Gas guns came of age with the release of the iconic QB78, says Jonathan Young
You may remember when CO2 airguns were on restricted sale. From 1968, all CO2 was on ticket, irrespective of power. Yes, that meant a Section 1 Firearm Certificate for even BB and paintball guns. Bonkers. Thankfully, that was abolished suddenly in the late 1990s, and the rest is history.
CO2 came flooding in, with cheaper American-made guns being very popular. But in our traditional shooting scene, many were considered not good enough for serious shooting or hunting.
Then from China came the XS78. Urban legend has it that it was based on an old American design from back in the Cold War. The newer QB78 was light, powerful and accurate, but it was affordable to the point of being cheap. In blued steel with a wood stock, any criticism just didn’t add up. Out of the box it was a little rough around the edges, but British airgunners loved it. In fact people set to prepping these gleefully, and special tuning parts and custom stocks were soon available.
Alternative variations were released, including a .177 target version. In hunting and vermin control, these proved their worth in farmyard and field. The QB78 really upped the stakes and single-handedly did much to raise awareness of how good a CO2-powered airgun could really be.