Tell BB gun: Part Two

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

Daisy Premium Grade BBs
4.4mm lead balls
4.4mm copper-plated lead balls
H&N 4.45mm
No more steel BBs
Trigger pull
Cocking effort

Today we test the velocity of the Tell BB gun. There was a lot of interest in this strange old BB gun in Part 1. Let’s get right to it.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs

First to be tested were Daisy Premium Grade BBs. They averaged  275 f.p.s., with a 21 f.p.s. spread from 266 to 287 f.p.s. However I noticed something very strange when testing them. Although my backstop was only 2 feet from the muzzle, BBs were hitting 3 inches apart. Several BBs went high and to the left after exiting the nuzzle. That led me to believe that smaller steel BBs might not be the right ammunition for this gun. Reader Brent suggested I try 4.4mm lead BBs. At 0.173-inches in diameter, as opposed to 0.171-0.172-inches for the Daisys, they should have fit better.

4.4mm lead balls

I tried some unplated  4.4mm lead balls. When I measured them they ranged in size from 4.33mm (0.1705-inches) to 4.4mm (0.1735-inches) in diameter. They are similar in size to Smart Shot. They also weigh 7.6-grains, on average, so they should also shoot slower. They averaged 241f.p.s. and the spread went from 228 to 259 f.p.s. — a difference of 29 f.p.s.

4.4mm copper-plated lead balls

Then I tried some copper-plated lead balls — also 4.4mm. They also ranged in size from 4.36mm (0.1716-inches) to 4.4mm (0.1735-inches) in diameter. They averged 236 f.p.s. with a spread from 226 to 259 f.p.s.

H&N 4.45mm

The last balls I tried were H&N precision round balls that measure 4.45mm When I checked a few I found they measured 4.4mm (0.1735-inches) to 4.44mm (0.175-inches). They weigh an average 8.3 grains, so they should be slowest of all, but the average velocity was 250 f.p.s. — much faster than I expected.The low was 238 and the high was 258 f.p.s., a difference of 20 f.p.s.

These are the balls that shot the best in the Tell gun.

These balls stuck in the bore almost every time about one inch in from the muzzle. But when I pushed them from the breech through to the muzzle with a .177 cleaning rod that was the only tight spot in the barrel. Given the higher-than-expected velocity and the smaller velocity spread I’m thinking these balls fit the bore better and may prove to be the most accurate. It will be interesting to see. I rammed each one down after loading it, though once it passed the rough spot it went in easy..

BB in barrel
When dropped down the barrel the largest lead ball came to a stop about one inch from the muzzle.

That rough spot or constriction may have been what’s throwing the steel BBs all around. I don’t know, but I do know I will start shooting targets with steel BBs from 5 feet. I’m hoping the larger lead balls will be okay at 5 meters.

Build a Custom Airgun

No more steel BBs

After shooting the larger lead balls I decided not to shoot the steel BBs anymore. Why bother? They are more erratic and I don’t trust them.

Trigger pull

As robust as this gun is, I almost expected to see an adjustable trigger. But no, it’s not adjustable. It’s two-stage. Stage one is 1 lb. 10 oz. Stage 2 is crisp and breaks at 2 lbs. 4 oz.

Cocking effort

Remember me telling you that this is not a youth BB gun? Well, with a cocking effort of 60+ pounds you can bet that it isn’t! That’s correct — it takes 60+ pounds of force to close the bolt on this gun. At the end of the bolt travel where the resistance is greatest, the handle has to rotate down. The palm of my right hand is sore from it!


Now that I know something about this Tell BB gun I’m ready to see how accurate it is. I hope it’s good!

28 thoughts on “Tell BB gun: Part Two”

  1. B.B.,

    60 lbs! Maybe a length of pipe might be needed as an extended cocking handle for the bolt to make the shooting session easier on your hand. Otherwise I think you need to use a glove when shooting this.


      • B.B.,

        Without taking this gun further apart than removing the shot tube that Larry Hannusch fitted in is there any effort in cocking it? The mainspring seems to be being given additional pressure by a lot of friction (rust?, insufficient lubrication?) or being placed under additional compression.

        I was thinking of putting a piece of wood to allow a larger surface area to push the bolt


  2. Wow, 60 lbs..I guess you are going to be using a heavy glove, or a piece of wood, or the cheater pipe siraniko mentioned above

    Since the rifle was s a “rescue” so to speak, could the tight spot be from where the barrel was attached to the end cap by crimping, or being pressed into place?
    Or some other method of attaching the barrel that could cause the tight spot?


  3. Wow. That cocking effort is incredible. It is a good thing the Tell is as well made as it is. Something must be amiss. Perhaps a previous owner tried to give it more velocity/power with a stronger spring?

    I would have to go in and see what is what with that cocking effort and also see if the feed mechanism of the shot tube could be fixed. This bb gun is too well made for this to be like it is. It would never sell.

    In the meantime, get you a chunk of cowhide leather for your palm.

  4. B.B.,

    60 pound cocking effort on a 1.15 foot-pound air gun must be a record. Now that I think about it, 60 pounds of effort might be a record for any production air rifle of any power.


  5. As I stated above, I do not think the cocking effort is meant to be that high. It is probably meant to be in the 20 pound range. I do not think that is the original spring.

    Also, is Larry’s barrel the proper length? If it is but a wee bit short, it will not provide a proper seal at the breech end. Does this work like a Daisy and give a push and a puff? Maybe the barrel is too long and will not let the feed mechansim work. A polish job on the bore as Yogi suggested certainly will not hurt and likely help.

    I myself would have to take a long, hard look inside to try and determine what it would take to bring it up to snuff.

  6. BB,

    I have this rifle’s bigger brother, the Mars 115, and the two powerplants are very similar. The 115 and 100 both use a small spring that is easy to compress. The 115 takes around 20 pounds of effort. I would guess that rust or dirt is causing the excessive cocking effort on your gun.

    Paul in Liberty County

  7. I’m surprised the bolt handle hasn’t broke off over time yet.

    I wonder how much cocking effort it woul take to cock a hw30 if it was a direct cock instead of the linkage and barrel.

    And hope everyone is having a good labor day.

  8. It certainly looks great and I think it would be a nice piece to have in the collection but functionally at least the combination of 499 velocity, probably sub-499 accuracy and the cocking force of a PIAT that hasn’t been cleaned or lubed since Operation Market Garden takes it down a few notches!

    Something full sized with 499-like performance and build quality like a basic Weihrauch would be an instant sale to me for indoor shooting even if the sale price was over $500… but I realize I’m probably alone in that so such a gun isn’t going to happen.

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