by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• Hornady Black Diamond steel BBs
• Size
• Velocity
• Daisy 499 BB gun
• Daisy 880 BB gun

Today I want to introduce you to a new BB that’s just come to market — Hornady Black Diamond steel BBs.

Hornady Black Diamond steel BBs
Hornady is an ammunition and bullet maker; so, when they came out with their Black Diamond BB, I had to test it. I already use several of their bullets in my firearms, and I know they’re a premium brand. The Black Diamond is a steel BB, so it will work in guns that use magnets to control the BBs. These days, a lot of them do use magnets.

Hornady says their BBs have an anodized finish, which is something I always equated with aluminum; but since the anodizing process uses electrical charges to move material, I guess it can work with many conductive materials. The BBs are black, like the name implies and Hornady says they’re very smooth and uniform. They also advertise 100 percent visual inspection, which has to mean a camera scan, because BBs are made at rates too fast for human eyes to be of much service.

Three BBs
Avanti Precision Ground Shot on the left, Daisy Premium Grade BB in the center, Hornady Black Diamond BB on the right.

The BBs come in a feeder bottle. You break off the top of the bottle by twisting a tab with pliers and the bottle mouth is wide open. A cap then fits down to seal the bottle when it’s on the shelf.

The packaging says these BBs are .177 caliber, but that’s incorrect. They would not fit in 95 percent of BB guns if they were that large. Most steel BBs range between 0.171 and 0.173 inches in diameter, and 4.3mm is often given as their true metric size.

I measured 5 Black Diamond BBs and found them to range in size between 0.170 and 0.171 inches in diameter. That puts this BB on the small side, though it’s very uniform, as advertised.

smallest Black Diamond
The smallest Black Diamonds measured were 0.170 inches in diameter. One of five measured were this size.

largest Black Diamond
The largest Black Diamonds measured were 0.171 inches in diameter. Two of five measured this size.

Oddly, though it is small, the largest Black Diamond weighs 5.2 grains. That’s one-tenth grain heavier than most popular BBs. Alloy differences could account for that.

lrgest Black Diamond weight
The largest Black Diamond weighed 5.2 grains.

Now, let’s check the velocity on 2 different airguns. First up will be the Daisy Avanti Champion 499. For comparison, I also tested Avanti Precision Ground Shot and Daisy Premium Grade BBs.

Daisy 499 BB gun
In this gun, the Avanti Precision Ground Shot took the longest to roll down the barrel, which was anywhere from 2 to 4 seconds. This BB averaged 235 f.p.s., with a spread of 3 f.p.s. — from 233 to 236 f.p.s.

Next, I shot the Daisy Premium Grade BBs. They averaged 233 f.p.s. with a 2 f.p.s. spread from 232 to 234 f.p.s. These BBs take about a half to three-quarters of a second to roll down the barrel of the 499.

Finally, I tested the Hornady Black Diamond BBs. They averaged 232 f.p.s., with a 2 f.p.s, spreads from 231 to 233 f.p.s. They also took one-half to three-quarters of a second to roll down the bore.

Both regular BBs held their own with the precision ground shot, which I did not expect. And the Black Diamond BBs seem to fit the 499 about the same as the regular Daisy BBs, despite being a little smaller (the Daisy BBs run 0.171 to 0.173 inches).

Daisy 880 BB gun
But one test wasn’t enough, so I got the Daisy 880 multi-pump and pumped it 5 times per shot for the next test. The Precision Ground Shot averaged 591 f.p.s. and had an 8 f.p.s. spread from 587 to 595 f.p.s.

Next up was the Daisy Premium Grade BB that averages 579 f.p.s. on 5 pumps. The spread was 17 f.p.s. from 569 to 586 f.p.s. n

Finally, the Black Diamond BBs averaged 579 f.p.s., also. Their spread was 9 f.p.s. from 576 to 585 f.p.s.

These Hornady Black Diamond BBs seem to be made very well; and, in terms of velocity, they do seem to hold their own. Of course, testing with just 2 BB guns is hardly conclusive, so my plan is to include them in many future tests of BB guns.

I will also do a Part 2 to this report, where I shoot all 3 BBs from both guns for accuracy. That’s just to end this report more conclusively, since the Black Diamonds will now be showing up in future BB gun tests.

This BB has a slight premium price, though it’s still quite affordable; so, it remains to be seen if the features it offers — smoother finish and coated with black anodizing — have any discernible benefit. I’m guessing we will find out that these are like pellets — they’ll be the best in some guns and not as good in others. We shall see.