Classic gun spotlight: The precious Gem!

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 featured an adjustable trigger, the stock was made of walnut and had a heavy cast butt plate

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.

Tapered pins and fewer screws were used in its construction to keep engineering costs down

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.

The heavy-cast butt plate on the Gem helped to balance the hefty barrel

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!

Locking latches could vary – this one is a T-shaped bar. Rear sights were usually integral

This article originally appeared in the issue 105 of Airgun Shooter magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store:

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