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Air Guns H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 4

H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Smart Shot BBs
H&N Excite Smart Shot BBs are the first lead BBs in 90 years.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Today’s test
  • Baseline testing
  • The test
  • Daisy BBs
  • Smart Shot BBs
  • BBs fell out
  • Avanti Precision Ground Shot
  • Conclusions
  • What’s next?

Today’s test

Today’s test will be shooting the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB in a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 — the world’s most accurate BB gun. There were concerns that this lead BB wouldn’t function in a 499 because of the gun’s magnetic BB seat in the breech. The fear was these BBs would just roll out the barrel if the barrel was depressed below level.

Baseline testing

I thought about shooting only 5 shots at each target because I knew the BBs were all going to go to the same place. In the end, though, convention won and I shot 10 shots per target. The distance was 5 meters and I rested the gun on a UTG monopod.

I will note that BB targets are difficult to measure. Undoubtedly all the groups I am about to report are larger than I am saying, but I’m getting as close as I can. Round BBs moving at low velocity tear indistinct holes through a target no matter what it is made of or what you back it with.

Daisy BBs

The first BBs I shot were Daisy’s Premium Grade BBs. I did that because I normally need a few shots to settle down, and I didn’t want to jeopardize the results of the best BBs. Ten BBs made a group that measures 0.259-inches between centers. The group is slightly left of center, but it’s so close that no sight adjustments were made.

Smart Shot BBs 499 target 1
Ten Daisy Premium grade BBs went into 0.259-inches at 5 meters.

That’s a good start. I didn’t expect to shoot that well on the first group. Since I was shooting good, I put the Smart Shot BBs next.

Smart Shot BBs

Ten Smart Shot BBs went into 0.30-inches at 5 meters. The shots landed lower on the target than the steel BBs, and we know that is because of their extra weight.

Smart Shot BBs 499 target 2
Ten Air Venturi Smart Shot BBs went into 0.30-inches at 5 meters.

BBs fell out

Two Smart Shot BBs rolled out of the barrel during this session. When the muzzle lowered so the barrel was below level, they couldn’t be held in the gun. Obviously, being lead, they can’t be held by the magnetic shot seat in the breech of the 499, and this seems important to the operation of this model. It remains to be seen whether they will work in other BB guns, so I will try that next. I don’t recommend using Smart Shot BBs in a 499.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot

The last BB I tested was the Avanti Precision Ground Shot BB that is made especially for the 499. This is the BB that is used in the Daisy BB gun championships each year. Theoretically, these should be more accurate that the other two I tested.

I say theoretically because on this day I put 10 Precision Ground Shot into 0.417-inches. Not only is this the largest group of the test, it is significantly larger than either of the other two groups. It should not have gone this way, but it did.

Smart Shot BBs 499 target 3
Ten Avanti Precision Ground Shot went into 0.417-inches at 5 meters.


First, it’s obvious that in guns that rely on a magnetic seat to hold the BB the Smart Shot isn’t the right BB to use. They will work, but only when the barrel is held level or when the muzzle is elevated.

Next, it seems I didn’t shoot as well on the last string as I should have. That’s all on me and not the gun. The 499 is capable of much smaller groups than I got.

However, because I didn’t do my very best, we know that the Smart Shot BB got a good test. It wasn’t favored over another BB and I wasn’t shooting my best, yet it managed to come in a close second to the winning BB. That tells me the Smart Shot BB is accurate. Despite the challenge of keeping the muzzle elevated, I was able to do pretty good with the Smart Shot — even on a day when I wasn’t shooting my best!

What’s next?

I plan to try the Smart Shot BB in a Daisy No. 25 pump gun next. I may even try it in a Crosman M1 Carbine at the same time. That will tell us something about how this BB works in magazines.

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.

55 thoughts on “H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 4”

  1. It’s nice to know they are accurate in the most accurate BB gun.
    (Can you say BB gun bell ringer competitions)
    I know your intention was to test them for cowboy action shooting.
    I think the BB would lend itself to action pistol shooting too.
    Blowback, magazine fed, co2 pistols/carbines.
    And no magnetism required..
    Ringing steel..

  2. I suspect there might be a requirement for a higher percentage of ferrous material coating the exterior or, more likely, maybe a interior iron pellet surrounded by lead and coated with copper to ramp up the magnetic attraction
    At which point you’re now shooting jacketed bullets @ one or two quarters each out a 100 buckuroo smoothbore.
    But…really good for a smoothbore, nonetheless.
    Not to diss, Reb, ‘cuz I think the basic idea has more than a little merit.

  3. In yesterday’s blog the flyers were mentioned. Id like to address some points to explain these stray shots and how to eliminate them.
    1. Almost any quality airgun will outshoot most of their (average) shooters.

    2. For the best accuracy, you need to weigh, seize-sort and wash your pellets. In your average pellet tin, you will find 4 different headsizes and 3 clusters of pellets-weights.
    The geater the distance you shoot, the more these “wrong” pellets will leave the main group on your target-card…..and will stray on the target-card.

    3.scope magnification:
    Even when benchrested, your rifle will move. Your breath and even your heardbeat will cause the end of the barrel to dance around.
    If your scope is at 9 magnification, youll all ready see the unwanted movement.
    Dail your scope at 32 magnification. … a whole new world will be revealed to you. It now SEEMS impossible to shoot at the intended aim point. Forget fighting that rifle-movement…. only Chuck Norris can hold the rifle perfectly still. You now have to time your shots in between your heartbeats.
    All this movement was also there at a lower magnification, its just that you weren’t aware of it.
    So….. If you cannot shoot your rifle at 32 magnification, you have some serious work to do.

    4 recoil.
    The comon concensus is that a magnum springer like the hw80/beemanR1 can not shoot as accurate than a hw30s/beeman r7.
    That is only true for people that like to shoot at tincans and fun target shooting. The recoil of a r1 is always the same, if you hold the rifle exactly the same at each shot. If I shoot offhand, I apply the same hold that I use when I shoot kneeling…. so there is no different point of impact. The extra weight of the R1 helps to dampen the little movements that are going on.
    A skilled shooter can shoot a r1 as accurate as a r7, if not better!

    5 maintenance of your technical shooting skills.
    If you only grab your rifle once in a while, you cannot expect tiny groups without stray shots. You have to keep practicing!

    Well, its only my 5 cents.

    • Dutchjozef,

      Thanks for all the reminders, good tips and harsh realities. My scopes only go to 10 and 12. I laughed at your 32x comment. I said awhile back that I wished I had one and how much it would help/force me to better my steady. I normally shoot at 7x and have on occasion left them dialed up to the max. 10 and 12 after setting the parallax/focus. Unless I am doing really well that day, the first thing I notice is how much worse my steady seems. Like you said, it opens up a whole new world, even at those minor spans of magnification.

      Winter is just around the corner and 41′ indoors will be it for a few months. I have improved alot over the summer. Plan is to shoot at the max. levels and perfect that. Laughable as that seems, it would be an improvement,….which is what it’s all about.

      I would love to have the 32x sight picture with a 7x steady. Talk about a “catch 22”. Like you said, it’s still there,..you just don’t see it as much. At least it’s a “catch 22” that has a fix,…with lots of practice.

      • Catch 22?
        I guess you mean catch as the boxing term: catch weight?
        An in between weight were two boxers with different weight meet eachother. One boxer weighs 168, the other weighs 185. So they meet at approx 175 lbs. (Im a boxing trainer, so I saw a lot of hbo fights, thats how I know the term).

        • Dutchjozef,

          Holland if I am correct? In the U.S. it is generaly used to describe a situation that has no clear solution. It it does have, there is usually 2 but they are different and both have different +’s and -‘s. “Darned if you do, darned if you don’t”,…would be another way to say it.

          My comment above was a pretty good example of that. 32x = great view of target, but lousy steady. 7x = better steady, but target view is not as good.

        • Boxing trainer, eh? I’m an amateur student of the sport although I decided long ago that there was no way I was going to let myself get punched in the head. So my knowledge is mostly theoretical, like shooting. 🙂

          Two questions for you. Have you read Jack Dempsey’s boxing manual called Championship Fighting and do you agree with his claim that boxing in the so-called Golden era in the early 20th century was of a much higher quality than today? (That was all one question.) After reading his book, I tend to believe him, and it supports my primitive man thesis.

          The second question is whether you think Floyd Mayweather Jr. has the best boxing skills today and if not who would you pick? I’ll tell you my choice after I hear yours. 🙂


          • I dont follow boxing as much as I used too. Fights are too boring.
            BUT floydmayweather has really great elusive skills.
            You guys also got james toney. He was around in the early ’90s fighting as a middleweight. He the last decade he fought as a heavy weight. His skills can be compared with mayweather JR. He is still around I believe.

            Ohhhh Jack Dempsey, that was a vicious fighter. Love watching him mauling his opponent. Haven’t read his book, but saw all his fights. Id call him the Tyson of the early 1900’s.

            Golden eara…..for me it started in 1965 when Clay deleted Liston. A few years later we had sugar ray leanard, roberto duran, Foreman, frazier and the bunch. The eara ended when Tyson faded away and when grandpa George Foreman was robbed from his liniar title in 1998 against Briggs. Foreman was around 48 years old.
            Ohh boxing…. ask me anything you want from . I can go on for hours.
            Btw….. Ali was a great boxer, but in my humble opinion not the greatest FIGHTER.

            • Matt
              The early 1900s were not the golden eara. It was more brutal though. But they lacked technical and tactical skills.
              My favorite eara is between the mid 60s and the late 90s.
              When lightweights, (super) Middleweights and heavyweights were spectacular.
              Lightweights had Roberto duran. My all time favourite lightweight.
              Middleweights had (again Duran), hagler, james Toney, hearns, Leonard.
              Thereu also were spectacular south american boxers like chavez sr.

              Heavyweights, ali, norton, Big George Forman from texas, frazier, holmes, and Tyson.
              Old skool boxers.

              Nowadays I find boxing boring.we need a middleweight and a heavyweight who can clean up all the different belts. We need a boxer who will unify all the belts from wba, wbc, wbo and ibf. Get rid of the corrupt administrations who run these organisations.
              Klitschko’s are boring to watch, but make no mistake. The eldest of the two brothers, Vitali, (is now retired), would eat most of the former hw-champs for breakfast.
              Ali would have a hard time in this eara and in the late 80′ and mid 90s.
              Remember ali was walking around at 217, thats almost cruiserweight territory.

            • Dutchjozef,

              Greatest all-around fighter, pound for pound? There are five in particular many consider to be the best (the five best?): Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Roberto Duran, Stanley Ketchel, and the one who really probably was the single best, Sam Langford.


          • Going by technical skill only (so no Henry Armstrong, Rocky Marciano, or Roberto Duran), there are too many specialties of technique and style within the “sweet science” for one to be the most skilled technician. The best overall technical boxer, combining excellence with every single one of the below styles, would be Sugar Ray Robinson, hands down.

            However, I’d say the two best defensive boxers (i.e. stand there and make him miss by slipping punches) were Willie Pep, Pernell Whitaker, Wlifredo Benitez, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. The best counterpunchers (make him miss and pop him back) were, I’d say, Salvador Sanchez, Willie Pep, Roy Jones, Jr., Benny Leonard, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Boxing on the outside and working combinations off of a jab, I’d say Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and Alexis Arguello were the best.


            • Yep, its what technical style you appreciate most.
              Some like the elusive dancer who s backis always a few feet from the ropes. Some like tony’s style…..make em miss and return the favour. Some like the flat footed left-hookers. There are many styles…. and combinations of styles.
              I teach my flat footed boxers how to dance. In case they come across a mutual flatfooted boxer who can do everything my student can do…..and even better. You always have to have an escape route.
              Most trainers have a too big ego….They refuse to throw the towel, I call that misplaced pride.

              I can throw the towel… you have to be responsible. Train even harder next time.
              Problem with today’s kids is they lack the mentality of coming to the gym every day. We have a group-whatsapp.
              Every single day 2 or 3 kidz or adults make excusses why they cant come. That is very frustrating. You give them everything you got, and the reward can be very disappointing. Had a goldenboy until last year. He had everything to become a real champ.
              At one point the kid didnt come out of de dressing room, without any reason he said he’d quit boxing. I didn’t show it to him….but I was devastated. It took me 2 months to get myself back on track. He now smokes weeds and wears a baseballcap.

              • Dutchjozef,

                Yes, James Toney was a master of that hiding the chin behind the left shoulder defense. He excelled against aggressive sluggers like Iran Barkley who were susceptible to Toney’s counter right as they came forward.

                But Toney’s kryptonite was Roy Jones, Jr., a fighter who would throw the right to get Toney to bend to his right, and then Jones would whip a blazing fast wide left hook to Toney’s jaw just as Toney bent. Then Toney would be way off balance, and a light, quick right by Jones would nearly tip him over. Jones had speed and a disciplined fight plan. Toney also had trouble with tall, long-armed fighters who could simply circle and jab, and were satisfied with outpointing him.

                As for your talented fighter who threw in the towel overall, it sounds like he just wasn’t able to get over the butterflies, the fear of getting hit. For some, being good isn’t enough to overcome that. In MMA an example was Mark Kerr. He was scary as heck to his opponents, but he couldn’t cope with his own fear. He had a drug problem, too. Self-medicating.


                • Mark kerr was an awesome specimen. Great, great wrestler. In that era, my favorite mma/bareknuckle fighter is igor vovchanchyn. Pure standup fighter with a devastating punch im both hands. Like Fedor, no trash talking, a humble and quiet person.

                  I rate my boxers with what I call the 7-assets system.
                  1) heart/courage
                  2) sacrifice to train hard
                  3) technical skills
                  4) endurance/conditioning
                  5) tactical vision
                  6) power
                  7) speed
                  If you have at least 3 of those assests, my vision is you can do quite well in boxing. This kid had a 7/7 rating in my book. And he’d listen to my instructions too. Thats a rare thing.

                  When talking about the geats in boxing, thats an unjust thing. Cos theres always people left out, they are not mentiononed. Its the same with airguns. People ask me: “whats the best airgun?”
                  But there is no best airgun, just depends what you want to do with it.
                  That’s why we own more than one airgun.

    • Dutchjozef, good points about shooting which I want to respond to. Getting the biggest magnification is one approach that I’ve heard. One person said that this allowed him to see the most, and the more movement he could see, the more he could minimize. For myself, I find the extra movement distracting. I think more along the lines of a sweet spot that combines detail with the possibility of steadiness that can give confidence. But David Tubb, the great shooter, says that he can hold dead still offhand with a 30X scope which would be the best scenario of all.

      I’m also not sure I agree that recoil makes no difference to shooting. B.B. has mentioned this in relation to firearms. Strictly speaking, it must be true according to the cardinal rule that you do not anticipate recoil. But as for the reality, I can only quote Mr. Spock in a Star Trek episode. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were in some imaginary alien scenario where they were opposed to the Earp brothers in a re-enactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corrall. (Who comes up with these ideas?) As Kirk says, they are facing professional gunfighters and have no chance. Then Spock says that since the scenario is not real, the only danger lies in believing the illusion. Since logic tells him it is impossible, he has no belief and the bullets cannot harm him. Then, the exasperated McCoy says, “Spock, we’re not like you. We’re not machines that can turn our minds off.” But Kirk suggests the Vulcan mind-meld ploy which McCoy submits to with bulging and suspicious eyes. In the gunfight, the bullets pass harmlessly through them and Kirk takes out the gunfighters with unarmed combat.

      Anyway, I happen to agree with McCoy in the matter of recoil. Unless we are Mr. Spock, we can hardly help but anticipate recoil. And this may be even more true of airguns than firearms since the airguns require more follow-through during which you actually experience the recoil. But there are a lot of other factors like the greater weight of the more powerful airguns as you point out.


      • Matt, sure thing recoil doesnt make it EASIER! Thats why they invented recoilLES 10m rifles.
        I was just making a point….. the greater weights makes it easier to shoot accurately. For me….I prever a greater weight over a lightweight semi-recoilless rifle. Ive shot my hw80 so often in very diffenrent situations….I dont pay attention to the characteristics of the rifle anymore….I just concentrate on the shot.
        Familiarity helps you to get in the “zone”

    • Dutchjozef,

      Yea, it makes no sense. Not sure how it ever got started. I enjoy learning new words and phrases from different countries. The ones from the U.K. always “throw me for a loop”,….ahhhh,…yet another one.


        • Christoph,

          Yossarian argues that he should be discharged with a Section 8, that he is insane. However, he wishes to no longer go on air raids, which is a sign that he is surely sane. Hence the “Catch-22” loophole applies. He is sane because he does not wish to get killed. Because he is sane, he does not qualify to discharged on a Section 8, as explained in Catch No. 22.


        • A Catch 22, as I understand it, is a cycle of self-negation. It has elements of a paradox but it is more specific. The example of a scope that has the detail of 32X and the steadiness of a 7X is a combination of incompatible elements that is a strict paradox, but it doesn’t have the cyclical nature of the Catch-22. I encountered one of these at work where I was told that document 2 could only be changed after document 1 was changed. But document 1 always had to be the same as document 2.


          • From imdb.com:

            “Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all the close calls he’s had.

            Yossarian: Why can’t you ground him?

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me.

            Yossarian: That’s all he’s gotta do to be grounded?

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: That’s all.

            Yossarian: Then you can ground him?

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.

            Yossarian: Aah!

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: There’s a CATCH?

            Yossarian: A catch?

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: Sure. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn’t really crazy, so I can’t ground him.

            Yossarian: Ok, let me see if I’ve got this straight. In order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: You got it, that’s Catch-22.

            Yossarian: Whoo… That’s some catch, that Catch-22.

            Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: It’s the best there is. ”


      • “Welcome,” as they say, “to English.” More succinctly, the Yanks, and the Brits, the Aussies, Zelanders, (and on and on) have a saying. “We have a Common Language BETWEEN us.

  4. I would like to see how many of the H&N lead BB’s could be used in a magazine in a blow back pistol, the real steel 1911 would hold 7 or 8 bullets i believe but something like the Sig P226 X five would hold 15ish. So if they did work it would be interesting to see how many you could hold in the mag before the deform or mess up, also check for copper shavings caused buy movement in the blow back action. Maybe compare blow back too non blow back pistols for comparison using lead and steel type BB’s. Please, thank you.


    Best wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington_Smythe.

  5. B.B.,

    I am with Sir nigel on trying the Sig Sauer P226. It is perhaps my most accurate BB pistol, and the blowback would add another element to the test.

    I also am glad you are testing a Daisy 25, especially if it is one of the new ones. They aeem to be very accurate for a BB long gun.


  6. I’m guessing, but I’d say you wouldn’t want to use these in a 760, I believe the magnet is what actually picks up the BB to load, these would be pain to get out of the magazine!

    • I’ll probably be trying something in my Remington Airmaster which I removed the BB stop from specifically to be able to shoot .177 lead balls through, it has a spring loaded follower and magnetic bolt probe.
      It’ll probably be a while before I can afford some but I’ll be sharing my results when I do. You’re probably right about the 760 but it is gravity fed and has a generous trough so it may not be too bad.

      • Good to know Red. thanks. I’m sure the rolling out problem will still exist. actually, on my sons new 760, the probe “hovers” over the loading slot, unless there is a single shot tray that didn’t come with it, they’d fall out before getting to the barrel

        • Ah, he has one with a sliding magazine. I played with one that had a broken magazine and it was a pain to shoot pellets outta but BB’s worked fine, tough call.
          Let us know how it works out if he gets some to try.
          Yeah, auto correct got me up there too and added “thing” to my some. I spend too much time correcting autocorrect to get my thoughts complete! Aargh!

  7. I’m looking forward to your test with these bb’s in a Model 25, as I have one. I find it to be fun to shoot, and pretty accurate for a bb rifle. The trigger on it is not bad, as opposed to a Daisy Red Ryder I bought new recently. That gun…I have to shorten my shooting sessions with it due to pain on my trigger finger it’s so bad. I think, if I shoot more that 50 shots, I may draw blood! Yet, both still get me good groups shooting off a chair, indoors, at about 16-18 feet.

  8. I love to see shooting at my regular distance! I thought that what made the Daisy 499 so accurate was having the precision matched shot. Without that fitting, I would think any other bb would have no chance, so today’s results are a surprise.

    Gunfun1, my comment on the possibility instability of small rounds fired at high velocity like the .17HMR was inspired by the early M16. But I recall now that those bullets were made unstable on purpose by reducing the twist rate to something like 1:12. With the proper twist rate (and velocity), the small bullet should be stable. But there is another question. The idea of accelerating a rimfire bullet with a bigger powder charge was already done with the .22 mag. That powder charge looks huge, judging by the case, and feels like it to. Yet, the .22 mag is relatively inaccurate. I thought it was just me until this was confirmed by CowBoyStar Dad who can certainly shoot. So, I wonder why speeding up an even smaller round like the .17 HMR makes it flat-shooting. This is a mysterious cartridge to me.


    • Matt61
      I may be wrong about this but look at the .22 magnum bullet. The projectile is what I’m talking about. It resembles the round nose shape like the regular .22 long rifle uses if I remember right.

      Then look at the shape of the .17 hmr bullet or like I said above the projectile. The .17hmr shape of the projectile resembles a centerfire projectile shape. Well and even the step down diameter case. I believe that the .17 hmr projectile has characteristics biult in to it to help improve high velocity long range accuracy. Look at the shape of the 7.62 lupa round I believe it’s called. It’s a sleek aerodynamic shape in a sense if you look at the side profile. It actually resembles a airplane wing airfoil. It’s basically pointed in the front, symmetrical top and bottom and the biggest or thickest part of the bullet diameter is moved backwards to help stability then the diameter tapers off to a smaller diameter.

      The .22 projectile is basically a slug with a round nose. It’s only going to fly good for a certain amount of time.

      Then you mention about a smaller bullet going faster has a flatter trajectory. That’s exactly what happens. But there will be a time when the projectile will drop out of its stable flight. Velocity will drop off and gravity will over come the weight of the projectile.

      So change diameter, weight, shape and velocity of a projectile and the trajectory will get better which I will call flatter or get worse wich it will have that arched flight path.

      Change a part of the equation be it a small projectile or a big projectile and you can have a flat trajectory or not.

      I probably just rambled on about what people know already about that. But that’s the way I see it if I made any sense.

  9. “Catch 22” responders,

    Thanks to all that had input on the origin of the phrase. We have some really smart people here.

    As for the Smart Shot bb’s,….if they could incorporate (some) ferrous material with the copper coating, they might have a real winner,…open to (all) bb guns. The “squish” factor may be minimized a bit, but should still serve the intended purpose.

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