by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Pioneer BB gun
Pioneer BB76 BB gun.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • More about the gun
  • Feeding
  • Velocity
  • Hornady Black Diamond
  • Dust Devils
  • Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot
  • More ammo
  • Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs
  • Cocking effort
  • Anti-beartrap
  • Summary

Well, well. I finally found something to write about that a lot of you didn’t know about. You guys are getting so savvy that it’s harder and harder to do. I actually did write about this BB gun back in 2005 when the blog got started, but that was a one-time report and this will be a full test. So, it’s the same gun but different stuff being reported, and a whole lot more this time.

More about the gun

I said I’d have more to say about the gun as we went, so here are a couple new things. The first is that the rear sight is adjustable — sort of. It slides up and down on an inclined ramp, and, because the notch is only fastened by a single screw, you can also swing it to the right and left — a little.

Pioneer 76 rear sight
The rear notch slides up and down and can be swung to either side a little. So much for adjustment!

Feeding

The second thing I want to report is how the Pioneer’s forced-feed magazine feeds. What I’m about to tell you is typical of how all these 50-shot forced-feed magazines work.

The magazine has to be removed from the gun to be loaded. You unscrew it and pull it completely out of the gun. After loading, when you install it again, the air tube on the end of the plunger (called the piston in a pellet gun) enters and sticks up into the shot tube breech. The magazine will stop going into the gun about two inches from where it can be screwed down and you have to wiggle it around until the air tube enters the rear of the shot tube. A second way we did it when I was a kid was to cock the gun before inserting the magazine. The air tube was withdrawn all the way then and the shot tube went in all the way to the threads, where it could be screwed down. That usually worked, but if the air tube wasn’t aligned with the rear of the shot tube you could wreck your gun when you fired it. I don’t recommend doing it that way.

Most Daisy 25 guns will have a BB pushed out when the air tube goes through the base of the shot tube. They are designed that way. This Pioneer looses two BBs this same way almost every time.

You can shoot this loose BB (or BBs) out if you like, but that means your first shot will always be a multiple shot (two or three BBs will come out). The BBs will be slower and far less accurate. You can also point the muzzle down and let the BB roll out. Then your first shot will then be just a single BB as it is supposed to be.

Pioneer 76 BBs
When I tipped the muzzle of the Pioneer down after loading the magazine into the gun, two BBs rolled out almost every time.

I didn’t show you the small differences in the Pioneer mag in Part 1, but they are there. If you look at the picture below you’ll see that the spring tube for the BB follower does not go all the way to the muzzle like it does on a 25 magazine. The space in which the follower spring is fully compressed is the same in both magazines, so Daisy’s shot tube is shorter overall. Even so, this follower spring is weaker than a typical Daisy 25 spring.

Pioneer 76 magazine
The spring that powers the BB follower is compressed to fit into the portion of the tube that’s between the two arrows. Even so, it doesn’t push as hard on the follower as a Daisy 25 spring pushes.

I have to say the Pioneer magazine does not appear to be as well-made as a Daisy magazine. Daisy was the top BB gun maker in the world, so they naturally engineered all their parts quite well. Miroku, on the other hand, is a firearms manufacturer who made just this one attempt at a BB gun, as far as I know. It works as it is supposed to, where a Daisy is over-engineered many times.

Velocity

Okay, let’s get into the velocity test. I will begin with a conventional steel BB. Reader Siraniko wondered if the Pioneer, having the same 50-shot forced-feed magazine as the Daisy 25 “pump” BB gun, would be just as fast. The older 25s will push a BB out at 350-375 f.p.s.

Hornady Black Diamond

I chose the Hornady Black Diamond for no particular reason. Ten of them averaged 350 f.p.s. but the spread was larger than I liked — from 341 to 363. That’s 22 f.p.s. I would expect about 10 f.p.s. or less for a BB gun.

Dust Devils

I tried Air Venturi Dust Devils next. But they gave me all sorts of problems. They didn’t feed right (often shot 2 instead of just one) and they also didn’t want to register on the chronograph. I shot perhaps 20 of them and got only 3 recorded velocities — 285, 331 and 339 f.p.s.

Dust Devils are lighter than conventional steel BBs, so we would expect them to go faster, but instead they go slower. I think that’s because they are smaller than the bore and allow more air to pass. The fact that they often shot two at a time reinforces that thought. They apparently slip through the base of the magazine and pop into the breech of the shot tube two at a time.

Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot

In 2005 I tested the Pioneer with some 4.4mm lead balls. Since then Air Venturi H&N Smart Shot has come to the market. They are essentially the same as those 4.4mm lead balls and they are much easier to buy, so I tested them.

They averaged 270 f.p.s. with a spread of 74 f.p.s. The low was 220 and the high was 294 f.p.s. That’s huge for a BB gun. I don’t expect them to be accurate.

More ammo

I could have tested other BBs, but I think we have learned what we need to know. The Pioneer is indeed a powerful spring-piston BB gun, but from careful observation we see that it is not made to the same tight tolerances as a Daisy. I don’t expect it to be very accurate. My 2005 test showed the 4.4mm balls were the best, but I only tested the gun at 12 feet that time. I also got three-inch groups from conventional steel BBs, which leads me to wonder what I need to do in the accuracy test. I’m not as concerned with accuracy as I am with safety. I might miss the trap altogether at 5 meters!

Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs

I was contacted privately by a reader who told me that the new Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs measure a true 0.177-inches in diameter. I find that astounding and a little hard to believe, because that would make them too large for many BB-gun barrels, I would think. They should also weigh more than 5.1-grains if they are really larger.

I ordered some and Pyramyd Air was good enough to expedite the order. I hope to have them for the accuracy test. I may even do a special blog on that BB, if it turns out to be what I was told.

Cocking effort

The Pioneer has a short underlever that you can see in the picture in Part 1. The cocking effort is 15 lbs.

Trigger pull

The 2-stage trigger (yes, it really is 2 stages) breaks at 8 lbs. 6 oz. There is considerable creep in the second stage. And, while examining the trigger I discovered a screw through the trigger blade that apparently is there for some sort of adjustment! I’ve owned this BB gun more than 20 years and this is the first time I have noticed that little screw. And I know what it does!

Pioneer 76 trigger
That screw pushes the sear out of engagement to fire the gun.

When the gun is cocked it won’t fire until the plastic hammer is pulled back. When that happens a metal plate inside the gun flips in place so that the end of this screw can contact it when the trigger is pulled all the way. That plate is either the sear or a lever that contacts the sear and it connects the trigger to the sear via the action of the plastic hammer. Adjusting that screw won’t make the trigger pull lighter, it could only affect how far it has to come back to fire the gun. But there is no hole through the plastic triggerguard and trying to adjust that screw without a direct link to the thin slotted head is a guarantee of disaster.

Anti beartrap

I wondered whether there was an anti-beartrap device to prevent shooting the gun with the lever extended. Yes, there is. I wouldn’t trust it for a second, but it is reassuring that Miroku put it on the gun!

Summary

This has turned out to be a more interesting report than I expected. I discovered a lot about the Pioneer magazine and the trigger. I also gained considerable respect for the engineering Daisy did on their BB guns. Can’t wait for the accuracy test!