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Ammo Airgun darts and dart guns: Part One

Airgun darts and dart guns: Part One

This report covers:

  • Today’s report
  • Target
  • Webley Junior
  • Darts
  • Everyone
  • Bolts?
  • Just the start
  • Diana model 16
  • A lot to consider
  • Today’s report

Sometimes a blog is written because I’m following a test rotation. And sometimes someone asks me a question. But sometimes the topic jumps on me and won’t let go. Today I’m discussing airgun darts and the guns that shoot them. This topic pinned me to the floor all weekend — AND some of you guys asked for it!

Before we advance into the report I am forcing those readers who are able to watch a 21-minute video. If you don’t want to watch the entire video, which is a great one by the way, you can stop after the first 31 seconds.

I thank reader Brent for sending all of us the link to this video in last Friday’s report.  The point to the video is to see where the dart hits the target. That is what is possible with a good dart and a good gun. If you watch the whole video you will notice that the dart goes to pretty much the same place every time.


The guy in the video made his own target. I am using a commercial dart board that’s made for hand-thrown darts. I shoot at the smooth back because if the darts hit the steel wires that separate the scoring sections on the front the tips are damaged quickly.

I tape a BB-gun target to the back of the dart board. At the close range I shoot, which is 12-13 feet, the bullseye on this target is an ideal size.

My dart board is a high-quality one that costs over seventy dollars new. I bought this one at a pawn shop for about twenty-five dollars, as best as I can remember. I won’t wear it out in my lifetime. And pawn shops are a good place to check for these.

Webley Junior

My new Webley Junior Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Reader RidgeRunner mentioned that he has a Webley Junior air pistol that’s not very powerful. So do I, and the three reports I linked to give the history of my gun and what I have tried to do. I now have a new piston seal on order.


My Junior is a smoothbore. Does that mean it’s meant for darts instead of pellets? How about yours, RidgeRunner?

Webley Junior
My Webley Junior was resigned to the airguns-not-in-service pile. Darts have brought it back!


A lot of us may be missing the boat because we’re trying to shoot the wrong ammo in some of our airguns? Do you remember the recent report reader Ian McKee wrote about his Marksman 1010 pistol? Half of you remembered the gun fondly and half hated it. Are we missing something?

Build a Custom Airgun


In recent years projectiles called bolts have come to the market.  I was about to tell you not to bother with them, and then I tried them in my Webley Junior. If you bothered to read Part 2 of the links I provided you’ll see that this pistol was shooting pellets at less than 100 f.p.s. For today’s report I oiled the Junior, but because of the 180-degree bend the air transfer port takes, it will take some time to get the piston seal back up to speed.

bolts and darts
Feathered darts on the right and bolts on the left. The bolts shoot faster and stick better in my dartboard.

The Junior sticks feathered darts about half the time but with bolts the success is much better. 

bolts on target
The Webley Junior shot bolts fast enough to stick in the target reliably.

Just the start

As I was in my garage shooting at the dart board with my Tyrolean Buglespanner this past weekend I was thinking of all the smoothbore airguns I have owned over the years. That’s when my Webley Junior popped into my head. But there have been many others.

Hy Score 805

The Hy Score model 805 that is another name for the Diana model 16 is a perfect example of a smoothbore airgun that could be used with darts. Another would be the Diana 25 smoothbore that I tested for you years ago. In the case of the latter airgun the power may be too high for good success, but I don’t know that yet — hence the need for testing and a lot of it!

A lot to consider

Ladies and gentlemen, this area of airgunning is wide open to us. I’ll bet several of you readers also have airguns that you don’t shoot for because you think they are too weak. If they are smoothbore, try darts.

63 thoughts on “Airgun darts and dart guns: Part One”

        • OhioPlinker:
          Let me save you some aggravation from here in Sandusky.

          If you purchase the Gamo Viper Express Air Shotgun, you will need to keep track of the brass pellet adapter, or get one from Gamo. YOu might be able to get by with an empty shot shell but that’s a BIG “might.”

          The Viper Express has a good deal of power for solid shot, a.k.a., pellets, so it would likely make for a good dart gun. I can not remember if the bore is choked and that could make things interesting, however if you are shooting a steel chassis dart into a steel tapered barrel at the muzzle end.

          The pellet adapter is essentially a brass shot shell tube but with a fine O-ring fitted into a slot to prove an air seal into the breach when so inserted. It has a flange on the other end to play against the rather big rubber breech seal which, to me, is one weak point in the system as it seems that the rubber seal is not made of stern enough stuff.

          It will interesting to see what you make of this if you move foreward.

          One more note. The Viper Express has NO rear sight. It is set up as a shot gun with a long “ventilated plane” above the barrel and a round brass bead at the muzzle. For a two-point aiming system, you’ll need to figure out how to attach a V notch to the scope rail. Yes, it has a rail.

          I have a red dot on mine and if one lines up one’s shot with the red dot above the brass bead (plumb above it) it is quite amazingly accurate with diabolo pellets despite being, obviously, a smooth bore.

  1. Hi everybody,

    I have been looking at quite a lot of vintage Diana catalogs and I have been wondering why the smoothbores are almost the same price as the rifled bores. This is probably the answer.

    Stupid question: With the accuracy of airguns, aren’t you going to get a lot of “Robin Hood” shots? Will that destroy your bolts quickly or will they just “stack” without too much friction?

    BTW, old Diana catalogs are fascinating. I didn’t know that

    a) the Diana 30 is older than dirt as well
    b) It used to be a Mauser Kar98 lookalike instead of a shooting gallery gun. So the idea isn’t even new.


    • Stephan, perhaps with all that reading, you can figure out what the T 01, 02, 03 etc. designations really mean as opposed to the “D” designation. I saw for sale a Diana Model 24 that was stamped “D” and then below that, “T02,” and it had at least a one-screw adjustable trigger and I suspect it had 2 screws under there (the photo was very dark). From the same seller, another Model 24, stamped first “T02” then “D” below that, with a non-adjustable trigger. I’m scratching my head.

      I thought D indicated the last, 2-screw adjustable ball bearing sear trigger before the T# series, similar to the Model 24 J that I did my first guest blog on. And I thought T02 was a non-adjustable direct sear trigger. But to see them both used on the same Model in different sequences to mean different things was perplexing! Can you shed any light on this?

  2. BB,

    I do indeed still have my Webley Junior. It looks exactly like yours. It is a smoothbore also and I bought a batch of feathered darts just for it. I have an issue with the sear not catching the piston enough. When I close down the barrel, it will sometimes go off on its own. I purchased a couple of “new” sears (new, old stock) last year at the NCAirgun show, but it still fires prematurely sometimes. I need to find my round tuit and modify one of the sears to catch better.

    Of course, I watched the entire video. How to repair something like that is very interesting to me. Now I want one.

    You guys are really missing out if you are not shooting darts/bolts in the smoothbores.


    The Gamo Viper Express was not designed to shoot darts/bolts, but it may do pretty nicely. I would really like to have one here at RRHFWA for the carpenter bees. They have learned to stay out of reach.

    P.S. Thanks Brent!

    • If you do purchase a Viper Express, SAVE THE SHOT TUBES!

      I have reloaded them with some mixed success by also purchasing a true 1/4 hole punch from a hobby/scrapbooking store. I use that to cut 2mm hobby foam for the base “cup” and a parchment paper front wad. The Gamo shot shells have wee small white plastic base cups and have a break away molded in three arm star before the shot.

      I reload with 30 pc of #9 shot which means that my loads are ever so slighly heavier than the stock Gamo ones. The problem with reloading is not the shot but the base cup and front wad because in the weak power pulse of an air shotgun, FRICTION is the ENEMY. One only wants the absolute minimum of friction necessary to keep the shot in the tube and no more. A powder-fired shotgun does not have that problem.

      • The truth is I would want the empties to reload with sugar pills to shoot carpenter bees with. The shot may cause a little too much damage to the house. The sugar pills will not hurt the house but will give those bees a fit.

        • The VE doesn’t have a lot of power in the shotgun mode, but I see no reason you couldn’t make loads like you plan to make. A box of the shot shells is 25 for whatever price. You’d likely only need one box and just keep reloading them.

          It should work, I’d think, at very close range.

          • LFranke,

            Power is not as much of a factor as range and shot pattern is. Being able to swat the carpenter bees at twenty feet or so would make the investment worth it.

  3. B.B.

    Brent, thanks for sending this in. Lovely video!
    The craftsmanship, wood inletting, metal work, trigger work, all amazing…
    I wonder how well a bellows airgun would work with modern state of the art materials?
    Do any other airguns use V springs? They seem to create a recoilless airgun-the holy grail?


  4. B.B. Pelletier,

    I agree about that being a good video. I found it imposssible to stop watching. And then I read the comments (you’ll never guess where he got the gun from). 🙂

    When I plinked around with my cheap darts board which is made of tight-rolled paper and has a hard-wood bulls eye, I realised it needed a flat backing, lest it lost it’s shape and the bullseye could easily get pushed out if/ when hit. 🙂
    So I hung it on an old chip board (underside of an old table top), that I then leant against a tree.

    When I missed the darts board, the rigid tailed darts, or bolts, bounced off the chipboard backer and came back at me – scary! 🙁

    I guess I’m saying that shooting darts (safely) is not as simple I thought… 🙂

  5. Wow, the video of the restoration of that beautiful gun is great! I am wondering about using a multi-pump smooth bore like a Crosman 760 and only pumping it once. Would that be suitable for darts/bolts?

  6. BB, what a great report!
    The video was amazing; I opened it up in Youtube so that I could “like” and comment on it separately.
    That’s what I love about this blog: we often get to see historic airguns, and that bellows gun is surely one of the coolest pieces from our airgunning past…great stuff! Thank you. 🙂
    Blessings to you,

  7. Morning BB,
    Thank you for this fun report. Shooting darts with airguns is great fun and I’m glad you reminded us of that.
    Well I did get together with the daughters boyfriend to shoot darts with air pistols and it was great fun! We used the plastic bolts and I shimmed them with aluminum metal tape -about 1.25 wraps around the hip. The shimmed darts fit the bore of the Crosman 1377s better and the sound of them being shot with just two pumps, “pupp!” was kinda neat.
    The target was bought from P/A and was mounted on a homosote backer board.
    We shot the first game of Cricket (an official dart game), shooting from an arbitrarily chosen eleven feet (the edge of the carpet). He won, too!
    Two pumps was the right pressure so the darts didn’t embed too far into the homosote.
    The power was low, so we had to aim high, using precision Kentucky Windage.
    We shot three darts per turn and wrote down our score before removing our darts.
    I imposed a modicum of safety by outlining the way to load the guns:
    1) load the dart through the muzzle and press it down with the plastic rod, if necessary
    2) pump the gun twice
    3) when at the shooting line, pull back the cocker and only touch the trigger when the pistol is pointing at the target.
    4) Set the pistol into the foam cradle after your three shots and enthuse while the other person shoots.
    We had a great time. My wife and daughter visited mid-game and each gave it a try. Both hit the target near the bull and then smiled really big. Shoot and smile, it’s a natural reaction. I think that’s why we like air guns so much.
    In this picture, Jason closed out his 18, went for the 16 and hit the triple on the last shot. No pressure on me…

      • Will

        So darts can be used in rifled multi pump pistols? My 1377 has a rifled bore. I am interested in darts and have an identical dart board as the one Elmer shows above.


        • Deck,
          The darts are probably a hard aluminum alloy riding against steel rifling and I don’t see that as a significant wear problem, but I’m only reckoning that. These guns are made to shoot steel BBs, so there is room for some soft tape that will seal them better and decrease (eliminate?) the wear.
          As far as using your the boar bristle dart board, you will get permanent indentations because the dart’s flat face crushes the fibers. There is no self-healing for that, it’s like plastic deformation. But if you don’t mind that, then have some fun with what you have. The homosote is the key feature in my setup with the paper target because homosote has a good density that allows penetration and there is no bounce-back ricochet. Have fun!

          • Will

            I appreciate your detailed response. Looks like darts will be the next limb to climb in my already towering airgun tree. I may even try darts in a break barrel M-8 that fits me well but won’t shoot pellets accurately enough to be fun. Some folks are shooting them in break barrel rifled pistols as well as rifles. I do need to think through safety concerns.

            I also want to see what surprise BB has in store for us.



  8. Team

    I’ve been exploring dart shooting for a bit with current big box airguns. What I found was a new type of bolt / dart that I find to be accurate . I muzzle load a Daisy 35 with 1 pump at 4 meters and I find I can keep 10 shouts with in 1.5 inches. Been doing this for the last 2 months and great fun. I’m trying to find a peep sight and think I may be able to get this at 1 inch groups

  9. BB-

    To quote Arte Johnson- Verrrrrry Interesting. I seem to remember some air gun darts around here. Someplace. I just ran across the old bristle dart board recently. When I looked to Pyramyd to order new darts, they list both types (darts and bolts, per you) as darts. Hmmmm…… seems further perambulation into this rabbit hole is required…..

  10. B.B.

    I did some airgun dart shooting a while back using airgun darts and a dart board purchased from Pyramyd Air. The picture below is the Air Venturi Airgun Dart Board with some of the darts in the board. I shot the darts from a distance of about 11 feet using an Umarex Colt SAA 5″ BB revolver using the rear loading cartridges. The darts were loaded into the cartridges after removing the rubber grommets.

    A distance of 11 feet was too close for shooting darts with the Colt SAA 5″ BB revolver. Look closely at the dart board. The top two darts, red and black, have penetrated too deeply into the dart board. I was able to pull the darts out without damage, but even after several months, the large holes still have not closed. Pyramyd Air / Air Venturi claims that the dart board material is “self-healing” meaning the holes should close after the dart is removed, but I haven’t seen any “healing”.

    I did some additional dart shooting using an Umarex Colt SAA 3.5″ BB revolver at distances of 15 feet, 20 feet, and 25 feet. I preferred the 15 foot distance for this revolver. My advice for everyone else shooting darts with a Colt CO2 revolver is to shoot at distances of 15 feet or greater.

    I also did one shot of a dart using the Umarex Legends Cowboy BB Gun at a distance of 10 meters (33 feet). The Legends Cowboy BB gun is too powerful even at 33 feet distance to the dart board. The dart was embedded so deep into the dart board that I had to use needle nose pliers to remove the dart.

    The last airgun I tested with airgun darts was the Ruger Mark IV Break Barrel pellet pistol even though Umarex advises against shooting darts with it. I did one dart shot with the Ruger Mark IV at about 11 feet distance to the dart board. The Ruger Mark IV tore the dart “fletching” out of the dart.

    In addition to the smooth bore Colt SAA revolvers, I think any of the other variety of rear cartridge loading BB revolvers (Webly, Schofield, Dan Wesson) are prime candidates for dart shooting at distances of 15 feet or greater.

  11. Good god this brings back memories.
    In the early 60’s by dad bought me my first airgun (I was about 7)…pretty sure it was an early Slavia.
    Many days were spent in the basement shooting at targets with the feathered darts…it was the start of lifelong hobby.

  12. An update on the Baikal 46M target pistol. The o-ring kit arrived a short while ago. And it doesn’t have the exact size (5mm x 2mm) indicated by Air Venturi. But I used the closest one (4.3mm x 2.4mm). And it appears to be working well so far. I installed the missing o-ring on the bottom of the “bolt”. Then I tested it with tissue paper. And it passed the test without having to replace the other o-ring that seals the bolt to the barrel. I’ve only shot maybe ten or fifteen pellets so far. I will update with any changes, but so far so good!

    • Very true.
      Can you imagine an updated version of one of these made with todays hightech materials. CAD design.
      Probably wouldn’t shoot any better. Or last any longer.

  13. B.B. and Readership,

    I started to write a long winded Reply on how to maintain your dart board and then i remembered that i learned most of what i know from my paper owners manual. Of course it is all online now: https://gldproducts.com/pages/dartboard-maintenance

    Of course you need not just shoot for the Bullseye!

    Some of you Handy types might want to make your own:
    Some good background history also in that last. I’m pretty certain Hank will get a laugh out of one line in particular.


  14. B.B.,

    An excellent blog entry!

    In addition to a couple Palmer Cap-Churs, I have one of the rare GAT long guns. I was surprised how hard it fired air gun darts. As GATs are technically not air guns, I hope by shooting air gun darts, I am not breaking any rules. ;^)


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