Tell BB gun: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BB gun
This military-looking BB gun is large and good-looking!

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Lead balls only
  • The test
  • 4.4mm copper-plated lead balls
  • Trigger pull
  • 4.4mm Punktkugeln
  • H&N 4.45mm lead ball
  • What we know
  • The last step
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the Tell BB gun. I think this is going to be a very interesting report, so let’s get started.

Lead balls only

I waited to do this test because I was considering what to do about the inaccuracy of steel BBs. At two feet they were spreading out to three inches apart. That would mean that at 5 meters (16 feet) the spread would be several FEET. I thought about shooting them closer to the target but what’s the point? If they are that inaccurate I’m never going to shoot them anyway. So I decided to run this accuracy test at the standard 5-meter distance with larger lead balls.

The test

I shot from a seated position, 5 meters from the target. I used the UTG Monopod to rest the gun on. I used a 6-o’clock hold on the bull.

4.4mm copper-plated lead balls

The first balls I shot were the 4.4mm copper-plated lead balls that I bought to shoot in my Haenel 310. I measured a couple of them after the test and they measure 0.1715 to 0.172-inches in diameter. That’s about the same as the Daisy Premium Grade steel BBs I tested in Part 2. I thought they were larger than that. According to my caliper 4.4mm is 0.1735-inches. My conversion software says 4.4mm is 0.1732-inches. Well, these balls don’t measure that wide.

I shot just 4 times at the target and stopped when 4 balls went into 5.57-inches between centers. I could see these balls were not that accurate and I stopped before I had an accident.

Trigger pull

The Tell trigger is two-stage and works well some of the time. The rest of the time it fires before I am ready, so the hold has to be perfect. The trigger is light, but too vague for good work.

copper ball
Four 4.4mm copper-plated balls went into 5.57-inches at 5 meters and I stopped shooting them. When I measured the balls they were smaller than advertised.

This is such a robust gun that I was hoping it would be as accurate as a Daisy 499. It sure is fun to shoot!

Find a Hawke Scope

4.4mm Punktkugeln

The next ball I shot was another 4.4mm lead ball, but these measured a little larger than the others. They are a very uniform 4.4mm in diameter and my caliper says they measure 0.173-inches. The slight difference between these 4.4mm balls and when I just set the caliper at 4.4mm and pushed the button to convert from millimeters to inches confuses me, but that’s what it is.

This time all 10 balls stayed on the paper target at 5 meters. They went high and to the right of the bull and I can’t do anything about that because the gun’s sight doesn’t adjust very much. So, I just shot the group. Ten balls went into 3.7-inches, c-t-c at five meters. That’s a big group, for sure, but it’s ten shots instead of four.

4.4mm lead ball
Ten 4.4mm lead balls made this 3.7-inch group at 5 meters. It’s large but all 10 shots are on the paper. I didn’t use the dime because why would I?

Okay, I was seeing an increase in accuracy as the size of the ball increased. So I went to a larger ball.  I had a tin of H&N 4.45mm balls and had tested them in the Part 2 velocity test. Now I shot them at the target.

H&N 4.45mm lead ball

Ten 4.45mm lead balls went into a group that measures 3.06-inches between centers. As before a diameter increase in the ball produced a smaller group. There is something to be learned here.

This time 9 of 10 balls were on the paper and one was slightly off to the right. I photographed the target in situ for you.

4.45 in situ
One ball at the high right just missed the target paper. And two balls went through the same hole. Ten 4.45mm lead balls measure 3.06-inches between centers at 5 meters.

Same target with just the shots that hit the paper. Nine of 10 4.45mm balls are in this 3.06-inch group. The ball that missed the paper did not enlarge the group.

What we know

So far we have learned that the larger the ball, the more accurate this gun shoots. But what is larger than 4.45mm? Why 4.5mm, of course. I loaded 10 Beeman Perfect rounds into the gun and shot the next target. This was the first ball that did not fall into the barrel all the way to the breech. I used a .177 Dewey cleaning rod to press the ball all the way down. But after 5 shots the balls began to fall all the way down by themselves. I still used the rod to check that each ball was all the way down.

Ten Beeman Perfect Rounds went into a group measuring 1.96-inches between centers at 5 meters. Another group reduction with a larger ball!

Beeman rounds
Now we are getting somewhere. Ten 4.5mm Beeman perfect rounds made this 1.96-inch group at 5 meters.

The last step

Okay, have I gone as far as I can go? Not quite. Because I shoot and write about zimmerstutzens, I have acquired a small sample of different size lead balls over the years. One ball is a 4.55mm size. It’s called a number 12 ball, which is the new size designation. The old size number was 9.

number 12 balls
I had a tin of 4.55mm balls.

And, look what they did. Ten balls went into 0.877-inches at 5 meters.

4.55 group
Ten 4.55mm balls in 0.877-inches at 5 meters.

I think the last group confirms what I suspected. The shot tube prefers larger balls. I can’t do anything about the shot placement that is still high and right, but the grouping is a clear indication of what this BB gun wants.


This was an interesting test, because we got to watch as the tolerances shrunk, so did the groups. That is an important lesson for anyone who is involved in smoothbore shooting.

29 thoughts on “Tell BB gun: Part 3”

  1. BB,

    I for one would really like to see such well made bb guns on the market, of course with the exceptions of the cocking effort and more adjustable sights. Probably the only way you would get steel bbs to work well in this thing is to replace the barrel with a 499 barrel or some such. As you pointed out, the tighter the tolerances, the more accurate a smoothbore becomes.

    Can you rotate the barrel any? If you can perhaps you can use that to adjust where the group hits your target in relation to the sights.

    I for one could not stand it. With as much cocking effort, I would have to expect much higher velocities. I would have to go inside, armed with all types of measuring instruments. I for one suspect that air is being lost around the “breech” end of the barrel. Also, sixty pounds?! somethin’ ain’t right.

    That brings up another question in my mind. Was the Tell originally designed for steel bbs? What holds the shot in alignment with the barrel, assuming the gravity feed works?

  2. B.B.,

    Considering that Larry Hannusch had built the shot tube from scratch it just might be possible to adjust the barrel from the inside via shims to deflect the point of aim. Then again for the purposes of the shooter that might be mute.



  3. B.B.,

    Obviously I’ll never again suggest the abnormally large variant of Marksman BBs because of what they did to your Pioneer BB76 gun, but what about Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision Ground Shot? They are bigger than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs and are more uniform as well.


  4. If you wanted to go through the work. You can always file the rear sight opening the notch to the left. Also, building up the front will lower the POI correct for the zero. You can also file down the top of the rear sight if you have enough metal to lower impact. I know you know this but others may not.


  5. B.B.,
    It sounds and looks to me like the barrel may be fouled. Look at the nasty dark rings around the target holes. And when you described having to ram 5 of the larger sized lead balls down, after which others rolled freely, it strongly suggested to me that you cleared some debris from the bore. Any way to pull some patches through this barrel?

  6. BB,

    Have you tried the Gamo 0.177 round lead ball? I use them in my vintage Daisy Model 25 that was made for lead ball. It was damaged in the feeding tube from using steel bb so I had it repaired. In any of my other air guns I treat them as pellets as they are much large in diameter than a steel bb.


  7. “This was an interesting test, because we got to watch as the tolerances shrunk, so did the groups.”
    Yes, B.B., most interesting for sure!
    Looking forward to Part 4,

  8. B.B.,

    Great report!
    One of my favorite stories to read as a youngster was about William Tell. So a Tell rifle is interesting and grows ever more so as you chose ever larger diameter Lead bb.

    Speaking of bbs the latest Public Education outrage is the Expulsion decision, later reduced to Suspension of an Elementary School student (in his home) for having a bb gun on screen during Virtual Learning is simply beyond the pale!


    • Wow, good thing I did not have virtual school. I was in enough trouble as it was. That is too bad for the kid.

      We had archery required and gun classes voluntary in junior high school. I think it should be mandatory. I was on a jury one time and picked up a pistol that was evidence to examine and a couple of jurors freaked out. That was many years ago. Most folks grew up with guns in the house when I was a kid. Not so now.

      • Benji-Don,

        Times they are a chang’n! Always HATED that song!

        My son’s HS in the 90’s had a range that they turned into a long storage closet. Until i asked the school district architect for the blueprint for the school…a Small Arms Range with full stand alone ventilation. No laws or regulations prohibited use as designed so we restarted the Shooting Club over much objection until i pulled out Title Nine and the gender equality of their sports program.. It took them 4 years figure out how to pass an ordinance to preclude any shooting on the campus!


      • RR,

        Mmmm? Not sure why that you would be promoting FOur-eyed-toADs,.. but whatever works for you.

        By the way,… stuff is pretty easy to figure out now with the “net”. Got it on the 1st search. Just sayin’.


      • RidgeRunner,

        Fall Over And Die? or perhaps: F*** Off And Die!
        FOAD, a fixie bike gang?
        A Norwegian Band?

        I think I get the gist of your feelings…

        I’m having a hard time getting your concept straight with certainty.


Leave a Comment