How the airgun calibers of today came to be

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• The 4 modern smallbore calibers
• The point I’m making
• But how did the calibers we have today come into being?
• Airguns are being developed, too
• Zimmerstutzen
• Birmingham, England, 1905

This question was asked by blog reader, Joe, many weeks ago. He wondered why the airgun calibers we have today are the sizes they are. This is an open-ended question that will never be fully answered, but maybe I can put a small part of it into perspective for you today.

The 4 modern smallbore calibers
We’ll begin by listing the 4 calibers that are currently on the market in the smallbore category. They are .177 (4.5mm), .20 (5mm), .22 (5.5mm) and .25 (6.35mm). These are the 4 we have today. But as recently as 1948, Crosman offered their CG gallery guns in .21 caliber — shooting a proprietary round lead ball. Before that, up into the 1930s, the Quackenbush company offered pellet guns that were smoothbores in 20-1/2 caliber.

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Shooting the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 at 10 meters

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Daisy Avanti Champion 499
Daisy Avanti Champion 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun.

This test of the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 at 10 meters was requested a couple weeks back by a blog reader, and several of you seconded the request. It was in response to a discussion of the spin rate of projectiles and what benefits it conveys.

After I agreed to write the report, another reader asked me to test not only the Avanti Precision Ground Shot that’s made specifically for the 499, but also some more common BBs. So, today, we’ll see how the 499 performs at the 5-meter distance for which it was designed, as well as at 10 meters. I think we’re in for some interesting ballistics.

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How BBs are made

by B.B. Pelletier

This report was requested by blog reader Wulfraed in one of his comments.

For the benefit of those who shoot airsoft guns, the BB I am addressing today is the steel BB that historical BB guns shoot — not the 6mm plastic ball that Asian-made airsoft guns started using in the 1970s.

Brief history
The first BB used in an air rifle was BB-sized lead shot used by shotgunners. In the day when it was popular (the 1880s), shot was sold in bags in hardware stores and came in various numerical and letter sizes, including sizes B, BB and BBB. BB shot was supposed to be 0.180 inches in diameter and weigh more than nine grains.

At the turn of the 20th century, Daisy reduced the size of what they always called air rifle shot to a lead ball 0.175 inches in diameter. That saved them lead and also went faster because it was a lighter ball.

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Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

Redemption is a powerful experience, because it comes only after suffering and anguish. Redemption is what I longed for with the Nelson Lewis combination gun and with my Ballard rifle. Today, however, I’m going to talk about another redemption — that of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle.

In Part 1, we learned that this rifle is nearly all plastic — which for many, including me, is a put-off. We also learned that it uses two 12-gram CO2 cartridges instead of one, and that assaulted the the miser in all of us. Accuracy is the only thing that would make it worth the extra cost.

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Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

Let’s test the velocity of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle. Of course, I’ll test it with both BBs and lead pellets. This rifle is a semiautomatic 8-shot repeater powered by 2 CO2 cartridges. Someone made a comment that referred to the rifle having blowback action, but I want to clear that up — it doesn’t. Yes, the action operates by CO2 power and really is semiautomatic; but no — there’s no sensation of blowback, and nothing moves when the rifle fires.

You do have to pull the “bolt” back to cock the rifle before the first shot. It’s not really a bolt — just a plastic cover to hide the metal internal parts of the firing mechanism. But the act of pulling it back is realistic.

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Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier


Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

I told you I would review the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle as soon as it came in. Well, the package arrived last week and today I’ll begin my report.

This M14 is able to fire both BBs and pellets from its 16-shot magazine. The mag is a long stick with an 8-shot rotating clip on either end. After 8 shots have been fired, the magazine has to be removed and inverted to position the next 8 shots.

The rifle is powered by two 12-gram CO2 cartridges that fit in an assembly that also holds the stick magazine. This entire assembly fits into a fixed box “magazine” that extends down from the bottom of the action and cannot be removed. The bottom of the gas assembly matches the fixed box and lengthens the overall magazine look. A hole in the bottom of the assembly allows the stick mag to be removed when it need to be inverted, and a small button in the fixed box releases just the stick mag.

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New Daisy book!

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Jedediah Strong Smith is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

BSOTW winner Jedediah Strong Smith.

Firearms shooters get a new book or two every month or so. But airgunners are lucky to get a new one every year. Today, we’re going to look at the latest airgun book from Daisy. It was written by Joe Murfin, Daisy’s vice president of marketing and chairman of the board for the Rogers Daisy Airgun Museum.


New Daisy book brings the history of the company up to date.

Daisy collectors all know that Cass S. Hough wrote a book called It’s A Daisy that documents the beginnings of the company up through the time when he served as its president. Hough was the grandson of one of Daisy’s founders and also a test pilot in World War II. He is credited with being one of the first men to fly faster than the speed of sound. It was in a power-dive in a P38 Lightning fighter over England in 1943, while he was testing a problem with the aircraft’s control surfaces. Chuck Yeager is better-known for being the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight in 1947, but Hough and perhaps some others broke it much earlier during dives.

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