Benjamin 700 multi-pump repeater: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

Benjamin 700
Benjamin 700 repeating BB gun.

This report covers:

  • Wrong ammunition
  • Two big clues
  • Filling the BB gun
  • The test
  • Sight-in with Daisy BBs
  • Pressure too high
  • Hornady Black Diamonds
  • Getting used to the gun
  • Daisy Match Grade shot
  • Bottom line

Today we learn how accurate the Benjamin 700 multi-pump repeating BB gun is. And we will learn a lot more than that. Let’s go!

Wrong ammunition

Some of you know how I harp on calling a BB gun a BB caliber and NOT .177/4.5mm. Because it’s not! A steel BBs is 0.171- to 0.1735-inches in diameter. It may not matter to people buying one BB gun at a discount store, but to someone like me who has to shoot oddball new and old airguns from all over the world, it makes a big difference.

The Benjamin promotional pamphlet from the 1930s says these guns (the model 600, 700 and 300) use steel Air Rifle Shot of 0.175-inches in diameter. There’s just one problem with that. As far as I can tell, nobody ever made steel Air Rifle Shot in anything but 0.171-0.1735-inches. I wondered if it was possible that the Benjamin writers of that pamphlet were as cavalier back in the 1930s as BB manufacturers are today. Did they really want us to use Air Rifle Shot that is 0.171 to 0.1735-inches in diameter and not LEAD Air Rifle Shot that is 0.175-inches? They did emphasize not using lead balls in these guns.

Two big clues

First, I measured some genuine vintage Benjamin Air Rifle Shot and found them to measure 0.172 to 0.1735-inches in diameter. Second, I tried a real 0.175-inch LEAD Air Rifle Shot in the 700 and got it jammed in the feed mechanism. That was why I had to change this past Monday’s blog. Fortunately for me lead is soft and I was able to clear the jam by tapping on the bolt lightly until the lead ball sheared and could be chambered. I then shot it out and the gun was cleared.

Benjamin shot
Sorta makes me want to pull my hair out — if I had any to pull!

So, Pilgrim, the Benjamin 700 and any other Benjamin BB repeater from that era uses a STEEL BB sized 0.171 to 0.173-inches in diameter. That allowed me to conduct today’s accuracy test — without a single mis-feed!

Filling the BB gun

You guys wanted to see what it looks like to fill the gun, so I took a short video for you. I would like to thank reader Kevin Gallagher for editing this video and getting it ready for You Tube.

The test

I then shot 5-shot groups from 10 meters, pumping the gun after every shot. After watching me pump the gun, I hope you appreciate why I shot just 5-shot groups this time. Each time I shot I had to get up from the bench and pump the gun like you see in the video. Then back to the bag and settle in again.

Before the test started I had pumped the gun 5 times, then three pumps after each shot — until that stopped working. I will get into that in a minute.

I shot the gun off a sandbag rest and naturally used the open sights that came on the gun. I had no idea where these sights would be, but since they aren’t adjustable it didn’t make much difference. I just hoped they could get me on the paper.

Sight-in with Daisy BBs

First up were Daisy Premium Grade BBs. I had hoped to just begin shooting groups, but the sights were hitting several inches below the aim point at 10 meters, so I used the first 4 shots to figure things out.

I finally settled on holding the front sight very high in the rear notch. That elevated the point of impact to an acceptable level, though it was still too low. The five BBs landed in a horizontal group measuring 1.454-inches between centers. Given how I was guesstimating during sighting, I had expected a vertical group rather than a horizontal one.

Daisy BB group
Five Daisy BBs went into this horizontal 1.454-inch group.

I was actually surprised the 700 even hit close to the bull at which I was aiming. I didn’t have high hopes for it going into the test. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad BB gun after all! Notice how clean the BB holes are. The 700 has some velocity that helps punch cleaner holes.

Pressure too high

At this point I noticed the gun was getting more air with every shot and refill. The pumps were getting harder and harder, and the pump handle started coming back out of the gun after the fill was complete. So I tried pumping just twice between shots to get it back in the groove. That proved to be the right way to go. So, from this point on I pumped two times between shots.

Hornady Black Diamonds

Naturally Hornady Black Diamonds were on my list to try. Like Mighty Mouse, I reckoned they could save the day. And they did — sort of. Five of them went into 1.318-inches, but the interesting thing was these shots landed higher on the paper — well, most of them did. And the last three shots went into that small almost-cloverleaf at the top that measures 0.361-inches between centers. That was encouraging!

Hornady BB group
Five Hornady Black Diamond BBs made this 1.381-inch group at 10 meters.

Getting used to the gun

At this point in the test I found myself starting to understand the Benjamin’s ways and to feel it better. I could “feel” when it was pumped to the right pressure. And I knew that with time I would get to be a very good shot with this gun, as I learned its quirks. My next target will show what I’m struggling to say.

Daisy Match Grade shot

The last BB I tested was the Daisy Avanti Match Grade shot. I knew they were slightly larger than the BBs that had gone before and I thought that would help with the accuracy.

And, indeed, it did help! This time the Benjamin 700 put 5 BBs in a group at 10 meters that measures 0.867-inches between centers. Not only is this a good group, I got the feeling that the more I shot the gun the better it could get. Remember, I am interpolating that front sight to get the shots to hit up by the target. If I had a good repeatable sight picture imagine what I could do.

Ananti Match group
Five Daisy Avanti Match Grade BBs went into 0.867-inches at 10 meters. This is a good group.

Bottom line

Let’s get honest for a moment. I am shooting a BB repeater that I’m pumping a different number of strokes between shots. I am guessing where the front sight goes every time I shoot. The gun I am shooting is 80+ years old. Oh, and then there is this — I’m shooting a BB gun at 10 meters instead of five! Some of you thought I forgot about that, didn’t you?

This old Benjamin 700 has truly risen to the occasion. It’s quirky, retro and classic in a crusty, dusty sort of way, but this old girl can shoot. I bought her at an airgun show for $95 and then spent $168 getting her back up and running again. Was it worth it? I think so!


Diana Chaser air pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana Chaser air pistol
The Diana Chaser is a new CO2 pistol.

This report covers:

  • Chaser rifle
  • Crosman challenge!
  • The pistol
  • Grip is off
  • The bolt
  • CO2 chamber
  • More CO2
  • HOWEVER
  • Sights
  • Composition
  • Trigger
  • Bag
  • Evaluation
  • Summary

Okay, Bob, this one’s for you! Several readers have asked me to test the new Diana Chaser air pistol, but my brother-in-law, Bob, has been the most vocal. Not that he wants to buy a pistol — he is interested in the Diana Chaser air rifle that is built on the same frame. Today I’m starting the test of a .177-caliber Diana Chaser air pistol. Both the rifle and pistol come in .177 or .22 caliber.

Chaser rifle

The Chaser rifle comes with everything you need to convert it into a Chaser pistol. The owner’s manual describes how that is done. At this time I think that is the only way you can go. I don’t see the parts needed to convert the pistol into the rifle. So, the rifle and pistol combination together seems like the better deal than just the pistol by itself. Unless price is an issue. Give that some thought before you buy either gun.

Crosman challenge!

I normally don’t make comparisons between different brands of airguns, but the Chaser is so blatant that I’m going to make an exception. It’s obviously going after the same market that is now served by the Crosman 2240 and all the airguns that are associated with that platform. Umarex uses names, like the Gauntlet and the Hammer, to let the world know they are challenging other manufacturers, but Diana has copied the look and feel of their competitor. And they have copied an icon, so I cannot look away.

The pistol

The Chaser (as in chasing Crosman?) is a CO2 pistol that comes from the box as a single shot. But the action is cut to accept a 9-shot circular pellet magazine (7 in .22) like the one that’s used in the Stormrider and the Seneca Dragonfly. So, quick — where is the Chaser made? That’s right — China. See how this works?

Grip is off

The first thing I did was hold the pistol in my hand as if shooting. Right away I could tell that they missed on the ergonomics. The bottom rear of the grip has a plastic flange that sticks back and gets in the way of the heel of your hand when you hold the pistol. The pistol is mostly ambidextrous, so all shooters are equally inconvenienced. I’m right-handed and this flange pushes the barrel way to the right. Left-handers will find that it pushes their barrel to the left. I normally would not dwell on this, but Diana has copied the Crosman 2240 that fits most hands very well, so this fault is noticeable.

One saving grace for shooters with small hands is the fact that you can get the heel of your hand up on top of the flange and enjoy a neutral hold. But it only works for very small hands.

Diana Chaser grip
The flange at the bottom rear of the grip pushes against the heel of the hand, pushing the barrel away from the target.

The bolt

On the other hand, the Diana gun does something shooters have asked Crosman to do for years. The bolt is on the left side of the action, which makes it easier for right-handed shooters to cock and load the gun. Shooters have historically spent more than the cost of their pistol to correct this one design element and Diana is giving it to them up front. Unfortunately, the bolt cannot be changed to the opposite side, so southpaws have to use it as it comes. But that is also true of the 2240.

The bolt handle is made of metal (probably aluminum) and is longer and easier to grip than the brass 2240 bolt handle. And the receiver is aluminum, not plastic! That is a huge step in the right direction.

CO2 chamber

Okay — here is where the story gets strange. The Chaser uses a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge that’s housed in the tube under the barrel. Nothing strange there, other than there is a hole in the tube! It allows you to see that the CO2 cartridge is installed, which is a handy thing. Many times I’ve looked at a CO2 pistol and wondered whether there was a CO2 cartridge inside.

Diana Chaser hole
The hole in the CO2 tube under the barrel (arrow) lets you see if there is a cartridge in the gun.

The CO2 tube cap has a hole straight through its side. If you try to remove the cap and find it difficult, unscrew the “strengthening rod” in the end of the cap and push it through the hole for added turning leverage. It’s a wonderful solution to a nonexistent problem. If there is no gas inside the tube — and there can’t be because of the other hole I just mentioned — then there is no need for an o-ring in the end cap. And, indeed, there is no o-ring in the Chaser end cap. It was that o-ring, under residual gas pressure at the end of the CO2 cartridge’s life, that made the end cap hard to unscrew. This rod would be a blessing on a vintage Crosman 150 that has a pressurized CO2 tube. On the Chaser that seals at the tip of the cartridge, it is superfluous. The cap will never bind up that way.

Diana Chaser cap
The CO2 tube end cap has a hole straight through the side.

Diana Chaser rod out
Stick the rod through the hole in the end cap for extra leverage turning the cap.

More CO2

But that’s not all. You can also insert a 12-gram CO2 cartridge in the base of the grip! Or at least that is what the manual says to do every 500 shots, then hold the gun with the grip up and shoot it until the gas is exhausted. It’s a maintenance procedure! In all my time with airguns this is the first time I have seen something like this.

HOWEVER

And this is a big however. The designers might have thought about doing that and they might have put the instructions of how to do it in their manual, but the test pistol has no way of piercing the CO2 cartridge that’s put into the grip. There is nothing there — as in zero, zip, nada! Just an empty hole. It’s a good place to store an extra cartridge and that’s it. I wish I could claim to be the smarty who figured this out, but the truth is, I got it from Stacey Hrabak in the Pyramyd Air tech department!

Diana Chaser grip
What is under that thumbscrew? Nothing but an empty hole! This is where the rifle stock attaches.

Sights

On with the description. The front sight is a tall shark-fin that’s square at the top and perfect for fine shooting. The rear sight is a square notch that adjusts in both directions without detents via a screw. And, if the rear sight is removed there is a short 2-piece 11mm dovetail on which an optical sight can be mounted.

Composition

The pistol is comprised of metal parts sitting in a synthetic grip. The sights are mostly synthetic, as well. The triggerguard is part of the grip/forearm, but the trigger blade is metal.

Trigger

Now, here is something very strange. The Diana manual goes into detail describing a procedure that cannot be done (the maintenance CO2 cartridge in the grip) and then they leave out any mention of an adjustable trigger! Pyramyd Air does mention it in their description and I had to try it to see if the one screw does anything. Indeed it does! I took the pistol from a light single-stage trigger all the way to a long first stage pull followed by a heavy second stage. I just twisted the screw both ways and watched what happened. I now have the trigger breaking crisply on a light second stage that follows a definite first stage. I’ll measure it for you in Part 2.

Diana Chaser trigger
Yes, there is an adjustable trigger. Despite the manual saying nothing, I adjusted the trigger to a short first stage and a light, crisp second stage.

Bag

The Chaser comes with a canvas gun bag packed in the box. It has handles and the Diana logo and is a nice addition to the pistol. You might have to buy a magazine, but the gun bag is free.

Evaluation

After examination I must observe that the Diana Chaser is quite a bit different than the Crosman 2240. The 2240 may have provided the inspiration, but this pistol was designed from a clean sheet of paper.

Summary

Now there is a choice for air pistol buyers. Yes, the prices are a little different, but the guns themselves are more different. It will be interesting to see how this test turns out!


Hellboy semiautomatic BB gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Hellboy BB gun
The Hellboy BB gun is a realistic semiautomatic repeater.

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • Adjusted the sights
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Dust Devils
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the new Hellboy semiautomatic BB gun. Let’s get right to the test.

The test

I shot the Hellboy off a UTG Monopod rest at 5 meters. I said in Part 2 that if the gun was accurate enough at 5 meters I would extend the range to 10 meters for another test. We will see today if that is going to happen.

Reader GunFun1 wanted a video of me shooting at a can, but that’s not interesting for several reasons. First, if the can is missed the viewers have no idea by how much. And hitting a soda can with a BB gun doesn’t show up well on film. It’s better in person. But if the Hellboy is accurate enough, I have a plan for how to do what GF1 wants.

Air Venturi Steel BBs

First up were Air Venturi Steel BBs. Ten of them grouped in what looks like 1.492-inches at 5 meters, but you are only seeing 9 of the 10 shots. One landed off the paper to the left, enlarging the group to 1.961-inches between centers. We are not off to a good start.

Hellboy BB gun AV BB target
The Hellboy put 10 Air Venturi Steel BBs in 1.961-inches at 5 meters. One shot was off the target, about 3/8-inch to the left of the paper.

Adjusted the sights

The Hellboy was shooting to the left, so I adjusted the rear peep to the right about 10 clicks.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

Next I loaded 10 Hornady Black Diamond BBs, which I thought might be best in the Hellboy. They made a group measuring 1.846-inches between centers, which did turn out to be the smallest of the test.

Hellboy BB gun Hornady BB target
Hellboy put 10 Hornady Black Diamond BBs into 1.846-inches at 5 meters. This is the smallest group of the test.

Adjusting the sights didn’t seem to move the group much, so after this target I adjusted them again. The rear peep is now very close to the right side of the carry handle.

Dust Devils

Next to be tested were Air Venturi Dust Devils. The first shot landed to the extreme left of the bull and I thought the sight adjustment had not made a difference, but shot two hit to the right of the bull. I knew right then that Dust Devils were not going to do well in the Hellboy. And I was right. After it was all over 11 Dust Devils had gone into 3.968-inches at 5 meters. Why eleven? No idea. I just miscounted.

Hellboy BB gun Dust Devil BB target
Eleven — yes, there are 11 holes in this target — Dust Devil BBs made this 3.968-inch group at 5 meters. This is definitely not the right BB for this airgun.

I had planned to only shoot these three BBs in today’s test, but the lack of accuracy made me want to try one more BB — the Air Venturi Smart Shot. These lead BBs sometimes deliver surprising results.

Not this time though. Ten Smart Shot BBs shot at 5 meters landed in a group that measures 2.283-inches between centers. That puts them behind the Black Diamonds and Air Venturi Steel BBs.

Hellboy BB gun Smart Shot BB target
The Hellboy put 10 Smart Shot BBs in this 2.283-inch group at 5 meters.

Discussion

Nothing I shot out of the Hellboy seemed to make any difference. The gun is adequate but not that accurate. For this reason I will not be continuing to test it at 10 meters. You have already seen how a BBs accuracy can fall apart as the distance increases, and this is not the place where I want to start.

Summary

The Hellboy has several things to recommend it. It’s very realistic, it handles BBs well and it is relatively powerful. The carry handle detaches for an optical sight to be mounted on a Picatinney base on the flattop receiver.

On the other hand, today’s test indicates it isn’t the most accurate BB gun around. If you plan to shoot gallon jugs in the yard it will do. If soda cans are your quarry, better stand close.


Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30-caliber pellet rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan 135 30 caliber rifle
Hatsan’s .30 caliber 135 QE Vortex is a large breakbarrel — both in size and caliber.

This report covers:

  • Not only no…
  • Calibers
  • Description
  • Stock
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • Scope base
  • Ammunition
  • Do you own one?

This is the airgun I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s report. The Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30-caliber pellet rifle is intriguing because the caliber is so large. This is the only big bore breakbarrel I know of. But is it practical? Is it worth the effort (stay tuned for that!)? Is this an air rifle you can do anything with besides brag? I intend finding out.

Not only no…

It was 2006. I was in Josh Ungier’s office in Pyramyd Air’s old location. Josh had been showing me different cool things, like the pump-assist Benjamin 392 they were working on and we were having a great time, just talking airguns. Then he got a cagey look in his eye, which for Josh was common because he always had something bizarre cooking. He reached behind his desk and pulled out a large breakbarrel rifle and handed it to me. “Cock it, Thomas,” he said. Josh always calls me Thomas.

Well I tried, and I couldn’t do it — at least not with one hand. I had cocked mega magnum breakbarrels before, including a Beeman Crow Magnum that took 60 lbs. of effort, and I knew from that experience that this one cocked even harder. I estimated 75 lbs. But we will never know because that rifle had a coiled steel mainspring and the rifle we are examining today has a gas spring. It’s still hard to cock, though.

I told Josh that Hatsan had stepped over the line with this one. Nobody was going to buy an air rifle that cocked this hard. Yes, that’s what I said. Well, this may come as a surprise, but I was wrong. They made the rifle and people have been buying them ever since.

Calibers

This rifle is offered in calibers .177, .22, .25 and .30. I’m testing the .30, for the reasons mentioned earlier. I personally wouldn’t want the .177 in such a large air rifle. The .22 would be my lower limit, but when the rifle gets to this level of effort, I think .30 is the way to go.

Description

The 135 QE is large. It’s 47.2 inches long and weighs 9.9 lbs., nominally The test rifle weighs 9.5 lbs. and that difference is due to the weight of the wood that always varies a little. The barrel is 17.25 inches long, which includes the QE silencer in the form of a full barrel shroud. The pull is a manly 14.5-inches.

Stock

The stock is Turkish walnut and the test rifle has some good figure in places. The finish is an even matte all over. Both sides of the forearm and pistol grip are generously checkered with fine diamonds that actually have some grip. The comb is adjustable for height and the rubber butt plate adjusts up and down, so this rifle offers a wide range of ergonomic adaptations for fit. The forearm is square-sectioned, which allows it to be thin enough for a good hold while being deep enough for great strength.

The stock is 99 percent ambidextrous — favoring neither side. The automatic safety is a button located at the center of spring tube end cap. The one tiny thing that favors the righthander is the forward sling swivel comes from the factory on the left side of the stock. It appears to me that it could be switched to the right side easily enough. The rear sling swivel is centered at the bottom rear of the butt. All in all this rifle should be equally comfortable to right- or left-handed shooters.

Trigger

The trigger is Hatsan’s Quattro 2-stage adjustable match trigger. They used the word match, not me. It’s not really a match trigger — it’s a sporting trigger. The trigger is supposed to adjust for pull weight and length of first and second stage travel. You can also adjust the weight of the first stage pull. I’ve not had luck adjusting this type of trigger in past tests with other Hatsan rifles, so this time I plan to spend more time at it.

Hatsan 135 trigger
The Quattro adjustable trigger adjusts for pull weight (screw 1), length of first and second stages (screw 2) and the weight of the first stage pull (screw 3).

Sights

The sights are fiberoptic, front and rear. That may not be such a bad thing on this pellet rifle because it is definitely not for shooting targets. This is a hunting airgun, pure and simple.

The rear sight adjusts in both directions with smooth click detents. They are too quiet to hear but both can be felt when they are turned. In just hoisting the rifle a few times I believe the open sights will do it great justice.

Scope base

Hatsan has had a novel and wonderful scope base for many years. Their base accepts both 11mm airgun scope rings and Weaver rings, by virtue of its two-tiered design. On a mega magnum like the 135 I think it goes without saying that the Weaver rings will be the ones to use, because they are the most secure under recoil.

Hatsan 135 scope base
Hatsan’s two-tiered scope base accommodates both 11mm (top) and Weaver mounts. Weavers are what you want.

The Pyramyd Air website says the 135 doesn’t recoil and vibrate like some spring-piston air rifles, and that is correct. But make no mistake — it does recoil! I will say more about that in the upcoming reports.

Ammunition

Ammo for this rifle is a very big deal! More specifically, pellets. It wasn’t until a few years ago that .30 caliber pellets were even made. There have been .25 caliber pellets around as long as modern pellet rifles have existed, for at least the past 110 years. But thirty caliber is a recent phenomenon. So the number of pellets is few. JSB makes 2 — one is a 44.75-grain dome and the other dome weighs 50.15 grains. I have both of them.

Predator Polymag also makes a .30 caliber hunting pellet and I have a tin of them to test. Air Venturi makes a 44-grain round ball and I have a box of them to test, as well. The only pellet I don’t have is the .30 caliber H&N Baracuda, because they have been out of stock for some time. So this rifle will get as thorough a test as  is possible to conduct.

The heavier cast bullets in .308 caliber are not for this rifle. According to the specs, it is a 30 foot-pound rifle, so when we apply the “magic” number, we see that even the lightest pellet or ball will not be going 671 f.p.s. The “magic” number is the velocity in f.p.s. at which the weight of the bullet in grains equals the muzzle energy in foot pounds. That would be a 30-grain pellet going 671 f.p.s. However, this is a Hatsan airgun, so I expect the energy to be quoted consevatively.

Do you own one?

Today I start testing something very different. I welcome the comments of anyone who own this rifle. I am in a place I have never been and I’m not quite sure of what to do. It would be nice to hear what you who have owned and used this rifle think about it.


Ten-meter accuracy test — Daisy 499 versus Haenel 310

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Another failure!
  • The test
  • 499
  • Discussion 1
  • Haenel 310
  • Discussion 2
  • CZ75 P-07 Duty accuracy at 10 meters
  • Summary

I put today’s report in the historical section because it relates to both the Haenel 310 and the Diana model 30 that we tested recently. In the comments to the Diana 30 test the question was raised about which would be more accurate at 10 meters — the Daisy 499 Challenger or the Haenel model 310. I said I thought the 310 would beat the 499 because it is rifled, but several readers wanted to see. So, today we see.

Another failure!

Before I get to the results of today’s test, let me fill you in on another irony. I was going to test the accuracy of the Benjamin 700 today and the gun jammed as I started to shoot. This one has a happy ending, because I got it unjammed and working again, but that was after today’s test. There is more sweet irony in the story that unfolded there, but I will hold off on that until we get to the report.

The test

This is a straightforward accuracy test from 10 meters. I shot both guns from a sandbag rest. Ten shots were fired from each airgun. I will note that the 499 has target sights, front and rear, while the 310 has sporting sights. Also the 310 loads from a magazine. Both things could make a small difference in favor of the 499, but we’ll see.

499

I shot Daisy Match Grade Precision Ground Shot in this gun, as it is made for that. The 499 put 10 BBs into a group measuring 0.683-inches between centers. It’s a smaller group than I expected, and it did land a little low and to the right.

499 target
At 10 meters the 499 put 10 Match Grade BBs into a group measuring 0.683-inches between centers.

Discussion 1

This group is smaller than I imagined it would be. Apparently the 499 can hang in there, even at 10 meters.

Haenel 310

Next up was the bolt action Haenel 310. This rifle feeds from a 6-round magazine that sits in the stock. A 12-round mag is also available, and I had one but it went away with my first 310.

I don’t like a magazine on a target rifle, but in the case of the 310 there is nothing I can do. All feeding is done inside the action, making it impossible to load a single ball, except via the magazine.

Now, I don’t have a problem with ammo for the 499. There is just one BB and I always use it. Anything else would be a waste. But the 310 is a 4.4mm lead ball shooter and that opens a whole can of worms. I recently discovered while testing the Diana model 30 that 4.4mm European lead balls are all over the place in size. Some are larger, some are smaller and some are vary greatly within the tin. I used the same ball I have always used, because I sure don’t want to get one stuck inside this powerplant. This is an airgun I have never taken apart, and I don’t want to start now.

The Haenel put 10 rounds into a 1.558-inch group at 10 meters. That is so much larger than the 499 group that it cannot be due to just the sights and magazine. The 499 is clearly much more accurate at 10 meters than the Haenel 310. That wasn’t my guess but that is a fact.

310 target
It wasn’t even close! At 10 meters the Haenel 310 rifle put 10 4.4mm lead balls into a group that measures 1.558-inches between centers.

Discussion 2

This test was decisive, in favor of the Daisy 499 at 10 meters. Yes, I see the 6 shots that are in a very tight group within the Haenel 10-shot group. As near as I can measure it, that group measures 0.35-inches between centers. With round balls it’s difficult to measure the group at times, and this is one of those times. If we go that route, the 499 put nine into 0.329-inches.

If you look at Part 3 of the Haenel 310 test I did in 2016, you can see the results of the
499 versus 310 at 5 meters. The relationship was the same there as here, only the difference is not as dramatic.

I still contend there is a distance at which the accuracy of any round ball breaks down and the rifled ball or bullet surpasses it. Maybe the shooters who shot the smoothbore rifles discovered this distance for their guns and stuck to the maximum accurate range.

CZ75 P-07 Duty accuracy at 10 meters

Now let’s shift gears and look at the CZ75 P-07 Duty one last time. Reader GunFun1 asked me to shoot a group at a farther distance with this pistol and the Hornady Black Diamond BBs it liked so much. Since I had the 10-meter range set up I decided to do it today.

I shot off the sandbag rest holding the pistol with both hands. This time I knew how the trigger worked and was able to squeeze it without discomfort.

Ten BBs went into 3.727-inches at 10 meters. At 5 meters the same BB went into a 0.897-inch group, so you can make the comparison. Obviously the CZ75 P-01 Duty is a 5-meter BB gun.

CZ75 P-07 Duty group
At 10 meters the CZ75 P-07 Duty put 10 Black Diamonds in 3.727-inches.

Summary

Today was a pickup day for me because an airgun I was going to test failed. That gave me the time and opportunity to check out some things you readers had asked.

Tomorrow I will have what I believe will be a real surprise. No, it isn’t the Sig ASP20. I’m still waiting for that one. This is something I have been asked to test several times over the past several years. I am as excited about testing it as I hope you will be reading about it.


Daisy Number 12 model 29 single shot BB gun: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy model 29
Daisy Number 12 model 29 single shot BB gun.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Today’s test
  • BBs
  • Where to get the right BBs?
  • The test
  • Test 1
  • Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • Daisy Match Grade Precision Ground Shot
  • Failure!
  • 4.4+mm lead balls
  • What is it?
  • End of the report

Boy, am I excited about today’s report! I have owned this Daisy Number 12 Model 29 for many years but have never tested it like I am about to. I oiled the plunger/piston about 3 weeks ago, and it is nice and juicy now. The gun has a leather piston seal, so that’s important.

Today’s test

Today is velocity day, but there is more than just running the gun through the chronograph. I will start with the ammunition.

BBs

The first BBs were sized 0.180-inches in diameter, nominally, because they were shotgun birdshot, size BB. That lasted until roughly 1905, when Daisy downsized the lead BB shot to 0.175-inches and started calling it Air Rifle Shot. There is always a transition period as the old goes away and the new takes over. That move saved on lead and the BBs went faster because they were lighter.

Please read the rest of the BB history in the report How BBs are made. Anyway, the Number 12 Model 29 was made to shoot Air Rifle Shot, sized 0.175-inches in diameter. That means today’s steel BBs that run 0.171 to 0.173-inches in diameter are all too small. They will work — especially because this is a single shot gun that is loaded through the muzzle — but the BB will be too small for accuracy. Yes — I will test velocity today and also accuracy with steel BBs when we come to it, because this gun is as new to me as it is to all of you.

Where to get the right BBs?

Well, the right sized BBs (0.175-inches in diameter) are still being made, but not in the United States. Or if they are I couldn’t find them. The good news is today’s round lead balls are much more consistent than Air Rifle Shot was in the early 1900s.

I entered 0.175-inches in my conversion program and came up with 4.445 millimeters. Okay, that’s an order of magnitude too precise. You aren’t going to find lead balls of that size. What about 4.45 mm? Enter that in the conversion software and it comes out 0.1751968504-inches. That’s close enough!

Pyramyd Air used to stock H&N 4.45mm lead balls, but I guess the demand wasn’t great enough, so they are out of stock. I went on Ebay and found a source for them in Canada. I ordered two tins of 500, because the Benjamin 700 I’m testing also needs them. They arrived in less than 10 days. They were not cheap, but since they are the right thing, I will pay the price.

Daisy model 29 lead balls
I bought these lead balls in Canada, especially for this and the Benjamin 700 test.

The test

I will test these 4.45mm lead balls in the gun, and also some other kinds of ammo — meaning steel BBs. I’m not going to test Dust Devils because they are on the smaller side of steel BBs.

I also found one of my .177 steel airgun darts and am happy to report that they do fit in this gun. So they will get a velocity test today, too. Let’s get started.

Test 1

The first test will be the airgun with the correct sized 4.45mm lead ball. This was the right ammo for it when it was new, so what we see today will be representative of the gun after 80+ years.

Shot………Velocity
1…………….271
2…………….275
3…………….271
4…………….275
5…………….280
6…………….284
7…………….280
8…………….264
9…………….247
10……………250

I must admit to some surprise at how fast these heavy lead balls shot! I wondered if they would even get into the 200s. They averaged 270 (269.7) f.p.s. That’s faster than some modern BB guns shooting steel BBs that are much lighter. Let’s see what they do with a conventional steel BB.

Air Venturi Steel BBs

Next to tried were Air Venturi Steel BBs. These range from 0.1715 to 0.173-inches in diameter and weigh 5.1 grains, nominally. The first shot was very harsh and only went 160 f.p.s. When shot number two went out at 135 f.p.s. I stopped the string. These BBs are obviously too small for this BB gun.

Daisy Match Grade Precision Ground Shot

Next I tried Daisy Match Grade Precision Ground Shot. These range from 0.173 to 0.1735-inches in diameter, and they are more uniform, BB to BB. Does that make a difference? We will never know because they didn’t come out of the gun! At this point I decided to abandon shooting steel BBs altogether.

Failure!

What I did not know at this point in the test was the gun’s powerplant had failed. So, the results you just read were not correct; they were the result of a failed BB gun powerplant. But I didn’t know that yet, so I moved on to more lead balls.

4.4+mm lead balls

I have a tin of lead balls whose label says they are 4.4mm. But when I measure them they come out 4.44 to 4.46mm. Let’s see what they do.

Well, they did nothing. They also didn’t come out of the barrel. I removed the shot tube to see what was wrong and discovered a bunch of stuff jammed in the breech of the tube. I removed it with a .177 rod and tried again and again to try to get some velocities. Each shot I fired pushed more of this stuff into the breech. Unfortunately I knew what it was and where it was coming from.

Daisy model 29 leather stuff
Those are bunches of leather fibers from a piston seal that is disintegrating.

What is it?

 

That dark gunk is the oil-soaked fibers of leather from the plunger seal. The seal has deteriorated and is coming up from the compression chamber to get into the breech of the shot tube. I have only seen this happen to leather a few times in my life. Most of the 80- to 130 year-old leather seals I see can still be revived with an application of oil. Maybe dry rot has taken its toll in this instance and the oil just softened the whole mess up enough to allow this kind of decomposition.

This is the same thing that happens to FWB, Walther and Diana pellet rifles of a certain age, when their original synthetic seals deteriorate and disintegrate. Instead of fibers you find plugs of what looks like brown wax in the barrel

End of the report

Unfortunately this is as far as I can take this report until I get the gun fixed. I want a real repair — not a parts swap from a modern BB gun with synthetic seals. I doubt that would even be possible. I need a specialist who knows how to work on these oldies. I would do the job myself, but I don’t have the tools (a special BB-gun spring compressor) the knowledge or the time to do the work. If you know of anyone who is a real vintage BB gun repairman, please let me know.

Sorry to end it that way but sometimes the bear eats you! Feel free to talk among yourselves.


Hellboy semiautomatic BB gun: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Hellboy BB gun
The Hellboy BB gun is a realistic semiautomatic repeater.

This report covers:

  • Preparation
  • Velocity Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • Rapid cool-down
  • Loading the magazine
  • Velocity Daisy BBs
  • Velocity Dust Devils
  • Shot count
  • Discharge sound
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far

Today we look at the power and velocity of the new Hellboy semiautomatic BB gun. According to the website description, we are to expect to see 495 f.p.s. That’s extremely fast for a BB gun!

Preparation

To get ready for this test I loaded a fresh CO2 cartridge into the magazine. If you remember, though, I told you this first cartridge exhausted a lot of gas before it sealed. I am testing the gun with this same cartridge that leaked a lot. I can’t say how many shots were lost, but it was several. For that reason, I did something different in today’s test to compensate. I’ll explain it when we get there.

Velocity Air Venturi Steel BBs

First to be tested were Air Venturi Steel BBs. They averaged 470 f.p.s. but the spread was large — from 449 to 483 f.p.s. That’s 34 f.p.s.

Rapid cool-down

I was waiting the standard 10 seconds between shots, to allow the gun to warm back up. The last shots three shots were just at the 10-second mark or possible a little less than 10 seconds, and they went 464 f.p.s., 462 f.p.s. and 449 f.p.s., respectively. That made me wonder what real rapid fire would do, so I loaded 6 more of the same BBs into the magazine and waited in my hydraulic library for about 10 minutes.

After that break, I fired the 6 shots through the chronograph as fas as possible. The first BB registered 479 f.p.s. and the sixth BB went 430 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 49 f.p.s. over 6 rapidly fired shots. That tells me we can expect to see that kind of velocity drop or greater when shooting rapid-fire. With the Hellboy, rapid fire is a given!

Loading the magazine

To load the Hellboy magazine you first remove the mag from the gun, then separate the working guts of the magazine from the shell. I showed this in Part 1. The BB magazine holds 18 BBs in a single stack. The follower spring is not heavy and the follower locks out of the way in a notch at the bottom of the BB channel. Then the BBs are loaded one at a time through a port that serves both to load the gun as well as to fire the BB.

I noticed when dropping the BBs into the port that the mag had to be vertical or even leaning slightly forward (toward the BB channel). If the mag is tipped back, even slightly, the BB enters a seat and sticks right there at the top of the magazine. No more BBs can get past it, so you have to bump that BB out of its resting spot if you want to load the magazine. It took me some time to learn how to hold the magazine correctly for loading.

Velocity Daisy BBs

Next up were Daisy BBs, which now come in a 50-tube case that I have linked to. Ten of them averaged 478 f.p.s. with a 23 f.p.s. spread that went from 463 to 486 f.p.s. This string is tighter than the first one because I was careful to allow more time between shots.

Velocity Dust Devils

Talk about a surprise! I expected the lighter Air Venturi Dust Devil BBs to be the speed kings. They were, but the first shot only went 401 f.p.s. Was the gun out of gas? Apparently not, because shot number two went out at 489 f.p.s. and shot 4 was at 500 f.p.s. The average for 10 shots was 474 f.p.s. and the spread was huge — from 401 to 506 f.p.s. That’s 105 f.p.s. And, for the record, the Hellboy did meet spec. for velocity.

If I ignore the first shot the spread ranges from a low of 461 to a high of 505 f.p.s. That’s still large, at 44 f.p.s.

Shot count

At this point the first CO2 cartridge had 36 shots on it, so I fired blanks and then loaded a single BB at the proper time for the next set of data. I waited about 5 minutes between each of these shots.

Shot……….Velocity
51……………443
60……………453
70……………388
80……………266

I stopped at 80 shots because the velocity had dropped so low, but it bothered me that so much gas had been lost the first time, so I installed a second CO2 cartridge. That is the special thing I mentioned in the beginning.  This time the cartridge sealed almost instantly, because I was ready for it to leak. I was quick on the Allen wrench that causes cartridge penetration.

I shot blanks to burn up gas then loaded a single Air Venturi Steel BB at the proper time for the following test. Between each recorded number I waited 5 minutes.

Shot……….Velocity
50……………448
60……………446
70……………391
80……………389
90……………206

The second shot count string looks very similar to the first, until shot 80. This second cartridge still had some gas in it at that point. That tells me that the velocities I got in the first string are representative but they end too soon. Each CO2 cartridge will have a little variance, so this close relationship is pretty telling.

Discharge sound

I will say that the Hellboy is a relatively quiet CO2 gun. Instead of the loud pop I’m used to, this one is more of a quiet snap. Must have something to do with the length of the barrel.

Trigger pull

The trigger is a long single stage that has a lot of take-up slack in front of the spot where it begins working. An argument could be made for it being 2-stage except stage 2 moves through a long arc that can be felt. It breaks at 7 lbs. 7 oz.

Evaluation so far

The Hellboy is well-behaved thus far. It shoots hot, and the shot count is right for that kind of velocity. I think it all boils down to the accuracy. I have heard that this is gun not that accurate, but I will still test it my standard way for you.