Air Venturi Dust Devil BBs: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- BBs rebound
- Smart Shot
- Hard Target?
- Do they work?
- Acid test!
- What they will and won’t do
- Long-term test
Today we are going to look at something entirely new — the Air Venturi Dust Devil BB. It’s a BB that can be fired at hard targets with little fear of rebound, because the BB disintegrates on impact. I have been playing with these for several months now, and they do deliver on that promise!
Ask anyone who shoots BBs and they will tell you — BBs rebound from hard targets. They can come back at the shooter almost as fast as they went downrange. You may recall that little Ralphie Parker discovered that when he fired the first shot from his Red Ryder in the movie, A Christmas Story. Well, he wasn’t the only one! Little BB Pelletier busted his lower lip when a BB fired from an Anics revolver rebounded from 10 meters away. That BB left the pistol twice as fast as Ralphie’s — 500 f.p.s.! I shouldn’t have shot it into a steel bullet trap to begin with, but do as I say — not as I do. I said, “Aww — it’ll never come all the way back here.” Right! Reminds me of guys who shoot .22 long rifle ammo at golf balls and get surprised in exactly the same way.
The Dust Devil isn’t the first safe BB we’ve seen. Remember when I did an extensive 6-part test of the H&N Smart Shot lead BBs in 2015? They just flattened out and fell to the ground after hitting a hard target. So, we’ve had safe BBs for a couple years. But at 7.4 grains, Smart Shot BBs are much heavier than conventional steel BBs that typically weigh 5.1 grains. They slow down a projectile that is already traveling at a low velocity.
Dust Devils are lead free and therefore lighter. I weighed a small sample (20) and found that they ranged from 4.2 to 4.6 grains, with the majority of them weighing either 4.3 or 4.4 grains. The packaging says they weigh 4.35 grains, so what I found is representative.
A Dust Devil up close.
Air Venturi claims a 10 percent velocity increase that I will definitely test. I will also test to see if this allows some extra shooting distance.
Dust Devils are magnetic, so they are made from a ferrous alloy. That also means they will function with magnetic BB feeders.
I don’t have a clue how they are made, so speculate all you want. I’m sure the belt around the circumference is a big clue, but beyond what you see I know nothing. No self-respecting manufacturer is going to reveal their secrets when they are launching an exclusive world-beating new product. Heck — Crosman won’t even tell you how they make steel BBs, and that technology is close to a century old!
Just for fun I tried Dust Devils in my Daisy Champion 499. This was just a function test — accuracy will come later. I was scared before I loaded the first one that it might get stuck in the barrel and then where would I be? So I pulled out my trusty BBgage (Yes, blog reader Jerry Cupples makes a BBgage) and discovered that the Avanti Precision Ground shot that’s made for the 499 is larger than a 4.41mm hole, which is as large as my early gage goes (current BBgages go up to 4.4mm). But Dust Devils pass through the 4.39mm hole, which told me they are going to drop through the 499 barrel fast, and they did. I doubt they will be very accurate in a 499 because they are so undersized for the bore, but you know I’m going to test them!
Of course you want to know how accurate they are, and I will conduct several tests to show you. Air Venturi claims they are just as accurate, if not more accurate than premium BBs. That claim has to be tested with several different BB guns, so prepare yourselves for a long series.
This came up while the BB was being developed. What if the target is hard but also resilient? What if it gives slightly when it’s hit and then rebounds, sending the whole BB back in the direction it came from intact? There is no defense against something like that. It’s very difficult to set up the precise conditions in which that is even possible, but what it means is Dust Devils are ALMOST impervious to bounceback. Nothing is for certain every time — not even lead.
Do they work?
I’m going to do many tests of this BB, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to shoot some into my steel bullet trap. Naturally I was wearing good eye protection. Only a fool would shoot a BB gun without wearing protection.
Boy, was I leery at first! But my fears were unfounded. Nothing came back, or even got out of the trap, as far as I was able to determine. I can usually hear when pieces of pellets leave the trap and hit somewhere else in the room.
So next, I did a very childish thing. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! I fired the BB pistol straight down at the concrete floor. It didn’t leave a mark on the floor and it vanished without a trace.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Dust Devils will be the perfect BBs to use with action targets. That is their best application, I think. Their safety makes them equal to the Smart Shot BBs. Their higher velocity makes them possibly able to shoot a little farther. As long as they are reasonably accurate, these BBs could revolutionize the world of action air pistol shooting, since most action air pistols are BB guns! If they prove themselves, Dust Devils could be to action pistol shooting what precharged pneumatics were to field target — a game changer! I see it as my job to get started on that proof.
What they will and won’t do
Dust Devils don’t work in some action airguns with large magazine capacities. I wanted so much to open the testing with the Umarex Legends MP40 submachinegun. Wouldn’t that be fun? But Dust Devils don’t work well in double-stack magazines. The MP40 has a long double-stack mag.
I will try them in action BB pistols with shorter single-stack mags, so you get a good feel for what works and what doesn’t. I’ve already tried them in an Umarex Makarov BB pistol and they worked fine. And revolvers pose no problem at all. Haven’t tried them in a blowback gun yet, but it’s coming. Pyramyd Air sent me a spreadsheet of the more than 50 BB guns they have tested them with and only a couple like the MP40 didn’t work.
I will test Dust Devils in a modern Red Ryder that has a gravity-feed magazine. Pyramyd Air already did and it passed. What I can’t do and what we will have to wait years to see is how well a full magazine of Dust Devils holds up over 6 months of being in the gun while it’s being handled. I might be able to get a child, with his or her parent’s permission, to conduct this test for me, but I think the results are not that pertinent. Without a doubt Dust Devils will be priced as premium BBs and kids don’t shoot expensive ammo. Heck — some of our readers balk at buying pellets from anywhere but the discount store! Besides, the days of little boys carrying loaded BB guns around the neighborhood ended many decades ago.
Dust Devils are an exciting new type of airgun ammunition. I’m sure you readers will have things to say about them after you have read this first report.