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Marlin Cowboy BB gun – Part 3

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.

57 thoughts on “Marlin Cowboy BB gun – Part 3”

  1. Good morning B.B. and Edith,

    Mrs Gaylord, I hope that you and Tom had a rest filled night. Looks RWS has a winner with their BB’s. A bunch of folks are undoubtedly waiting to see how they fare when shot out of a Daisy Avanti Champion 499.


  2. Mr B.

    Did the touchup on the 97K a few minutes ago with the BSA scope.
    Some wind (a lot more than I wanted), 20yds. From a sand bag got a 10 shot group 3/8″ c-t-c that was 1/4″ low. Was not holding much steadier than the group size. Adjusted up 8 clicks and called it good enough for now.
    The sidewheel shook loose as expected.


    • The 97k does have some inherent, destructive force on scopes. Funny thing is, you don’t feel it but it’s there. Mine finally destroyed the Bushnell that was on it for over 3 years. The windage turret housing actually came loose from the main housing!

      • I think a good test for a scope would be to withstand a tin of pellets through the Turkish made Daisy that I have. After a couple dozen pellets it looked like one of the scope mounts (the one against the scope stop) was starting to lean a bit. I am sure that it would probably rip a mount loose in 100 shots.


        • Two Talon: Speaking of Daisy’s , the cheap 3-9X air gun scope that they sell will take a lot of abuse. I’ve got two that I usually use for testing the guns with recoil issues, like Hatsans. Had to play with the objective end of the scope to get it to focus at close range, but other than that , I haven’t killed them yet. I’ve killed two Center- points though, Robert.

          • I have 3 or 4 of the same cheapo scopes with the only visible difference being the logo on the eyepiece. May pick the cleanest one of the bunch to play with. Probably attempt to set parallax for 25 yds.

            One thing about very simple scopes…less things to break.


          • I found the Crosman and Powerline 3-9x scopes and adjusted them as close as I could at 20yds. The Crosman was still acceptable at 30 yds but the Powerline was not. I think about 25yds would be about best for parallax .

            I have a Beeman and a Gamo around here somewhere if I remember right.

            Tried to get the front ring loose on the 4x Centerpoint that came with the Titan , but was unable to break it loose. Parallax is unacceptable within the range I want to use it.
            Let’s see now….
            Pipe wrench or acetylene torch?


  3. BB,

    As I mentioned in an earlier part of this series, this gun is getting horrible press on the net. Mostly concerning accuracy with also a significant number saying the quality is poor.

    I would not invest my money in it. But does anyone have experience with the Daisy RR 70th anniversary model? Wal Mart has it on sale right now for $25 and I am wondering if it is a good gun?

    Hope BB is doing well!


    • pcp4me

      I initially liked the look of the Marlin, but soured on it after several shipping setbacks and “Made In China”. One of my favorite movies of all time is “A Christmas Story”. Given my recent airgun addiction, I could not put off a Red Ryder purchase any longer. The local Wally World had 70th Anniversary RRs in a box, rather than the hideous bubble pack, for $27. I took the first one back, because it was scratched on the paint. I was worried the replacement wouldn’t shoot as well. The replacement RR was even better. I can’t miss a soda can at 10 yards which is all I wanted. The plastic cocking lever is plenty stiff for the tame spring, and flexes less than the powerline model cocking levers. The stock and forearm are all wood, and though stained orange, were without flaw. This was very important to me. The biggest drawback is the trigger. It isn’t too heavy or too creepy for a gun that costs less than an oil change. It is butt ugly however. It is plastic, and clunky looking, and the plastic safety is square. If it had a metal trigger, and metal trigger guard with no safety, it would be the perfect BB gun.

      Loading a BB is never a problem with me. The action of cocking the lever forces me to lift the gun at just the right angle to load a BB every time. Plus it has a little hole cut into the top so you can see if there is a BB loaded or not. My problem is I get so worked up, I am shooting too fast to check for the BB! I highly recommend it. At that price you can’t lose. BG Farmer’s 2 part report on the RR rekindled my fascination with the RR. If only it had a compass, and a sundial in the stock, I would be in heaven. One day I hope to find one of those “A Christmas Story” Anniversary Editions.

      I am also on the lookout for an Avanti 499. Don’t ask me where I will put them. I am running out of room.

      • SL: You should look for a used Daisy Champion 99, which has the removable shot tube like the 25. There are usually a couple on the classifieds. I have one we played with when I was small, and now my 7&10 year old boys use it. That’s over forty years of trouble free service . They fight over it because it is so accurate for a repeating BB gun. Even will keep the Crosman BB’s under two inches at 15 yards, and Daisy’s will stay around an inch and a half. Have to try some Avanti’s and RWS BB’s in it sometime,Robert.

  4. pcp4me,

    When I was teaching my youngest daughter to shoot a few years ago I tried a recent vintage Red Ryder, and the accuracy was terribly disappointing.

    After a few more tries like a Crosman 760, which was accurate but she could not cock it, I asked BB and he recommended the Daisy 499. That was the ticket. Being a single shot it is also very safe and instills good habits.

    Matter a fact; I would often play with it. Wanting a multi shot excitement I searched for and found a Daisy 99 Champion, the precursor to the 499, very nice and solid and almost as accurate.
    My example was from the late 1960’s and still LNIB.

    Either of those BB guns are worthy of an adults attention.

  5. TX 200 maintenance:

    When cocking and firing the TX in .177, which I got about 2 months ago, I hear two things:

    – A slight buzzing when cocking. Not bad, but it makes me wonder if I have to lubricate something inside. Buzzing does not happen when closing the breech.
    – When firing, I can hear and feel a twang and I am not sure it is the spring or the stock.

    I have not taken the rifle apart. I am wondering if I need to do this and what would I do about it. There is always the option of ignoring it and waiting to see of it gets worse. Accuracy is not suffering at all.

    Is there any special maintenance of the beautiful bluing (fingerprint marks are really bothersome to see) and the walnut stock.


    • T.E.

      I’m no expert on the TX200 but, I would suggest that the “buzzing” upon cocking is from the anti bear trap mechanism. By buzzing, do you mean a ratcheting feel or sound? Buzzing usually implies a frequency in metals and for a spring gun that would be a mainspring.

      The “twang” sounds like spring torque noise upon sear release or firing. Do you feel a slight torque or rollover of the gun upon firing?

      • Brian,

        no, it is not the anti-bear trap mechanism. It sounds a little like when you wipe a mirror. Maybe buzz is not the right word

        No rollover. I think the spring needs tar, but I have never done that before!

        • OK, then if it feels/sounds more like a “mirror”, then see Volvo’s comments on Lubrication.

          That sound is typically two (2) highly polished surfaces contacting each other or… one polished surface riding over or through a rubber like substance such as an o-ring (chatter) Likely the sliding chamber which is polished or fine finished surface.

          I have never used any Tar type substances on my springers however, their purpose is dampening, not really lubrication. That should quiet or fix twang type noise and vibes.

          Dri-slide and other moly substances like Beeman brand can be useful on all of the mechanisms.

    • Tunnel,

      You must buy this lube kit:


      Clear will go on the sliding breech, heavy tar goes on the spring through the cocking slot – use a screw driver to put it on – it will spread itself as you shoot. Don’t overdo it, most people use way too much.

      The moly will go anywhere metal to metal meets like the trigger or pivot hinges. Make sure not to overdo the trigger and wipe all excess off.

      As far protecting the metal, Beeman MP5, Break-free, etc.

      On the wood a good paste wax inside and out will help. Tibet Almond stick will fix scratches.

      • Volvo,

        I’ve been using a product called RustFree sold by A.G. Russell as a rust preventative for his carbon steel knives, tools and guns. It’s a very viscous liquid that is a silicone product. I’ve done all my guns and carbon steel knives without any seemingly adverse effects and I’ve been using it for a couple of years now.

        Hmm, just thought of something, I wonder if it would prevent leading when shooting CP’s if I treated the bore with it? Seems like “lubing” the bore would be easier than lubing the pellets. Any thoughts on the feasibility of that?

        PS I still think about your story of how you shopped for your daughter’s car.

        • Mr. B,

          The Buick is still running, despite the fact that she wrecked it after about two months. Thank goodness no one was hurt.

          Not sure on the lube, I try and shoot CP’s at under 850 fps so no need to worry about leading.

    • TE,

      Mine started doing the same thing when the tip of the factory spring broke off (had it about a year). I almost couldn’t call it a “broken spring” the piece was so small – just a little chip off the flat part on the end. But it was just enough to cause some buzz without really affecting FPS. Maccari has mentioned quite a few times that Air Arms springs are prone to failure, and I guess mine was no exception.

      I would definitely recommend taking it apart for an examination. You could have little broken pieces of hardened steel bouncing around in your powerplant, and if that’s the case, it might soon get much worse. Maccari sells replacement springs and tune kits that are a drop in fit for around 90 bucks. I went with a Vortek kit on mine, and although I lost somewhere between 1-2 FPE, it is incredibly smooth.

      – Orin

  6. I’ve been so busy feeling happy that I thought you could read my mind 🙂 Sorry I didn’t post an update sooner.

    Things were a little touch-and-go on Wednesday. They thought Tom might be leaking inside because the 2 additional units of blood they gave him evaporated within 8 hours. So, they gave him 2 more (total of 6 within 24 hrs). However, last night proved to be a happy turning point. Whatever was leaking inside has stopped itself (a common occurrence). The new drain they put in his side (to catch the fluid produced by the pancreas after surgery…a known issue with all pancreatic surgery) has diminished its output so significantly, that I’m stunned. Instead of 20cc every hour, it put out 20cc over 8 hrs. Tom’s holding his own, his vital signs are stable and he’s experiencing little or no pain.

    I’ll visit him between 1-2pm today and report back if there are any significant changes or any news.

    I don’t know when Tom will be able to come home, but he’s already bugging me that he’s got to write up some blogs for next week. I have blogs to take him through Monday, so he’ll get busy on blogs for the rest of week. He’s not allowed to sit around and feel sorry for himself. Occupying the mind is therapeutic and useful 🙂


    • Just called the hospital again, and Tom’s allowed to drink coffee and tea today (his first bit of stuff by mouth since Monday night). He’s already been out of bed today, and the nurse will take him for a walk later this morning. Hallelujah!


    • Mrs. Gaylord,

      Very encouraging update. Thank you. Glad to hear they’ve got him out of bed and moving. I agree with you that moving and writing will speed his recovery. Whining causes setbacks. LOL!


    • The great news keeps coming.. Thank you Edith, and thanks be to the Father for these great results..

      I’m picturing Tom with his .45lc playing cowboy at the range again… I like that image.. I’ll keep it awhile.

      Wacky Wayne

    • Edith, thanks for the update. Great news. Yes, attitude is important. The last time I was in a hospital, I was forced to walk down the hall by a nurse after a day of harassment and mismanagement. She propped up my head first thing in the morning and almost made me pass out from an adverse reaction to anaesthetic. Then, she bullied me into getting out of bed only an hour later and I almost collapsed so that the doctor had to give me a shot of Demerol. When the nurse returned from lunch, she was at it again badgering me to get up and making various uncalled for threats having to do with a catheter! After my walk, I was rejuvenated with rage like the Incredible Hulk and checked myself out of the hospital and went home where I was at least able to sleep in peace more or less continuously for the next three days.

      But good feelings are always better. Glad that Tom is in good hands.


      • Matt61,

        I don’t accept that type of behavior from anyone, and I won’t allow anyone to take advantage of my husband when he’s under their care. Nurse Ratchet? I’d have kicked her butt!


        • Well things are really looking up. I’ll continue to hold my breath until BB gets out of the hospital. On another good note, I have finished my jury duty! This afternoon, I and 100 others got called into a courtroom for selection for a theft by deception case. The judge said the case would probably go 6 weeks. I was already plotting how to not get selected when they announced they had filled the jury and the rest of us were free to go!


          Fred PRoNJ

  7. In truth I’m glad this gun is turning out to be dog.
    Though there may be some sublte differences it is to me a blatant rip of of the Daisy, at least in concept.
    I’d hate to think a company as venerable as Daisy, which has done so much to get youth interested in shooting over the last 75 years (or more) would lose money because another company brings out a cheaper (in price and quality) gun.
    We have two Red Ryders in the family, that we’ve had for about 4 years now. I’ve lost count of the 1500 count bottles of b.b.s the kids have gone through…I’d say it is safe to say that they both have upwards of 5000 shots.
    I can honestly say that in all those shots the failures to feed number less than 30 or 40. We’ve spend numerous days shooting without a failure in either gun.

  8. A quote from Mrs. Slinging Lead earlier this week:

    “Can we go shooting this weekend, at THE RANGE?”

    “Sure, whatever you want honey.”

    “I wanna shoot the glock. It’s a .45 isn’t it?”

    “No, the glock is a 9mm, smaller than a .45.”

    “I wanna shoot a .45. Do we have one?”

    This from the person who sneers at every gun purchase. ( rolling eyes )

  9. Good news about Tom — tell him to keep up the good work, assuming he’s not just laying around trying to convince the younger nurses that he really hasn’t had his sponge bath yet :).

    I hate to say it, but I made up my mind about the Cowboy Gun long before the accuracy test. Seems like poetic justice that it doesn’t shoot that well. Daisy should put a few more metal parts on the Red Ryder and show the world the real lever-action king of cowboy BB guns :).

  10. This blog tells it like it is. Good wood and metal and bad function and accuracy. I’d say that the priorities are all wrong here. Maybe this would be good for reproducing the inaccuracy of the early lever actions but that’s about it.

    CowBoyStar Dad, nice job with the Leopard tank. I hear that it is being used very effectively overseas and the U.S. military is imitating its tactical use.

    Yesterday’s news announced the use of the new M25 smart grenade launcher which has actually been in the field for about a year. I think this is worth noting as the fruit of one of the bigger boondoggles in Pentagon history. It started out over a decade ago as the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) which combined a smart grenade launcher, assault rifle and a sort of sensor system. Early prototypes were reminiscent of Rube Goldberg and so heavy that the evaluators from the 82nd Airborne would tip over and thrash on their backs like overturned turtles. At least now we get a grenade launcher out of it. But after all of this comedy, it seems like the weapon is pretty good. It sounds like a grenade launcher that reaches out to 700 yards with a sort of built-in Chairgun computer that calculates projectile drop and timing of the fuse. Shooting skill is a thing of the past and so is cover for the enemy. That would be nice if this “game-changing” weapon can provide a military solution to our geopolitical problem. On the other hand, what happens when the enemy gets hold of this thing. One of the ideas of the OICW project was to create some sort of security device based on DNA identification so that only certain people could operate it, but no doubt that has gone by the wayside.


    • Boy…the Cowboy sure took a beating on here today!

      My model 25 doesn’t exactly shoot on target either. Sometimes it’s 2 or 3 shots within a 2″ circle and then… flyer to outside ring at 1 o’clock, then 5 o’clock etc. 5″ groups not uncommon.

      I guess I should just relish the nostalgia and try to hit beer cans with it?

  11. Hi BB –
    I have lurked here and there and glad to see you’re up and at ’em again! I have a combined air/blackpowder question – can I use my air rifle scope on a muzzleloader?
    Best rgds

    • Ozark, BB is in the hospital (a good thing) and won’t be back at it for a few days.

      If your airgun scope is rated for magnum springers (dual action recoil) then it should do just fine on BP guns. In fact, you will often see BP scopes listed on websites with the airgun scopes.

  12. “Only time will tell if this new BB gun will take its place alongside the classics.” I don’t think we will have to wait long on this one………let’s see………times up. It didn’t even come close, at least not this version. It needs a lot of work………..if the company is willing to do it.


  13. I have a Red Ryder question. My friend with the 1950ish RR is wanting to replace the piston seal but can’t figure out how to get at the seal. It appears to him that he has removed all the removable parts there is and now he’s planning to remove the rivets thinking that will gain him entry to the seal.

    Isn’t there an issue with removing the spring? Like a lot of preload on it? How do you remove the spring and get to the seal…and is this something he should be getting involved in?


    • Chuck, DON’T have your friend remove the rivets.

      You might find that the spring and the guts are held in by – the rear sight, made from a flat metal piece that extends into the gun. It would be anchored on one end by the slot in the top of the gun (where it sticks out) and the other end hooks over one of those rivet pins that goes through the side of the gun.

      Spring compression is handled by getting or making a tool that can reach around that anchor and push it forward a bit. There shouldn’t be all that much preload.

      Is he sure the seal needs replacing? Did he oil it real good?

  14. New to this post. Not sure how to place comment or suggestion. But..I’ve read about pellets coming in tins without screw tops or a way to fasten the containers lid. I found a useful pellet container for the field. An empty “ICEBREAKERS” breath mint container works great, fill in the large opening and just shake 1 or 2 out of the smaller opening.

    • Dave,

      That’s a great idea!

      You have posted to an older post. Come to today’s post here:


      That is the best way to reach everybody on this blog. We have no rules about staying with a subject, so just post anything you want.

      And welcome to the blog,


  15. Contrary to the review, my Marlin Cowboy is fairly accurate, hitting a 3 inch target at 15 metres 7 of 10 with the strays not that far off. The comment about the feed problem is accurate, about 1 of every 10 or so is a blank. The sight seems to be set for 5/10/15/20 metres as when I remember to resight for distance it is very accurate on the level. Does tend to shoot slightly to the right – perhaps one inch at 20 metres.

    The cocking is tight, but I like that – kids can’t easily get it set up

    the only complaint I have is that the stock being 2 inches longer would make it easier to handle (for an adult) – however, since I am 59 going on 8 – what’s the diff?

  16. I like the Marlin Cowboy very much. It looks like a real Marlin that I have owned. Fit and finish at this price point is amazing. I have no problem with LOP, even though I am 6 feet tall. Then again, I’m a stock crawler. I use Daisy Zinc Coated BBs only. Looking at them with a 10X loupe, the surface looks like a golf ball, vs. the Crosman BB which looks like the surface of the moon..uneven and irregular. Look at them yourself. My Marlin doesn’t miss a shot loading and accuracy seems just like my Red Ryder and Model 25. Yes, I over lubed with Crosman PellGun Oil, and I got smoke out of the barrel couple times. How cool is that ! Yaw Hoo, Cowboy !
    Anyway, the Marlin Cowboy belongs in everyone’s Collection. SIDEBAR: Tom, your accuracy in the Crosman 2100B Blog is fantastic. Got to buy one !
    Pete in California

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