Before Lincoln Jeffries’ famous air rifle, what was there to play with? The Gem Air Gun is the short answer. Wiping off the dust, Jonathan Young takes a closer look…
The Gem started off back in the 1880s – 20 years before many guns we consider as the beginning of the airgun scene appeared. The American design was snapped up in Germany, and manufacturing started. There had been other airguns around – some even British – but it was the Gem that really started the ball rolling.
Made less from engineered steel and more from castings, the whole went together well enough and proved itself good for years of service. Some didn’t even have a leather piston seal, but still worked superbly.
Soon the market was flooded as others got in on the act, but this was the ‘go to’ gun of its time and, despite newer designs such as the Lincoln Model H, it lasted for near enough 50 years.
There were variations within variations – locking latches, different calibres, barrel styles and cylinder length – but all followed the same basic design of a break-barrel with a locking strap and the action cocked by the trigger guard. This one here is a large T-bar with a full octagonal barrel in .25 calibre. Picking a Gem up today, they may seem crude and rough – but you know what? They can still work!