This is about a BB gun you fondly remember, but never heard of.
Today’s BB gun looks like many others from the turn of the century, especially the model H that lasted from 1913 until 1922. The No. 12 Model 29, however, is a single shot that was produced from 1929 until 1942, when Daisy put BB guns aside for the war effort. Although it is a later gun, it retains many characteristics of much earlier BB guns.
The most notable feature is the cocking lever that has a small finger loop, as opposed to the levers on most Daisys with full sized loops. The lever is cast iron, a vestige of guns made decades earlier. Because it lacks a forearm you can clearly see the sheet metal weld that seals the compression tube. This is where the soldered patch used to be — before Daisy figured out how to weld the thin metal tube airtight.
Today’s test will be shooting the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB in a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 — the world’s most accurate BB gun. There were concerns that this lead BB wouldn’t function in a 499 because of the gun’s magnetic BB seat in the breech. The fear was these BBs would just roll out the barrel if the barrel was depressed below level.
I thought about shooting only 5 shots at each target because I knew the BBs were all going to go to the same place. In the end, though, convention won and I shot 10 shots per target. The distance was 5 meters and I rested the gun on a UTG monopod.
We last looked at a military airgun on Monday, when the U.S.S. Vesuvius dynamite cruiser was examined. Today I will get more personal and look at some of the trainers the military has employed to train new recruits. This subject is huge, and will become its own special section of the airgun history project.
Two different directions
When we speak of military trainers there are two very distinct paths. One leads to the training devices used by the military to train their personnel. The other path is a private one, though no less real and important. Those are the trainers that were built to order, one at a time.
The Texas airgun show is a one-day event. Everyone knows they have to get in quick, set up quick and get everything accomplished in one short day. The Parker County Sportsman Club that hosted the event provided dozens of volunteers to run the ranges, park cars, sell tickets, prepare and serve food and drinks, and generally help anyone who needed it. As a result, the event was set up and running smooth when the doors opened to the public at 9 am. But, unlike last year, there was no line at the door. The tickets were sold at a gate outside the compound because we had vendors in two different buildings this year. Even so I was surprised and a little disappointed when I didn’t see the immediate crush of people at 9.
When BB guns were new in the 1880s, they shot lead shotgun shot in the size BB. That’s where the name BB gun comes from. BBs were nominally 0.180-inches in diameter. Nominally means that they were supposed to be about that size and they were sorted by screens to ensure they were all close to that size, but let’s be honest — does it really matter whether a single piece of birdshot in actually 0.180-inches or 0.182-inches? Not to a shotgunner, it doesn’t. Maybe uniform shot gives a more uniform pattern, but there are other factors to consider, as well, and shot uniformity is only one of many things.
This is a test of the Tech Force M8 breakbarrel air rifle at 25 yards. We learned in Part 3 how best to shoot the rifle, which is directly off a sandbag. We also discovered that, of the pellets tested, the best to that point were Air Arms Falcons, seated flush with the breech. That is where today’s test begins.
First group high — Falcons
I was surprised to see the same pellets that had been okay at 10 meters landing 1 inch higher and 1/2-inch to the left at 25 yards. Some movement is expected when you move from 10 meters to 25 yards, but not usually that much. The first group that you see below was actually fired at a bull beneath it. The good news is the pellets were landing higher, which meant I could adjust the scope to shoot lower. That’s almost never a problem.
Today we become more familiar with the Tech Force M8 rifle. In Part One I mentioned that the powerplant on this gun is very similar to the powerplant on the Air Venturi Bronco that has been discontinued. In fact I believe it is identical. The one thing that differentiates Air Venturi and Tech Force spring rifles from Mendozas is we made them not drill a hole on the left side of the spring tube for oiling the piston seal. Low-order detonations were the way Mendoza rifles achieved their velocities, but we didn’t want that.
Several readers who already have this gun can confirm that the M8 is smooth-shooting and easy to cock. Reader Bulldawg mentioned how surprised he was at the beauty of the M8 stock. I must agree. You can see it in the photo above,and that seems to be an accurate representation. The shape is pleasing and Mendoza seems to have used some beech wood with more figure than you usually see. The stock on my test rifle is as pretty as walnut.