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Testing the RWS BB – Part 1

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.

The best of several groups that were very nearly the same size. Five Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot. The black bull is about the size of an American dime.

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.

40 thoughts on “Testing the RWS BB – Part 1”

  1. BB,

    Glad you are feeling better.

    Do you think the larger groups with the RWS “match” bb’s was because they are smaller and there fore fit the bore looser?

    I think match shooters would need to have a barrel sized specifically for the bb they are using.

  2. If you don’t have paper targets, cat-food (or other) cans make great targets, each can-end is a nice round circle that will show the BB or pellet impact. The pop-top can lids have a very nice ring on the lid to hang it by, or bend it to hook it to a wire fence etc.

    I’d like to know how that Avanti is different from my Red Ryder. At first glance, I’d assume it just has a nicer trigger (same mechanism, just with a trigger job) and a peep rear sight and a hooded front. I had a Marksman Biathlon Trainer years ago and what a fun little plinker that was. Even ignorant of the artillary hold, it was a real little dinger with its target sights. The rear was a micrometer-adjustable peep lovingly crafted in plastic with a rubber eye cup. The key with that was to take an X-acto knife and cut out the innermost ring or two in the rubber eyecup, so I was looking THROUGH it and not AT it, the actual peep hole is inside. The second important thing is to take that front sight, a post with a little ball on top, and trim off the ball. You need to do that to get the thing to zero. Sights like that on my Gamo Delta would make it the perfect gun.

    • Flobert,

      The 499 is as different from the Red Ryder as a 10-meter target rifle differs from a breakbarrel springer. It is purpose-built for accuracy, and this report shows that potential. World champion shooters can keep all their shots inside the 10-ring of this same target.


    • Flobert

      The Avanti 499 is different because of the precision of the barrel. It is tighter than the barrel of your Red Ryder, and likely any other BB gun for that matter. That is why it takes so long for the BB to get seated (3-5 seconds), because the barrel is so tight.

      There are other differences as well. The 499 is a single shot, loaded by dropping a BB down the barrel. The Red Ryder is gravity fed by a large reservoir. The 499 costs a good deal more than a Red Ryder.

  3. Hello BB,
    Although totally impractical but just for a one off test, how about using a ‘patched’ BB like in a black powder gun?
    See what that does for accuracy.

    • I don’t think you could find any cloth thin enough to patch a bb and get it down the barrel.
      You have to have a loose enough fit between bore and ball to allow for the patch material.


      • BB: I had a uncle who had a pump -up bolt action Crosman 101, Rochester,or Kessler air rifle that loaded through the breech(I don’t remember the exact make as it was over 35 years ago) and he showed me a patching trick like Dave UK mentions. Except that we didn’t load the patched projectile from the muzzle. He took a smaller diameter pellet and rolled it in some tissue paper,pushed it in the breech, and used it to shoot a pidgeon because he didn’t have any the right size at the time. He would also put a wad of tissue paper in the breech first followed by three lead bb shot, and another wad. and then use these to shot at pests and it worked well. Thought some might find that interesting even if you probably shouldn’t do that,Robert.

  4. B.B.,

    This article is the last evidence I need to confirm that you’re a passionate shooter of anything that lobs a projectile locked in the body of a very curious scientist that enjoys being an inventor and engineer in his spare time.

    Not sure how those photo’s of the different bb’s can be better. The reflecting light off that miniscule subject would be a nightmare for me. It’s time for an updated macro photo tutorial with emphasis on lighting tricks and camera settings.

    I visit airgun and firearm auction sites daily and know for a fact that the overwhelming majority of gun owners don’t know how to take a decent picture of their guns or scopes or bits and pieces. I’m constantly amazed at what a lack of decent photo’s costs these owners since even a thorough and honest description is no substitute for a good photo.

    The title of this updated subject could be “How to photograph a gun for the purpose of selling at the highest price or documenting condition for insurance purposes”.


        • Kevin

          Despite your modesty, you take a damn fine picture yourself. My guess is you get top dollar when you sell. And you always seem to have all original literature, box, hang-tags etc, etc. Some of the finer photos I have seen on the yellow have been from you. If I am not mistaken, people borrow them from time to time, no?

          • Slinging Lead,

            Kind of you to say. I’m still learning and photographing things like serial numbers and markings on bluing I struggle with. I’ve tried painting with light, putting chalk in the stampings and it still won’t come out. I’ve never been a photographer but the internet has forced me to learn.

            Yes, I’ve seen folks borrow my pictures on other blogs. It’s quite a compliment to me but seems desperate since almost anyone can take a better photo than me.

            My fear is that if I quit learning new things I’ll shrivel up and die.


    • Kevin,

      You know, I like your idea! Since we’re already talking about how to buy and sell airguns to break even or make money, the photo end of it fits right in.

      And today’s digital cameras are so capable of high-quality photos beyond the capabilities of those using them that we ought to learn to use them to their fullest.


    • John R,

      Did you get the mounts with 30mm rings from tawnado? These were the mounts/rings with the traverse pin to fit in the FWB 124/127 cross slots on top of the receiver right?


  5. Regarding the photos, I think the only way to photograph such a tiny subject with any significant sharpness would be with a dedicated macro lens, or at the very least a reversed SLR lens.

    • john r,

      The descriptions of the 1″ rings is great. You’re right. The descriptions on the 30mm rings are lacking. I can’t remember which 30mm mount has the traverse pin. I’m curious so I emailed michael and will let you know when he responds.


  6. B.B. thanks for soldiering through the test. Could we assume that the slightly lower accuracy of the RWS bbs is due to their smaller size that would enable more bounce down the shot tube?

    I’m supposing that the necessary weight to stabilize a target gun is a relative thing because any gun can be too heavy or too light for an individual. So, is it fair to say that a youth rifle can be sufficiently stable if you can find someone small enough to shoot it?

    FrankB., I suppose that breakbarrels are the popular starter model, but with all my purchases and rationalizations, I’ve never had the occasion to purchase one. I suppose deep down I found fixed geometry guns more reassuring and purchased sidelevers instead. Also, all my shooting is at targets, so I never needed the light weight of a gun to carry in the field.


    • Matt

      If you ever have the hankering for a break barrel just for the heck of it, git yourself an HW-30S or a Beeman R7 with a couple years on it. They are pure delight to shoot, and will allay any doubts about the consistency of lockup/accuracy you might have. It’s a keeper.

        • Kevin

          I have four Weihrauch guns at this point, and I don’t get tired of any of them. I’ve got two R7’s , an HW50S and a Beeman P1. The Paul Watts R7 is obviously a distant first place.

          I also acquired a Belgian Hy-Score 801 recently, and having much fun with that.

            • You know the Belgium Hy-Score 801 is missing in the Bluebook.So is the Slavia 619 Deluxe Relum,the ZVP 616 pistol……and who knows what else.What an impossible task compiling that much info must be!
              My 801 needs the trigger held foreward for the sear to hold……..but I wouldn’t part with it.The old world hand checkering sits so proudly on it,it is without peer in my collection,AND the only one sporting a pellet seater! The Face of the buttstock is hand crosshatched wood with “Made in Belgium”
              down the middle.Thank you to David Enoch,who I believe I recieved it from…..it WAS you,wasn’t it David? (mine is .22,rifled with a sweetly tapered barrel)

              • FrankB, I believe the 901 is a Diana 25 – which is a lil’ Diana 27, so I’d think that it’d have the 3-ball trigger that BB did an teardown on a while back. So fixing that bad (or missing) trigger return spring oughta be pretty easy.

    • Matt,

      Yes, I think the slight size reduction was why the RWS BB is not as accurate as the Avanti.

      As far as the weight of target rifles goes, it’s very personal. I have always liked a heavier gun for offhand work, and I further like it to be very muzzle-heavy. But other shooters like lighter-weight guns just as much for their own reasons. And I know that youth target guns can sometimes equal the performance of the full-sized ones, so I will have to answer you with a yes.


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