The Crosman Pumpmaster 760 air gun came into our lives for my son’s eighth birthday. We decided that he needed a good present that isn’t a toy, encourages him to demonstrate responsibility, and is still within our price range. Children as young as 9 can compete in shooting sports through 4-H in our area, and we want him to have a little practice with the mechanics of shooting before he’s practicing with other kids. I’m a hunter and competitive shooter of 18 years, my husband worked in surgery in the Detroit Medical Center, and both of my parents are shooting sports instructors – in other words, safety comes at this kid from all directions. With all of these factors in mind, we decided that he’s definitely old enough for his first air rifle.
Obviously, a kid’s first firearm doesn’t have to be too fancy. We hoped for something under $100, preferably under $80, that was reasonably easy to pump and had decent punching power. It didn’t have to be able to take down small animals, but at least shoot accurately at 30-50 feet so that our son could work on precision target shots. The local Wal-Mart carried the Crosman Pumpmaster 760 for $52, with the added bonus that we could check its weight and feel before buying instead of a blind online purchase.
While I started on pellets, we knew that my son would undoubtedly start with BBs. They’re cheap, easy to load, easy to recover from our target shooting area, and tend to take off with a little less velocity than pellets. The Crosman Pumpmaster 760 can shoot either one, so it made its way to the short list early on in the decision-making process. We didn’t want a CO2-powered rifle – also due to recurring cost considerations – so the multi-pump offered the most promising option for an 8-year-old to handle.
As you might expect in this price range, the Pumpmaster 760 is made out of heavy-duty molded plastic. Not only did we expect this, but we specifically sought out the plastic build. Wood lasts longer, but it’s also heavier – even though our 8-year-old is bigger than the average for his age, weight is still a factor. That said, it is high-quality plastic that feels similar to plastic heavy-duty toolboxes to the touch. It’s certainly not about to fall apart anytime soon.
We had only two issues with build quality – first, the stock jiggled. It only allowed for a slight movement when in use, but…slight is too much for me. I’ve been raised as a perfectionist when it comes to shooting, and that kind of issue is unacceptable. Thankfully, it was just a screw that either jiggled loose or hadn’t been set right and tightened it. Remember that you’re joining plastic, so be careful not to over-tighten if you have to make a similar adjustment. It hasn’t come loose again, so hopefully it was just an assembly issue.
The other big issue is that the seals started leaking after only two practices that each lasted about 45 minutes. If you’re unfamiliar with air rifles and/or don’t have access to someone who can fix this, it could be a fatal flaw. Luckily, it’s an easy fix if you know how to lubricate the rifle properly, which you do really need to know if you’ll be handling air rifles long-term — just make sure to always use the right oil and use it very sparingly. Maybe it was from excessive time in the package, maybe it was insufficient lubrication at the time of manufacture, or maybe our own very dry and rather cold weather is at fault. Either way, expect to have to deal with your seals fairly quickly after purchase.
The rifle has metal fixed open sights on it. The back sight did get bent while in the packaging, but it was easy to straighten out. I’ll admit to being slightly confused by the sight design – it has the traditional slit to line up with the post, but then has curved “wings” out to the sides. Initially, I thought the rifle shot high because I still lined up the front sight with the top of the back sight. After three shots that made a perfect group in the 7 ring, I figured out that the wings are supposed to frame your target while the top of the slit is still the line-up point for the post. I really don’t like this particular design. The wings are larger than one would need to frame the spot he or she is shooting, so they basically serve no practical function. Luckily, we can ignore that part now that I know the proper way to line up these sights, and can therefore teach my son anyway.
Especially considering the price range of the Pumpmaster 760, it has delivered an overall positive experience. My son is just under five feet tall and can hold the Pumpmaster properly, but with just a little bit of struggle when he has his winter coat on due to the stock length. He has no issue with the weight, even shooting in a standing position.
The instructions for the Crosman Pumpmaster 760 indicate at least three, but no more than ten pumps before each shot. My son shoots at four pumps. Two pumps are easy for him, he braces for the third, and barely finishes the fourth pump – but can still get it done by himself. With the target at 30 feet, four pumps puts the BB through the paper target and the paperboard backing. There’s nothing fancy about the grip, trigger pull, or anything else. If you want fancy, be prepared to spend a lot more than $50.
Accuracy is excellent at four pumps and 30 feet. I have no idea how it performs at the maximum of ten pumps; we’ve never had a need to push it. When there are no issues with position, trigger squeeze, breathing or anything else (a.k.a when Mama shoots instead of dear son), the Pumpmaster 760 puts it in the bull’s eye every time. If you’re having accuracy issues, check the aforementioned screw in the stock to make sure it’s not allowing any movement.
In short, the Crosman Pumpmaster 760 is excellent for “plinking,” or for providing a young shooter with an air gun that’s easy to handle. We haven’t tested its efficacy on small animals, but it punches hard enough that I don’t doubt it would work for pest control as well. Even as a seasoned competitor, I find the Pumpmaster 760 useful for keeping muscle memory honed when I can’t get out to the local sportsman’s club to shoot higher-powered firearms. As an 8-year-old beginner, my son finds it enjoyable to use and his aim is improving quickly with the ability to practice daily.