by B.B. Pelletier

Before I start, I wanted you to know that the December podcast posted yesterday.

Part 1
Part 2

The new Marlin Cowboy BB gun is a beauty!

Today, I’ll test the Marlin Cowboy for accuracy. It’s a good-looking new BB gun but a couple issues like hard cocking, a heavy trigger and a couple failures to feed have me riding the fence on its success.

We have three BBs to test in the gun: Daisy zinc-plated BBs, the Crosman Copperhead BBs and the RWS BBs that Pyramyd Air doesn’t currently stock. Testing is offhand, standing 15 feet from the target and using a Crosman 850 pellet and BB trap because it traps most of the BBs.

Trouble from the get-go!
First out the spout were Daisy zinc-plated BBs. They tended to group near the point of aim, which was a 6 o’clock hold on a 10-meter pistol target. When I went up to the trap, I found only 5 of the 10 holes in the target. So, 5 BBs missed the 7″x8″ target paper altogether. From 15 feet! Now, I’m not a great marksman by anyone’s definition, but at this same distance shooting a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun, I can keep all my shots on an American dime, which is 0.705 inches. So, missing a target that’s 10 times larger is pretty bad.

I moved up to 12 feet and shot again. Now, all shots landed on paper. In fact, they were in a pretty good group. If I had shot that target from 15 feet, all would have been right with the world; but having to stand 3 feet closer was a bummer!

A pretty good group, but I had to shoot it from 12 feet instead of 15. Daisy zinc-plated BBs.

I wanted to blame the wide rear sight notch for my accuracy problems until I checked a Daisy Red Ryder. My vintage No. 111 model 40 Red Ryder has a rear notch three times wider then the one on the Marlin Cowboy, so no complaints, there. Not because a Red Ryder is all that accurate, but because it has been the gold standard for the past 60 years.

Following Daisy zinc BBs, I loaded up with Crosman Copperheads and tried again. This time, I started at 12 feet, which was a good thing, because Copperheads were not as accurate in the Cowboy. There were also more failures to feed with Copperheads than with the other two BBs, though the gun did have feeding problems with all three.

Crosman Copperheads didn’t group as well, despite shooting from just 12 feet. They seem too loose for the shot tube.

Following the Copperheads I loaded some of the new RWS BBs in the Cowboy and shot once more. Again, the distance was 12 feet. The RWS BBs fed better than the Copperheads and grouped almost as tight as the Daisy zincs. I think this is a BB that needs more testing, because they seem to run neck-and-neck with Daisy zincs in most guns, and who knows what they would do in a 499? In fact, that sounds like a good test to me.

As we’ve seen in other tests, the RWS BBs hold their own with Daisy zincs. They merit future testing.

I also think I might test an original Red Ryder this same way, just to get a comparison between vintage and modern. Because the Marlin Cowboy has a gravity-feed magazine it wouldn’t be fair to test it against a Daisy No. 25 with its forced-feed magazine, but a vintage Red Ryder might be very interesting.

Back in the 1950s, I can remember wanting to mount scopes on my BB guns, because I was under the impression that a scope would somehow make the gun more accurate. The Daisy guns of that age were just beginning to come with scopes, so it was very possible to get them that way, though I never had one. But, I’m mentioning it because I can see no similar provision to mount a scope on the Marlin Cowboy. Have we forgotten the lesson of the upsell?

Final impression
Wood and metal seem to be the Cowboy’s strong points. Functioning and accuracy are its drawbacks. Only time will tell if this new BB gun will take its place alongside the classics.