats and birds and tin cans on the hillside behind our fraternity house. Brother Takeshita (no relation to the former Japanese prime minister) had an early 1377 with tip-off .22 scope mounts dovetailed into the top of the breech, a sliding chamber cover, and a cocking piece at the rear of the receiver.

It had unfortunately been turned into a air-powered musket by years of shooting steel BBs through its once-rifled barrel, and landing a hit on a soup can past fifteen or twenty feet was purely a game of chance. I inherited it when Brother Takeshita graduated, and I passed it down to an underclassman in turn. Maybe that old 1377 is still randomly spitting BBs out the back windows of an Ohio fraternity house, but I doubt it. And I digress.

History: Now

Pyramyd Airgun Mall provided us with a modern-production 1377 pistol, a removable shoulder stock, three tins of pellets and a tiny tube of airgun lube/seal protectant. Pyramyd also checked out the gun (a modestly-priced option with any Pyramyd purchase) and provided a signed chronograph printout verifying that this 1377 does indeed produce the advertised 600 fps with lightweight 7.1 grain .177 pellets.

600 fps might taste like small beer compared to the 1100+fps produced by the most powerful spring-piston air rifles (it’s barely 1/4 the energy of a hot modern springer) but it ranks the 1377 comfortably among decent pump-pneumatic air rifles, and one of the fastest air pistols ever sold. Remember that black-powder .44-40 loads barely crack 700 fps, and you’ll see that 600 fps is pretty impressive ROI for spending twenty or thirty seconds pumping the lever under the barrel.

Pneumatics like the 1377 don’t have as much horsepower as spring-piston air guns, but they’re actually better in some other ways. They have no perceptible recoil impulse, they’re quieter, they can be astonishingly accurate, and they don’t instantly destroy rifle scopes like springers do.

This photo shows all of the modern 1377’s operating controls. The brass bolt opens the breech to insert a single pellet, and it also cocks the release valve for firing. This procedure is much improved from the first 1377s, which required two different motions on two different controls to load and cock the gun.

The crossbolt safety behind the trigger is about the only mechanical firearm safety that I actually use, because it feels good to have an extra layer of precaution against accidentally tripping the trigger while I’m pumping up the gun inside my garage. It’s impossible to have absolute muzzle safety while shooting indoors, where a stray pellet would (at best) put a bothersome hole or dent in something I don’t want to throw away yet.

Pyramyd recommends storing the 1377 (and most multi-stroke pneumatic airguns) uncocked, with one pump in the pressure chamber. Having a puff of mildly-pressurized air in the gun keeps the seals tight, and keeps dust and moisture from contaminating the pressure chamber and valve. I didn’t know this until recently, but I’ve been storing the 1377 in a very clean and dehumidified gun safe. I don’t particularly care if some burglar nicks a $60 airgun (I’m heavily insured, and he’d find this funky-looking airgun useless as a crime tool anyway) but all firearms and airguns must be secured out of the reach of children and their friends.

Sights

Image: Chris Dumm

The 1377 has a post front sight and a reversible aperture and notch rear which is adjustable for both elevation and windage. The notch rear is properly sized for aiming at arms’ length as a pistol, and the aperture is sized for use with the shoulder stock attached. I expected to be completely off the paper when I switched from notch to aperture, but both of them hit–amazingly–to the same point of impact when they were fully lowered in the sight base. By lucky coincidence, they were both perfectly regulated for a six o’clock hold on a one-inch target circle at eight yards, which happened to be exactly my target setup.

The rear aperture is small enough to be completely useless in pistol configuration, but the notch rear provided surprisingly good (for me) accuracy as both a pistol and a rifle. It was well within ‘minute of Norway rat’ accuracy, probably out to a good 25 yards.

The 1377 has a sighting radius of just over 12.5 inches, which is only about two inches shorter than the sight radius of an AK-47. Nobody has ever criticized AKs for having overly precise iron sights, but since you’ll never shoot an air pistol at 100 yards I think the Crosman 1377 does pretty well in the sighting department.

You’ll probably get amazing accuracy from it (keep reading) but our test gun’s sights were a slightly loose fit on the top of the breech. There are no click adjustments, and tweaking the sights just the right amount isn’t terribly easy or repeatable. Tightening the windage screw would also rotate the sights slightly clockwise, which shifted the point of impact slightly to the left. I compensated for this by always twisting the rear sights gently clockwise before firing, so they would always be in the same position even though slightly crooked. This is a trick I learned from an old Korean re-import M1 Garand with a worn-out rear sight, and it works.

Frustratingly, the 1377’s rear sighs require two different screwdrivers to adjust them. A standard Leatherman slotted screwdriver will suffice for windage adjustments, but you’ll need a tiny (preferably magnetized) Phillips head for any elevation adjustments. Be very careful not to lose that tiny elevation adjustment screw when you switch the notch sights to aperture.

Trigger

The 1377’s unadorned steel trigger has a weight of 4.5 pounds. This may seem a bit light for a pistol and slightly heavy for a rifle, but the trigger on our test gun was simply outstanding. It broke cleanly and consistently, with no creep and almost no overtravel, and feels like the best hunting-rifle trigger you’ve ever shot.

Accuracy

I knew that accuracy testing for this gun was going to require a lot of shooting, because there are so many variables to play with. Which pellets would be the most accurate? How many pumps produced the best accuracy? Which sights would be the most precise and usable? I tested almost every combination of pellet, power, stocks and sighting equipment. In the interest of finishing this test in my lifetime, I only tested for accuracy at 5, 8 and 10 pumps, instead of testing every pump from 1 to 10.

The photo at the top of the article only gives a hint of the accuracy the 1377 can deliver. It shows the first handful of targets I shot with this unfamiliar gun, firing it offhand in pistol configuration with notch sights at 8 yards. I was hitting high, before adopting a six o’clock hold, and a bit left of POA because I hadn’t adjusted the sights yet. The gun was not quite ‘unfired’ since Pyramyd had tested it, but it certainly wasn’t broken in.

So I got to work. Luckily the ammo was cheap and the shooting range was open 24/7, so I got to shoot this gun a lot to find the answers. My first pistol groups averaged exactly 1.0″ at 8 yards. This would be exceptional accuracy from almost any cartridge handgun, but things tightened up even further when I attached the shoulder stock.

This photo shows three consecutive three-shot groups, fired offhand (supported against a doorframe) with the shoulder stock and aperture sights at eight yards. Each was fired with a different style or weight of pellet, and on the outer two targets I didn’t even pump the gun the same number of strokes for each shot. These groups weren’t outliers, although this was one of the smallest groups from the 7.9 grain hollowpoints.

Accuracy was outstanding, and firmly believe that the limiting factor was my own eyesight. I may never know, since the 1377 lacks any organic means of attaching a scope. Clamp-on .22 scope bases (which attach to the barrel) are a simple $15 aftermarket, but adding a worthwhile scope to a 1377 will more than double its price. If you’re willing to spend $150 for scoped air-rifle accuracy, it’s probably smarter to buy a scoped air rifle with a dedicated airgun scope.

Here are the accuracy details:

  • Adding the pistol grip cut my average group size from 1.0″ down to 0.65″ while still using the notch rear sight.
  • This 1377 seems happiest with 8 pumps instead of 5 or 10, but the gain is almost insignificant. Perhaps it’s just the shooter who’s more accurate, for not having to pump the gun two extra times between shots.
  • In two of my smallest groups, I accidentally pumped the gun once to 9 pumps and once to 10 pumps, instead of 8. The gun obviously didn’t care.
  • Switching from the notch rear sight to the aperture cut my group sizes in half again with the most accurate pellets.
  • The most accurate pellets were the Kodiak Match pellets, which advertise 10.65 grains but which I weighed out at 10.7 grains. At 8 yards with 8 pumps, they averaged 0.275″.
  • Crosman’s nominally 10.5 grain Super Magnums also measured 10.7 grains on my powder measure, and they were only marginally less accurate than the Kodiak Match pellets. At 8 yards with 8 pumps, the Super Magnums averaged 0.35″.
  • Lightweight Crosman hollowpoint pellets weighed 7.9 grains, and were the least accurate of the three. At 8 yards with 8 pumps they averaged 0.46″, although they did give me one freakish and unrepeatable 0.00″ one-hole group.
  • I found myself wishing that the rear aperture was just slightly larger. It was small enough to start to bring the front sight into pinhole focus, but this also really dims your view of the target. I was shooting in the marginal light of my garage, so I had to leave a tactical flashlight downrange illuminating the target to make up for this.

If you’re a skilled shooter with acute eyesight, you can probably shoot better than *I* can, but I think only a seasoned competitor could shoot better than this airgun can.

Ergonomics

The 1377 has excellent shooting ergonomics: the trigger is short and crisp, the grips and stock are both comfortable enough, and the gun is muzzle-heavy enough to hang firmly on target without being a boat anchor. As a pistol it weighs 30.5 ounces, and with the shoulder stock attached it weighs no more than a loaded all-steel Government Model 1911. Alle ist anz gut, so far.

But this is a multi-stroke pneumatic, and you’ll spend more time pumping it than you will aiming and working the trigger. This pumping requires moderate effort, which isn’t made any easier by the shape of the fore-end/pump lever. You can’t wrap your fingers around it (or you’ll crunch them) and you don’t want to wrap them around the barrel for added leverage, because you can see the barrel flex slightly if you do and this can’t be good for accuracy.

Your non-pumping hand has to do a lot of work holding the gun in place, and the shape of the pistol grip has some sharp edges that start to leave a mark after thirty to fifty rounds. After about 100 rounds it starts to become a minor welt. These will (mostly) disappear after a minor fluff and buff with fine-grit emery cloth.

The buttstock also has a tiny bit of up-down wiggle room, which is mildly annoying but has no effect on function or accuracy. A scrap of folded tape or paper inside the frame cavity of the buttstock is an effective field repair for this.

Hunting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVgmQov_fGQ

Check out the homemade shoulder stock on this kid’s 1377. Talk about Bubba gunsmithing. He should have coughed up $30 for the real thing, but either way the 1377’s accuracy and power open up all kinds of possibilities for pest control and small-game hunting. With the 7.1 grain pellet that produces a factory-confirmed 600 fps, the 1377 will dump 6 lb-ft. at the muzzle and 5 lb-ft. out to 10 yards. At 20 yards it’s still delivering 4 lb-ft., and past that you probably won’t be able to score a perfect hit on anything small enough to hunt with any air pistol. Heavier pellets, like the 10.7 grain Kodiak Match slugs, start with 5 lb-ft. but keep that energy out to 15 yards.

Bob Beeman opined years ago that it takes 2 lb-ft. of energy to cleanly kill a mouse or sparrow, 3 lb-ft. to take a squirrel, starling or pigeon, and 5 lb-ft. to kill a cottontail. With the accuracy to literally drive thumbtacks out to 10 yards, the Crosman 1377 has enough grunt to turn Bugs Bunny into hasenpfeffer out to nearly 50 feet if you can make a perfect shot. (This assumes that you’ve got plenty of black pepper and that Bugs is a cottontail: jackrabbits need 8 lb-ft., which this gun cannot produce at all.)

This also assumes that it’s legal in your jurisdiction. Some states make a distinction between air rifles and air pistols when it comes to hunting regulations. Although it’s not legal advice, I can’t see any difference between a shoulder-stocked 1377 generating 600 fps and a shoulder-stocked 760 Pumpmaster generating slightly less. My own state allows air guns only for the hunting of ‘unclassified game,’ basically really small pests like mice, european rabbits, most ground squirrels, rats, moles, nutria and skunks. If you’d ever want to eat it, you can’t hunt it with an air gun in Washington. But a real discussion of hunting laws is way outside the scope of this review, so I’ll get back to talking about the 1377.

Pimp Your Ride?

The 1377’s basic pneumatic engine is rather overbuilt for the velocities the gun is tuned to produce from the factory. With a few aftermarket mods (and a whole lot of extra pumping between shots) the 1377 platform can break 700 fps with normal-weight .177 pellets. This leaves a lot of room for improving on the 1377’s already-respectable performance. Click here for a huge gallery of heavily-customized 1377s; many of them are no longer pistols, and many of them no longer even recognizable as having once been 1377s.

The DIY crowd has jumped on the 1377 bandwagon big-time, and various airgun fora are abuzz with discussions of narrowing the pellet probe, adding longer barrels, enlarging the transfer hole, stiffening the hammer spring, and replacing the plastic breech with a metal unit. All of these modifications will boost velocity, at a price. The first 50 extra fps are pretty cheap, but after that the performance gains get more and more difficult and costly.

A massively tricked-out 1377 might even crack 800 fps, but it will have a rifle-length barrel and more aftermarket parts than stock ones. It will look more bizarre than David McCallum’s P-38 thingie from The Man From U.N.C.L.E and it will cost many times the 1377’s original purchase price, so proceed at your own risk. As I said above, if you want to spend hundreds of dollars on a medium-powered air rifle, there are certainly wiser ways to do it than going West Coast Choppers on your $60 air pistol. If you’re doing it for the love of tinkering, good on you. Just don’t do it for the performance of the final product.

Conclusion

If it does nothing else for you, a quiet and accurate air gun gives you the ability to shoot in your garage or basement with no risk of police intervention, lead contamination or hearing loss. Can’t find any .22s? Shoot your airgun. Favorite shooting quarry snowed in? Go to the basement and shoot your airgun. Can’t afford to replace your last 100 rounds of 5.56? Shoot your airgun.

A single-shot airgun like the Crosman 1377 won’t help you much in maintaining combat proficiency with your defensive firearms, although Dan and Nick and RF are playing with airguns that do, but trigger time is still trigger time. Airgun practice, even with a single-shot, can keep your target-shooting skills tuned up. It’s also good cheap fun; pellets can be bought in quantity for just over a penny a shot, and air is still free.

The 1377 is a moderately powerful airgun (quite powerful for an air pistol) with exceptional short-range accuracy. The gun itself costs less than a single day at the range with a few boxes of factory .30-06, and the whole package we got from Pyramyd could keep you shooting for years. If the Great .22 Rimfire Shortage keeps going much longer, I think a lot of people will come back to airguns as their plinking range toys of choice.

Specifications:

Type: Mult-pump pneumatic air pistol
Capacity: Single-shot
Caliber: .177 (.22 also available as the Crosman 1322)
Barrel length: 10.25″
Velocity: 480 to 600 fps, depending on pellet weight
Trigger: single-stage, 4.5 lbs
Overall length: 14″ (pistol) 26″ (carbine)
Weight: 30.5 oz. (pistol) 42.1 oz. (carbine)
Street price: $60

Ratings (out of five stars):

This is my first airgun review, and one of TTAG’s first, so we don’t really have anything to compare it to. If I were to compare apples to oranges and judge the the Crosman 1377 as though it were a .22 rimfire target/small-game hunting pistol I’d have to say it’s outrageously heavy and incredibly anaemic, with an absolutely pitiful rate of fire.  But of course it’s not a .22 rimfire pistol, because it’s an air pistol that only costs about a fifth the price of any decent .22 rimfire pistol.

Accuracy: * * * * *

Phenomenal by cartridge handgun standards: even its least-favorite pellets will group inside a single ragged .45 ACP bullet hole at 8 yards. Its most accurate pellets will group inside a ragged 7mm bullet hole. Some dedicated target air pistols are capable of more better accuracy than this, but I’m not and neither are you.  Until I see one of us shoot another air pistol with better precision, I’m giving the 1377 the full complement.

Handling: * * * */ * *

This is kinda hard to judge. Shooting ergonomics are quite good, but it takes effort to pump because the short handle gives you so little leverage. Firing a hundred shots will take 800 to 1000 pumps, and this will wear out your arms and beat up your hands. So it’s four stars for shooting ergos, two stars for pumping comfort.

Reliability * * * *

Utterly perfect, although I only shot perhaps a hundred-odd pellets. Everything goes a slower pace with a multiple-pump pneumatic, and if Brother Takeshita’s old 1377 is any guide this one will be happily shooting for many many years. The seals and gaskets might have to be replaced in five or ten years, which I don’t consider a major liability.

Customization * * * * *

It’s nearly limitless for this airgun. You can replace everything but the frame, and end up with a 700 fps .22 caliber air rifle if you want to throw enough money into it. 

This test gun was provided by Pyramyd Air; vendor’s link here.

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