Se­ries 160

John Milewski stud­ies the Crosman ri­fle that first utilised the 12g CO2 cap­sule

Airgun World - - Contents -

John Milewski re­veals all about the first and sec­ond vari­ant Crosman 160 se­ries

The con­cept of the bolt-ac­tion 160 se­ries stemmed from a re­quire­ment for a qual­ity pel­let-fir­ing air ri­fle that could be used as a train­ing aid. The Amer­i­can NRA used the ri­fle in spon­sored train­ing pro­grammes from 1955 and through­out the 1960s, along­side the YMCA, Scout and high school groups. Even the United States Air Force (USAF) bought 160s for main­tain­ing shoot­ing prac­tice. The USAF con­sid­ered the 160 use­ful for out-ofthe-way bases, where reg­u­lar out­door ranges were not al­ways avail­able. Rather than no shoot­ing prac­tice, ser­vice­men could in­dulge with the bolt-cock­ing 160. Crosman termed their .22 cal­i­bre ver­sion the ‘160’ and its less com­mon .177 cal­i­bre sib­ling the ‘167’, but for ease of ref­er­ence, I shall re­fer to both as the Se­ries 160.

The Se­ries 160 were the first Crosman CO2 ri­fles to be pow­ered by 12g Pow­er­lets and were a com­pan­ion to the com­pany’s Se­ries 150 air pis­tols. The ri­fle ac­cepted two back to back, and was ad­ver­tised as achiev­ing an aver­age 600 FPS (.22) with a 50-shot count. Af­ter un­screw­ing the tube cap at the front end of the cylin­der, one Pow­er­let was in­serted neck down and the sec­ond neck up be­fore the tube plug was screwed back. The ri­fle would then be cocked and dis­charged to pierce the seals and fill the cham­ber with CO2.

The Se­ries 160 was in­tro­duced in 1955. The 167 was dis­con­tin­ued in 1967, whilst the 160 con­tin­ued to be made un­til 1971. The

ri­fles were made in three ma­jor vari­ants, which col­lec­tors term ‘the 1st, 2nd and 3rd vari­ant’.


The 1st vari­ant was made be­tween 1955 and 1956. The trig­ger at­tached to the stock, by means of a pin, which was an ax­ial fit­ting

“rather than no prac­tice, ser­vice­men could in­dulge with the bolt-cock­ing 160”

through the stock. Crosman col­lec­tor, Len Joe, explained to me that the bar­rel was sup­ported near the tube plug by means of a metal­lic spacer, ap­prox­i­mately 1-inch long, held in place by a small lo­cat­ing pin that seated into a mat­ing hole in the un­der­side of the bar­rel. There was no front bar­rel band.

An au­to­matic safety catch en­gages once the ri­fle has been cocked and can be re­leased by push­ing for­ward on a catch si­t­u­ated to the right rear of the re­ceiver. A fur­ther safety

fea­ture was the bolt-ac­tion it­self. The ri­fle

cocked on clo­sure, and could in­stantly be made safe by opening the bolt, which dis­en­gaged the trig­ger. The rear­sight on the 1st vari­ant con­sists of a stamped step-ad­justable sight that can be ad­justed for el­e­va­tion by rais­ing it slightly and mov­ing the an­gled ramp that the sight sits on, either for­ward or back. The sight can be ad­justed lat­er­ally by un­do­ing the two se­cur­ing screws and mov­ing the sight left or right. The an­gled blade fore­sight matches the wide ‘U’ of the rear very well and the ri­fle is easy to line up on a tar­get as a re­sult.

A prom­i­nent ‘thumb­nut’ is si­t­u­ated in front of the trig­ger guard, which can be un­done to ‘take down’ the ri­fle, re­sult­ing in a com­pact pack­age for travel. When re­assem­bling, the bolt must be in the for­ward ‘fired’ po­si­tion and the safety catch for­ward in the ‘off’ po­si­tion to avoid dam­age to the sear.


The 2nd vari­ant was made be­tween 1956 and 1959. The trig­ger was now mounted to a steel plate se­cured to the un­der­side of the ri­fle’s re­ceiver tube, elim­i­nat­ing the need for the through-hole in the stock. The bar­rel was sup­ported by a bar­rel band up front on this and the sub­se­quent 3rd vari­ant. The rea­son for this en­gi­neer­ing change in the trig­ger mount­ing is that on the 1st vari­ant, if the thumb­nut that held the ac­tion to the stock loos­ened off, it was pos­si­ble for the sear not to en­gage fully, thereby pro­duc­ing un­ex­pected dis­charges if the gun were bumped. The thumb­nut se­cures the ac­tion to the stock firmly with no play, but it is good prac­tice to check the nut be­fore and dur­ing a shoot­ing ses­sion.

“The 360 could be turned down out of the way so the open sight can be used”

The 2nd vari­ant was sup­plied with the same step-ad­justable rear­sight as the 1st and an ad­di­tional slide-ad­justable peep sight, which Crosman termed the ‘Model 360’ sight. The 1957 Stoeger Shooter’s Bi­ble explained that the 360 had been spe­cially de­signed for the Se­ries 160 and was easy to at­tach be­cause only one se­cur­ing screw was re­quired. The 360 peep sight had pre­vi­ously been ad­ver­tised as an op­tional accessory for the 1st vari­ant in a 1956 Crosman cat­a­logue. Crosman ad­ver­tis­ing from 1959/60 pro­claimed the (2nd vari­ant) ri­fle was equipped with two rear­sights – a slide ad­justable peep sight and an open field sight. Both were ad­justable for windage and el­e­va­tion. The 360 could be turned down out of the way, so the open sight could be used. The 360 was ad­justed via two threaded nuts. The top one al­lowed lat­eral ad­just­ment, whilst the lower one locked the ver­ti­cal slider in place. The knurl­ing al­lowed set­tings to be made with­out re­sort­ing to tools.

In the next in­stal­ment, we’ll look at the USAF ver­sion of the 160 and the fully de­vel­oped 3rd vari­ant. In the mean­time, I hope to meet read­ers and friends old and new at the next Kemp­ton Park arms fair on 25th March. See you there! I

The 2nd vari­ant in­tro­duced a bar­rel band up front, behind the tube cap. The in­side of the car­ton has a psy­che­delic look to it!

The first CO2 bulb is in­serted neck first, and the sec­ond, neck last.

The rear­sight on the 1st and 2nd vari­ants has one of the best pro­files I have ever en­coun­tered on any vin­tage air ri­fle.

Re­mov­ing the thumb nut en­ables the 160 to be taken down very quickly.

The re­versible 360 peep sight was specif­i­cally made for the 160 and is rarely en­coun­tered to­day.

The clean ‘comb­less’ lines of the 2nd vari­ant stock are ev­i­dent here.

Note the safety catch has been re­versed on this 2nd vari­ant. The but­ton usu­ally sits on the right side of the re­ceiver.

Sim­ply draw the bolt back to cock, load a pel­let in the chan­nel, push the bolt back into battery and you are good to go.

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