The 1980s phenomenon of the single-stroke pneumatic gave us the weirdest and most useful airgun in the Titan JB1, says Jonathan Young
The 1980s saw a lot of new airgun designs, and the single-stroke pneumatic, although not a new idea, really took off. With the SSP, you charge or pump up the airgun in one stroke. The idea found a big following, and the public was eager to see new designs.
With PCPs also slowly getting off the ground, it was a bit like the VHS vs Betamax conundrum: today we could very nearly have all been buying SSPs instead.
Airgun designer John Bowkett had been working on his own ideas along the same lines, and then Titan released his JB1 design. This was a self-contained single-stroke pneumatic air rifle – but with loading by a swing-out barrel. And you could switch to a different calibre in seconds! The JB1’s exterior barrel sleeve housed the real barrel in any of the available calibres.
To avoid complications, no adjustment or messing about with valve settings by customers was needed; it was pre-set and the gun was designed to offer the highest UK legal performance in .25 calibre, and then to also give useful performance in the smaller calibres.
The JB1 was an utterly unique airgun that was quickly overtaken, and it slipped under the radar for two decades before people took notice again. Few were made, and today fewer still survive – especially in good working order.