by B.B. Pelletier
Today is accuracy day, and I know a lot of you have been waiting to see what this smoothbore Daisy Powerline model 35 multi-pump air rifle can do. Because it’s a multi-pump, I experimented a little with the number of pumps, but all groups were 10 shots at the stated distance.
Not a rifle
Before I start the report, here’s a little nomenclature lesson. Our UK readers should know this far better than our U.S. readers since they’re quite particular about calling guns exactly what they are. Americans, on the other hand, often refer to a long gun as a rifle, regardless of whether it is rifled or not. In this day, when there are no more buck-and-ball smoothbores or muskets to contend with, I suppose it’s understandable — but it isn’t correct. And, when we encounter a real smoothbore like this model 35 Daisy, we make the mistake of calling it a rifle. Heck, even Daisy calls it a rifle, but it isn’t. It’s a gun, by the strictest definition of the term. So, I’m calling it a gun — not a rifle.
Let’s begin the report.
I said last time that the pellets were prone to falling into the BB hole at the rear of the loading trough. Reader GenghisJan said he pushes the bolt forward to block the hole after cocking but not far enough to interfere with the skirts of the pellets being loaded. I tried his method and found that it works, but the loading area is still too small for me to roll the pellet in the way some other folks advised. So, I continued to let it drop over the receiver with the muzzle pointed straight down. That works for me nearly all the time.
I thought I would first test the gun rested at 10 meters. If it turned out to be accurate, I would then back up to 25 yards in a separate test. But if it wasn’t accurate at 10 meters (11 yards), there was no hope for it at the longer distance.
I used a 6 o’clock hold; and although the front sight has a white dot, I was able to mask it entirely by lighting the target brightly and shooting in a dark room. So, the maximum sighting precision was used on every shot.
Pellets were first, and the first pellet tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. I pumped the gun 6 times per shot because that seemed like a good place to begin.
The performance on target, however, is not very good. I’m not showing the customary dime next to the group because I had to photograph the first group while the target was still taped to the backer board. Not all 10 pellets remained on the target, and this was the only way to show the actual size of the group.
After that group, I thought perhaps my technique was bad or maybe the pellet was wrong, so next I tried the RWS Hobby pellet.
At this point, I examined the pellet holes and thought perhaps the pellets weren’t stable in flight. Each hole seems to have a tear to one side, as if the pellet passed through slightly off-axis. Next, I tried a different pellet and a different number of pump strokes.
Daisy Superior Match Grade pellets
Don’t search for these pellets online. The ones I have date back to the 1980s and have not been retained in the Daisy line. They’re starting to show signs of corrosion but haven’t turned white yet. I shot them on 5 pumps and, surprisingly, they turned in the best group to this point. They were grouped about 2-1/2″ above the aim point, however.
The “accuracy” improvement is so minimal, though, that I don’t think anyone needs to mourn the loss of this pellet. It’s a lightweight wadcutter, if you want to experiment.
Like the first two pellets, most of the holes with this one also seemed to have the telltale tear on one side, so I thought 10 pumps might solve the problem. Would going faster make the pellet any more stable? Ten pumps did bring the pellets back to the aim point — sort of.
Summary of pellet accuracy
Obviously, I’m not going to shoot this gun at 25 yards and risk putting pellets into the wall. We wondered how accurate a smoothbore might be, and I must say that I’m a little disappointed by the lack of accuracy seen here. I could spend a lot of time chasing after a better pellet, but that’s not time well spent.
On to BBs
BBs were next, and I moved in to 25 feet from the target. Eight feet less might not seem like a lot; but when you’re dealing with something as potentially inaccurate as a BB, it can be. Normally, I would have started with a shot from 12 feet just to make certain the gun was on target, but something told me it was. The first shot was from 25 feet. I shot in the offhand supported position, which means I braced myself against a door jamb.
I used Daisy zinc-plated steel BBs as the ammo, because I’m testing a Daisy gun and because I’ve found them to usually be one of the best BBs on the market. RWS BBs are just as good; but like I said, this is a Daisy gun.
This time, I used a BB-gun target, whose black bull is about the size of a U.S. dime. The normal distance for shooting at this target is 15 feet (offhand); so at 25 feet, I was under a slight disadvantage. The lighting was the same as for the 10-meter targets and the sights were just as sharp as before.
Don’t go making any assumptions about the four BBs that landed together just above the bull. They were shot and sighted exactly the same as the other 6 shots and are just a coincidence. This is where 5-shot groups tell you much less, because notice there’s a fifth shot in the black just below the group. I have no idea when that was shot in the series of shots, but some writers will make that the reality and explain away the other holes — or just not show them!
I liked the Daisy Powerline model 35 until it came to accuracy. Then, it seemed to be an adequate BB gun, but not up to par with pellets. I guess those little spiral scratches in the barrel mean something after all!