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Ammo Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 3

Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dust Devil
Dust Devil Mk2.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The first and best test
  • Test strategy
  • Crush test
  • Test 2 — close impact
  • What have we learned?
  • Hard target test
  • What does this tell us?
  • One last test
  • Summary

Today we look at the frangible properties of the new Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs. Remember — these are the only Dust Devils you can buy and the box does not say Mark 2. But the BB I am testing is what you can buy and all that you can buy!

The first and best test

What I show you today is the first time I have tested Dust Devils at all. I did shoot the Mark 1 Dust Devils against a concrete floor with nothing remaining and no bounce-back, and at the 2018 NRA Show where Pyramyd AIR always runs the airgun range, Dust Devils were the only BBs fired and there was not one bounce-back in perhaps 10,000 shots. Today I will take it several steps further.

Test strategy

I reasoned that I am interested in the low threshold of the BB’s performance. If they work at slow speeds they will also work at higher speeds. So — what is the weakest BB gun I own? Well, overlooking catapult guns like the Daisy 179 and the Johnson Indoor Target gun, the weakest BB gun in my possession is my Daisy 499.

The new Dust Devil is slightly slower than the older version. A 499 that shoots a conventional Daisy BB at 232 f.p.s. shoots the new Dust Devil at 237 f.p.s. So it’s comparable.

So — how do I test them? I had initially thought of shooting them at my concrete garage floor, but then a more involved test plan formed in my mind. Let’s see what I did.

Crush test

In any test you should always try to practice-test the item if possible first. With some things like atomic bombs that proves impossible, so you test each of the components, subassemblies and assemblies, seeing how closely they adhere to your projections. But there were physicists in the Manhattan Project who predicted that the reaction of the first atomic bomb would not end with the destruction of the fissile material but go right on exploding every atom in its path and destroy the earth. Where do you stand to test that? It may seem funny now but before the first test it was nothing of the kind.

The Dust Devil is different. It’s possible to test them without shooting them, and that’s what I did first. I put one BB in the jaws of a pair of common household pliers and held it over a clean sheet of paper as I squeezed. It took less energy than I expected to make the BB burst apart, and when it did it sent dust flying everywhere. Some of it hit me. I also heard one larger fragment hit some thing in my office.

I guessed that one-quarter of the BB’s mass remained on the paper. A Dust Devil Mark2 weighs 4.6 grains and I weighed 1.2 grains of dust from the paper. That’s just over a quarter the weight of the whole BB.

Dust Devil plier test
You can see from the plier test that the BB turned into dust, with a couple larger pieces remaining. The whole BB is for scale.

Test 2 — close impact

Next I went into the garage to test the BB against a hard target. I didn’t use the floor this time because there was no way to control the remnants or to gather them after the impact. Instead I used a deep box with a white styrofoam sheet on the bottom. Anything that stayed in the box after impact should be visible on the white sheet.

Inside the box I put a plate of 10-gauge steel. I shot the 499 at that plate from 2 inches away. The BB shattered completely and became invisible.  I did hear one larger piece hit elsewhere in the room, so there was some bounce-back, though I’m sure it was very small from the sound it made.

Dust Devil box
The box is deep enough to contain some of the Dust Devil particles when it explodes from contact with the steel plate.

I figured some of the BB remnants would be on the white sheet, and they were, but when I removed the steel plate from the bottom of the box, I felt a small piece of the BB that had fused to it. I carefully removed it and photographed it for you to see.

Dust Devil fused piece
The small piece of a BB on the left was fused to the steel plate, when fired from a Daisy 499 from 2-inches distance. This photo has also caught the whole BB on the right perpendicular to its band that now looks like a shiny halo above it.

Dust Devil dust
This is a little over a one-inch square section of the white foam after shooting at the 10-gauge steel plate. The entire bottom of the box looks like this, except the larger pieces like the one near the center of the photo did not travel as far from the plate.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

What have we learned?

I think these tests have revealed a couple things. First, that the Dust Devil tends to hold together until it doesn’t any longer. It doesn’t flake apart slowly — it explodes. Not from any force from within, but from holding together until it can no longer stand the strain. That makes it very safe when it comes apart. But you need to know that larger pieces do come off the BB and you need to wear eye protection the same as you would for regular BBs. You probably will never be hit by a particle that causes pain, but from time to time you or someone in the vicinity will feel some larger pieces come back.

The second thing we have learned is that it doesn’t take much force to break up a Dust Devil. That is in the advertising, of course, but my two tests demonstrate it quite well. However, that begs a question I have not yet asked. What is the definition of a hard target?

Hard target test

The last test I did for this report was to try to determine what constitutes a hard target. The steel plate obviously is hard, but what about a tree with thick bark? I would think that is not a hard target because the bark is softer and does give a little. How about a lightweight steel spinner? Where does the “hard” in a target begin?

For this test I used a small steel can of the type that green beans might come in. I placed it inside the box, standing it up so the bottom of the can was presented as a target.

Dust Devil can
A small can stood up so the bottom presents a target. I have shot through the sides of this can a couple times with other airguns.

This time I held the muzzle of the 499 about 12 inches from the bottom of the can. I had no idea of what to expect, except I knew that the can would give just a little to a regular steel BB.

The Dust Devil hit in the center of the can bottom, denting it slightly, and the BB bounced back out just a little. It came perhaps 2-3 inches above the top of the can, but landed inside the box. 

Dust Devil can hit
The Dust Devil hit the can bottom in its center.

I was surprised to see the Dust Devil apparently intact, except when I looked at it closely I saw a frosted area on one side, where the BB’s shine had turned dull.

I took the BB to my office to examine it under a 10X jeweler’s loupe. When I did I saw that the frosted area appeared to be the particles in the BB, just as they are coming apart.

Dust Devil frost
This is difficult to see and even harder to photograph. Look at the BB band at the top in this picture (arrow). See how it is frosted, not shiny like the spherical portion below? I believe this test has captured a Dust Devil just before it explodes into dust. 

Apparently the can that was slightly dented by the BB provided just enough slowdown for the low-velocity BB that we captured a very rare phenomenon. We have a frangible BB that has been brought to the brink of destruction but still remains whole.

On the opposite side of the BB there is a very small dent that I have never seen on a Dust Devil. Not only is it a dent, but around the side the material is raised, as if the material within has been displaced. I think this is the opposite side of the shock wave that passed through the BB on impact.

Dust Devil dent
Almost (but not quite) on the opposite side of the frosted area is this “dent” with raised edges.

What does this tell us?

This time the entire BB bounced back — BUT — the bounce-back wasn’t very fast. I believe the BB’s energy was absorbed by both the slight dent in the can as well as the near-destruction of the BB, itself. This was a chance happening and nothing to bank on, but it does answer that other tricky question about what makes a target hard. 

When you shoot Dust Devils, protect yourself and others in the area the same as you would for conventional steel BBs. But you can shoot at hard targets with BB guns, which is something I would never recommend doing with conventional BBs.

Targets will range in hardness all over the place from very hard to marginal. If you protect everyone in the vicinity, the Dust Devil gives you a safer way to shoot.

One last test

Since these little critters are so friendly and safe, do they work in a full-auto BB gun? Now I know that they do because Pyramyd AIR was shooting thousands of them in Crosman DPMS guns at the NRA Show. But I said I wanted to test them this way too and since I own an Umarex MP-40, I thought, why not?

Well, I tried but my MP-40 wasn’t cooperating. I loaded two fresh CO2 cartridges into the magazine, and if I tap the valve stem the mag does fire. I was able to get the gun to shoot a couple shots full auto when I held the trigger down and released the cocking handle. Yes, the selector switch was set in full auto. It’s something I need to sort out. You see, BB has the same sort of problems as everyone. You just hear about it when they happen.


This is the first good hard target test I have given the Dust Devil, and it is the Mark2 version that was tested. The BB seems to perform as well as anyone could hope for. You still should take every precaution you always do when shooting any pellet or BB gun, but if you do we now we have a BB that won’t shoot your eye out.

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.

61 thoughts on “Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 3”

    • Yogi,

      I’m sure it is applicable, but no one is doing it right now. Once you get away from the sphere shape, this technology becomes more difficult to employ, plus making accurate pellets is already a challenging task.


    • Yogi,

      I like where your thoughts are going. Just this week I was wondering if an accurate pellet could be made and if the frangible pellet would be effective. I think this demonstrates that it would likely penetrate and then like a frangible bullet, impart 100% of it’s energy on the target.

      The biggest issues will likely be the deformation of the skirt upon firing and the lands imparting their impressions in the skirt and head edges.

  1. BB,

    I do like the frangibility of these. I also understand the great difficulty involved in forming a pellet using this particular method. There is the possibility that a “cast” projectile incased in a sabot would work. Two issues arising there would be clean separation and inability to be used with a shroud or silencer. I am sure there are other Murphys that would show their faces also.

    Perhaps something like these.


    A frangible head might work. Of course we still have the issue of accuracy.

    Do you happen to know if anyone has tried swaging #9 or #12 shot into pellets and testing frangibility?

    I picked up these a while back for my grandson and I to play with.



    I saw these the other day and was wondering how effective they were.


    It looks like I am going to have to place an order soon.

  2. BB,

    Nice testing. I did similar testing when first receiving mine (Gen. 1).

    The foam in the bottom of the box also was cushioning the can’s movement. The inset bottom of a can will do the same. This test would be similar to tree bark I would think,… where there will be some target yield.

    Spinners would vary,… based on the amount of energy required to get the paddle to move from rest.

    Using common congregated box cardboard (.166″ thick) as a target backer and after shooting about 100 shots,…. there was “gritty dust” (in front) of the backer that had fallen to the table. [ the backer is attached to a wood box/trap and once a projectile passes through the cardboard, NOTHING is coming out of the box] A small pencil magnet picked up enough dust to completely cover the magnet head. So,…. they will bust up somewhat there also.

    A controlled “crush” test could easily be done in a vice. You should be able to get one “just to” the point of fragmenting I would think.


  3. B.B.,

    If you crushed it with one end of the pliers on the weighing scale would it have been equivalent to the FPE required to shatter it?


    • Siraniko,

      Would there not be a multiplier effect?

      bb 1″ from plier hinge point
      scale/handle pressure application point 6″ from plier hinge point
      6:1 ratio?
      10# to break (per scale) = 60# to actually break?


      • Nice, Chris. Not everyone can describe the mechanical advantage of a pliers in such simple terms. Today’s testing was great fun! B.B., I really enjoyed how you developed the tests and took us through the execution thereof. What fun. Looks like a great frangible BB! Good luck in getting the MP40 to shoot auto.

      • Chris USA,

        You are right. How about this? Place the BB on a scale with the flat end of a bolt pressing on it. Progressively screw down the bolt until it fractures. Would that be a better way to determine the energy required?


        • Siraniko,

          Simple? I would take that 10 ga. plate that BB has shown in the pics above,…. place bb on plate,… maybe re-zero scale?,……… press down with the face of a hammer while noting the scale pressure going up. Maybe do 5 test and take an average. Not really sure what that would show except that it could be used for direct comparison,… like the Gen 1 compared to the Gen 2’s.

          As for what it actually takes to break on a hard, non-movable target,….. take the 499 and do a chrony. Weigh the bb. That gives you a muzzle fpe #. Keep backing up till you get a rebound. Then,… using a program like Chairgun,…. it will tell you how much fpe was left at X range (when the rebound occurred, or the distance just prior)

          Then too,…. you could end up with a 10# (direct pressure) crush reading with a scale and then have Chairgun showing 1 fpe left at,… say 15′ (the farthest distance that the bb still broke). Then what?

          Would 10# on scale equate to 10 fpe? Should it? I do not know.


        • Siraniko,

          For what it is worth,… I JUST NOW did the direct down pressure test (steel plate, dial type bathroom scale, Gen.1 bb, 1″ steel rod pressing down). It took 65-70 pounds of pressure before the bb shattered. A second test showed 85-90 pounds.

          For whatever that is worth!!!!!!! 🙂


          I am pretty sure I did that same test back when I first got them. As I recall,… I was part of a top secret test group asked to run the Gen. 1’s through their paces. Then again,….. it could all be in my imagination as I never did see any of the group’s results published for peer review. 😉

          • Chris
            I was part of the top secret test too. I still have my gen1 Dust devils.

            You know that top secret test that some of us on the blog was involved in. It was to keep us quiet so we wouldn’t have something incriminating to say about them while BB was reporting on them for the release to the consumers. Well that’s what I think anyway. 😉

            • GF1,

              Well,… they did well and did what they were supposed to do. The 499 did better with the Avanti bb’s,…. but that is what you would expect. For a product that all but eliminates bb rebounds,… these are a hands down winner. By all means,…. the first bb for a kid just getting started.


              • Chris
                They did fine. I like them. Of course if they were more accurate than the regular steel bb’s that would be even better.

                Hey what can I say. I’m always looking for more accuracy. 🙂

          • Chris USA,

            Thanks for the effort and results. All I can say is Ouch! This thing will still sting if somebody got hit with it, if anybody ever thinks of using this for BB wars. Aspenparis answered the question below. Seems like you are going to get your wish and soon see the development of frangible pellets.


    • Siraniko,

      Good question. I don’t know. It seemed like it took a lot more force to crush the BB than the Daisy 499 provides. I was grasping pliers and the center of my grasp was about 4.5 inches from the fulcrum of the pliers. I think the test would need to be a lot more controlled than what I did.


  4. Interesting stuff – just love testing things to see where the limits are!

    I worked at Atomic Energy of Canada in the engineering department that designed the (10,000 pound steel and lead) containers for transporting radioactive material (Cobalt 60) and was directly involved in the testing of the container for regulatory approval.

    The testing simulated the container being involved in a crash and fire so it was dropped (5 meter drop) onto concrete pads; then on to a 6 inch steel post (1 meter drop) and then put into a furnace for an hour. After the torture test the container was checked to confirm that it didn’t leak.

    Fun stuff – same kinda thing B.B. is doing with the Dust Devils (at a slightly different scale) – test and analyze.

    My current project is testing to see how far away I can consistently hit a 1 inch spinner.


      • B.B.

        You have that right!!!

        Have to say that that while I am happy to be retired (I certainly don’t miss commuting!) that I was fortunate to have a wide variety of interesting and challenging jobs over my career.

        Now I have more time for my own projects (just finished a carrier/stand for my HPA tank) when I am not doing house chores or working at the “honey-do” list.


        • “I worked at Atomic Energy of Canada in the engineering department”
          That’s pretty cool! And at least you could stop work at the end of the day…
          ..whereas, the “honey-do” list…is endless (mine surely is), hahaha! =>
          Happy to be hearing from you,

      • GF1,

        How far indeed – always trying to extend my maximum effective range. LOL!

        IMHO, if it doesn’t hit the spinner it doesn’t count.

        …”And of course what gun and what pellet you using” – absolutely! AND off-hand; kneeling; sitting; leaning; benching; calm conditions; windy; etc.; etc. It’s what keeps me practicing!


        • Hank
          Yep all that too.

          I have been off work for a few weeks and go back next week because of the COVID-19 stuff. They finally shut the shop down. But it was nice being off for a change. And yes don’t even feel like thinking about the drive to work.

          And dont forget at some point in time post some pictures of your new 125 yard shooting range. And those “Stay out of My swamp” Shrek inspired signs if you make them.

            • Chris
              No waiting week and got the additional $600 along with normal unemployment. Plus got the $2400 COVID-19 check the other day too. Was happy about all that too.

              • GF1,

                Good for you! Some people have been waiting a month + to get on the system even if it is only for a few weeks. Good to hear that you are going back soon.


                • Chris
                  I draw unemployment from Missouri. It seems they have their act together for some reason. And I was surprised I got the $2400 check so quick.

                  I wonder if the people working in Illinois got their unemployment so quick. And thinking about it I live in Illinois as well as my friends and such. But they also work in Missouri. Knowing Illinois they will have to wait 6 months before they see any unemployment. Illinios doesn’t like to let go of their money usually.

  5. A few years ago when I was initially developing the frangible air gun bb, I was also working on a frangible pellet as well. I was able to pick off 12 gauge shotgun shells at 10 meters shooting a .22 caliber frangible pellet. I wasn’t able to attain match accuracy but frangible it was.
    I have a few ideas as to how I can enhance accuracy and will pursue this in the future.


  6. BB,

    When I was working on the Federal Cartridge TNT Green/SOST lead-free project, I remember Larry Head, Federal’s top engineer using pliers as to test to integrity of a lead-free bullet core.


  7. B.B.,
    Not sure if you know, but PA tested the MP-40 with Smart Shot and it wouldn’t work with them. They said it could be the magnet on the gun? It’s in a video on that gun’s page.


      • Had seen that report about the problems with the feed of disintegrating BBs too; good reminder for us MP-40 types. Couldn’t resist self-gifting myself with one for an upcoming “significant birthday.” Paid for the Pyramyd $10-for-10 test and bought the Umarex steel bbs. Have not experienced problems in full-auto mode, though, as taught to the “Landsers,” short bursts only. The auto firearm version apparently had some jamming/misfiring problems. Still, a fun gun for an old kid to fantasize cutting down waves of charging “canned” Russian infantry.

        Have only been loading 30 BBs in the magazine at a time, which might help avoid jamming; recall in your review of the MP-40 you were also “underloading” the magazines, B.B.

  8. “…we now we have a BB that won’t shoot your eye out.”
    I think this is a pretty cool test; I sometimes shoot BB guns in the house on the 5-meter range; all the targets are steel, and I do get bounce back; I think these BBs would be the safest for such use; thank you. =>
    Keep up the great work,

  9. BB,

    I meant to post this earlier, but then I started working and forgot.

    Could the dent have been caused by the push rod of the piston? Pure speculation I know, but that is a factor to consider. Perhaps if you shot one of these bbs into foam layers so as not too shatter and inspect to see if the dent is there.

  10. BB, How toxic are these Dust Devils or their dust? Could they sicken a small child or animal, or perhaps a bird ingesting a whole BB or an adult inhaling the dust? (Inquiring minds want to know. :^> ) —JoeB

    • The materials that the Dust Devil BBs are made from are considered non-toxic.
      Actually, one of the components may be used in the making of ice cream. That said, don’t sprinkle particles from shattered Dust Devils BBs with chocolate sauce and consider it dessert though.

  11. BB,

    I thought that I recalled Tyler saying that the MP40 is one of three guns that Pyramyd testers found should not be loaded with Dust Devils because they didn’t operate properly in the gun. I just went back and checked the Q & A on the Dust Devil page and found that my memory was correct. You will probably need to test them in a different full auto gun.


      • B.B.,

        So way back then Tyler said that the Dust Devil did not work in the MP40, ISSC M22 or the Ingram M11 by ASG. /blog/2018/01/air-venturi-dust-devil-bbs-part-1/#comment-410493

        Have the new Dust Devils been tested in these guns? Seems to me with the smother surface and smaller band they might work better, or not.

        I am sure you will let us know.


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