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Ammo Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Two

Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Two

Part 1

This report covers:

  • My dart guns
  • Darts
  • Modern darts
  • Enlarging the darts
  • Bolts
  • Darts from history
  • Backstops
  • Dense foam
  • Cardboard
  • Sisal dartboard
  • Accuracy
  • Summary

Today we expand our look into airgun darts and dart guns. I thought this was just going to be a one-time report, but after seeing the response to this topic I see that it needs to become a series.

My dart guns

This series began with an update on my Tyrolean Bugelspanner that is essentially a 6mm dart gun (breech 0.239-inches muzzle 0.241-inches). I shot a dart in it that went to the center of the bullseye, and that got me interested. I wondered whether I had other dart guns around the house and it turned out that I did. I have two Marksman Repeaters like the ones that Ian McKee wrote about. One works well with darts and the other won’t fire anything at all.

Marksman Repeaters
My Marksman Repeaters. The top one works. The bottom one, not so much.

I also have a Webley Junior that is too weak to shoot pellets, but with darts it’s a terror! And I have a Diana model 16 smoothbore pellet gun that’s a dart gun in disguise.

Diana 16
Diana 16.

Darts

Darts are a subject that could take up an entire series. They will be thoroughly discussed it this series, and let’s begin now. 

Modern darts

There seem to be two types of airgun darts on today’s market — those with tufted tails and bolts. In the past darts were more popular and you may see several different kinds.

darts
Modern darts.

Modern darts come in .177 caliber and sometimes in .22. I have several envelopes of vintage Hy Score .22 darts that I use in my Bugelspanner. In the past they also came in .25 caliber. Pyramyd Air only sells .177-caliber darts, so you’re better off with a gun in that caliber, if you plan to shoot darts.

Enlarging the darts

You readers had several suggestions for enlarging the .22-caliber darts to work better in the Bugelspanner. One good one was Plasti Dip — a liquid material that’s used to coat the handles of tools. I tried it, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between a coated dart and one that was clean.

Plasti Dip

coated dart
The lower dart was immersed in Plasti-Dip. The coating isn’t as smooth to apply as you think! Yes, I did dip it several times.

Build a Custom Airgun

Bolts

A bolt is a dart whose tail is made from solid plastic. They fit the bore but are less able to be used in calibers larger than what they were made for — unlike the tufted-tail darts that can be used one caliber larger than their design.

bolts
Pyramyd AIR lists these are darts but in most places they are called bolts.

Darts from history

The video I linked to in part 1 of this report shows a man making a dart for his bellows dart gun. I think I’m going to do that for my 6mm Bugelspanner, because, while it does shoot .22-caliber darts, how much better could it be if the darts fit the bore closer? I won’t know until I make some and try them.

Bellows dart guns had much larger bores than we are used to. You see them ranging from .32 caliber/8mm up to larger than .70 caliber/ 17.78mm. And those darts are extremely accurate at short range.

bellows dart
A bellows gun dart from the book,
Gas Air and Spring Guns of the World.

Backstops

This is another topic that has endless range for discussion. I have been using the back of the sisal dart board for most of my shooting, but I’ve also tried dense foam and cardboard. Here is how it breaks out.

Dense foam

Dense foam from crafting stores is useless to stop darts in my experience. The darts shot from all airguns pass straight through as if the foam board is not there.

Cardboard

For the slowest dart guns like the Marksman pistols, a corrugated cardboard sheet seems to work well.

cardboard
This bolt is the fastest dart in my Marksman pistols. At 12 feet this is how deep it goes into corrugated cardboard. A dart shot from any other gun passes through this sheet altogether.

Sisal dartboard

I’m currently shooting at the back of the sisal dartboard with most of my dart guns. For some like the Bugelspanner it’s ideal. For others like the Diana 16, the darts penetrate too deeply. Removing them is a problem because they can bend. Though they are made from steel you must handle them carefully.

bent darts
Both the tufted dart and the bolt were bent removing them from the sisal dartboard. The bolt’s main bend is facing downward in this photo because that’s the way it rolls.

Antique dart guns came with claw pullers. I need to make one for my modern darts.

Accuracy

Perhaps the main reason I am so interested in darts is their accuracy. These are smoothbore guns that I don’t expect to be accurate, but they are with darts. Or at least they look like they are. The tufts make them appear to be closer together than they are.

The Diana model 16 for instance has a rough heavy trigger and the gun is super light. Yet at 19 feet (I had to back up because it is so powerful) it stacks darts when I shoot it offhand. The front sight is too low, but I can fix that.

Diana 16 target
Three darts from the Diana 16. These were shot offhand from 19 feet.

Summary

Today’s report has been a scattergram. I told you about a few of the things I’ve been doing with my dart guns, but there is so much more to tell. How about some of you telling us how you use darts?

57 thoughts on “Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Two”

  1. My Webley Junior is my only dart gun. I bought a pack of darts just for it. Unfortunately, I am having trouble with the sear not catching properly. I am going to have to pull out my round tuit and see what I can do with it. This little air pistol is a real screamer with these darts though.

              • Yogi,

                Oh yes! I most definitely have the gold there. I can procrastinate for a couple of years and not even think about it. Mix procrastination, perfection and ADHD together and you have a winning mix!

                The truth is, as long as the wind is not blowing, I could care less what the temperature is as long as it is above 0. I prefer it to be a little chilly anyway.

            • RidgeRunner,

              There is that* “Florida” for sure!
              And then there is the part of Florida refered to as LA (Lower Alabama) by the locals…a far nicer experience for visits. Some folks call it the Forgotten Coast.

              *Please note that there are small pockets of that other part that have a few good people!

              shootski

              • shootski,

                Oh, I know there are a few good people down there. I have met a couple I consider friends. I am just not a fan of such warm climes. I am also not a fan of flat lands. When I am out of these hills, things just are not right.

                Just look at northern and eastern VA. For one thing, there are way too many people. The SW part of this state would like to secede from that part and either go over to WVA or form a new state. Those flatlanders have a weird way of thinking.

                • RidgeRunner,

                  It certainly does get warm down there and yes it is pretty flat. I guess i don’t notice the Humiture since i’m in or on the water most of the time i’m down there. Writing this brought back memories of instructing in the T-28 Trojan and opening the (the last aircraft i flew in the Navy that you could still do that) canopy once at altitude to cool off :^) Occasionally it was cold enough that your flight suit pits would get frosty!
                  As far as the Commonwealth you are spot on. I live in the flatlands and most of the folk here DO THINK WEIRD when they think for themselves at all!
                  The mountains call me all the time.

                  shootski

    • RR
      Sounds like you have a ‘Counterfeit Round Toit’ or a defective one at least. Hard to tell. Sometimes you have to wait for years to see if it works. I get them all the time.

  2. BB,

    As I have stated previously, I have purchased some darts. I am considering some bolts to see which performs better in my Webley Junior.

    In your experience, which do you think performs better in the designated caliber?

  3. BB

    Just wanted to say thank you for the series. I’ve had pretty good success with darts but only with current production airguns. I find the current 760 Crosman and Daisy Model 35 to be very good at 5 meters. DX 17 pistol is a blast at 3-4 meters.The real game changer for me was when I switch from Malibu darts and Marksman bolts to Kvintor Darts. These are Russian and available on Amazon.

    BTW JG Airguns carry .25 Cal Quackenbush Darts

    Kind Regards

    JDA001

  4. B.B.
    I’ve never owned one of those Marksman 45 look a likes. I know they are weak and not that accurate from everyone I’ve talked to that has or had one. But every time I see one I think man those look so cool. If memory serves, did they make one for a little while they had a little more power than the standard version? Maybe a the barrel extended a little?

    Doc

  5. BB et al.,
    I said in a previous comment that the metal portion of the bolts pictured above were made of a hard aluminum alloy and was wrong, they’re steel, as BB said today. A magnet proved BB correct. So, the hard steel edges of the bolts are definitely bad for a rifled barrel. But, I’m going to continue to use my 1377s to shoot them, but only if the bolts are wrapped with a strip of aluminum metal tape. I think that the low power of two pumps is less apt to bend the bolt and will keep you playing longer. So I’m sticking with my guns because they’re easy to shoot and accuracy at 12 feet is pretty good!

    The next idea I had was to wrap a 1mm strip of aluminum tape around the tail, at the metal/plastic joint. Now the bolt has two points of contact in the barrel, with a space in between. It might be my optimism, but I think the bolts fly straighter and accuracy might be a tad better. In any case, my rifled barrels are safer than when using bare bolts.
    And Jason beat me again at bolt Cricket last night.
    Regards,
    Will

  6. Sorry to be off topic. I understand that only the HW30S have Record triggers. Also that my non-S HW30 would have a “Perfect” trigger assembly.I have seen only one diagram of the Perfect unit and it showed no external adjustments. My gun has a silver screw adjustment behind the trigger. Are there more models of the Perfect? I have attached photo of my gun’s trigger adjusting screw.

  7. RidgeRunner,

    “…as long as it is above 0.”

    ON which kind of temperature scale?

    Celsius, Centigrade, Delisle, Fahrenheit,
    Gas mark, Kelvin, Leiden, Newton, Rankine,
    Réaumur, Rømer, or Wedgwood?

    Let’s be definitive…

    CouldMight make some difference on how you would want to dress to ”…be a little chilly anyway….”

    shootski

    • Yes, they are. A

      When I worked at our state veterans home on the domiciliary care team, I also was shooting a lot and had ordered a catalog and wound up with about three of them. One of the catalogs was for the tranquilizer darts in big smooth bore, as I recall.

      I took it to work because there was a snarky bit of clinical staff humor about needing a “dart gun” for some of the more “out of control” folks that would occasionally manifest themselves in pretty manic behavior. I waited for one of that snarky clinical staff comments in care planning meetings and produced the catalog with the quip, “Which one do you want me to order? All we need is doc to write the script for the “load” in the dart!” Needless to say, there was guffawing and surprise and that was deepened when they realized I had a catalog for the REAL DEAL. Of course, we NEVER ordered one, but it was funny for some time behind closed staff doors, of course.

        • Shootski: There were many humorous moments in at the Vets Home, some outright hilarious and some which were covert to staff with that peculiar macabre humor familiar to health care (where some of the worst things imaginable to human beings one tries to deal with in humor).

          One of the best lines I ever had was when I was talking with one of my clients in under my clinical team who was both successfully recovering from decades of alcoholism and a fervid golfer. My vet had struck up a friendship with a VERY RARE ANOMALY, an active World War ONE veteran who was living in the independent living unit. The WW1 veteran was a bugler in the trenches, and was ALSO addicted to what Mark Twain called, “A good walk ruined!” i.e., golf. At my suggestion, my client took up taking our WW1 bugler with him to the links and it was good for both of them.

          I asked my guy how it was going out on the fairways, and he said it was a real blast to be on the golf course with a centenarian, but he was annoyed that although the bugler’s long game was shortened up (I mean he WAS 102 years old!), once he got on the green it was a one stroke-and-in NO MATTER WHERE HE WAS. My guy said, “How can he be that damned good with a putter?”

          I said, “I’m not a golfer, so I don’t know much of anything about how it works, but I’ve learned one thing, and that is IF YOU PRACTICE SOMETHING FOR OVER 80 YEARS, YOU GET PRETTY GOOD AT IT!” My guy exploded in laughter and said, “You know, I never thought of it that way!”

          Our WW1 bugler lived with us several years before he joined his company in the celestial trenches. He turned out to be a really talented bugler in two ways; he could play the horn and every time he went down the few steps to the dining hall, he pooted four or five little farts. I guess he practiced taps so much that BOTH ENDS could do it?

          By the way, if you can ever find it, there was a movie out years ago called “Article 99.” It was about a fictional VA Hospital and was a comedy. Our clinical staff always thought we could have written an even more outrageous and hilarious script.

          Our state home motto was and is: “Serving Those Who Served.” It was an honor and privilege so to do.

    • Ian,

      That makes sense for several reasons. I don’t have the time to do it. You are the better mechanic. And so on…

      Given the season we shall see but yeah.

      BB

  8. Guys,

    I was surprised how accurate darts can be at a long distance. Shot at 25 yards – there was the time without internet and without airgun shop in your town. Pellets were not available just like that – the darts was solution. You will lose some but most of them goes many times through the barrel. It was experience to stand near the target and watch them go to it from 25 yards.

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