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Ammo John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 2

John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Lil Duke and scope
John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Thanks!
  • Stagecoach
  • Another thing
  • And finally
  • Back to our regular program
  • Dust Devils
  • Daisy Premium Grade BBs
  • Smart Shot
  • Cocking effort
  • It can be uncocked
  • Summary

Okay, today is the day we discover whether the Lil’ Duke can really shoot 350 f.p.s. or not.


Thanks to all the killjoy comments (RidgeRunner, Kenholmz, and Yogi) that said kids today don’t know who John Wayne is and essentially wouldn’t care to see him in a movie. The fact that you are right doesn’t lessen the pain! And thanks, Mike Ogden, for trying to stick up for the American Dream!


And Michael, Wayne didn’t say, “Hodad” when he spin-cocked his rifle in the movie. He said, “Hold it!” to stop the stagecoach so he could board. I had never seen the movie Stagecoach, so that was my assignment last Friday evening! While it was good, especially for a 1939 movie, I didn’t think it was great. Wayne was a lot thinner in those days — but weren’t we all?

By the by, Michael, not that you asked, but hodad refers to people who frequent surfing beaches but do not surf. In California in the 1960s, calling someone a hodad was an insult! It was the ’60s California slang for a greaser — which at that time and place meant someone with slicked-back ducktail hair, pegged (tight) pants without cuffs and a comb in one of their rear pockets that was frequently drawn out like a knife to fix the locks! A Fonzie!

Another thing

The other thing that popped out of the comments was Cobalt327’s comment that the Lil’ Duke’s shot tube is keyed at the breech to unlock without threads. I said in the report that it didn’t seem to unscrew. I tried pulling but I didn’t pull hard enough. He is so right about how it comes out! Even though he showed great pix with his comment, I thought I should show it again today.

Lil Duke breech detail
Here is the keyed breech of the shot tube that connects it tight inside the gun.

If you pull the shot tube out, when you try to put it back make sure all the BBs are out of the outer barrel jacket. I did that and could not put it back until the last 6-7 BBs poured out.

And finally

Okay, I finally asked my next door neighbor, Denny, to help me insert the pin into the Diana 27S trigger assembly. Once I showed him what needed to be done as I put downward pressure on the trigger to align the pin holes, the job was finished in less than 10 seconds. To all of you who told me so — you were right. I was just too stubborn to ask for help. I am, after all, the Godfather of Airguns! Doesn’t that mean anything?

Stock up on Air Gun Ammo

Back to our regular program

This is velocity day. The Lil’ Duke is advertised to shoot 350 f.p.s., so let’s see what it does.

Dust Devils

We know that, at 4.35-grains, Air Venturi Dust Devils are the lightest BB, so let’s give the gun a running start by testing them first. Dust Devils averaged 363 f.p.s. in the Lil’ Duke. I wasn’t surprised — I was shocked! How a little BB gun like this manages to be so powerful is incredible. This harkens back to the 1920s, when BB guns really were BB guns!

The low for the string was 345 and the high was 373 f.p.s. — a difference of 28 f.p.s. That’s a wide spread for a BB gun and could be due to the newness of the action. At the average velocity the Dust Devil generates 1.27 foot-pounds.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs

Okay, we got the speed demons out of the way. How fast does the Lil’ Duke shoot with ordinary steel BBs? I picked Daisy Premium Grade BBs for this test. To my utter astonishment ten of them averaged the same 363 f.p.s. as the Dust Devils! The low was 358 and the high was 366 f.p.s., so the difference was only 8 f.p.s., which is more like it. At the average velocity Daisy BBs generate 1.49 foot-pounds.

I did not anticipate regular BBs going this fast. This is something a vintage 1940’s Red Ryder in perfect condition might do. The springs in all BB guns have been weakened over the years to both make the guns easier to cock and also to slow them down a little. So, the Lil’ Duke is hot!

Smart Shot

You knew this was coming. I had to test the gun with lead Smart Shot from H&N. If I hadn’t there would have been complaints. Besides — I want to know, too!

Smart Shot averaged 316 f.p.s. in the Lil’ Duke. The low was 315 and the high was 320 f.p.s., so a spread of 5 f.p.s. Wow! At the average velocity Smart Shot generated 1.65 foot-pounds of energy, making it the most powerful. I feel strongly that if I had some depleted uranium BBs that weigh 9 grains this gun would be even more powerful. Of course paying $17 per BB might put off a few stingy buyers! That and the stuff in your BB trap would then come under regulation by the Waste Management and Radiation Control Board.

Cocking effort

Uncharacteristically I measured the cocking effort for you in Part 1. It was 16 pounds for the gun I am testing. That’s quite stout for a youngster, though in my experience if you give a kid a BB gun they will find a way to make it work. Just don’t think your 7-year-old fairy princess is going to adapt to it. She’ll like the light weight, but the cocking? Not so much.

I said I would check the effort to cock again in Part 2, so I did. This time it registered 15 pounds, so perhaps a pound has gone away as the gun broke in, or perhaps my measuring is off a little. I do think it will get a little lighter than it is now as the parts wear in, but we are probably looking at just another pound or two. That mainspring is pretty strong.

It can be uncocked

I learned this time that the gun can be uncocked by pulling the trigger as you restrain the cocking lever. The lever will try to come back sharply and get caught on the ratchet, so hold onto it and ease it back down. You may have to keep pulling the trigger as you go.


Accuracy will depend on the size of the bore, relative to the BBs we shoot in it. I sure hope it’s accurate because at this power level it gives you a BB gun that hasn’t existed for many decades. 


This may seem like a short report, but it was long enough to catch my attention. I am starting to take special notice of this Lil’ Duke. It isn’t at all what I thought it would be. Instead it’s more powerful and made better than I anticipated. I sure hope it’s accurate!

And, lest we forget — there is a scope coming. So after the first accuracy test I’ll mount the scope and go at it again.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

40 thoughts on “John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 2”

  1. B.B.,

    With those velocities you recorded it now seems to make sense to put a cheap scope on it. This could possibly reach 10 yards with still some resemblance of accuracy.


  2. BB,

    LOL! Hey, I am trying to raise my grandson right. When he comes over to Blanny and Gadada’s, he wants to shoot. He will learn who “The Duke” was.

    So far, that little bugger is quite impressive. Maybe they need to make an adult size one. Us old codgers know “The Duke”.

    I recall back in the early Sixties my friends and I would hunt bullfrogs with their Daisys at the ponds near where we lived. Maybe it was just childhood imagination, but they seemed pretty powerful. From what my rememberer tells me they looked and operated a lot like the ’59 Model 99, but I cannot remember what the sights were like.

  3. BB,

    Glad this is doing well. Hopefully it can shoot accurate and can control all that beastly power. 😉

    And now for some #’s for point of reference about the Avanti 499 (Stock VS Red Ryder spring mod.)

    FPS: 247 (spread 1.83)
    Cocking: 5 1/2#
    Trigger: 2# ~ 2# 9oz.

    Red Ryder Spring mod.:
    FPS: 412.5 (spread 4.81)
    Cocking: 10 1/2#
    Trigger: 2# 1oz ~ 2# 7oz

    The trigger was checked with a Lyman digital gauge and the cocking effort with a dial fish weight gauge,.. attached at the rear of the loop (most leverage). Shooting Chrony for fps. Trigger clean and lube.

    I have a note here that states the Red Ryder gun is 270 fps and 11# 14oz cocking effort. This may be a Cobalt note though. I have the 75th Anniversary, but not sure that I have ever checked it myself.


    EDIT: Mmm?,… data double spaced, but not when typed. Oh well.

    • Chris,
      I only get 240 fps with my Lil Buck, but 300 fps with my 75th Anniversary Red Ryder (I think that was with Avanti precision shot…I was trying to wring out some accuracy) even though the box says “350 fps”. =>
      But on that Avanti 499 mod, did you document that on this blog already? I seem to remember you posting something about it…but then again, I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast yesterday. #_#
      If you did do a write up already, could you please send me a link? Thanks!
      Take care,

      • Dave,

        I have done no write up other to post similar data in the past, like above. I just toss it in as applicable to comments or related blog topics for anyone interested. There is some basic tips, but really it is just swapping the 499 spring with RR spring to get those results. Cobalt and I got very similar results.


  4. I wonder if they managed to smooth out the shot cycle? I imagine if its pushing in the 350fps range I would assume not.

    the original AV release of the Lil Duke it had a lot of felt recoil and a lot of buzzines. Later on when they rolled out the Anne Oakley model it was a marked improvement in the shot cycle, much more muted similar to that of a Red Ryder.

    Right now my original Duke is averaging 256-261 on Marksman golds, 209-217 H&N SS and 244-265 Dust Devils. At 10yrds range they slow down 20-30fps.

    the shot tube bore is pretty large I think, I did clean and polis the inside of my barrel in hopes it might smooth things out.

    I would also add to be sure all of the bb’s are out of the magazine before removing the shot tube, if you dont you are likely to wedge them in the rubber block seal inside the gun and thats not fun trying take that apart.

    All in all a 10yrd gun the original is not, hopefully this new model has improved on that.

  5. BB,

    Did you intend to do a trigger pull weight test on this?,… or do you usually not do one on a gun like this? I can’t recall. I was pretty sure that you did one on everything you tested.


  6. B.B.,
    In the link to the Lil Duke on the PA site, I noted that under specifications it says: “Scopeable No.”
    I guess they mean it’s not scopeable because it already HAS a scope, so you can’t add a second one. =)~
    But here’s my question to you (and to Daisy, if you are reading this):
    “If they can get 350 fps with this little gun, why can’t, or doesn’t, Daisy make an adult-sized bb gun in the 400+ fps range with a tighter bore for greater accuracy?”
    To me, it seems they obviously could, if they so chose, so I guess they don’t think there’s a marketing niche for it.
    I like my Lil Buck, and I like my (actually now my wife’s) 75th Anniversary Red Ryder; but I would be happy to pay more (like say $100) for a Red Ryder-sized bb gun (perhaps the model 25 would work better) that put out at least 400 fps, and could shoot into an inch, or inch-and-a-half, at 10 yards. *shrugs* I’ll add that to my wish list.
    Looking forward to the accuracy test,

  7. B.B.,

    NOT a Fonzie!
    “which at that time and place meant someone with slicked-back ducktail hair, pegged (tight) pants without cuffs and a comb in one of their rear pockets that was frequently drawn out like a knife to fix the locks! A Fonzie!
    Rather the 77 Sunset Strip (ABC 1958-1964) The Car Park from the nextdoor nightclub (now called a Parking Valet) Kookie, played by actor: Edd Byrnes.

    As far as this comment of your’s Tom: “I am, after all, the Godfather of Airguns! Doesn’t that mean anything?” Of course it does, it means you should have asked Dan sooner than the typical Newbies ask to show someone how much fun it is to help, a real Pro, and learn how to do something new. Then you talk them through it and just at the right moment provide the All Knowing Third Hand!

    shootski, aka: All Knowing Third Hand, Lol!
    As in: “Kookie lend me your comb!”
    Your Stand-in with full head of hair; slight touch of gray.

  8. Readers

    Has anyone compared velocity of a Daisy No. 25 vs a Red Rider? Seventy years ago we thought my No. 25 was hotter than the lever BB guns but never proved it. Wish I still had it!

    Just wondering.


    • Deck,

      70 years ago,..eh?? You are a bit of an “old timer”,… 😉

      Have you seen the current 25 on the PA sight?


      All wood and stamped engraving. Wow! on the price. If you read the “sales pitch” section,… they do in fact verify that it was the most powerful airgun of the day! So,… maybe it was not your imagination!


    • Deck,

      Here is what a quick search of the blog pulled up:






      There is more too. I just typed Daisy 25 in the search box. Note,… some are multi part blogs, so I posted the highest one so that you can go back to the previous ones.

      Enjoy,… Chris 🙂

      • Chris

        Really appreciate your time and interest! I had not seen the older reports. The 2005 report explains why it was hot. The pump physics allowed a stronger mainspring. When I first got it (1946 I think) it took some creative cocking though.


        • Deck,

          We can all thank BB for taking the time to feature something that may have been long forgotten about!

          Now,… it lives in infamy, quick to search and read. Forever out there. A far cry from ’46,… or even my bb gun youth,…. ’67— ish. The big, thick Sears and J.C. Penny’s catalogs were the information resource back then,.. for me. 🙂 Not to mention,.. the #1 go-to for writing a Christmas list to “Santa” as well!


            • Geo,

              No. While Dad did hunt as a youth and served in the Army,… guns were never a part of my youth. Squirt guns, cap shooters, toy guns, bb guns and later pellet guns were never discouraged I will say. I had all. Teaching shooting fundamentals (formal) was just not a priority with 5 kids.

              I do remember the suggestion of listing the Sears catalog page #’s besides the item on the “Santa” list,… you know,… just to make sure “Santa” can find it quicker,… because,.. he is so busy….. 😉


          • I liked it when the “wish book” would come out sometime around November, I would earmark pages,
            make hints, everything.

            here when i need some info and I know I have read it before, I search here first, then out on the web.


            • Ian,

              I was going to mention those, but I had already posted and past the 30 min. edit time limit. With 4 kids (at the time),.. Mom would have play the referee when more than one kid wanted to look at the same catalogs. Before the new ones showed up,… the old ones were pretty dog eared. Call in (rotary dial, party line) or mail in using the provided order form. I think stuff got delivered then,… or maybe the parents had to pick stuff up? Not sure. I do remember the trips to the nearest “biggish” town to pick stuff up that had been ordered. For the most part though,… about the only times us kids got to see the inside of a department store was for school clothes shopping time. Grandma in tow to keep the rest of the gang corralled while Mom was busy with one. Being the oldest,.. I avoided the “hand me down” routine for the most part.

              Mom just told me the other day,… when you kids got anxious on a trip,.. she would tell the younger ones to “go lay down and take a nap” in the back, floor area of the big window van we had. “When you wake up, we’ll be there”. Like that would fly now a days,… eh? 😉

              The world was a lot smaller back then,…. or,… bigger than we ever knew. 😉


      • Chris,

        I have a question concerning your Maximus. I know it is not a Red Wolf, but how do you feel about it’s accuracy? Will it do better than one inch groups at fifty yards?

        • RR,

          I just spent 20 minutes going over my Maximus target notebook. I will say it will do 1″ at 50 yards. I did 9 of 10 shots at 1 3/4″ at 70 yards. I did 10 shots at 8 mm at 30 yards.

          One thing I will say,… I need to do (way better) at records keeping than I was doing back then. I have improved.

          Yes RR,… I think it will do -1″ at 50 yards if you are doing your part. Maybe 3/4″ at best. Trigger mods. being #1 on the way to achieving that. Reg. helps too.


            • RR,

              Without knowing what all is possible, what are some things that you would do with it (mods.)?

              A half dozen or so mods. would suffice,.. assuming that there is that many.


              • Chris,

                Trigger screws, Marauder trigger, sear replacement, adjustable striker spring, regulator, LW barrel, breech bolt magnet, shorter reservoir and barrel, new stock, Crosman pistol lower end and wire shoulder stock, Fortitude top end, transfer port…

                To name a few. Over the years I have seen so many different mods for the Discovery/Maximus platform. Would I do all of them? Probably not. I am fairly certain that once I mod and tune it to 1 MOA I will be content although a carbine would be real nice..

        • Deck,

          Way back in my youth I also had a 25 and it did seem to be powerful and accurate, shot that thing all the time till the trigger sear got so worn that it would fire at the completion of the pump cycle, kinda semi auto as fast as you could pump it would fire. Holding the trigger forward you could cock it and it would hold but the trigger was very light, just a touch of the trigger and it would fire. Fun times indeed.


    • Decksniper,

      Regarding your early No. 25 pump gun, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if its MV was north of 350 fps. The springs on the early 25s were made from “flat” wire, where the width of the spring wire was greater than the height. That allowed for more power in less space, and that, combined with the better efficiency of the spring-loaded shot tube over a gravity feed shot tube- which has several “extra” holes in the shot tube where pressure can escape- gave the 25 an advantage in power over the Red Ryder. It wasn’t a huge difference, but it was real.

      Later on, the springs in the No. 25 began to be made from conventional round wire, and the power decreased. I don’t have any confirmation of this, but my opinion is that the early 25 springs were a holdover from when the 25 was made to shoot lead shot.

      The 111-40 Red Ryder from the same era will do about 350 if the gun is sound. I have a 1940-’41 Red Ryder with the original spring AND leather seals, and it shoots 340 fps and I shoot it almost every day!

      Today’s 25s and Red Ryders are a far cry from what they were back in the day, but the same advantage in MV of the 25 over the Red Ryder still holds true, at least in the examples I have shot.

      • Cobalt327

        Your reply appeared in one of my cyberspace closets. It has been awhile!

        Good info explaining some of the differences. I love that you are still shooting the old Red Ryder. I don’t shoot the BB guns now but I was somewhat of a nuisance with the bird watchers years ago. Not today, just shooting paper but loving it every day weather permitting.



        • Cobalt,

          There is a fellow on the past Fri. blog that is looking to do the Red Ryder spring swap in a 499. I am starting to work with him. He still needs to order the spring assy.. At any rate,.. (maybe) check it out and (maybe) keep and eye out for the conversations. I think I can talk him through it just fine,.. but you may have some additional pics, links, tips, advice. At this point, he has yet to reply to my 2 replies from yesterday.

          Thanks,….. Chris

  9. B.B.,

    I just read a couple dozen or so definitions of “Hodad.” One definition, the most prevalent among those I found, defines a hodad as a wannabe surfer, one who dresses like a surfer and hangs around at surfer haunts but does not actually paddle out and surf. The other definition in that context is the anti-surfer, a “greaser” in SoCal, more the likes of Eric Von Zipper (played by the underrated Harvey Lembeck) in many of those silly 1960s beach party movies. Fonzi, on the other hand, was definitely Milwaukee through and through, despite no real connection of Happy Days’ personnel to Suds City (my father’s hometown).

    The other common defintion of Hodad is as an acronym or “Hands of death and destruction,” as in a skilless surgeon. “Don’t let Dr. Smith operate on your boy. He’s Dr. Hodad!”


      • B.B.,
        I’m sorry to hear that; and sadly we have many such surgeons in middle Georgia (along with MANY MORE excellent ones); before I had my spine surgery, I talked to my friend’s daughter, as she is a nurse. Since they have to work alongside them, nurses know which surgeons are the “Dr. Hodads.” #_#
        Take care & have a great weekend,

  10. For my 8th birthday I got a Red Ryder. Couldn’t cock it at first, learnt to brace the butt against my left foot & cock with right arm. 1948. I bought my first B-B’s from Stewart’s Hardware, Indiana, PA. Mr. S was a short man, quite unlike his better known son “Jimmy”.

    Neither Dad nor I knew about leather seals so when it got weak I just got a new one, with that bloody plastic stock. Still have the 1948 gun, oiled it recently & shoots fine.

    Ahhh . . . should I hesitate to say that my 75th (damn Chinese) Anniversary Red Ryder shoots better?

    And I, too would pay a good premium for a stronger Red Ryder-like airgun for us Big Boys.
    Guess no one at Daisy is listening, us Big Boys are dying off now anyway

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