Early 40's Benjamin 312

Joined: 1:00 PM - Jul 30, 2018

4:19 PM - Aug 05, 2018 #1

This discussion is about my latest acquisition; a very early Benjamin 312 that arrived yesterday.
 
I feel very fortunate that I meet Joel (blademan149) online, which eventually led to phone conversations & discussions about what else...guns. Our conversations led to a link here with respect to Joel's gun. I was amazed when I first saw it & even more amazed to find his receipt was still with the gun dating it 5/8/1942. It doesn’t get much better than that.

One of my first routines in the morning is to surf all the vintage auction sites. I about chocked on my morning coffee when this one showed up. The gun certainly looked like Joel’s but the box was unmistakable; identical to Joel's. I again contacted Joel asking a lot more questions about his gun & he answered every one of them w/o hesitation. Being the seasoned collector that he is, he was quick to put 2 & 2 together & found this same gun online. I think he was just as excited about the gun as I was although he was quick to point out he would not bid against me. If this doesn’t speak volumes about this gentleman's integrity I don’t know what does. 

The gun was listed for 6 day's. The longest 6 day's I've experienced in a long time. Anyway here's the gun; the first pic shows the gun as it appeared in the auction site. The subsequent pix where taken today. I will follow up with another post which will include pix of the box & docs that came with the gun & try to shed some sort of light as to when this gun was built because unfortunately, unlike with Joel's, this gun did not come with a receipt. However, there are other interesting clues I've been able to uncover.
1aa-Benji 312.jpg
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1aa-Benji 312.jpg 1a-Benji 312.JPG 1b-Benji 312.JPG 1c-Benji 312.JPG 1d-Benji 312.JPG 1e-Benji 312.JPG 1f-Benji 312.JPG 1g-Benji 312.JPG 1h-Benji 312.JPG
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Joined: 6:24 AM - Mar 18, 2011

7:20 PM - Aug 05, 2018 #2

great looking rifle but the date in 1942 with the war in full swing is odd to me
were these being made during the war or were they making this model for training
in any case it is a keeper
take care
mike
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Joined: 1:00 PM - Jul 30, 2018

7:42 PM - Aug 05, 2018 #3

marflow- the link below is to Trev's Airgun Scrapbook. Click on the left side of the page under Benjamin Air Rifle and Air Pistol. Scroll down til you come to the man cycling a Lever Hand Pump Rifle & read the caption above the photo. According to this doc the 312 began production in 1939. In addition to this, the 312 owned by Joel (as I mentioned above) has a receipt for his gun that dates 5/8/1942. A receipt is as good as it gets.

(http://cinedux.com/benjamin-air-pistols-and-rifles.php)

Aside from Joel's receipt dated 5/8/1942, Trev's doc was the best clue I had that these 312's did in fact begin production before the war. However, there are still a few more clues buried in the docs below. I'll let you know tomorrow as I am totally spent photographing & loading pix. Here's a hint; you'll find the answers in the Registration Card & The Parts Diagram. The clue in the Registration Card is much more obvious.

Here are the pix as promised.  
1i-Benji 312.JPG
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1p-Benji 312.JPG
1q-Benji 312.JPG
1r-Benji 312.JPG
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Joined: 11:48 PM - Mar 13, 2018

9:06 PM - Aug 05, 2018 #4

Is it because they were unable to obtain neoprene under current conditions ?      Dave
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Joined: 1:00 PM - Jul 30, 2018

10:02 PM - Aug 05, 2018 #5

Excellent point! I’m sure that had something to do with opting for part # 3119 (leather instead of rubber). https://historyofrubber.weebly.com/wwii.html.
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Joined: 1:00 PM - Jul 30, 2018

11:42 PM - Aug 05, 2018 #6

Here's a quick fact; Benjamin & Sheridan Product Dates of Manufacture lists the 312 as manufactured 1940-1974. https://www.crosman.com/benjamin-product-dates
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Joined: 4:46 AM - Jul 22, 2011

6:59 AM - Aug 06, 2018 #7

The 310-312-317-710 were all introduced at the same time, circa 1939-1940.  I have always leaned towards 1940, if for no other reason that 1940 was when the applicable Crosman patent ran out. But, what is sure is that the new “MULTIPLE LEVER HAND PUMP ACTION”  was introduced in 1939. The clue that indicates this is an AP Spack letter to dealers announcing the new "multiple lever" design still has the "St. Louis, MO. U.S.A." address used by Benjamin for the original Wissler Instrument downtown building. In 1939, Benjamin moved operations to 8th St. and all Benjamin paper after 1939 carry that address.  There is an AP Spack letter dated March 5, 1940, and the address is 8th & Marion, so, by 1940 all production is in the new plant with the new models.

 In what looks like the first full catalog to feature the new 310---710 line, it has the old St, Louis address but shows a picture of the new plant and describes production in the new facility. 
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Joined: 1:00 PM - Jul 30, 2018

3:30 PM - Aug 06, 2018 #8

Thank you DTFletcher.

Here is another ad I found from Popular Mechanics which mentions 1940. 
1v-Benji 312.JPG
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Joined: 1:00 PM - Jul 30, 2018

3:37 PM - Aug 06, 2018 #9

The first photo is a side by side of the Parts Diagram’s that came with this 312 (Top), & the diagram that came with my ’74 312, dated 4/68 (Bottom). The top diagram is not dated.

The bottom diagram shows a 2 piece bolt (highlighted in red) indicating this 2 piece bolt was used prior to 1951. The top diagram shows the bolt (365) that came with this 312 which is completely different, so there is some discrepancy here. Obviously there was a change sometime between 1940 & 1950. Another obvious change for me is the Trigger Mount (307). You can see it was replaced by the 307A. The previous owner stated in her ad that the gun built pressure but did not fire. I removed the stock & the trigger mount was cracked preventing the sear from engaging the hammer. The entire mount was brittle. I can see why the 307 was discontinued. Fortunately my supplier has the original trigger mount (last photo). In fact he has the entire trigger assembly which is on its way.
 
The second photo is side by side of the two parts lists. I added it just in case anyone was interested.
  
Another clue is the Registration Card. The postage is 1 cent. Stamped Cards & Post Card rates were 1 cent from July 1919 to Dec. ’51 (3rd photo).

Conclusion; there is no question the Benjamin 312 began production in ’39 or ’40. However, it is next to impossible to narrow the date based on the information I have found so far. There still remains a large gap from 1940 to 1950. I believe a major clue remains with the full length box, mainly because no one knew it existed until Joel revealed his. If anyone knows when this box was phased out, or any other clues on dating these early 312’s, like when the flat head screws on the forearm grip were replaced by roll pins, or whatever information you might have, please let me know.
1s-Benji 312.JPG
1t-Benji 312.JPG
1u-Benji 312 (950x786).jpg
1v-Benji 312 (800x451).jpg
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Joined: 6:24 AM - Mar 18, 2011

7:37 PM - Aug 06, 2018 #10

still learning guys and maybe I should read the post a little most carefully
I missed the fact the receipt had the date of 1942 and makes it just old stock
when you don't own I certain airgun or have much learned information about I gun a brand a what have you, I like to learn
I like the learning about airguns as much as anything about this hobby but I'm just an old man that seems to forget faster then a learn but that's life
thank you for your help and take care
mike
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