by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Part 1

Daisy 99
Daisy Model 99 Target Special.

This report covers:

  • Leather seals
  • Back to the 99
  • Velocity Daisy BBs
  • Velocity Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • Velocity Air Venturi Dust Devils
  • More on the Dust Devil
  • Other BBs
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far
  • Coming up

Today is velocity day for the Daisy Model 99 Target Special and I have prepared for it. When I started Part 1, I oiled the gun with a healthy dose of Crosman Pellgunoil. The synthetic piston seal on the plunger (in a BB gun the piston is called a plunger) needs the oil to seal the compression chamber. Lack of oil in a BB gun will cause temporary low power until the seal is oiled. Then the gun will return to life and act like new. It happens so fast and dramatically that it will surprise you the first time you encounter it.

Leather seals

Older BB guns had leather plunger seals that take longer to renew — maybe 15-20 shots. But they do come back in the same way after oiling. The oil needs time to soak into the seal. The most dramatic example of this I ever saw was an 1880s BB pistol that my wife Edith bought at a flea market in the late 1990s. After a breech plug was fashioned for it the gun shot like it did when new, only the spring and leather seal were at least 110 years old. If that isn’t surprising I don’t know what is!

Haviland and Gunn pistol
The Haviland and Gunn BB pistol was patented in 1872. It was a flea market find that still worked after oiling the piston seal.

Back to the 99

So today we will see how fast this nice old BB gun shoots. Before the test I wondered if it might be in the neighborhood of the 499, which averages 240 f.p.s. There is no reason to shoot faster than that, and the lighter the mainspring, the easier cocking has to be. So, let’s see.

Velocity Daisy BBs

First to be tested were Daisy Premium Grade BBs. Why not? Daisy gun, Daisy BBs. Ten Daisys averaged 237 f.p.s. in the model 99. The range went from 232 to 241 — a 9 f.p.s, spread. That’s almost exactly what the 499 will get. A good start.

Velocity Air Venturi Steel BBs

Next to be tested were 10 Air Venturi Steel BBs. Ten of them averaged 237 f.p.s. with a spread from 234 to 240. That’s just 6 f.p.s.! I can already see that this 99 is right on for power and very stable.

Velocity Air Venturi Dust Devils

The last BB I tested for velocity was the Air Venturi Dust Devil. I know these frangible BBs are a little lighter, so they should also be a little faster, and they were. Dust Devils averaged 243 f.p.s. with a spread from 235 to 252 f.p.s. That 18 f.p.s.

More on the Dust Devil

If you are frustrated because Dust Devils are backordered, let me tell you what’s happening. When they started shipping, Dust Devils were in such high demand that the first production quantity ran out immediately. They were still making them but then Europe kicked in with their orders and exhausted the daily run. They are actually making them very fast, but when 1,500 BBs are in one box a production of one million BBs gets eaten up by just 666 and two-thirds boxes. Importers, distributors and large dealers are ordering that many boxes each!

What you are looking at is success. Sometimes when something is very successful it presents a challenge to those managing it! Don’t fret. They will get a handle on it and Dust Devils will be in stock again, but it will be a challenge this first year, as the producer learns to cope with their good fortune. Best place an advance order, then you will be the one who is satisfied.

Other BBs

Before you ask, I intentionally did not test several other BBs of interest — BBs like the Hornady Black Diamond that often saves the day, or the Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot that’s made for the 499. The reason I didn’t test them today is because we know from the numbers that we did get about where these others will be. We aren’t interested in their velocity, but we are interested in their accuracy, and I will certainly test that!

Cocking effort

The test 99 cocks smoothly at 13 lbs. The effort is at 9 pounds until halfway through the stroke when it rises to 12-13 lbs. A young person should have no problem cocking this gun, once they learn how to do it.

Trigger pull

As I said in part 1, the trigger on this gun is the major delight so far. It releases at anywhere from 2 pounds when pulled fast to 3 pounds 5 ounces when squeezed deliberately. It’s the best BB gun trigger I have ever seen. There is some creep that can be felt in the single stage pull, but it’s minor and soft instead of jerky.

Evaluation so far

I am very pleased with the model 99 thus far. I got it primarily because of all that reader RidgeRunner has said about his over the years, but also because it is the scarce first year of production. Like I told you, I have owned a 99 in the past that I wasn’t that pleased with. It had a nice trigger but the accuracy was no better than any other good BB gun. Sometimes you find a good one but mostly you don’t. In the years that have passed since I owned that gun new BBs have come to market and I felt it was time to try one again. Maybe I got lucky this time.

Coming up

I had an epic day at the range last Friday. I was able to finish three blog reports that have been languishing and the day was absolutely perfect! I also got parts of three more blogs — one of which is probably a fourth blog. So, things are looking up in BB’s world. This week should be a good one!