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Air Guns 1896 New King Single Shot: Part 4

1896 New King Single Shot: Part 4

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

1896 King
1896 New King single shot BB gun.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • 4.55 mm lead ball
  • Moved to 10 feet
  • The first “group”
  • Second thing I did wrong
  • Correction
  • 4.50 mm ball
  • Marksman BBs
  • Summary

I couldn’t resist! I just had to know how this old girl shot. So today we will find out together.

The test

I started the test at 5 meters, like all BB gun tests. I rested the gun on the UTG monopod and I sat in a chair. I vowed to push all the balls down the barrel with the cleaning rod, but I changed that one time while the test was underway. Let’s get started!

4.55 mm lead ball

First to be tested was the 4.55 mm lead ball that comes as close as possible to the 0.180-inch BB caliber. It measures 0.179-inches in diameter. I fired the first shot and the sound from downrange was not what I expected. So I went and examined the target. There were no holes in the target!

Moved to 10 feet

I then moved my chair so the muzzle of the gun would be about 10 feet from the target. This time the ball hit the paper target, but it did so 1.3-inches below and 1.7-inches to the left of the bull. I had been taking a 6 o’clock hold, which was obviously too low on the target, so I tried to hold for the target’s center for the remainder of the shots. There was a second problem I will mention after I show you this group, but I hadn’t discovered it yet.

The first “group”

1896 King 455 group
At first glance all the shots seem to be in the same vicinity, though not in an especially good group. But that’s deceiving. There is a nick on the target’s edge below and to the right of the dime. And to the left of the Official Competition logo is another hole. This is ten shots in 3.121-inches AT 10 FEET!

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Second thing I did wrong

I mentioned that I did something else wrong on the first target and it was how I sighted the gun. The rear notch is extremely wide and the front sight is very low and small, so what I did was hold the tip of the front sight at the bottom of the rear notch. This is called  holding a fine bead when you shoot a muzzleloader and the shape of the rear notch made me do it instinctively. Let me show you.

fine bead
This is a fine bead that I used with the 1896 King. It was set to shoot too low!


For the next target I tried something different. I started shooting with a high rear sight hold in the center of the bull, but both the first two shots landed low. They are down by the writing at the bottom of the target. So I needed a higher aim point.

I drew a cross above the bullseye to use as an aim point, and I held the front sight up as far in the rear notch as I could. The sight isn’t tall enough to go all the way to the top of the rear notch without some of the barrel showing as well. But I did the best I could. You will see the results of that on the next target.

4.50 mm ball

This time I shot the 4.50 mm lead ball from H&N. With the new sight picture and sight alignment the shots were hitting around the bull!

I could hear that the BBs were rolling all the way down the shot tube, so on the fourth or fifth shot I tried not pushing the cleaning rod down the bore. Big mistake! That one shot landed low and outside the others. Back to the cleaning rod. I shot 10 of these balls with the new sight picture and got a group that measures 3.711-inches between centers. If I hadn’t dropped that one shot the group measures 2.337-inches between centers. But remember — it’s from 10 feet.

1896 King 450 group
When I aimed at the center of the cross on top this is where the 4.50 mm BBs landed. I shot 10 BBs, aiming at the cross. The lowest shot on the left was when I did not push the BB into the breech with the cleaning rod and it opened the group by more than one inch.

Marksman BBs

Do you remember the Marksman BBs that measure 0.176-inches in diameter and are too large for the majority of BB guns? Reader Michael asked whether I had considered testing them and I told him I might, though I thought their small size would make them inaccurate. Well, it did! I can’t tell you the size of a 10-shot group because 10 BBs did not hit the target paper, but the centers of the nine that did are 7-1/4-inches apart! And this is from 10 feet!

1896 King Marksman group
The Marksman oversized BBs did not do well in this gun. Only nine of 10 hit the paper and they are about 7-1/4-inches apart.


That concludes our look at the 1896 New King BB gun from Markham. I said in Part 2 I thought it could have been more powerful when new. It may have been, and having proper 0.180-inch BB shot might make a tremendous difference in accuracy, given what 0.179-inch balls were able to do. But all of that is just conjecture at this point.

What I do know is the barrel  is still not perfectly straight. As it is this little gun cocks easily and is a joy to shoot. Plus it’s nice to look at. I guess that’s all we can hope for.

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.

63 thoughts on “1896 New King Single Shot: Part 4”

  1. This one is still quite interesting given the very low cocking effort and the old timey style of it. 150s FPS would not be bad for basement shooting if the accuracy were there. Also interesting the difference not using the rod made. Looks like we still have to wait to find out the perfect use for the Marksman BBs

    • Chris
      Just letting you know. I tryed ordering the 499 barrel today.

      I talked to them and they updated their system Friday and they are having some troubles today so she said call back tomorrow.

      But it’s called the shot tube assembly and its $12 plus $3 shipping to me. She didn’t give me a part number. She said to just call tomorrow and ask for her since she knows already what I’m looking for.

      So I’m try’n to get the barrel. Hopefully soon.

        • Chris
          If I remember right the 880 has like a outer barrel like a shroud but not really a shroud. So don’t know how that would work out with a Maximus barrel.

          Plus I don’t remember how the breech end of the 880 barrel is like or what the outer diameter is.

          Didn’t you mess with trying to make your 880 you had into a arrow shooter. Do you remember how the barrel is attached?

          • GF1,

            I did. I never had the barrel out. I did cut the “shroud” off. Like you said, more like a sleeve. I used a Dremel and cut off wheel as I recall and cut it off just at the front of the forearm. I used epoxy to fill the gap between barrel and sleeve. I still have the arrow, but not the 880. The arrow is an aluminum shaft one and the ID of the shaft is .313″. It was an absolute perfect slip fit.

            Of course, the 880 could not dump enough air. It did shoot like 20′ when level and 4′ up. A perfect arc to the ground. 🙁 247.3 grain and 10 1/8″ long. Oh well, it was a fun project. It would have made a wicked Nerf dart launcher if you could find a nice fitting dart.

            The 880 is probably all plastic at the breech and in no way could ever support a real barrel.


              • GF1,

                I did play with darts. Home made ones. Bamboo BBQ skewers, coat hanger rod, TIG rod, etc., etc..

                Nothing stunning, but did work. On something long (4-6″),.. when it hit,.. the tail would want to come around and something usually bent or broke.

                The biggest takeaway was that the projectile weight needed to be close to what grain projectile that it would normally shoot. A PCP would be more forgiving on boosting projectile weight. At a point, a plenum and valve tuning is required,… or at least I imagine it would be.

                Yes, spaghetti would work. It would be one shot, but it would be way more powerful than a blow gun.


                • Chris
                  I remember you doing that stuff with your 880.

                  And heck you could try the marshmallow and spaghetti spear in your .22 Maximus right now. Bet you would have to clean your barrel though afterwards.

  2. BB,

    Well, I must say I am a little disappointed in the results today. I was not expecting 10m air rifle accuracy, but I was at least hoping for feral soda can accuracy. As you have said, with the condition of the barrel and the size of the shot…

    I just hope you do not scare Fish off of the old gals. He is having an hard enough time as it is.

    A bit of a boo boo.

    4.55 mm lead ball
    First to be tested was the 4.5(5) mm lead ball…


  3. Sadly, while I Am still glad that this piece of history is preserved, it appears we have another “wall hanger” here. I just don’t see the point of going through everything needed to shoot it if we don’t even know where the shot is going at 10 feet. Good series though – we just never know what we are really going to get out of these old guns.

  4. B.B.,

    The Marksman BBs fail again! :^(

    I wonder what they were actually all about. Perhaps they were for the Marksman 1911-looking low power pistols of decades ago, the one that was single-shot with pellets and a repeater for BBs. Those had a very short, large, smooth bore.


    • I’m personally grateful to Marksman for one thing. Years ago when I went to buy my first airgun (I was in my 20s then and though I had used a few air pistols and rifles before I had never owned one) the one I bought was an inexpensive Marksman break barrel with a black plastic target style stock and aperture sights. It wasn’t much to speak of but this was back when they had just bought Beeman – and in the box was a Beeman catalog with FWB, Weihrauch and Webley guns… and more. That helped me figure out what to set my sights on so to speak. The next air rifle I bought was an HW-30S and I’ve gone on from there. Without the dream-fodder catalog I don’t know that I would be still shooting airguns today.

  5. B.B.

    I was hoping you could advise me. I have an under-lever spring air rifle which has been making what I will describe as a subtle honking when being cocked. It is not a full on honk, but I am assuming it is some kind of friction or vibration from the piston seal. It is on the down stroke, not the upstroke, if that matters. I applied two drops of RWS “air chamber lube” directly into the air transfer port and stood the piece muzzle up for a few minutes before firing. (They seemed like pretty small drops, but this is the first time I used the product so don’t have a basis for comparison.) I have since fired it about 20-40 times and the noise is still there. Should I apply more of the air chamber lube? Apply in two drop increments until the noise goes away? Do you suggest something different? If you are so kind as to offer advice, does your prescription apply equally all to all metal coil spring air rifles suffering from this problem? Thanks for any information.


  6. The other day I posted a picture of a target paper I shot with multiple guns that I shoot every day. It was a bit windy with a head wind and a bit from the side.

    Today its pretty calm. With a slight dead on head wind. Maybe 5 mph. But the other day the 54 didn’t get a fair chance because I changed tins of pellets and it didn’t like that tin. Today I tryed a even different tin of pellets which for it are the Hades pellets in .177 caliber. This tin it liked again. So maybe some inconsistency with the Hades pellets right now.(maybe the dies need broke in)?

    Anyway these are all .177 JSB 10.34 pellets in the other guns except for the .25 caliber Condor SS.

    And all groups are 20 shot groups at 50 yards and all bench rested. This is what I call accurate enough for the shooting I do.

    Oh and the .25 Condor SS isn’t even getting ready to start shooting yet at 50 yards. Its a pretty flat shooter out to a hundred or so yards. That meaning minimum hold over at the longer distances. A easier to shoot gun in other words.

        • Dave
          The TX 200 has a UTG fixed power with 4 magnification with no AO adjustment. Its set at 35 yards. The low magnification helps it focus from in close to out far. As in 50 yards and in.

          I can pretty well hit what I aim at with no hold over or under from 50 yards and in with a 1″ kill zone. Yes it is a very flat shooter.

      • Kevin
        Don’t see your comment right now.

        But got to go right now so I’ll make it quick.

        You mention targets for a better hold is what I guess you mean. A way to get your reticle true.

        Well when I shoot at a pest or game I don’t have no lines drawn on them. So that’s why I shoot at circles drawn on paper. I don’t want any reference lines for my scope. I want to square my scope without any reference points.

        So yes if I did have those reference lines I would probably shoot better groups. But that is not real world shooting then for the type of shooting I do.

    • Gunfun1,

      “… .25 Condor SS isn’t even getting ready to start shooting yet at 50 yards. Its a pretty flat shooter out to a hundred or so yards. That meaning minimum hold over at the longer distances. A easier to shoot gun in other words.” On your .25 Condor what is your initial sight in distance? How much is your maximum rise and at what distance? Hades pellet too? how many grain? MV? What’s your holdover at 100 (estimated or actual) if you have some all of the data to answer. I have a few .25 but never shot the Hades so any info is helpful to decide if i want to get some.

      Last but not least nice 20 groups!


      • Shootski
        No Hades pellets yet for the .25 Condor SS. The Hades in .25 caliber are kind of light for my liking.

        Its shooting the JSB 33.95’s at 970 fps.

        I’m sighted at 50 yards and its a bit over 1-1/2 mildots hold over at a 100 yards. And that is at 4 magnification. Yes I said 4 magnification. Its a Hawke sidewinder scope with a half mildot reticle that uses dots and dashes. Its s true mildot reticle at 10 magnification. Hope that’s what your looking for. Oh and it’s got a 1/2 inch riser under the scope rings. It is set up for longer distance shooting. The scope to bore centerline is probably close to 2 inches.

        And thanks about the group. It does the same thing everyday.

        • Gunfun1,

          Thanks for the info you provided.
          Yea, i usually like the 10X choice for second focal plane mildots.
          But as long as you know the angle/power it really only strains the brain a little more. Much better than thinking inches or mm everytime.


          • Shootski
            I usually take a piece of masking tape and put it on the side of the scope by the ocular lens. It’s my hold over cheat sheet. So when I’m satisfied with my holds, that goes on the masking tape. Then that part of the work is done. All I have to do is know the distance. Usually I do that with a laser range finder.

            But thats how I do it.

  7. B.B.,
    I was trying to find some .180 ammo to give this old gal a fighting chance (she still does look cool, though. =>)
    I thought I hit pay dirt here: https://www.precisionreloading.com/cart.php#!l=HV&i=ZBB
    That zinc-plated steel shot is nominally .180″…but I do not see a tolerance listed; however, on a British shotgun page, I came across this statement: “Due to the manufacturing process and CIP/SAAMI regulations, steel shot is very precise in its sizing and must be within a ± 0.05mm tolerance.” That’s just under +/- 0.002″, which may be precise from a shot shell re-loader’s perspective, but it’s pretty sad in terms of a precision airgun smoothbore fit.
    But could that stuff, or lead BB shot, be sifted or sorted to yield some actual .180″ ammo?
    I guess this is a case where “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” But she’s still a little beauty. =>
    Take care & God bless,

  8. I wish I could find larger diameter steel bb’s in the UK for my Millennium edition Red Ryder. There’s a huge gap around the BB when I look down the shot tube and it only makes around 200 FPS. Accuracy is abysmal.

  9. B.B.,

    Too bad that this turned out to be a spray gun rather than a bb gun.

    In part 1 you said, “So I went to the Blue Book (the new edition of which should be available by this Christmas) and saw that in 95 percent condition this was a $1,950 BB gun.” I just gotta wonder if one in 95% condition would shoot any better?

    Sherman, set the wayback machine for 1900, we will be looking for a Markham New King Single Shot bb gun.


  10. Just received my Springfield Armory under lever M1A late today and boy it is a handful. Attach the side mount scope rail and you have a solid 10 pound rifle. Now my CheyTac M200 tops that at 15 pounds but … it comes with a built in bipod !
    No doubt about it, the real wood stock is impressive looking but this is one time I would consider a sturdy lighter composite stock, if it was an available option. Watch what you wish for. This one needs a sling setup and a (side mount) bipod would not hurt at all.
    Bob M

    • Then again, bipods and slings do not work well with the artillery hold that should be used with a springer.
      Perhaps the shear weight of the rifle will help control the recoil and allow some accuracy. A sling for carry would help there but it sure would help in handling the weight when shouldered as well. Hope it works out OK.

      • BB
        I have a real steel Springfield M1A and it is very manageable. I think the weight distribution is off on this one. Not much you can do about it using an underlever powerplant. They obviously put a lot of time in development. It is a hard core military air rifle in the looks department.
        A removable storage mag would have finished it off nicely, but for the price you are getting a lot of airgun.

        Looking forward to a PCP version like the Mauser K98, a little slimmer too. Just remembered I never did an accuracy test with mine for comparison to your PCP Mauser test rifle.
        Life can get demanding. My ex fell down and fractured both wrists, actually broke one, in a cast now and my older daughter had her car totaled in a hit and run. It was parked on the street in front of her home.
        Being Covid unemployed she reduced her insurance coverage one week prior 🙁 So i bought her a new crossover SUV and will try to repair her car. No time for old and retired behavior. And now we go to wind, rain and cold from fire and heat, Hope you are doing well.
        Bob M

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