H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 6

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
Part 5

This report covers:

  • Forced-feed magazine
  • Performance in guns with blowback
  • Test 1
  • Conclusion 1
  • Test 2
  • Conclusion 2
  • Test 3
  • Conclusion 3
  • Test 4
  • Conclusion 4
  • Series summary

This is the sixth report I have done on the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB. I crammed a lot into today’s report, and this will be the last time we look at this BB for some time.

Many questions

There were so many questions about what the Smart Shot could and could not do that I decided to pack as much as possible into this report. Let’s begin with the performance in a semiautomatic airguns with blowback.

Performance in guns with blowback

I tested the Smart Shot in a Makarov Ultra from Umarex. I know some people wanted to see it shoot in a 1911A1, but the one I have has not been tested yet, so there is no baseline. We wouldn’t know where the results fell against BBs, and there is no time in today’s test to also test the gun with conventional steel BBs.
Most blowback airguns work in pretty much the same way, so testing one is like testing another. They have a single stack BB magazine and the BBs are pushed up to the top where they are blown into the barrel and out of the gun with the shot. No magnets are involved, so the functioning should be okay with lead shot.
The concerns are will the BB remain in the magazine until it is blown out by the gas? Secondarily, what differences are there when shooting a BB that’s 2.5 grains heavier than the gun was designed to handle?

Test 1

I used the UTG Monopod to rest the gun. I rested my shooting arm on the monopod and held the pistol forward of the rest. The hold was steady despite the rather heavy trigger pull of the Ultra.
The magazine loaded normally — just as it would have with steel BBs. They aligned and went to the top of the mag when the follower was released, and although I did not intend it, I let the follower slam against the stack of BBs both times. There were no problems from that, which addresses the concern over their ruggedness.

I then shot 2 targets with 10 shots each. Before we look at that, let me show you the best target this pistol shot when it was tested, back in 2014. I shot Umarex Precision BBs in that accuracy test and the 10-shot groups at 5 meters ranged from 0.916-inches between centers to 1.189-inches.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol target 1
With steel BBs, the best group this Makarov gave measures 0.916-inches between centers.

The first group of Smart Shot BBs went into a group that measures 1.423-inches between centers. I used a 6 o’clock hold, which means I was aiming at the bottom of the black bull. The group is centered on the bull, left and right, but hit about 1.25-inches lower than the aim point. That is the additional weight of the lead BB at work.

There are nine holes in the target, because one BB rolled out of the muzzle of the gun as I was shooting. Since the Makarov slide remains open after the final shot, there is no difficulty determining this. Plus I heard it fall and found it on the carpet after the string.

Because the shots impacted below the target I photographed them where they were instead of the usual way. The BB holes in the cardboard backer should give a good idea of the group size.

Smart Shot BBs group 1
Nine Smart Shot BBs landed in a group that measures 1.423-inches between centers at 5 meters.

I shot a second group, just to see if the first one was typical. This time I elevated the front sight in the rear notch to raise the location of the group. It isn’t as precise that way, but at 5 meters it will do. This time 9 BBs when into 1.46-inches, which is close enough to the first group to make me think this performance is typical.

Once again, one BB rolled out of the gun as I was firing the string. I don’t know what causes that, but it is consistent. And it doesn’t happen in any order. The first time I had fired 8 shots when it happened. The second time I had fired 4 times.

Smart Shot BBs group 2
Sorry about the focus on this one. Nine Smart Shot BBs are in 1.46-inches at 5 meters. The aiming was less precise to raise the group on target, which may account for the slightly larger spread.

Conclusion 1

From this test I conclude the Smart Shot BBs will work in blowback BB guns, but you may experience some feeding problems. Accuracy is comparable to that of steel BBs, but not quite as good. Use Smart Shot BBs whenever there is a concern for safety.

Test 2

In the second test I used a Daisy 880 multi-pump pneumatic BB gun under the same test conditions — 5 meters and the gun rested on the monopod. I would show you the accuracy of the 880 at 5 meters with steel BBs but that’s not relevant because the Smart Shot BBs failed to work correctly.

I pumped the rifle 3 strokes, because it shot best that way in the accuracy test with steel BBs. Then I loaded a Smart Shot BB and prepared to file. As I held on target, I heard the BB rolling down the barrel. I shot before it fell out the muzzle, but there is no way to use this lead BB in an 880, or in any BB gun like it that uses a magnetic bolt tip to hold the BB for firing. The same holds for other BB guns like the 880 that have magnetic bolt tips — like the Crosman 2100B. These guns are rifles that also shoot lead pellets, so their bores are larger than BB-size to accommodate the larger pellets. Hence the smaller BBs have to be held in place until the air blast hits them, or they will just roll out when the muzzle is dipped below level.

Conclusion 2

If a gun uses a magnet to hold the BB in place for shooting, Smart Shot BBs will not work. This applies to all guns where a magnet is used this way.

Test 3

In this test I loaded the Smart Shot BBs into a vintage Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun and shot targets at 5 meters. The monopod was used to steady the rifle.

The first target I shot gave me a larger group because I wasn’t concentrating on the sight picture. I feel that group, which measures 1.644-inches between centers, is not representative for this reason. So I’m not showing that target. But in that first target I put 8 of the 10 Smart Shot BBs into a group measuring 0.81-inches. So I shot a second group to see if I was correct about the hold.

The second group of 10 shots measures 1.108-inches between centers. This time I held perfectly for every shot. This group is about as good as this BB gun can shoot.

Smart Shot BBs group 3
Crosman M1 Carbine put 10 Smart Shot BBs into 1.108-inches at 5 yards.

There were no failures to feed this time. The M1 Carbine has a gravity feed system that requires the BB to fall down and turn a corner to align with the bore. It handled the lead BBs like they were made for it.

Conclusion 3

Smart Shot BBs function fine when they feed through gravity-based BB gun systems. And in this case, they were also extremely accurate.

Test 4

Someone asked me whether the Smart Shot BBs could be fired at a steel bullet trap. So I used the M1 Carbine and stood 5 feet from my steel rimfire trap and let fly. There was a cardboard backer over the opening to the trap to keep everything inside. That’s needed for lead pellets, as well. Naturally I wore safety shooting glasses when doing this.

All 10 BBs hit the backstop and stopped cold. Not one of them bounced back to hit the back side of the backer board. When I examined a BB caught in the trap it was flattened on 2 sides — indicating it hit the steel backplate, then deflected down to the steel plate at the bottom. Nine of 10 BBs wen into the waste tray at the bottom of the trap and only one was recoverable.

Conclusion 4

Smart Shot lead BBs can be shot safely into a steel bullet trap. I advise you to use a cardboard backer on the trap’s front to keep the waste BBs inside.

Series summary

I have now tested Smart Shot lead BBs in numerous ways throughout this 6-part series. We found out what they can do and also what they can’t do. O can sum it up like this. If you want to shoot BBs at hard targets safely, such as shooting at metal action targets, Smart Shot BBs are the way to go. You still need to wear eye protection, but the rebounds have far less energy.

On the other hand, using Smart Shot BBs for a purpose for which they were not intended, like in a Daisy 499, is marginal at best. You can sometimes get them to work, but what’s the advantage of shooting expensive lead BBs when cheaper steel BBs do just as good, if not better?

Smart Shot BBs exist for safety’s sake. They reduce the rebounds from hard targets demonstrably. Use them for that and they won’t let you down.

23 thoughts on “H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 6


  1. Plinking spinners and flip up ft squirrels and crows with a bb gun, who’d of thunk it? Anybody know off hand the short list of gravity fed bb rifles that would…. omg, I just realized, red ryders !! Lol might be some real can flippin going on soon in the bb plinkin realm. Great review BB, lot of much appreciated time and effort as usual an interesting and informative article.



      • None adjustable sights? Don’t have experience with the 102, but its tough to think most of the ‘great for these’ guns I think of have a magnetic probe, I wonder if instead of adding ferrous to the coating they made a tiny bonded core… let it still deform and run in all the bb guns. Be expensive though, im sure.


  2. Hi folks,

    I received the Diana 280T06/430/440th spring yesterday und installed it in my 31.

    It’s supposed to produce 16 joules whereas the 34 spring produces 20. The 280 is supposed to have the same action as the 34 and the spring did fit well.

    It came in shrinkwrap without a label (does Diana ship springs like this?.

    It isn’t very long (much shorter than a 34 spring). I think it also looks different. The springs I had before had a grey colour when new. This one looked fairly dark with a slight red tint. Maybe that points to a different tempering process.

    The gun seems as loud as it was with the 20 joule spring, but it does seem to be burning some oil right now. It’s not detonating, though. I know how that sounds and it isn’t pleasant 🙂

    Cocking effort is a little lower, as would be expected.

    The shot cycle is quite smooth. There is a solid, dry “thud” and the muzzle report. It doesn’t buzz oder vibrate with H&N Sport or RWS Geco pellets.

    I was too tired to do any meaningful accuracy testing.

    Maybe this is going to be good 🙂

    Stephan




    • Think theres a hpa reservoir would fit in the pump tube area of the AM? Be a pretty cool why to get bbs spitting out of it fast! These lead might run great with that or in the co2. I know a few people asked about full auto but even something like the 1077 would be cool to see.


      • I’ve tried to find an insert for HPA for this gun, it would be one of the first( probably the second) $100 PCP’s but it seems no one offers one. So far B.B.and Dennis are the first.
        I’ve also considered coming up with my own design for aftermarket retrofit but have 0 experience in designing airguns and it wasn’t my originally idea.
        Ethics could paint me a bad color and I don’t want that but someone’s gotta get on this!


      • The Airmaster is the gun I pulled outta that dumpster a couple years ago and replaced the missing forearm cap screw for 0.29 so a kit around $100 would make it a true $100 PCP!


        • Cant beat that deal. If you took the measurement of the compression tube area then looked at some pcps that possibly have the appropriate size tube reservoir you might be able to narrow down the closest fit and order just the reservoir. Then some tinkering to line up the existing valve/striker/whichever works. No doubt somebody with technical experience and a lathe or cnc could make the adapters needed. Then you make a bunch, buy a bunch of reservoirs and you got yourself an airmaster hpa kit to sell… 😉


          • The closest I have ever gotten to engineering education was my drafting class back in ’86, I did receive an award and was top of a 4 member class but I don’t wanna blow nobody up.
            Gunfun was telling me about charging a Disco without the stock on and never finding the back of the valve, that was a wake-up for me.


  3. All these reviews are motivating me to get back into bb shooting. I can’t see them replacing pellets for target shooting because of accuracy, however, there is another niche. I’m currently enjoying myself drying firing around my apartment with my firearms and practicing the techniques from the tactical books I’ve ordered. The next step is actual shooting. Even these copper plated bbs would do damage, so I believe I will dust off my big supply of airsoft gear that I set aside a long time ago.

    edlee, I believe you are correct about pellet strike at closer distances than the zero. It would be low in front of the first zero. The rising trajectory of the pellet makes this unavoidable. Between the first and second zero where the trajectory is parabolic and the pellet goes up and down, I’m not sure, but I believe you are correct.

    RifledDNA22, I believe you’re right that in the riddle of the goose and bottle the riddle is a bottle in the form of logical constraints. Whether the receiver is a goose depends. In the sense of being silly to listen to a question like this? Possibly. In the sense of the one who has to be freed? That would be consistent. But note how in the act of understanding the koan, you are resorting to logic. The answer “There, it’s out.” is supposed to be sufficient unto itself. So, you haven’t quite reached Enlightentment, but you are on your way. By way of encouragement, The Godfather of Airguns assured us long ago that Enlightenment is characterized by a deep appreciation of all airguns and by the presence of nymphs. I’m still waiting for that second part.

    Gunfun1, I know they’re watching me! The rangemasters sniffed at my standing target with the Anschutz at 50 yards which barely held the black. But at least, I put 5 on top of each other at that distance from the bench. I’ve mounted the green laser on my CZ pistol, so now I will be exposed in all my weakness. I should try benchresting pistols again. My one attempt to do this with a 1911 at 50 yards not only completely missed the target but really screwed up my offhand technique for some time. But that was before B.B. told me that you are supposed to put your wrists on the rest, not the butt of the gun. In any case, offhand shooting is my emphasis for pistols. And recently I’ve been shooting at 25 yards. But I believe I will work up from shorter distances with the green laser. The last time I shot pistols with a laser, I was way worse than with the iron sights, so there seems to be some adjustment required.

    Matt61


    • The nymphs are there… they’re the ones that whisper in your ear “You’ve never used that.. just throw it away…” and you listen… within the week you magically need that exact silly thing. Or maybe those are the trolls.. me and the goblins will have to discuss this cause they keep saying it wasnt them.


  4. This is a reminder to me to get a Makarov from PA.
    The powder-burning ammunition is getting rather pricey, when you can find it. At the local gun store, when they have it, it is 29 cents/round for Norinco (Chinese). Cabela’s, which does carry the stuff in small quantities, charges 40cents/round for Serbian rounds.

    Reb, what have you been paying? The Makarov is a beautiful little gun in its simplicity. It is close to identical in size to my Umarex PPKs. Not a mini-pistol, 8+1 rounds of fat 9mm. It makes a 1911 look like a cannon by comparison.

    Those lead bb’s would work well in my basement, where other things (washer/dryer, model railroad, water heater) would not stand up well to ricochets.

    Les


    • Mine was stolen outta my duffle bag my last year on the road. I guess that’s around ’93 so it’s been a while since I bought any.They’re good guns! And I considered mine to be a budget PPK. I’d probably have a hard time walking away from one with a decent price on it but the ammo being nonreloadable was a major drawback. Kinda leaves you at the mercy of suppliers.


    • I just looked to see how the market’s got them priced and find most around $250, actually found one with the complete kit and boxes of ammo but I’ve been banned from GB since I got outta the hospital. I’ve got a new email address since then but I don’t know if that’ll work, I’ll have to check into that.


    • Check www. Ammo to go they’ve got packages that get the price down under 0.25/round for the US anyway.I don’t know if you could get them shipped where you are but I’m considering getting another one myself.



  5. Reb,

    No, I haven’t tried that ammo. The hottest stuff I’ve shot was made by Blount in Idaho. It has aluminum cases, but I haven’t found a source for it (I got it second-hand).

    The Serbian ammo looks very good, but I haven’t shot it yet. It is jacketed hollow point.

    Les


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