This report covers:
- My dart guns
- Modern darts
- Enlarging the darts
- Darts from history
- Dense foam
- Sisal dartboard
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.
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.
Darts are a subject that could take up an entire series. They will be thoroughly discussed it this series, and let’s begin now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A bellows gun dart from the book, Gas Air and Spring Guns of the World.
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 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.
For the slowest dart guns like the Marksman pistols, a corrugated cardboard sheet seems to work well.
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.
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.
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.
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?