Posts Tagged ‘Daisy Avanti 499 Champion BB gun’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Kevin asked me this question recently, and I embraced it because I usually don’t even have time to think about which airgun I would prefer to shoot. There’s always another blog, a feature article and 5 other deadlines pressing on my time…so thinking like this is not a luxury. It’s a fantasy! Then, Kevin asked this question and “forced” me to stop and think about it for today’s report. Ahh! Happy Friday!
The first gun that pops into my head when I ask this question is the Diana model 27 rifle. It’s just such a simple, uncomplicated airgun that I guess it serves as my happy place. But as I think about it, other guns pop up. The Air Venturi Bronco, the Falke model 70, the Diana model 25 are 3 more that come to mind immediately. They all share the model 27′s chief attribute — ease of operation. In short, they’re all fun airguns.
Diana’s model 27 breakbarrel is so light, smooth and easy to operate that it epitomizes everything that’s good about airgunning in my eyes.
Falke model 70 is another vintage breakbarrel that’s light and smooth like the Diana 27.
To take the fantasy a little farther, have these guns always been the ones that do that, or have there been others? Yes! There have been others!
My straight-grip Webley Senior pistol is exactly like the Diana 27 in this respect. It’s small and easy to operate. I still own this pistol, although there’s seldom any time to actually shoot it. But it’s right there in the drawer where I can put my hands on it whenever I want. I guess that’s good enough. I guess it will have to be.
I’ve owned this straight-grip Webley Senior since the early 1970s. It’s easy to cock, has a nice trigger and is fun to shoot. Not terribly accurate, but it’s one of those rare guns I let slip by because everything else works so well.
When I think a little longer and harder, my Beeman R8 pops into view. It comes in later because it has a scope, and scopes do complicate things. So do target sights, but my Walther LGV Olympia 10-meter target rifle now comes to light. And with it comes the new .22-caliber LGV. The target rifle took longer to pop up because it’s a heavy gun. The .22 took longer because of its power. When I want to play, power is the farthest thing from my mind.
Kevin didn’t ask me what my favorite firearms were; but since this is Friday, I’ll take a little license and include them, as well. Right now, my new PO8 Luger is a favorite because it’s accurate, recoils very little and it eats my handloads like they were candy! And when I think of that gun, I cannot overlook my Ruger Single-Six in .32 H&R Magnum. It has great power and almost no recoil. For cutting out the center of a bullseye, that little Ruger wheelgun is a dream.
The Ruger Single Six is chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum. It’s light, yet very powerful and will out-penetrate a .357 Magnum on a steel target. The 1917 Luger is such a smooth shooter that it’s like eating peanuts — I can’t stop! Both guns are very accurate.
Then, I think of my O3A3 Springfield. It’s one of the few military rifles that gives me an honest sub 2-inch group at 100 yards. If it didn’t recoil so much, I’m sure it would have popped up even sooner.
This O3A3 Springfield will smack you with recoil when you’re shooting full-house loads. The short stock gives it a running start at your shoulder. But the accuracy is stunning!
My M1 Carbine is also a favorite — not for its accuracy, which is just average — but for the fact that it drops the empty cases on top of the shooting bench! Most autoloaders throw their cases a country mile, but this little sweetie piles them up for me. With more training, I’m sure I can get it to put them back in the box!
My M1 Carbine is well-behaved. Next, I’m going to teach it to put the fired cases back into the box!
Guns I wish I still had
Now comes the Great Lament — the ones that got away! I had a Bernardelli Baby in .25 ACP that would put 3 shots into the bottom of a soda can offhand at 30 feet. Most .25s are lucky to hit dinner plates at that distance, but this little pistol was a good one. I let it get away. I recently bought another Bernardelli Baby in the hopes of doing the same thing. Alas, this one is a dinner-plate special.
Ruger .44 Magnum Blackhawk with 10-inch barrel
They’re very collectible now; but when I had my 3-screw Ruger Blackhawk, they were just good guns. I was too stupid to know that the one I had was an exceptional shooter. I figured I could always get another one.
Custom .458 Winchester Magnum
I have written about this rifle many times. I shot it with a 550-grain cast lead bullet, and it would put 10 shots into less than 2 inches (outside measurement) at 100 yards. It was like owning a target-grade 45/70. Stupid me — I thought I would always be able to find another one just as good. Haven’t yet!
What kind of shooting do I like to do?
I’m pretty easy to please. I like whatever kind of shooting I happen to be doing at the time — usually. The things I hate are magnum spring rifles that buzz like bottles of hornets, slap me in the face and have no accuracy. I also disdain black rifles that can’t group in less than 3 inches at 100 yards. In fact, I dislike almost anything that isn’t accurate.
I enjoy shooting a .45 Colt Single Action Army with accurate loads and feeling the plow-grip roll in my hand during recoil. I like shooting a nice 1911 and feeling the slight burp of recoil when I hold my thumb over the manual safety. I shot a Walther P38 recently that had a nice trigger and is very accurate. My experiences with P38s aren’t that good, but this one was memorable. I could burn up a lot of 9mm ammo in that one.
When I came home from the hospital several years ago, I received this Single Action Army as a gift from the readers of this blog. It is a favorite of mine because it mimics the feel of a Gen 1 Colt perfectly!
Same for the PO8 I got for Christmas. The ergonomics are legendary and the trigger is extremely good for a Luger (their trigger linkages usually make for poor triggers). My handloads are moderate enough that I can shoot this pistol for the rest of my life and not put any wear on it!
I enjoy holding a 10 with a target air pistol and seeing the pellet hit the pinwheel. I love seeing 10 shots from an accurate rifle sail through the same hole at 100 yards, knowing the hole they made is smaller than half an inch. I love shooting 5 shots from a 10-meter rifle and seeing a group smaller than a tenth of an inch.
Holding a 10 with a pistol is very enjoyable!
I love shooting my Daisy Avanti Champion 499 offhand and making quarter-inch groups. My shooting buddy Otho bought one for himself this past December and has been doing the same thing ever since.
I enjoy shooting a Garand and hearing the shot go off but not feeling the recoil. I know it’s there, but the push is so slow that it doesn’t seem to count. The same holds true for my .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. It’s got enough power to drop a steer, but the soft recoil feels like a 1911 shooting +P ammo.
Best of all
But the thing I like above all is when I solve some problem of inaccuracy and turn a bad gun into a real shooter. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but from time to time I do hit one out of the park. I’m hoping to do that with my Ballard someday. And maybe my Meteor, as well.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope this day finds you in good spirits, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
I have a special report just for this special day. It involves a BB gun, Daisy’s Avanti Champion 499 — also known as the world’s most accurate BB gun.
About a month ago, my buddy Otho was visiting my house, and I pulled out my 499 to show him. I’d told him about it while we were at the rifle range the week before and he was fascinated, though he later admitted that he didn’t believe me when I told him how accurate it is. So, I took this opportunity not just to show him the gun, but to let him shoot it.
We made a quick BB gun range in my garage using the UTG BB and pellet trap with some 5-meter BB gun targets taped to the cardboard target backer on the front of the trap. I showed Otho how to raise the bottom front of the trap so that all the BBs that entered would stay inside because they roll to the back after they stop moving. And the ballistic curtains will take most of the energy out of each BB on the first pass through the trap.
Otho was captivated by the fact that the 499 is a muzzleloading single-shot. While it looks a lot like a Red Ryder, it couldn’t be more different! The gun is loaded by dropping one BB down the muzzle, which is shaped like a funnel. The BB rolls down the precision tubing that serves as the barrel, and it takes from 2 to 5 seconds to be captured by a magnet at the bottom. A faint click announces this. The magnet allows the shooter to hold the gun in any orientation without fear of the BB rolling out.
I told Otho to listen to the BB roll down and be captured by the magnet. That’s the only way to be sure the gun’s been loaded properly. He was fascinated by this and quickly learned to do it every time. His background in machining gave him an appreciation of just how uniform that barrel and BB had to be to make the short trip last so long!
Precision ground shot
Accompanying the 499 is a special BB that’s as precise as the gun. It used to have the model number 515, but today it’s just labeled Avanti Precision Ground Shot. It’s sold in small packs of 1050 and costs considerably more than standard BBs, but it makes a difference in the 499. You can shoot regular BBs in the 499, but they’re smaller and they roll down the barrel faster. During loading, you will see the roll time down the barrel decrease to as little as a half-second for Crosman Copperhead BBs to 1.5 seconds for Daisy Premium-grade zinc-plated BBs. Accuracy results will reflect the roll time, as that’s the best indication of the size and uniformity of each steel sphere.
Daisy used to sell this gun with a cheaper rear peep sight that was difficult to adjust with precision. The sight that now comes standard on the gun was an option at that time. Finally they decided to just include the better sight and raise the price a little to cover it. While this sight is made largely of plastic, it’s still capable of precision adjustments. To eliminate slop in the mechanism, turn it several clicks in the direction opposite of where you wish to adjust; then, when you return, the slop will be taken out of the parts and the adjustment will be right on.
The front sight accepts inserts. Most shooters select the same one — an aperture that encircles the bull at 5 meters.
Proof of the pudding
A real shooter knows that the only thing that matters is what the gun does downrange. Fancy wood and deep bluing don’t mean a thing if the gun can’t shoot. So, naturally, Otho had to try his hand. The target was set as close to the regulation 5 meters from the firing line as it’s possible to get in my garage. We were probably at 15 feet, instead of 16 feet 5 inches, but it didn’t matter because we weren’t shooting for record. His first 5 shots produced a group smaller than any he had ever shot with a BB gun, but it did much more that just that. It awakened his rifleman’s spirit! Here was a gun that could shoot better than he could — guaranteed!
His eyelids dropped into a squint that broadcast concentration. His next 5 shots all landed in the same place and were all on the bullseye. The room now grew quiet as his concentration ratcheted up another notch.
Another 5 shots went downrange, and this time he was really trying. The smaller hole in this target reflected the attempt! The gun is apparently a perfect gauge of the effort that’s put into it! The heavens opened and a shaft of divinely-inspired sunlight bathed the shooter in glory. Otho was hooked! He now understood what I had been trying to tell him. The Daisy Avanti Champion 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun! It is the gun that every real shooter hopes to find one day — one that can out-shoot him and will never be finicky. Do your best and the gun reflects it on target — pure and simple.
A Christmas story
This is where Otho had his epiphany. He went home and immediately ordered a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 for himself. On my recommendation, he also ordered several packs of Precision Ground Shot, plus I gave him a pack to get started since Pyramyd Air was temporarily backordered when he placed his order. He also bought 5-meter paper targets and a UTG target trap. In short, he purchased a complete shooting kit that had everything he needed to get started.
Three days later he called to tell me his gun had arrived, and he was already shooting the BBs I had given him. The day after that he called to tell me that he had ordered 3 additional shooting kits as Christmas gifts for his son, son-in-law and another friend. A week later he told me that he had taken his gun to his country home, where he stayed indoors and shot targets all day while his friends and family sat out in cold wet high seats, awaiting the deer that never showed.
Then, on December 23, Otho called me one more time to tell me he was purchasing one more gift set for another friend who hadn’t shown any interest until the day before. His gift will arrive late, but it will be just as appreciated, I’m sure.
Otho never told me, but I am reasonably sure that he takes his new BB gun to bed with him every night, drifting off to sleep while shooting ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hipshots. I think this little Daisy might be the greatest Christmas gift he will ever get or give, and it is our own version of A Christmas Story. Merry Christmas!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This topic was received well last week, so I’m doing the second list today. Several readers have reminded me of other gifts I should mention, and some of them will make today’s list. If I don’t list something you suggested, there’s a reason. These are the things I recommend without question.
Stocking stuffers/small, neat gifts
Gifts in this category don’t cost a lot but will have great meaning to airgunners. Some of them are things that shooters won’t buy for themselves.
Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater
Someone suggested the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and I have to agree. This is a great gift, and it’s one that a lot of shooters won’t buy for themselves.
EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit
The EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit is another gift that people may not think about; but when they have one, they’ll love it. I chose the Master Kit so you can use it with both rifles and pistols (and bows if you’re an archer, too). Even if you don’t wear prescription glasses, the EyePal is a great aid for your safety glasses to sharpen your vision and make that front sight clear!
Here’s a gift I’m putting in this section, although it will cost you some money. Pyramyd Air offers 4 tins of pellets for the price of 3. Your favorite airgunner has pellets he or she really likes, but they don’t buy them all the time because they may cost too much.
Consider this gift similar to one of those fancy boxes of candies or Christmas smoked meats that are given this time of year. Nearly everybody likes them, but we don’t spend money on them for ourselves. So, this is an opportunity to buy something your airgunner wants but will never buy himself. The one problem you have is finding out which pellets to buy. Rather than try and guess what your airgunner wants, I’m going to leave this up to you. You need to do a little investigation, maybe look at the pellets that he has on the shelf, or just talk to him and find out what he really wants but hasn’t bought.
Gifts under $50
For a pistol shooter the Crosman 357W is a great idea. It’s a revolver, so you get multiple shots per loading; and for the money, it’s an accurate little air pistol.
Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife
If your airgunner is a gadget junkie, you can’t do much better than a Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife. It’s a tool kit for your pocket. And it has a 440C stainless steel blade to cut whatever you need.
Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight
Can’t have too many flashlights! Not when you need one! The Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight uses two CR123A batteries to cast a 60-lumen light. That means you get both good battery life and a powerful light.
Gifts under $100
Some of these gifts are just over the $50 mark, so look at them carefully. This category holds some of the most surprising values in airguns.
The Makarov from Umarex is a wonderful BB pistol that I just can’t stop talking about. I bought one for myself after testing it! It’s extremely accurate for a BB pistol, which means you really can use it for target practice. It runs on CO2, so don’t forget to get some CO2 cartridges if you give this gun as a gift.
Another fine CO2 pistol is the single-shot Crosman 2240. It’s a .22-caliber, bolt-action pistol that’s powerful and accurate, plus it serves as the basis for many aftermarket modifications.
Ruger Mark I
The Ruger Mark I air pistol is powered by a spring-piston. It isn’t very powerful, but it’s a great companion for the handgun shooter who only wants to poke holes in targets and plink with a pistol that’s easy to cock and accurate.
Stoeger X5 air rifle
The Stoeger X5 air rifle is a wonderful, youth-sized, spring-piston rifle that has enough quality to make my list. The trigger is a little stiff, but the accuracy is there. It reminds me of the Hämmerli 490 that is, sadly, no longer available.
Gifts a little over $100
I created this category for those items that are a few dollars over $100 but are still within the realm of economy. Sometimes, the things you want are just over the line — no matter where you arbitrarily draw it.
Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph.
The Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph is the instrument I use to document 98 percent of the work I do. I use it because it’s small, portable and very reliable. Sure, there are reasons to use my Oehler 35P chrono, sometimes; but most of the time, this is my choice.
Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun
I have to recommend the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun because it is the target shooter’s dream. Where other BB guns will put 10 shots into three-quarter of an inch at 16 feet when all is right, this one will put 10 into a quarter-inch at the same distance. This is a shooter’s tool, not a hunting gun or bragging-rights gun. Be sure to stock up on the special Avanti Precision Ground Shot if you get this gun because it definitely adds accuracy! And order some special 5-meter BB targets that are sized right for this gun!
IZH 60 air rifle
I am also going to put the IZH 60 air rifle on my list this year. Though the accuracy slipped when the gun’s design was changed several years ago, this is still a delightful youth rifle that’s easy enough for even smaller kids to cock. It has reasonable accuracy, and the sidelever design means that fingers can’t be pinched in the mechanism like they would on guns having sliding compression chambers. I recommend the single-shot over the repeater for reasons of safety.
Daisy 953 TargetPro
I normally don’t recommend combo guns, but I’ll make an exception for the Daisy 953 TargetPro. It’s a pellet rifle with enough accuracy to get you into the game without spending a bundle.
Gifts under $300
Gifts in this category start to take on the aura of personal taste. My recommendations may not be what your airgunner wants, so you need to find out if they are before you buy anything.
Benjamin 392 pump
This one is very personal. You airgunner will either like it or not. So, check first. The Benjamin 392 pump is the best multi-pump rifle going, these days. Its heritage dates back to the late 19th century, so there’s a lot of history there. I also chose the .22-caliber 392 for its power; but if your airgunner only wants to shoot at targets, then the 397 is the same rifle and shoots cheaper .177 pellets.
Daisy Avanti 853
The Daisy 853 is right at $300, but its a great buy even at that price. It features a Lothar Walther barrel and has been used by millions of kids for competition in the decades it’s been around. The trigger is rough, but there are several websites that tell you how to fix it. To get anything with better accuracy, you’re going to need to spend several hundred dollars more.
Diana RWS LP8
Want an air pistol that shoots like a rifle? The Diana RWS LP8 is the one to get. It just may be the best value in a really good air pistol these days. It has plenty of power and is very accurate. The breakbarrel cocking is on the heavy side, but an adult male shouldn’t have a problem.
Gifts without limit
Now, we can spread our wings a little. This is where many of the better airguns live.
Let’s start with the HW 30S. You know this rifle as the Beeman R7 when it’s in a different stock, but airgunners know the HW 30S has the same powerplant and the same adjustable Rekord trigger as the R7. If your airgunner likes the styling of the HW 30S, it’s less expensive; but if he wants an R7, it’s also a wonderful spring-piston air rifle.
Diana RWS 48
If you want a big bruiser spring-piston air rifle, the Diana RWS 48 is one I would recommend. And, I recommend it in .22 caliber, where you get all the power it can develop. The 48 is a sidelever that’s surprisingly easy to cock, despite the level of power it delivers. It’s also very accurate. One thing, though, the 48 is a big air rifle, so be sure your shooter knows what he’s in store for. Definitely for adults, only.
TalonP air pistol
There’s no other smallbore air pistol that can hold a candle to the TalonP air pistol from AirForce Airguns. It comes in .25 caliber and has 10 shots per fill at over 50 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! Many rifles can’t equal it! When I tested it for accuracy, I got sub-one-inch groups at 50 yards. It’s a hunting air pistol extraordinaire.
Walther LGV Challenger
If you want a really fine breakbarrel spring rifle, you can’t do better than the Walther LGV Challenger. I recommend the .22-caliber gun because it was so smooth when I tested it.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
For those who don’t know, the Avanti Champion 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun. It’s the only BB gun to compete each year in the International BB gun Championships at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Like the wheels and axels on Soap Box Derby racers (the All-American Soap Box Derby is an annual race where children race home-built cars powered by gravity, alone), the 499 is so specialized and ahead of the competition that there’s nothing that can touch it. Unlike derby wheels, though, anyone can own a 499 because they’re sold through specialized airgun dealers like Pyramyd Air (along with their special ammunition).
Although it may look like a Red Ryder to the casual observer, the 499 is as special among BB guns as a Formula One racer is among automobiles.
The 499 is a single-shot BB gun that has a precision smoothbore barrel. It’s loaded through the muzzle by dropping a BB down a funnel-shaped spout, where it enters the true barrel and rolls to the rear to be captured by a magnet. Regular BBs take 0.50 to 1.00- seconds to roll down the barrel, while the Precision Ground Shot can take up to 5 seconds.
The gun was developed by Daisy for their National BB Gun Championship Match. They noticed that coaches were ordering many shot tubes for their teams’ model 99 and 299 target BB repeaters that were used in competition at the time. The coaches were looking for the most uniform barrels that would shoot the best. When Daisy recognized that, they simply designed a gun to be accurate from the start. Once the 499 became a reality, all other BB guns were obsolete because nothing else could keep up.
For over a decade, the gun and ammunition was available only directly from Daisy, until I discovered it while writing The Airgun Letter. The guns were hand-built and Daisy didn’t really think they could sell them to non-target shooters because of the extra cost; but once the word was out about how accurate they are, everything changed. They’re probably still made by hand today, and I’m sure they’re not one of Daisy’s most popular products; but if you like accuracy, you really should look into getting one of these.
Baselining the gun
Before I shoot at 10 meters, I thought it would be nice to see what the gun can do at the regulation distance of 5 meters. I could have found old images for this because I’ve done this test many times before, but I always welcome the opportunity to shoot this marvelous little gun. I shot it on NRA 15-foot targets because I don’t have any of the slightly larger official 5-meter BB-gun targets on hand. The NRA is out of touch with BB gun competition and is stiill using the 15-foot target, where the rest of the world has backed up another 1.4 feet to 5 meters.
For this test, I selected three types of ammunition — Crosman Copperhead BBs, Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs and Avanti Precision Ground Shot. When I load the gun, I listen to the BB roll down the barrel and strike the magnet at the bottom. Copperheads roll the fastest — taking about a half-second to make the trip.
Crosman Copperhead BBs
I shot 10 shots with each BB at 5 meters. I used the back of a chair as a rest because this was a test of the gun — not me. There were no called fliers, and the 10 Copperheads grouped in 0.574 inches. That measurement is approximate, as BBs do not tear clean holes in target paper.
At 5 meters, 10 Crosman Copperhead BBs tore this hole, which measures 0.574 inches between centers.
Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs
Next up were Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs at 5 meters. These are ever-so-slightly larger than Copperheads and take 0.50 to 1.50 seconds to roll down the barrel. They made a 10-shot group that measures 0.361 inches between centers — and keep in mind this is approximate, at best. But you can see in the photo that this group is tighter than the first one.
Ten Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs made this 0.361-inch group.
The final group was shot with Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot that is specially made for the 499. If anything is going to group well in the gun, this is. Ten shots made a group measuring 0.224 inches between centers. The hole on the target tells all, as it is either a score of 99 or 98 — it’s too close to tell.
Avanti Precision Ground Shot shows what the 499 can really do. Ten went into this 0.224-inch group at 5 meters. This is almost a perfect score.
On to 10 meters
Now that we know how well the gun can shoot, it’s time to back up to 10 meters and test what we all came to see — namely, how well the 499 does at 10 meters. This is the first time I’ve done this, so I am just as interested in the results as all of you.
Crosman Copperhead BBs
First up were the Copperheads. I didn’t change the sight setting, so we’ll forgive the placement of the shots in this test. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 1.118 inches between centers. That’s actually slighly smaller than double the 5-meter group size (which would be 1.148″); so, allowing for the measurement error, it seems to be right-on.
Notice the two shots that landed below the main group. There were no called fliers, so those BBs are probably not the same size as the others.
At 10 meters, 1o Crosman Copperhead BBs made a 1.118-inch group. Those two at the bottom were not called as fliers.
Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs
Next up were the Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs that do so well in this gun for normal BBs. Ten of them made a group measuring 0.828 inches. That’s larger than double the 5-meter group size, which is what I expected at 10 meters. Again, there were no called fliers, and one stray BB hit below the main group.
Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot
Finally, I shot the Avanti Preciaion Ground Shot at 10 meters. The picture tells the story. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.755 inches across. This group is larger than double the 5-meter group with the same BB, which is what we would expect. Let’s talk about that next.
Why aren’t the groups just double the size at 10 meters?
This is a common misconception that I’d like to address. Groups don’t open up on a linear scale as distance increases. A 10-meter group should not be twice as large as a 5-meter group. And here we must differentiate between a spin-stabilized conical bullet and a round ball fired from a smoothbore.
A ball that’s not spin-stabilized will deviate much faster than a ball that’s stabilized by the spin introduced by rifling. A rough comparison can be made to a baseball that is intentionally thrown without spin — the famous knuckleball. It will go straight for a short distance, then suddenly deviate wildly and unpredictably from its ballistic path. The comparison is not perfect because a baseball has seams that affect its movement through the air, but the principle is similar.
Don’t run out and buy Avanti Precision Ground Shot for your Red Ryder. That would be like putting premium gasoline into a lawnmower! On the other hand, don’t buy a 499 and then try to shoot it with standard BBs. That’s false economy going the other way. Back up a few feet and look at what you are paying for ammunition, and then buy what makes the most sense.
The 499 is a special gun that’s purpose-built to do one thing — shoot BBs as close to where you aim as possible. I rested the gun for this test, but every year there are children who shoot similar targets offhand in competition.
I would like to thank everyone who requested today’s test because it was something I’ve never done before. Now, we all know what an accurate smoothbore shooting a steel BB can do at 10 meters.
by B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Kevin Lentz asked for this report; but as soon as he posted his request, it was seconded by a couple other readers. The first time I did a report with this title was way back in 2007, and that was a four-parter. This time, I’ll hold it to just two parts to save some time, because there are a lot of new models coming out at this time of year. Kevin revised the categories just a little and I went with his suggestions.
Guns under $150: Air rifles
A couple guns that used to be in this category have fallen off the list, in my opinion. They did so due to major changes in product quality. Even at this low level, a gun has to shine to make the list.
Crosman’s 1077 is a wonderful 12-shot CO2 repeater. It’s accurate, reliable and a lot of fun to shoot. This budget rifle is accurate enough to benefit from a scope.
The Crosman M4-177 multi-pump is another wonderful value for the price. It’s accurate, has a tactical look and is very rugged. As a bonus, this is a five-shot repeater!
The Gamo Lady Recon makes the list for its accuracy, ease of operation and the fact that it comes with open sights. The plain Recon doesn’t have open sights and misses the list for the lack. This is a lot of youth air rifle for the money, but I suppose only girls will like it because of the pink color.
Stoeger’s X5 makes the list for accuracy and build quality. The one drawback with this one is the heavy trigger. But if you get past that, this is a lot of airgun for the money.
Daisy’s Powerline 953 TargetPro is a budget version of that company’s 853 target rifle. Though it lacks the Lothar Walther barrel, the 953 manages to do quite well with its domestic barrel. It’s a great way to get into target shooting without spending a bundle.
Buy the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 only if you like hitting what you shoot at. Billed as the world’s most accurate BB gun and the only gun used in the International BB Gun Championships (because nothing else can compete with it), the 499 is every target shooter’s dream. Sure, it’s a BB gun, but one that will put 10 shots inside Roosevelt’s head on a dime offhand at 5 yards.
And the winner among air rifles in this price range is the Air Venturi Bronco. It is, without question, the most accurate pellet rifle under $150, and it has the best trigger of the category as well.
Guns under $150: Air pistols
For informal target shooting, you can’t do any better than Beeman’s P17 single-stroke pistol. It’s a Chinese-made copy of the German-made Beeman P3 that costs many times more, yet the P17 holds its own on power and accuracy. A few of them have been known to have reliability issues; but if you oil yours with Pellgunoil, I think you’ll get past that. I’ve owned two, and both were perfect.
There used to be several different models of this next gun to choose from, but the last one standing is the Crosman 357W. A pellet revolver for under $50, this CO2-powered gun has inspired shooters for decades. It has the accuracy you want and ease of operation, plus it’s a pellet revolver!
Another super buy is the Crosman 2240 .22-caliber single-shot pistol. This gun is the direct descendant of Crosman pistols dating all the way back to the 1940s. It’s accurate, powerful and a wonderful value.
The Crosman 1377C is a classic multi-pump air pistol selling for half the price of most other pump guns. It has the power and accuracy to hold its own against challengers selling at more than twice the price. Plus, it’s the basis of many hobby airgunners’ projects.
The Makarov BB pistol is the best BB pistol in this or any other price category. It’s accurate, reliable and extremely realistic. If you like to hit what you shoot at and want to shoot BBs, this is the gun to buy!
If you want a fun, realistic BB revolver, they don’t get any better than the Dan Wesson BB revolver. I’ve linked to the 8-inch barreled gun, but all the barrel lengths and finishes cost the same and provide the same great service.
Guns $150-250: Air rifles
Not as many guns in this price category, because I hold them to a higher standard. With guns like the Bronco and the Beeman P17 out there, most higher-priced guns can’t deliver.
Hatsan recently decided to go it alone in the U.S., but I haven’t had a chance to test anything they offer. Back when they were making guns for whatever conglomerate financial organization owned Webley at the time, who knows what craziness they were forced to make? So, they should be given the chance to make and sell good guns on their own. Time will tell, but this year I have no information, so they didn’t make the list.
With all the product-cheapening that’s been going on, it’s been difficult to see that the Diana RWS 34P has progressively morphed into a fine air rifle. The barrel got better, the trigger did the same and the powerplant went from a cheap buzzy nightmare in the 1980s to a dream gun in 2012. Diana avoided the Gamo pitfall of going to more power, and, instead, they concentrated on giving us a great rifle with reasonable power and splendid accuracy. You do need to use the artillery hold to get it, though. This one deserves credit for being a wonderful air rifle. When I list the 34P, I’m actually including all 34 rifles.
Guns $150-250: Air pistols
Same thing goes for air pistols as for rifles. Too much competition from the lower-price category and not enough innovation and quality in this one.
I can’t say enough good things about the Smith & Wesson 586 4-inch CO2 revolver. It’s a “real” gun! Get one if you like fine double- and single-action triggers, smooth revolver actions plus stunning accuracy. The realism cannot be faulted. Same thing goes for the 6-inch barreled gun.
Some of you may remember my story about telling the then-president of Crosman why airgunners would drop $150 on a handgun he sold for $39.95. Well, he left the company, and the new management decided to build these modified guns themselves! The Crosman 2300S is one such gun. It’s based on the 2240 frame, but has a boatload of high-value appointments that are just what most airgunners want. Can’t beat it for the price.
I’m going to include the Daisy Avanti 747 Triumph Match, which is somewhat quirky and more than a little clunky, but it’s the lowest-cost real target pistol available. The Lothar Walther barrel is what makes it rank above the nearly identical 717. And, Daisy, could you please give this gun a couple more names? I can still pronounce it without taking a breath.
What’s this? I put the Beeman P17 on this list for under $150 and I’m also putting the Beeman P3 on the same list? Yep. This one is good, too. Better trigger than the P17 and just as accurate and powerful. Want a better gun? Get a P3.
Well, that’s my list. You might ask me what the criteria were to make the list. Simple. These are the airguns I can recommend and not hear anything bad about them. That doesn’t mean that everyone likes all of them. It means that the guns, themselves, don’t have any bad habits or features that make people mad at me for recommending them. Next time, I’ll do a $250-500 list and an unlimited one. You think I was picky today? Just wait.
A note from Edith: This is a G-rated site
Recently, I’ve noticed some acronyms creeping in that aren’t G-rated. If you have a budding young airgunner that you’ve encouraged to read the blog and the comments, do you want to have to explain to him what those initials mean? Probably not, so it’s best if we don’t use those colorful words/acronyms in our comments.
Also, when symbols have to replace letters in a word because the word is offensive, please don’t use that word…with or without symbols. I appreciate your help in keeping Airgun Academy a G-rated site and a place where airgunners of every age can comfortably ask questions and grow to love the shooting sports.
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, I have an announcement about Pyramyd Air’s holiday operating hours. Pyramyd Air will close at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, December 23. They will remain closed Friday, December 24, through Sunday, December 26.
FedEx will not make deliveries on December 24. So, if you’re going to pull that trigger on an airgun buy, guys, the clock is ticking.
Today’s report series was inspired by a report from last week — Roundball accuracy in smoothbores. I wrote that one while I was in the hospital, mostly because I didn’t have much access to airguns. But, whenever I start writing about the fundamentals of stuff…like accuracy, my juices start flowing.
To tell the truth, I was so impressed by the smooth, uniform appearance of the RWS BB that I promised myself that I’d do this report. In the past, I pitted both Daisy zinc-plated BBs and Crosman Copperheads against Daisy’s Avanti Precision Ground Shot in a test using the Daisy Avanti 499 — the undisputed world’s most accurate BB gun.
Another thing I really wanted to do this time was shoot my targets offhand from the regulation 16.4 feet (5 meters). I’ve often rested the 499 when I used it in the past, but today I want to see what a 63-year-old man just out of major surgery could do while standing on his feet. Since this will not be the only testing I’ll do with this BB, I figure it doesn’t make that much difference.
Now, for the bad news. I’m not that stable, yet. I was weaving around so much while standing offhand that I finally rested the side of my right arm on the top of a dresser to stop me from weaving around too much. The rifle wasn’t rested in any way, but I was touching some furniture, so I wouldn’t have been in a legal stance for a match.
My heart rate is normally 55-65 bpm when shooting offhand. During this test, it was 88 bpm and hammering hard because of all the medication I’m taking (fortunately, that’s temporary). That would be my heart rated two minutes after the end of a short but hard bike ride, when the breathing had just returned to normal.
The gun weighs about 3.5 lbs. so it was no challenge to hold. And, the cocking effort is also just over 3 lbs., so again, no strain.
Now, for the BBs
I normally don’t do comparisons, but since that’s exactly what this report series is about, I have to. Daisy’s Avanti Precision Ground Shot, which I have also called by its older name in past reports, No. 515 precision Ground Shot, is exceptionally smooth and uniform. The reason Daisy wouldn’t sell the 499 gun to the general public for many years was because they felt they couldn’t keep up with the demand for ammo. This shot is made by processes not unlike those that make regular BBs, but the level of tolerance is held closer to that of ball bearings.
The 499 is loaded singly at the muzzle, and it takes Avanti Precision Shot three to five seconds to roll down the tube and seat against the magnet. I’ll admit the time is most often closer to three seconds than five, but once during the session I had one take the full amount. So, this really is precision shot — it’s not just a name.
This is the Avanti Precision Ground Shot that makes the 499 do what it does. I know this photo isn’t the sharpest, but you can still see enough to make a rough comparison. I’ll try to get a sharper image for a future report.
RWS Match Grade Precision Steel BBs
The RWS BB caught my eye because I noticed during the BB submachine gun tests how uniform they look. They appear to be even smoother than the Avanti shot under a 10x jeweler’s loupe. Of course, that could just be how the plating makes them appear, but I wanted to conduct this test to find out if they were indeed more uniform.
They roll down the 499 barrel in 1.5 seconds. So, they’re ever-so-slightly smaller in diameter. I think we’re talking one ten-thousandth of an inch and no more. The sound they make rolling down is very different, too. They sound smoother, while the Avanti BBs sound like they have a tiny bit of roughness.
The reflective index of the RWS BB is higher than the Avanti, and it’s impossible to see any imperfections on the surface of the ball at 10x. Again, I’ll try to get a sharper image in the future.
My test plan was real simple. I would shoot several 5-shot groups at the target with each BB, alternating them so I wasn’t tiring as I went. Then I would select the best group from each BB to show. I will also comment on the rest of the groups.
The rifle turned out to not be sighted-in, but I didn’t worry about that. I was looking for grouping over score in this test. Right from the start I discovered that even an old sicko can still shoot this marvelous BB gun. My best groups are all half the size of a dime and the worst are only slightly larger than that coin.
Five RWS BBs did very well, but they’re not quite equal to the Avanti shot.
All the groups, save the first, were very nearly the same size. And, it was clear that the worst group of 5 Avanti BBs is about as good as the best group of 5 RWS Match Grade BBs.
What surprised me the most was the consistency of both BBs in this gun. Their groups were not that dissimilar from one to another. Except for the very first group where I was still learning the gun, all are far smaller than an American dime.
Testing doesn’t end here, though. I still want to test both BBs in the No. 25 pump gun to see if a non-target gun can detect a difference.