Daisy’s 179 BB pistol: Part 2
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Daisy 179 was the first Spittin’ Image BB gun Daisy made.
This report covers:
- Metal frame
- It is a catapult!
- Cocking effort
- Reliable feeding
- A real lesson!
We are back looking at my Daisy 179 again, and the first important thing to know is I got it wrong when I originally described the frame or body of the gun as being molded in plastic. It definitely is metal. It would have to be, to be held together by screws the way that it is. Sorry for the confusion!
We heard from some owners who love the gun and from others who hate it. I guess this is an airgun that you need to understand before getting one. It’s not what it looks like — which is a single action revolver. It’s single action all right, but very far from being a revolver. It is a 12-shot repeater, but the spring that operates the hammer is so strong that it is impossible to thumb rapidly with one hand, or to fan. It’s a very deliberate gun.
One of the thing I promised last time was a look at the sights. The front sight is a rounded blade that’s similar to the Colt Single Action front sight blade. The rear sight is supposed to be a groove in the top of the frame with a squared-off notch in the back. The hammer prevents me from seeing that notch, and therefore from using a conventional sight picture. If the hammer stayed all the way back when the gun was cocked, the rear sight notch would be visible, but where it rotates forward after cocking, which puts it above the rear sight notch. Daisy should have considered putting a rear sight notch in the hammer, likethe one on the 1860 Colt Army. And these sights are not adjustable in any way.
That shallow notch (arrow) is the rear sight! It’s not much different than the rear sight notch on a Colt Single Action firearm!
The trigger is either a single stage or it’s the strangest two-stage trigger you have ever seen. As you slowly squeeze you feel it move through an arc and then hesitate. The hammer moves backward slightly as this happens Where it hesitates, the effort becomes noticeably harder, but the trigger doesn’t stop moving unless you consciously stop pulling it. If I can get used to this, it help me in the accuracy test, which I’m planning to do from 10 feet.
The trigger pull breaks at 5 lbs. 1 oz. That sounds heavy, but it doesn’t feel that heavy to me.
It is a catapult!
I was also wrong about how the gun works. It isn’t a kinetic gun at all, but a normal catapult that has a recognizable “flinger.” Look at this photo of the gun with the side removed and you can see the inner mechanism. The flinger pushes the BB into the barrel, rather than the “croquet-ball-whacking” explanation I wrote in Part 1. Sorry about that, but I’m learning this stuff as I go.
A look inside the 179 reveals that it is a true catapult gun. See the flinger arm that pushes the BB (arrow).
The hammer of the 179 takes 17 pounds of effort to cock! That is a lot — particularly when you try to do it with one thumb. I can do it, but it isn’t pleasant. It’s easier for me to hold the gun in both hands to cock it.
I tested the cocking effort on my bathroom scale — the same scale on which I test most spring rifles. Believe me, the hammer slipped off the scale’s rubber pad several times before I got the hang of dragging it across while cocking it. I was surprised to see the force go so high, but now maybe you understand what I was saying about how hard this gun is to cock.
And what do you get for all that effort? I shot Daisy Premium Grade steel BBs for this test, and several things happened. First, there were several failures to feed. The BB gets pushed up in front of the flinger rod by a black segmented rubber spring on the end of the follower. I took a picture of that for you because it is very strange-looking. To get this picture I had to hold the spring-loaded follower out of the way with my finger, because the notch in the gun does not hold it reliably.
This rubber spring is on the end of the follower. Yes it is also a spring, but it is not the magazine’s mainspring. It’s just one of two springs that push the BB into position. It’s very weak, to allow just one BB to get in front of the flinger without putting pressure on it that might jam the gun.
Here you can see the rubber spring on the end of the follower. It isn’t pulled back quite far enough for a BB to enter the loading hole (arrow).
There is a viewing port in the top strap of the frame, where the rear sight groove is. It allows you to see if a BB has been loaded when the hammer was cocked. Apparently it’s because there often isn’t a BB ready to go.
The viewing port in the center of the rear sight notch channel allows you to see if a BB has been loaded.
Daisy BBs averaged 157 f.p.s. over 8 shots. Why 8? Because I shot the gun 20 times, just to get that many. If you count the number of times I fired and nothing came out, it was closer to 40. And my BBs were bouncing off the card stock in front of my quiet pellet trap that keeps the duct seal inside. That was very distracting.
The velocity ranged from a low of 149 f.p.s. to a high of 166 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 17 f.p.s., which is very large for a catapult gun. Usually I get a variance of 3 or 4 f.p.s. from this kind of powerplant. Incidentally, Daisy advertises a velocity of 140 f.p.s., right on the box, so this one is on the hot side.
The 179 makes very little noise when it fires. You hear the hammer striking the frame and the BB hitting the paper and that’s about it. If the gun is accurate, it would be a wonderful airgun for a small living space. But I am concerned about those bouncebacks.
I couldn’t use a normal cardboard backstop cover over the BB trap, and that’s where I usually tape my targets. At the low velocity of the 179, BBs would just bounce back. So I had to come up with a different setup for accuracy. I thought I would just hang a paper target with no backing, whatsoever! But then my eyes settled on the Winchester Target Cube, and, although it has suffered the impacts of thousands of rounds, it was still the perfect solution for this pistol. I just taped the target to one of the faces and started shooting.
I test so many airguns that I’m usually on top of things when it gets to the accuracy test, but not this time. The first shots were a disaster from an accuracy viewpoint. I shot from just 10 feet and tested my hand on the UTG Monopod, but even then I managed to miss the backstop once!
The problem is, the 179 shoots very low! Well, having shot Colt Single Actions out to 300 yards, I know how to deal with that. Simply raise the muzzle until you see the base of the front blade at the top of the rear notch, then put the target on the tip of the blade and you’re good to go — at least from 10 feet! When you raise the muzzle this way you can also see the rear sight notch, which is an added plus. But that’s not all I learned.
I had several blank shots in the first batch, and one double feed. And that’s when I learned the other important lesson. When cocking the 179, do it deliberately, making sure the hammer is drawn all the way back. Only then will the feed hole in the magazine open on the inside of the gun and feed one BB in front of the flinger. After I learned that lesson there were no more failures to feed. I also must mention that the pistol was extremely quiet to shoot.
So the first magazine of BBs was used for a learning session. At the end of the first run I felt confident I could shoot the 179 as well as I ever will be able to, so the next magazine was for the record. I loaded 13 more BBs, but this time only 10 were needed.
Ten BBs from my 179 at 10 feet went into a group that measures 2.61-inches between centers. That’s hardly a good group for shooting from 10 feet. But I think it is representative of what a 179 pistol can do. I am delighted that I learned this pistols’s secrets before I finished this report!
BBs everywhere. Ten Daisy BBs landed in 2.61-inches at 10 feet. Three of them made it into the black. I had to cut all the BB holes with a razor knife to get them to show, because the BBs just tore small slits in the paper.
A real lesson!
Testing the 179 has been a real eye-opener for me. I learned so much about the gun and how it works. While I’m still no expert, I now feel I understand this BB pistol for the first time in my life. For that reason, alone, this report has been valuable for me.