by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

M1 Carbine
Springfield Armory M1 Carbine BB gun.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • 10 meters is hard for BBs!
  • Groups don’t double with the distance
  • Today’s test
  • Starting with a fresh CO2 cartridge
  • Air Venturi Steel BB
  • Smart Shot
  • Hornady Black Diamond
  • Dust Devils
  • Last group
  • Summary

Last week reader Thedavemyster asked me when I was going to do the final test with the Springfield Armory M1-Carbine. I said last April that I was going to shoot the Carbine at 10 meters since it was so accurate at 5. Well, I forgot all about that and never did the test — until today. Today I back up to 10 meters and shoot the Carbine at 10-meter air rifle targets.

10 meters is hard for BBs!

I have to tell you — 10 meters is hard for BBs shot from regular BB guns. Five meters and even 20 feet aren’t bad, but when you get beyond 25 feet those BBs start spreading out like — well, like BBs on a cement floor! Even pellets shot from smoothbores will start to spread as they go out farther, though they will usually stay together at 10 meters. But at 25 yards all bets are off!

However, BBs have become more uniform in just the last five years and many of the guns that shoot them now have tighter barrels that give good accuracy. Ironically I don’t think this has anything to do with the intentional design of BB guns. I think it’s a crossover of knowledge from the airsoft world, where a tight barrel makes all the difference. Airsoft skirmishers want to snipe at their opponents out to 50 yards and it takes a tight barrel for that.

Groups don’t double with the distance

Some people think that if a gun shoots a half-inch group at 25 yards it will shoot an inch at 50 yards under the same conditions. Not so! I often see half-inch groups swell to 1.25- and even 1.5-inches when the distance doubles. Double it again to 100 yards and instead of 2.5 or 3 inches (twice what is seen at 50 yards) we see 4 and 5-inch groups. With round balls shot from smoothbore barrels, like BBs in BBs guns, this phenomenon exacerbates!

Today’s test

So today I did something I rarely do. I shot the M1 Carbine BB gun off a bag rest at 10 meters. I tried to follow the same pattern that I shot in Part 3 last April, so the same BBs were selected. I had to shoot at 10-meter targets because 5-meter targets are too small to see well at 10 meters. I rested the gun directly on the bag and of course I used the sights that come on the gun. The rear is a peep with a huge combat hole.

Starting with a fresh CO2 cartridge

I installed a fresh CO2 cartridge. The gun was still holding gas from my test of the homemade BB gun dueling tree target in October, but I shot it out and removed the cartridge because I wanted the gun to be fresh for each shot. I remembered that the piercing screw on this gun typically has to be tightened quite a bit to seal the magazine, and I was prepared for it, but it still took more turns of the screw than I would like. I probably lost 10-15 shots just installing the cartridge.

Air Venturi Steel BB

In Part 3 the Air Venturi Steel BB was the first to be tried, so that was where I started this time. When I saw that the first shot had hit the bullseye at 3 o’clock I figured the gun was close enough to continue, so I didn’t look again until all 10 shots had been fired.

When I finished I looked at the target and saw that all the BBs had hit to the right of the bull. But all the BBs were on the target paper and they are in a group that measures 1.474-inches between centers at 10 meters. Last time at 5 meters ten shots went into 0.804-inches, and they were slightly to the right of center, too. Now, I know I just said the group size should more than double as the distance doubles but this time it didn’t. Twice the 5-meter group would have measured 1.608-inches. What that means to me is this Carbine is still shooting accurately at 10 meters.

M1 Carbine Air Venturi Group
The Springfield Armory M1 Carbine BB gun put 10 Air Venturi Steel BBs in 1.474-inches at 10 meters.

Because all 10 BBs hit on the paper (there were no holes on the cardboard backer board next to the target paper) I accepted this target for the record. But before loading the next BBs I adjusted the rear sight 5 clicks to the left. Yes, windage on the rear peep does adjust by clicks, though they must be felt more than heard.

Smart Shot

Next to be tried was the Air Venturi Smart Shot lead BB from H&N. These hit on the centerline, but lower because of their weight. Ten went into 1.563-inches at 10 meters. In the last test at 5 meters ten Smart Shot BBs went into 0.533-inches, which was the best group of the test. Twice that is 1.066-inches, so this time the group grew a lot more than double. One BB barely hit the paper and I drew an arrow to point to where it hit.

M1 Carbine Smart Shot Group
Ten Smart Shot went into 1.563-inches at 10 meters. Yes, the arrow at the bottom left points to a BB that barely nicked the target paper. It went through the Scotch tape that held the target to the backer board, which is how I know it hit there.

Hornady Black Diamond

Next I shot 10 Hornady Black Diamond BBs. These worked very well with 10 going into 1.457-inches at 10 meters. Seven of those BBs went into an incredible 0.491-inches in the center of the bullseye. That is incredible — nearly unbelieveable! In the 5-meter test 10 Black Diamonds went into 0.764-inches. Twice that is 1.528-inches, so the Carbine accuracy is holding up.

M1 Carbine Hornady Group
Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs went into 1.457-inches at 10 meters with 7 in 0.491-inches.

Dust Devils

I tried to shoot a group of Air Venturi Dust Devils at 10 meters because I shot them at 5, but when the first two shots missed the target paper altogether I gave up. I don’t need more holes in my furniture or in the walls! At 5 meters ten went into 0.768-inches, so their accuracy apparently falls off as the distance increases.

Last group

I knew that several of you would ask me what a Daisy 499 would do at 10 meters as a comparison, so I shot one group to see. I used Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision Ground Shot because the 499 is made for it. Ten BBs went into a group that measures 0.486-inches between centers, so the 499 is still the clear champion of the BB gun world. These BBs did drop over two inches below the aim point at 10 meters.

M1 Carbine 499 Group
A Daisy 499 put 10 Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot into 0.486-inches at 10 meters.

Summary

There you have it. The Springfield Armory M1 Carbine is an extremely accurate smoothbore BB gun. It’s also very realistic because it holds 15 rounds in the magazine, the same as the M1 Carbine it’s modeled after. Its blowback cycle is full-length and realistic. The sights adjust like those of the firearm. In all of the important ways, this BB gun is an M1 Carbine!