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Our own Christmas story

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.

Daisy Avanti Champion 499
Daisy’s Avanti Champion 499 is 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.

Daisy Avanti Champion 499 UTG Accushot trap
The UTG BB trap is the only BB trap available with replaceable ballistic curtains.

A muzzleloader!
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.

Daisy Avanti Champion 499 muzzleloading
Load just 1 BB at a time by dropping it into the funnel-shaped muzzle and listening to it slowly roll down the barrel until it clicks against the magnet.

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 Avanti Champion 499 Precision Ground Shot
Daisy’s Avanti Precision Ground Shot is the only ammo to use in the 499. It’s far superior to regular BBs.

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.

Daisy Avanti Champion 499 target
This is what the 499 can do at 5 meters. Ten shots in this group!

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!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

52 thoughts on “Our own Christmas story”

  1. Seasons Greetings Fellow Airgunners
    This Daisy Avanti 499 bb gun looks as though it is everything it is cracked up to be. Any gun that produces a 10 shot group as tight as the picture shows, deserves special recognition. I have not been a fan of bb guns because they are not as accurate as a pellet gun. I’m going to reconsider purchasing this bb gun over the Christmas holidays. After all, every good shooter deserves to buy themselves a special present for Christmas.
    I also want to say, it has been a joy for me to read the daily blog, and all the comments associated with it. I want to wish everyone a happy Christmas day. I hope everyone receives the shooting present they have always dreamed of. A special shout out to B.B. and Edith, for their dedication in producing the best blog on the web. Bar non.

  2. BB you don’t know how many times I almost clicked the order button on this gun and the 853.

    Now that the airsoft guns sparked another flame in my shooting endeavour. And I do know what ammo to use in those guns as well as how the hop up works. I think I could very easily get into the 499 or 853 now. Especially after what you just said. (and I find the barrel fascinating) I can see myself trying to stretch the distance on one of these guns. That truly is my major goal/fascination is with (I was going to say pellet guns, but I will say all guns). I like the long shots.

    I always got to add a Gunfun1 question though. Is the Avanti Precision Ground BB’s the trick to the 853’s also? If so great. That made getting the gun easier for me. You just layed the package on the table if you know what I mean.

    And I’m pretty sure that’s the same feeling I got when I shot the airsoft sniper rifle for the first time.

    I now use the heavier .32 gram Uramex Elite Force Milsim Max Bio BB’s. And the gun will now destroy the center of a beer can at 25 yards. Through both sides 90% of the time. If I shoot out farther I just add another click to the hop up or another click if I go out farther. But I found that the air soft bb is particular to wind. Which adds another type of training to shooting the airsoft gun. I definitely have to add windage when I shoot out farther. Which you have to do on other guns also.

    This gun (the 499) could turn the table for many shooters I would bet if they gave it a try. Or somebody got or let them have a try.

    And BB you made a statement just the other day about spring guns. About how only the accurate ones are interesting. Sorry but I got to dis-agree this time. I don’t like to put guns in a certain class.

    I’m going to bring the Octane up because that is the last gun you reported on last. That has been a challenging gun to get to shoot with respectable results. But From what I have seen people like different types of guns. Well and some people like a challenge to.

    The 499 is accurate that’s for sure. But does it really have to be accurate to have fun. (that’s where I dis-agree) Maybe trying to get the gun accurate is half the fun. Well or half the aggravation depending on how you look at it. But when I shoot a less accurate gun it just makes me try harder.

    I really want to know why accurate is. I grew up plinking and trying to be better at the long shot. Heck I had to try to out do my Dad all the time. And some people are going to say Yea Right when I say this.

    We use to throw the old card board steel top oil cans in the air (when they were empty of course) and shoot them with the .22 semi auto rim-fire guns. And not using the sights. Holding the gun at our waist. It was a blast (literally). I never had so much fun as that back then. And now I can add another memory also I now have done almost the same with the Monsoon but with the plastic oil containers.

    I guess where I’m going with all this rambling ( Sorry RidgeRunner) 😉 is that I wish people would get through their heads that Guns Can Be Fun. And If somebody gives you a chance to shoot one of their guns or gives you a gun it is for a reason. And no I ain’t tired I’m serious.

    • GF1

      The shot and barrel both require a lot of precision in manufacture. You have to have a VERY close fit just short of a friction fit. If you “Chinese” either the barrel or shot, you are going to have a problem .


    • GF1

      The Avanti 853 is a pellet only gun. You would NEVER want to shoot a BB through it. Even talking about it makes me wince.

      The “Only accurate guns are interesting” quote comes from Colonel Townsend Whelen. You pick the shooting/outdoorsman magazine, and he wrote for it.

      I agree with you about disagreeing with the quote. After watching “A Christmas Story” for the forth or fifth time today, I pulled out the famously inaccurate Red Ryder for some aluminum can shooting at 10 yards. For some reason, the damned thing wouldn’t miss a can. I drank several beers in order to have more cans to shoot, but I still couldn’t miss. I find the accuracy of this inaccurate airgun very interesting.

      • SL

        The RR that I have had for around 20 years is also not too bad. Most shots group about 3/4″ at about 10 yds. It does shoot off to the side by enough that I would probably have to use some Kentucky Windage to keep it on a beer can that far.


      • Make it two “winces”…

        Heck, my old US Shooting Team /953/ had the BB fill slot sealed off (but retained the magnetic bolt-tip and BB guide). Granted, the USST was an 853 in all but receiver and barrel (wood stock, peep/globe sights, shooting sling).

      • SL,
        You know I’m a fan of the RR, also :). We shoot cans and more often pill bottles with it. Sometimes we pick a target, and if you hit it 3x in a row, you take a few steps back and try again. The point being to see how far back you can get… Surprising sometimes how far a RR can shoot when the shooter is on target!

        I missed the short window a couple of years ago where they put the metal cocking lever on them — makes me sad, as the only flaw with the new one is the plastic stuff (when compared with my “vintage” one). Still shoots very well and is just as fun (if you ignore the safety). We use the new one more often just because it isn’t such an “heirloom” and we want to keep the old one in working condition.

        One of my brothers has come around also. Years ago he told me how my nephew (who always wanted my Red Ryder) was getting the 760 because it was superior. Not long ago, he said he had bought 2 RR’s for the boys and him to shoot off the back porch. Now who was right :)!

  3. Sincere thanks BB, for a special tale on this special day, also for being here every working day of the year. You make a (big) difference!
    A very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous new Year,to you, Edith, and all here.

  4. Oh and how simple of a package could add up to fun.

    499 the gun+magic bb’s+target trap=fun.

    Man got to get to sleep. Mr.Santa is going to fly right on by. Then what ?!?

    Well I got to say this quick. Have a Happy Christmas day all !

  5. OK, OK, you’ve talked me into it. I guess there is nothing for it but to get me one. I will probably have to wait a month or two though. After this article every place that sells them will probably be sold out before dawn and they will be on back order.

    This does help settle what my next air gun purchase will be. ;o)

      • I have been wanting a BB gun for many, many years now. I picked up a Red Ryder in my dealing a while back, but although it shot pretty good, the group was an inch or so off to the right and no way to adjust the sights. It went in my next yard sale.

        It would be nice to have an interesting BB gun.

  6. B.B. and Friends,

    B.B., thank you for writing about the 499.

    With similar precision barrel and sights, could a repeating action Red Ryder be as accurate as a 499?

    Is there a velocity range that BBs are most accurate in? How fast can they be driven and still be accurate? 500 feet per second?

    Merry Christmas!

    Very Respectfully/RB7

    • RB7,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Yes, the barrel is the secret. Before the 499 existed, coaches used to buy shot tubes for their team’s 299 target guns (the forerunner of the 499) by the dozen and test each one. When they found an accurate one they kept it and the rest were returned to Daisy for credit.

      The 499 shoots at 250 f.p.s.

      Merry Christmas,


  7. This is a great Christmas/shooting story!

    My little cousin wants to learn to shoot for real (he’s been trying some kids shooting games on the computer) but his parents aren’t into shooting AT ALL so I talked to him and next time we’ll meet I’ll bring a few airgun and let him give it a try. Getting someone interested in something you like a lot is so much fun. You can actually see when the spark light up inside of them, you can almost see the sparkle in the eye when the connection is actually made.
    It’s a great feeling.

    I’ve been wanting one of these for a few years but the single shot bugs me, I like repeaters but on the other hand the single shot would force me to slow down and that would probably mean I’d be more accurate.

    Where would the Daisy/Avanti 845 Mentor fit in regards to the 499? You said you would test one out but I don’t remember when you said you’d do it. I don’t like multi pumps but single pump pneumatics are great!


  8. Hey BB, very nice story and no one shot their eye out. One question, with those very impressive targets by Otho, I was curious if he was shooting offhand or rested?

    Fred DPRoNJ

    • Fred,

      I cannot tell a lie. I shot that group rested. But Otho has put 9 into a group like that so far, and always offhand. This is what the groups of the champion kids look like every year at the International BB gun Championship in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

      Merry Christmas,


  9. I have too many airguns. And yet not enough.

    I really need to throw one of these onto the pile. But Santa didn’t bring me one, so he must have heard all the cursing I did while watching the news this past year.

    Oh well, maybe next year.

  10. Happy Holidays Everyone!

    I want to add my thanks to Tom and Edith for creating and running this blog for fellow air gunners… It’s a great effort and the honesty in the reveiws speaks loudly and clearly for their integrity.

    As much as I liked my 499, (and it was a special limited edition one I got in the raffle at the 2009 Field Target Nationals from Ray Appelles of the “A” Team), I never shot it that much… so I passed it on to Frank if I remember correctly. The 499 has a certain thing it does well.. make one hole groups at 5 meters… if that is the game you play, then great… But I play too many other games to start that one as well. When I practice indoors at close range, it’s offhand with the same rig I shoot in the FT contests… my USFT. I don’t want to get use to a rig so light weight… then pick up my 17 lb (with scope and knee riser and thigh rest) USFT … they be just a little different:-)

    I can understand how other shooters who don’t focus on a particular game like field target could totally enjoy the 499 for an indoor accuracy target game.

    For a new young shooter, I wonder though, if a small break barrel like the Diana 23 or 16 wouldn’t be more useful and fun for that young shooter, since they could take it outside and shoot at hard surface targets like a “Gamo Knock down”. Seeing a target fall does wonders for exciting and captivating that shooter for the long run.. in my humble opinion:-)..

    Blessings on us all, and may we make choices in our daily lives that bring us closer and more tolerant and in love with each other!

    Wacky Wayne
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  11. Ok, you’ve convinced me to try the Avanti ground bb’s. Been using the Daisy. I’m not sure how well I shoot, but my groups are always scattered around the black (which starts with the 8-ring) on an AR-4 target.

    Will a few thousand shots have affected my 499’s barrel?

  12. TT
    Now I know why you wont let me borrow your 853. I was thinking of the 845. And BB answered that above when J-F asked about it.

    And I have to add. How the heck are they selling the 499 so cheap. It must take a bit of time to get the barrel right.

    But now I would like to know how they make the bb’s ? The Avanti precision ground shot to be exact. I know it says ground in the name. But you would think that they would cost more than they do.
    (and I think I should start calling them Precision round steel shot)

    The reason I ask about the steel round shot is something happened the other day when I was trying out the heavier airsoft bb’s in the sniper rifle I got. Every once in a while the gun wouldn’t have a bb when I shot. I thought it was a miss load when I cocked the gun but found out the bb was small and rolling out of the barrel. So I measured the diameter of about 10 of them and they were all within a thousandth or so of each other but the ones that rolled out the barrel were close to 3 thousandths to small.

    So after I went through and measured a bunch and put them in category’s when I shot from biggest to smallest (and I’m only talking about just a little over 1 and a half thousandths difference from smallest to biggest) The smaller ones definitely tryed to go where they wanted. And the bigger diameter ones grouped better.

    What I’m getting at with what I just described happened with the airsoft gun seems to hold true to what ever type of shooting you do. Anything you do you can go to extremes to try to find accuracy or you can enjoy the gun for what it is.

    I myself really think that’s cool how the barrel works on the 499 and the bad part about it is that I would of probably past right over this gun if I was looking for a new gun to get. Thanks to BB writing about it. Its another one that’s going on my list to add to the collection. Again cool gun.

    And Wayne B this is a compliment to you. My Dad always told me don’t mess with the man that shoots one gun. 😉

    • If you’ve got an adjustable hop-up on that AirSoft, you might try adjusting it a bit. A bit more rubber protruding into the barrel might catch the undersize balls better. Just record how much of a change you’d made if you need to go back (and expect a change in point of impact — increasing the hop-up will tend to raise the PoI within normal AirSoft distances)

  13. And nobody has said anything about the wood on the gun yet I don’t think. It has a nice pattern to the grain and what kind of wood is it anyway it has a nice color to it also.

  14. I too am interested in the 499. The fact that it is a single shot doesn’t bother me one bit. By the way, B.B., remember the Daisy Model 35 smooth bore you tested twice? Mine has quit building air pressure. I’ve had it under a year, and it died. I used Pellgunoil on it like I was supposed to. It was a fun little rifle to shoot to. Since I refuse to shoot BB’s through my tried and true Remington Airmaster 77, that leaves me without a BB rifle. Maybe I should just grab a 499 and be done with it.
    Have you shot the 499 at around 10 yards, or is it too much to expect from this gun?
    It’s been a tough time for air guns for me. I bought a new 1377 Crosman just a year ago, and it has developed a problem. It shows up especially when I use just 3 pumps. After a bit, maybe 30-40 shots, it started misfiring. As in a huge drop in air pressure, and the pellet moves just a little from the breech. If I then pump 4-5 times, it will shoot the pellet. It doesn’t seem to do this if I use 5-6 pumps for my shooting session. This bothers me, as the 1377 is touted as a model of reliability.

    Hop you had a Merry Christmas

  15. My Remington Airmaster is about 6 years old. I have not stored it with any air pumped up and it has been totally reliable and pretty much a tack driver. Should I be putting my multi pump air guns away with a pump or two of pressure?

    And thanks, B.B, for the heads up on your testing of the 499 at 10 meters.

    • Jon,

      You really should. Pressure in the gun keeps both the air inlet valve and the firing valve closed against airborne dirt and contamination. If it can’t get on the seals, it can’t make your airgun leak. You have been lucky so far, but that could change tomorrow.


  16. Ok, what is wrong with me. I am in my mid 40’s and am now more interested in this BB gun than my firearms. I have been exclusively into pellet guns for the past 3 years showing absolutely zero interest in anything BB related(inaccuracy, problems with ricochets,etc). However, the Daisy 499 seems to keep showing up in the daydreams. It might have been “BB’s” blogs and recommendations about this gun, but this has peaked my interest. It is nice to see Daisy still make a precision made airgun that both young target shooters and older shooters with an interest in precision machining can enjoy.

    As an aside, I had no idea that this was a muzzle loader.

  17. Got to have too ! Now, Tom, how quiet is it ? Same as a current Red Ryder ? It has to be very quiet since we moved into an unincorparted town, from acreage, but thererfore has County laws.
    Thank you and Happy New year to all

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