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
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Forced-feed magazine
  • The test
  • Umarex BBs
  • Daisy BBs
  • Smart Shot BBs
  • Daisy BB
  • Conclusions
  • What do I test next?

Today I am shooting the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB in a Daisy number 25 pump BB gun that has a 50-shot forced-feed magazine. The gun I am using was made in Plymouth, Michigan between the years 1952 and 1958, which can be determinedย by the electrostatic paint instead of bluing on the metal and the plastic buttstock and pump handle. This gun is in 95 percent condition and would be 98 percent except the butt has a slight curve at the back that’s characteristic of the soft plastic Daisy used in those days. It probably stood on its butt in a warm closet for 30 years before I bought it at a flea market in the early 1990s. I doubt it was ever shot before I bought it. It’s so nice that I seldom shoot it, but today I wanted a gun that’s as close as I can come to the current Daisy 25 that Pyramyd Air sells.

Forced-feed magazine

This BB gun has a 50-shot forced feed magazine with a spring-powered follower that pushes the BBs down to the breech. There is a lot less chance this gun will fail to fire a BB than if the magazine were a gravity-fed model — like the Haenel 100 pistol we looked at on Monday. But there was some concern that the follower would put so much pressure on the lead BBs that they would deform and fail to feed. That is one of the things I am testing for you today.

The test

I shot seated at 5 meters with the gun rested on the UTG Monopod. That monopod is fast becoming an essential part of my testing equipment — like the MTM shooting bench and my Shooting Chrony Alpha Master chronograph.

I used the peep sight leaf on the gun’s rear sight assembly. The leaf that has both sight elements isย loose and cannot be tightened, so I pulled it back into position before each shot — not unlike resetting a Unertl rifle scope that has an anti-recoil slide built into the mount. The peep hole is small, but with a 500-watt lamp illuminating the target it was easy to use. And it is far more precise than the open notch that’s also available on this sight.

Smart Shot BBs Daisy rear sight
The no. 25’s rear sight has both a peep and an open notch. The leaf is as upright as it will go and it flops around. So I pulled it into position before each shot.

Umarex BBs

First I loaded 10 Umarex BBs into the magazine and started the test. Umarex BBs have shown themselves to be as accurate as other premium brands in tests with other BB guns, so why not with the 25?

Ten Umarex BBs made a 1.283-inch group at 5 meters. While it’s not exactly tight, it’s about what I expected this airgun to do.

Smart Shot BBs Daisy 25 Umarex BB target
Ten Umarex BBs made this group that measures 1.283-inches between centers at 5 meters.

Smart Shot BBs

I thought we were off to a good start, so I loaded 10 Smart Shot BBs next. The follower did not damage them in any way. It might be possible to make one or more Smart Shot BB deform if you pull the follower all the way up and then release it and let it slam down on a few BBs at the bottom of the column, but loading them normally doesn’t do anything it shouldn’t.

The first shot fired two BBs at the same time. This is a problem some forced-feed magazines have if the tolerance at the breech is slightly oversized and the BBs are on the small side. The fix has always been to get a new magazine, because these things are a non-maintainable assembly once they are manufactured. My gun is collectible, so I’m not going to do anything about it. If I shot the gun more I would restrict my shooting to whatever brand of BB didn’t double feed. There were no more double feeds in this session.

Ten Smart Shot BBs landed in a group that measures 1.932-inches between centers. It was the largest group of the test, so the Smart Shot BBs are not right for this number 25 — at least not with this shot tube/magazine installed.

Smart Shot BBs Daisy 25 Smart Shot BB target
Ten Smart Shot lead BBs made this 1.932-inch group at 5 meters. The first 2 shots came out at the same time and the arrow points to both impacts on the target.

Daisy BB

For the final BB I used Daisy’s Premium Grade BBs. These are the market standard for premium steel BBs. But in this number 25 they did not work well at all. There were at least two double feeds in this string. I lost count, but I knew I was firing blanks by shot number 9 for sure. So this BB isn’t right in this gun.

Ten Daisy BBs went into 1.763-inches at 5 meters. Even if they didn’t double feed, that’s far enough back from the Umarex BBs to not use them.

Smart Shot BBs Daisy 25 Umarex BB target
Ten Daisy Premium BBs made this 1.763-inch group at 5 meters. Don’t overlook the hole at the upper right.

Conclusions

First I conclude there is no danger of deforming the Smart Shot BBs in a spring-loaded magazine. As long as you exercise reasonable care when loading, they load like any other BB.

Next I see that this old number 25 has a shot tube with loose tolerances. I have 6-8 other shot tubes available for this gun if I really wanted to shoot it, so this is not a problem for me. I would just install one of them and shoot the gun and then return the correct shot tube when I was done.

Finally, being on the small side I see that the Smart Shot BBs may be less accurate in some BB guns. Of course they are really made for their additional safety margin, so accuracy is secondary. Safety is their primary function and we saw how dramatically different they behave when fired against hard targets in part 3 of this report.

What do I test next?

I have already tested quite a few things with the Smart Shot BBs. By no means am I finished, but here is what I have left to do — test them in a powerful pneumatic that has a rifled barrel like a Daisy 880 and test them in a semiautomatic BB gun like a Makarov Ultra, to see whether they feed through the magazine like they should. Beyond that, are there any other tests I should conduct?