Hornady Black Diamond BBs: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

• The test
• 499 — Precision Ground Shot
• 499 — Daisy Premium Grade BBs
• 499 — Hornady Black Diamond BBs
• 880 — Precision Ground Shot
• 880 — Daisy Premium Grade BBs
• 880 — Hornady Black Diamond BBs
• Overall evaluation

Today, we’ll continue the report on Hornady Black Diamond BBs and look at the accuracy. For this test I selected the same 2 BB guns that were used for the velocity test — the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 and the ever-popular Daisy 880 multi-pump.

The test
The groups were all 10-shot groups, shot from 5 meters (16 feet, 4 inches). I was seated and used a UTG Monopod. This monopod is as steady as the best bipods I’ve seen — and better than most. You may find that difficult to believe, but I’ll do a separate report on its use very soon and show you how I use it to make it so steady. For all practical purposes, this was similar to shooting off a sandbag rest.

I’ll tell you now that there were no called fliers in this test. There was one group when I had several called fliers, but I threw it out and reshot the group with that BB.

499 — Precision Ground Shot
First up is the 499, shooting Avanti Precision Ground Shot. As you know, the 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun and is also the only gun used in the world championship BB gun matches. Ten BBs went into 0.26 inches at 5 meters. This isn’t the best group I’ve shot, but it’s probably representative. There are kids who can do better than this offhand!

Avanti Precision Ground Shot 499
Ten Avanti Precision Ground shot went into 0.26 inches at 5 meters. Yes, this group is bigger than it looks.

499 — Daisy Premium Grade BB
Daisy Premium Grade BBs that came next out-shot the Precision Ground Shot! That isn’t supposed to happen, and I’ve never seen it before, despite doing several similar tests over the years. And, since it was the first Precision Ground Shot group that got a second chance because of called fliers, I have to acknowledge this BB as the best in this test. Ten BBs went into 0.209 inches at 5 meters.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs 499
Ten Daisy Premium Grade BBs shot from the 499 at 5 meters made this 0.209-inch group. The group is larger than the hole appears, though these 10 BBs did seem to go to almost the same place every time.

499 — Hornady Black Diamond BB
The final BB shot from the 499 is the star of this report — the Hornady Black Diamond BB. Ten of them went into a group that measures 0.321 inches between centers. It’s a good group, but it’s not in the same category as the first 2 groups.

Hornady Black Diamond BB 499
Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs made a group at 5 meters that measures 0.321 inches between centers.

Now, it’s time to switch to a more conventional BB gun. I used a new scoped Daisy 880 for the next 3 targets and made no adjustments to the scope as I shot. I pumped the gun 4 times for each shot because it was shooting pretty fast on 5 pumps during the velocity test.

880 — Precision Ground Shot
Avanti Precision Ground Shot fired from the 880 scattered everywhere! I thought I was going to need a larger trap! Ten of them made a group that measures 1.644 inches! I thought I knew what was wrong; and when I shot the other 2 BBs, it was confirmed. This BB is too large for the 880’s bore! It does pass through, but the rifle doesn’t like it one bit!

Avanti Precision Ground Shot 880
Ten BBs in more than an inch and a half (1.644 inches)! The Avanti Precision Ground Shot isn’t good in the Daisy 880.

880 — Daisy Premium Grade BB
Once again, the Daisy BB beat the Precision Ground shot. This time, however, it came as no surprise, for this BB is designed for this kind of gun. Ten went into 0.807 inches at 5 meters. While it doesn’t compare to what this BB did in the 499, it was still the best BB in the 880.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs 880
Ten Daisy Premium Grade BBs made this 0.807-inch group at 5 meters. That’s more like it!

880 — Hornady Black Diamond BB
And, finally, the star — the Black Diamond BB. In the 880, Black Diamonds went into a group that measures 0.872 inches between centers. It’s not much different than the Daisy BB group, except for one shot that went high.

Hornady Black Diamond BB 880
Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs went into 0.872 inches at 5 meters. That’s a BB hole just outside the dime at 7 o’clock.

Overall evaluation
I would say that Black Diamond BBs have demonstrated they belong with the best BBs on the market. You have to bear in mind that measuring BB groups is a best-guess effort because the BBs tear holes in the target paper that are hard to see. Yes, this target was backed by stiff cardboard. BBs are just difficult to measure. The one saving grace is that all measurement errors are probably made in the same direction, so they cancel out one another in the end. But I wouldn’t want to be a scorer at the world BB gun championships!

From this point on, I’ll include Hornady Black Diamond BBs in many BB gun tests, just like I do the other premium brands. I’ll assume everyone knows about this test or can refer back to it if there’s a question.

And, finally, isn’t it interesting how good the Daisy Premium Grade BBs did in this test — especially in the 499? I’ve always known they’re good, but never before have they actually beat the Avanti Precision Ground Shot.

78 thoughts on “Hornady Black Diamond BBs: Part 2

  1. Tom,

    One question, can you clarify what you mean when you say the Avanti Precision Ground Shot are too large for the Daisy 880’s bore? I’m trying to picture how that is, but I’m having trouble seeing it since they obviously fired. The only thing I can think of is the rifling in the 880s barrel is what’s causing the problem with the Avanti shot, but any BB should have the same sort of issue…

    J.



      • Has to be something more than just the size of the shot though. The bore on a Daisy 880 is sized for pellets, so its nominally .177 inches. Avanti shot averages what? .173? So it should still be too small to engage the rifling. And even if it hit the rifling which caused it to spin erratically, that should affect all BBs the same way since they are all sub-caliber (not to mention too hard to engage the rifling) and bounce around in the barrel. Maybe the velocity is playing a role…


  2. I wonder how in the 880 both the daisy and the horaby’s, hornaby’s- get it?, had one obvious flyer from the group. Just a mystery, I guess. I will say In glad to see some competition for the daisy, especially black ones since I always thought the daisy were too shiny. Would rather black rounds in a “black” gun, as any bb guns I’ve had usually would be, though they will be harder to find if you drop any. On the note of ammo testing, and I think Reb has suggested a few times, lead round balls in a 177 and 22 springer and a multi pump, both of “standard” for type velocity and probably a pcp also, just mainly to see if A,, will they fit/feed/roll out, and B,, will they be any kind of accurate, especially at a little range, say 50 yds. I would really like to see you try them after checking these bbs out, reminded me of them.


    • Stay away from the H&N Rundkugeln. They are horribly undersized. They will not roll down the barrel, but a lot of precious air pressure escapes around them. My 1906 BSA does not like them at all. They have at least changed the info on the PA site from when I bought some.

      The issue you are going to find with round ball in a rifled barrel is going to be the twist rate. Instead of 1:16, you are going to likely want something closer to 1:44. You may even want a slower twist rate than that.



        • BB,

          That may be so, however the H&N Rundkugeln are only 4.45mm. The H&N Rundkugel come in 4.5mm and 4.54mm. I think the literal translation for rundkugeln is “somewhat round culls” because I quite frankly was disappointed in the quality. Almost all of them are badly dimpled and as they have finally admitted, undersized.

          What about the rifle twist for balls versus conical or diabolo projectiles?


          • I think your right that over twisting round shot sends them for a loop, but maybe the heavier sized ones will do better with the momentum taking some of the squirrelly-ness out of it. Bore size is definitely a huge factor and would be interesting to see, I would choose a larger size with balls just as I would pellets but with no skirt to force engagement till be that much more important to oversize, say start with 4.53, 5.54, and only go down if you can’t feed which I doubt would occur.


            • Muzzleloaders shooting ball use a very slow twist. 1:44 is pretty fast for shooting ball. Some are using 1:65 – 1:70.

              You are going to want as tight a fit as you can get, but I do not think that the results will be all that good past a certain distance. You probably would do better with a smooth bore.




    • RDNA
      I tried lead balls in springer’s, nitro piston and pcp guns with rifled barrels and they are just not accurate enough for me. And that is the particular guns that I have had. They could work for somebody elses gun. And they may be an acceptable accuracy for them. But not me.

      Although I have tried them in my smooth bore 760 with a little better results than the other guns with rifled barrels. So that’s something to think about.




  3. Great report as always. I had not really considered a BB gun as an option. In fact, I thought I thought it would be a “step down” from pellets.

    I must say that the groups shot and the 499’s reputation has me convinced that I will be adding a BB shooter in the future.

    Note to self……keep options open.



  4. Tom,

    Thanks very much for this test. I have a couple bottles of these “Black Bart” BBs and hope to find that their uniformity and smoothness might make a difference in loading them into some of the more loader-unfriendly BB pistol magazines I have.

    While this might seem to be an outrageous theory, I have found that for the most difficult-to-load guns I resort to Crosman Copperheads. They are small enough that the difference makes them noticeably easier to load in just about everything. Perhaps the Black Diamonds will replace the Copperheads in some of my air guns if they load easily and are more accurate.

    Michael



  5. As I said before…. I believe that a round projectile will shoot better, straighter, farther, out of a smoothbore than they will out of a rifled barrel.. I also believe that the rifling robs energy/fps.. I have also proposed that the BB is riding the cushion of air trying to escape around it and actually has minimal contact with the barrel.

    There was an earlier post that proposed that BB’s with dimples like golf balls may fly better. Along the same line when you hit a golf ball ‘dead solid perfect’, you hit the ball square and true and do not impart any forespin, backspin, hook, or draw… I think the same applies to shooting BB’s…

    BRASS

    Greg


    • B1
      I believe your right. When your talking and there is pressure involved the air will always try to equalize.

      So y can see the air behind the bb is try to blow around and last the side of a bb or round lead ball in a smoothest bore.

      And matter of fact Ina air soft round ball also.



      • I need to redo my whole reply. Thanks to my phone.

        Suppose to say.. So I can see the air behind the bb is trying to blow around and past the side of a bb or round lead ball in a smooth bore.

        And matter of fact in a smooth bore barrel in a air soft gun with a round air soft ball.


      • I agree that that is what’ll happen, but still think that is in theoreticals. It will happen as close to even as possible but what happens when an edge is hit and a side of air pressure collapses? It most likely will recenter and rectify, but it might domino and keep bouncing, or the edge catches and it collapses right at the bore, thus throwing a flyer.




        • Trying a flight of fancy but…

          Consider Bernoulli…

          If the ball is off to one side of the bore, more air will be passing over the larger gap — this will result in reduced pressure “lifting” the ball away from the side it is resting on.

          Given enough air, and a long enough barrel, it is hypothetically possible the BB will eventually center itself in the bore.

          This effect may also apply in a rifled barrel, since the rifling is likely going to cause a slower “skin effect” on the air flow near the bore surface, and faster air at the larger gap over the BB.


          • Wulfraed
            I’m thinking the bb gets centered in a smooth bore probably instantly if we are talking air pressure.

            We have measuring devices at work to see if a valve seating area is machined correct.

            It is basically a glass tube with a stainless steel ball in it. It stands up vertically and the ball is at rest on the bottom when no air is applied to the part. As soon as any air is applied the ball rises and floats in the air in the glass tube. The ball stays centered and it does not bump of the glass.

            Oh and by the way the part I’m talking about is the valve that goes in Co2 paint ball tanks and also the other valve we make is for paint ball hpa tanks also.

            The air test is very important. Oh and forgot we make the valve for fire extinguishers also. Can’t count how many parts I have seen tested on that gauge.


            • Gunfun
              You just described how an airflow gauge used to tune multiple carb setups like the British SU carbs works and is used to synchronize the airflow thru the carbs for the best performance. The old venerable SU carb is still one of the best performance carbs ever made and has so few moving parts and simple to tune to any engine that is almost always overlooked due to misunderstanding of how to tune and repair it.

              I used them for years on my hot rodded Datsun trucks and surprised a lot of V8 with those little trucks and Datsun copied the style carb on their first sports cars here with the 1600 and 2000 roadsters and the famous 240Z only they were made by Hitachi.

              BD



                • Gunfun
                  Yea I remember those also they were basically the same just had a larger plate to fit the larger diameter of the carbs intake opening. The ones I used would only fit a 3 inch bore carb as most SUs were only 2 1/2 inches in throttle bore diameters with the occasional Weber side drafts at three inches throat inlets, but most of those were on V8s with a cross ram style intake as most 4 and 6 cylinders used 2 1/2nches or less .
                  The ones on my 2.0 liter four bangers used 1 1/2 carbs and were way more than required to get the job done as just ask some of the V8s I out ran stoplight to stoplight.

                  BD



                    • Gunfun
                      Yea I bet they were still a pain having 8 throats to set , well actually four as you set the one carbs two throats at the same time but still I know it was very tedious to get the two SU set just perfect so I can imagine how the four would be.

                      GM had a similar setup for the 80s vettes that had the cross ram throttle body fuel injection setup on them and they used a twin tube manometer with 50/50 water and antifreeze in it so you could see the fluid level as you set the base air flow and they had the plugs that you used to plug the air bypass for the idle air control servo so it could not control the idle speed while you set the base idles.

                      I still have all those tools for setting up the twin throttle bodies and that is why I say I have so many tools that are not used anymore that most people would not have a clue as to what they were used for much less how to use them.

                      BD


    • funny how some rifled guns shoot steel bbs ok and some down. I have a crosman 2100 pump that will not shoot steel bbs worth a dime (not a 1962 dime wink wink) but then again I have a daisy 990 (dual fuel/pump or co2) rifle that shoot steel bbs surprising well. Can’t explain it.


    • A smooth bore (longer) barrel is a common upgrade that drozd enthusiasts install…we’ve known for a while that it increases both power (up to 100 fps velocity) and accuracy.


  6. BB, why should RR’s .177 BSA be oversized?…..all of that calibre were made to a European 4.5mm spec…hence the triple imperial digits.
    However .22 was always .22, which is broadly 5.56….and it’s the German habit of rationalising the calibre to metric 5.5mm that has won out….leaving all modern barrels as undersized 22’s rather than the opposite surely?
    I was never aware of the issue with 177?


  7. Ah, shooting at my distance. 🙂 Where are all these fantastic kids with their offhand groups? Is there some kind of little league world championships of bb gun shooting?

    B.B., thanks for your thoughts on the M1 the other day. In the aftermath, I think I have found a solution. These problems all seem to stem from the gas regulator. Here I could use a little help. My understanding of the gas system in the M1 is that there is a hole drilled at the bottom of the bore just inside the muzzle. The expanding gases from a cartridge go down this hole and push back the op rod to work the bolt. The gas regulator must work by reducing the size of the hole. Surely, it doesn’t involve drilling the hole larger. Reduction in size would seem to reduce the power of the load but this can be more than made up for with different powders and bullets. So the gas regulator must be some kind of sliding cover over the hole. This means that by sliding the regulator all the way open I should get the original M1 performance back. I’m doubtful that something else is wrong with the rifle. Clint was way too careful and everything else about it from its stock to its stoned match trigger is just perfect.

    If the regulator is the problem there is no need to disassemble the rifle. I just crank it all the way open. Clint said that I could do it myself without specifying how. I think there is a screw at the very end of the gas tube under the barrel that can be turned with a simple tool. But I think I will send it to a gunsmith to do if necessary. My log shows more jamming than I remember for a variety of different powder loads, so this will probably happen. But I’m optimistic about success. And I’ve even found a very promising gunsmith who might be just the guy.

    103David, thanks for your thoughts on receiver durability. You’re right about the expense for wearing out new guns. B.B. told me that I would probably never reach the 5,000 round limit for the recoil spring on my 1911, and at the rate I’m going, he’s right. Even for surplus combat weapons this is not really a problem. You couldn’t work a bolt fast enough to damage the receiver, probably not even a semiauto. In fact, given the enormous logistical tail of the U.S. Army with 10 logistical staff for every combat soldier, it is likely that most military issue weapons never see combat. My bigger concern is the decades wear and tear on issue weapons in training. R. Lee Ermy says that the BARs he used in the Marine Corps in the 60s were falling apart from age. And I’ve heard the same for issue .45s and even SAWs. Interesting you should mention the Springfield 03. You certainly have an early version. Are you sure you don’t have one of the low-numbered Springfields that are dangerous to shoot? I understand that they got the heat treatment wrong in the early stage of manufacture and there is a serial number range that is not safe. I would check on that. Otherwise, I expect you’re right that the gun is solid.

    Baron Wulfraed, wow, I’ve never heard that grip angle made such a difference as in your case. The Luger grip angle which is kind of distinctive is supposed to be the ideal. But I thought that the 1911 was very close. Well, if the sights don’t work for you, you can always modify them as Elmer Keith was fond of doing for his extreme long distance shooting.

    Matt61


    • I did approach the 1903 Springfield with some care (concern?) but with not too much rational research, it became apparent the failures were almost all predictable and due to poor quality and incompetently mass-produced ammunition, attempts to fire 7.92mm ammunition through 7.62mm barrels, attempts to fire 30-06 ammunition through grease plugged barrels, and a further number of idiot behaviors notable for their creativity. My personal favorite being a hard lateral strike to a receiver held in a vise. (“Oh, Gee! Look! It broke!) I’m pretty sure if one were to read the designated design parameters, it wouldn’t include that sort of stressed requirement.
      In any case, none of the failures were due to wear or excessive use. Improper heat-treatment, by no stretch of the imagination, can be categorized as “wear.”
      While I would never posture myself to be immune from idiot behavior (see the historical record of my love life,) I do reload and my 30-06 loading is considerably below maximum. A precaution I’d take with ANY century-plus aged firearm.
      Not having the research in front of me, my memory seems to be, no legitimate receiver failures in over half a century. The one cited, but rejected claim was in the 1960’s, but rejected with obvious evidence of a grease-plugged barrel.
      But for me, my research came down to a single fact. My Springfield was manufactured in 1908, almost a decade before the rushed manufacturing pressures of the US involvement in WW1.

      There are no recorded failures of receivers made in 1908 or 1909.


    • Matt61

      You may or may not be aware of op rods being bent on Garands due to too high a port pressure. I read about this many years ago, I just don’t recall where. IMR 4895 was the standard propellant used for this cartridge for years for the 150 grain ball and the 175 grain match round. H 4895 burns just a hair faster than the IMR, no problem. Where you can have problems is when you use a significantly slower burning powder than the 4895 which will increase the port pressure.

      I bought a DCM Garand over 30 years ago. At that time, they were shipped directly to you through the USPS. The one I received was an International Harvester, had been arsenal rebuilt in 1965 (refinished, new barrel, the works) and never fired till I got it.


  8. B.B.,

    I am very interested in the report you are going to do on the UTG Monopod. I have had one heck of a time holding monopods steady. Just haven’t gotten the knack of it yet.

    G&G


  9. My favorite bb’s are the Daisy because Crosman bb’s always rust in the container on me .
    I had Red Ryders for 20+ years , over 200,000 shots 100,000 dryfires through it I’m amazed how well it works , and although it look flimsy it’s over built .


  10. Anybody curious, the airmag on an anal-ly assembled, weighed and results scrutinized ballistic pendulum with acceptable parameters for error is getting between 1000 and 1100 fps with 15.89 jsbs.




      • RDNA
        that is a cool formula for substitution for a chrony and if you are throwing out 15.89 JSBs at 1000 to 1000 fps it is a screamer for sure. t is putting out 35 to 42 fpe if it is indeed shooting them that fast.

        Sounds like you got a good hunting rifle there and have you done any grouping with it yet to see how the accuracy is with those pellets moving that fast.

        I am in a holding pattern with my firepower till after the holidays, but hope to be getting my tubes back from Lloyd soon.

        BD


        • Yeah things are just moons lined up for the power in this thing, and the tolerances making it functional. Any little extra looseness and Id be willing to bet it would fill the usual expectations. I built one (ballistic pendulum) before and found it exceptably accurate and was very careful to measure everything as precise as possible so I feel pretty sure, bout 95% that its close to 1100, 100% that its at 1000 anyway. Chrony needs to get ordered asap. Now Id like to know how accurate the pendulum is more then ever. I can say about groups that it has an active accuracy, and a testing/passive accuracy. It hits dead on the crosshairs and can get one hole groups at 20 yds and can hit .5x.5 mini sniping targets at 35 with consistency, but getting a solid group in a repetitive session is tough, its over 10 lbs and takes ~70 lbs to cock, so the sway factor is huge. Looking to get a bipod.


          • RDNA
            Yea 10 lbs is heavy and it would be bench rested for me only as I can understand the sway factor if trying to shoot it off hand as I don’t have near the strength to hold a 10 lb gun up to aim much less hold it anywhere near steady.
            I am about as sure as you if you built the pendulum within proper tolerances that it is pretty well accurate in it calculations and that will wear you out after 20 or so shots at 70 pounds cocking force. I would have to use two hands at the very least to cock it if not swing from the barrel trying to get it cocked.
            A bipod will help a bit but in my FT matches I still have some wobble even with a bipod so it may work better with the heavier guns also.
            Sounds like you have a real cannon with that air mag and if you can get it to stay steady you will have a accurate powerhouse for sure.

            BD


            • That’s the thing of it, my support hand is also the cocking hand, so you have to squish the 70 then hold steady the 10 right after so even rested it is tough after awhile. There are 2 picnic benches where I shoot one regular size one miniature so pulled together I cam sit on the little and rest on the other but the little is in the way in the yard like that so has to move back and its a pain so they aren’t put together often. Kneeling at the big one works pretty good and with a bipod d be better at the little cause have to sit to rest on the little. … anyway … a bipod would be great, in a nutshell, lol


              • RDNA
                I fully understand as my left hand is the cocking and support hand also so yes it does get worn down and shaky after a few shots. I am not cocking but maybe 40 or 45 at best pound springer’s so I would not even want to think of what that 70 pounder is like but I bet the reward when you hit something is well worth it.
                Resting it on anything has got to help some and the bipod will make sitting down for a rest better but can you cock it from the sitting position because if not then the constant up and down to cock it can be just as tiring.
                I am going to chrony my new NP2 when it get a little more break in time on it as it is hitting my washing machine metal backstop at 15 yards very hard with 14.3 CPs and if I hit the same place twice it puts a hole clean thru the metal. Which all my other guns including my Hatsan that throws the CPs out at 1050 fps does not do that as it takes three to four to put a hole thru the metal. I am going to try some JSB 15.89 in the NP2 shortly to see how it likes them, The Hatsan shoots the 15.89 right at 1000 fps but does not have the recoil that mag springer must have.

                I will let you know some chrony number when I get them on the NP2.

                BD





        • RDNA
          You got to get a chrony. That guns shoot’n those pellets fast if its working out like you say with the deal your talking about.

          But as you say I have found the JSB’s to shoot fast for thier weight. But I also found that if I get them going to fast they don’t group as good.


          • This happened fast by chance but if I can ever get through this next month with moving and holidays and get the endcap sent your way… the 95 should have the same super tight tolerances as this got and should shoot even smoother. The way things were gueging inside Im thinking it might be better with the power turned down, maybe a 177 barrel too? Try my hand at the 800 fps range and make it a target gun, its beautiful with the stock done up and don’t think I’ll want to creep the woods with it now anyway! Go with it the way of your tx.


            • RDNA
              Is that the gun you did the white snow camo scheme on?

              And you never did send me a picture of the Hatsan wood stock after you finished working on it. You did get it finished didn’t you?


              • Gunfun and RDNA
                I got the trigger set perfect on my new NP2 yesterday and was shooting it some fine tuning the sights when I noticed that the 50 buck CV life scope I got off of ebay had the reticle canted 45 degrees inside the scope so I guess it is not up to the resulting shocks involved in a spring gun even though it states shockproof.

                I have email the seller but have yet to hear anything back from them about a refund or replacement for the scope as I just put it on the NP2 fresh out of the box. So I guess you get what you pay for as I had reservations about putting it on the NP2 but I figured if it would fail it would do co on the Np2 which it did very well in fact.

                Now if I can just get my head to cant 45 degrees it will be all good.

                BD


                • Buldawg
                  You mean to tell me you ain’t got that head cant thing happening yet after working on all those cars and things over all these years.

                  I think I did the head can’t about 5 times at work last night with the things I seen happen. 🙂


                  • Gunfun
                    I am not as limber as I was just a couple of years ago so no I cant get my neck and head to cant the 45 degrees needed to see the reticle correctly anymore. What I need are some of the 45 degree accessories mounts that allow you to hang all sorts of stuff off of the AR -15s and that would solve the head canting but then I would need a cheek weld about 3 inches wide to the left to place my head in the right position to see thru the scope correctly.
                    I think it would be easier to mount the cheap 3×9 by 32 scope that came with the gun to see if it will hold up before I mount another good scope on it and have it destroy two good scopes .

                    BD


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