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Ammo β€Ί Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Three

Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Three

Original Bugelspanner Part 1
Original Bugelspanner Part 2
Original Bugelspanner Part 3
Part 1 Airgun darts
Part 2 Airgun darts

This report covers:

  • Darts
  • Surprise!
  • Dart weights
  • Power of the airgun
  • Bolts versus feathered darts
  • Sisal dartboard
  • More
  • Removing darts
  • Summary

Sometimes a blog topic takes off in a way I never anticipated. This series about airgun darts and dart guns is one such topic. Reader David Enoch recently asked me specifically for more on this topic and here is a comment left by reader hihihi, 

“jda001, thanks for your kind words, however, I am merely one of B.B. Pelletier’s latest converts. His enthusiasm for shooting darts, or bolts, has infected me such that I, for the first time, deliberately searched for- and knowingly bought a smoothbore airgun.

Another first for me is, having to lament excessive power in an airgun, not because of precision issues but retrievability of projectiles. I would prefer to see the darts on target, not inside. 

I like the idea of shooting darts over indoor distances but not with my Jean Marck ! 

I wonder from what what materials targets were made a century ago? So far I’ve failed to find any information online.

I might start with upgrading my cheap rolled paper dartboard to a sisal one, you know, like B.B. Pelletier’s…

By the way, when I went to retrieve some bushy-tailed darts (called “Quality Rifle Darts” by Germania), I got the girly giggles… “

Darts

Today I want to talk about darts and a little about dart boards. Let’s start with the darts. What are they made of? Or, better yet, what can they be made of?

I showed you an antique dart in Part 2 of this report and the link is at the top of this page. It’s pretty clear from the photo what that dart is made from — steel or brass with animal hairs in the tail and some soft material around the dart head to align the dart inside the bore. The video I shared with you in Part 1 shows a man restoring an antique bellows dart gun and, starting at 13:59 into the film, he shows what he did to make a dart. That should answer the questions of how darts are made.

You can buy them or make them. You now should be up to speed on where to get darts.

Surprise!

Remember my Original Bugelspanner? That’s what started this entire series. That’s why I linked to those reports up above.

Bugelspanner
Original Bugelspanner.

I told you that Bugelspanner was .25 caliber but I have measured its bore since then and have discovered that it’s actually 6mm. That will bode well for a future report or two, as there are airsoft balls that size. But airsoft balls (the Asian makers call them BBs but I don’t for obvious reasons) are much lighter than darts. The heaviest balls Pyramyd Air stocks are Elite Force EF Milsim Heavy Reserve Bio BBs that weigh 0.40 grams. That’s 6.173 grains. The heaviest airsoft balls I can find anywhere weigh 0.48 grams, which is 7.408 grains, so testing them in the Bugelspanner should prove interesting.

Dart weights

I weighed both .177 and .22 feathered darts and .177 bolts. The feathered darts are heavier than bolts of the same caliber. The .177s go 14.5-ish grains and the .22 darts weigh 26 to 29-ish grains. The .177-caliber bolts are in the 9-10-grain range.

177 dart
This .177 feathered dart weighs 14.5 grains. The weights do vary a little.


The .177-caliber bolt is lighter than the feathered dart.

22 dart
The .22-caliber dart is heavy.

Power of the airgun

Darts are great for lower-powered smoothbore airguns. I already told you about my Webley Junior pistol that came out of retirement when I shot darts in it. And I told you about the  Diana 16 I bought just to shoot darts. As weak as that one is, it buries the darts in the sisal dartboard so deep that removing them has bent their steel tips. Yes — modern airgun dart bodies are made of steel!

But my weakest airguns shoot bolts quite well — even my plastic Marksman Repeater BB pistol does quite well with them. And, by the way, I have a big series coming on that family (Marksman 1010 BB repeater) of airguns. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Build a Custom Airgun

Bolts versus feathered darts

I have discovered that the bolts fly faster than the feathered darts. This opens up a whole universe for me, as matching the airgun to the right ammo makes a world of possibilities for shooting fun. And that leads me to the topic of what to shoot at.

Sisal dartboard

Okay, guys — if you want to shoot darts it’s time to stop being cheap! A brand new regulation sisal dart board can be as little as $20 and Pyramyd Air has one for $30. I think I paid $25 for mine that I found used in a pawn shop. Stop trying to make a dart board! Open your wallet and, after the moths have flown away, BUY A REAL ONE!

From what I see I doubt even you younger guys will live long enough to wear one out. Sisal is a plant whose sharp pointed leaves are used to make many things, among which are dart boards. A type of paper is made from sisal leaves, which is why you sometimes read that dart boards are made from tightly wound paper. RidgeRunner — get out of the trash can! Buy a commercial dart board.

More

Yes, there is more. Some airguns are so powerful that even a sisal dart board isn’t a good target. The darts bury so deep in the board that you have to use excessive force to get them out. My Diana 16 is such a gun. For guns like that, pine boards make better target boards.

dart in wood
Even the weak Diana 16 buries a feathered dart deep in a pine board.

Removing darts

To remove deeply embedded darts the best method I’ve found so far is to grab the metal bodies with pliers and twist them around their long axis. That frees them without bending the tips.

Summary

That’s all for today. The world of airgun darts is vast, and we are going to take our time exploring it. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is to have a safe and quiet airgun game you can play in confined spaces.

51 thoughts on “Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Three”

  1. “To remove deeply embedded darts the best method I’ve found so far is to grab the metal bodies with pliers and twist them around their long axis.”

    BB,
    Do you have to wrap the tips of the pliers with some kind of tape to prevent the pliers from deforming the steel body of the dart?
    Or are the steel bodies of the darts strong enough to maintain their diameter even with the amount of force that’s required to remove them?
    This is shaping up to be a great series of reports; thank you! πŸ™‚
    Blessings to you,
    dave

    • Dave,

      I know the archers have “arrow pullers” for this. I think they come in at least two varieties. One is what you describe (basically padded pliers) and the others are rubber “grips” that give you more “traction”.

      The question is how suited they are to airgun darts which are a lot shorter than typical arrows.

      Stephan

    • dave,

      So far I’ve not done anything unusual to the pliers and there has been no problem with damage to the darts. I don’t think the pliers squeeze hard enough to damage the steel dart bodies.

      BB

      • “I don’t think the pliers squeeze hard enough to damage the steel dart bodies.”

        Thanks, BB; that makes sense; I guess I was thinking along the lines of pellet damage; the steel bodies of darts are obviously many times harder than our soft lead, easily-deformed, pellets. πŸ˜‰

  2. As others suggested to me, the Crosman 760 multi-pump smooth bore gun works well for me with the fluffy darts that PA sells. They actually have a combo kit that includes the gun and the darts for sale. Based on the product photos, it seems to me that the bolts might be too long to fit in the short space available in the loading tray of the 760, but I could be mistaken. As was suggested, two pumps and at about 5-meters distance from the target seems to be about right. The darts were not embedded too far. And I pulled them out using a midget claw hammer. But I can see that, no matter what method is used to pull the darts out, care must be taken to not bend the points. I will give the pliers a try next time, thanks BB!

    • Elmer

      The Marksman Bolts can be muzzle loaded in the 760 and works well with one pump at about 4 meters. Problem is that the shaft is too flexible and causes problems with accuracy.

      jda001

  3. B.B.

    I assume, always problematic, that fly fishermen who tie their own flies could also make darts?
    With that 16 year old lad finishing second in the world “dart throwing” Championship, I understand that sales of darts and dart boards have gone through the roof. Maybe you will have the same effect here?

    For a target, how about your pine board with the or three layers of cork auto gasket material in front? It would be easy to “paint” a target on the outer face. When that gets chewed up, easy to replace.

    -Yogi

    • Yogi,

      Cork is a material I haven’t yet tried. I did try dense foam board, but all guns shot through it as if it wasn’t there. Cork might be interesting to try.

      BB

    • Yogi,

      Absolutely!

      Been tying flies since I was 14 yo and made a variety of darts and small arrows to shoot out of my Crosman 101.

      The main problem with darts is that they are a lot heavier and more air resistant than pellets so the trajectory is terrible. Fun though.

      My favorite “design” is made from a bit of bamboo (from one of those roll-up curtains or a skewer) with a finishing nail for a point and squirrel body fur “dubbing brush” or some chinelle (“pipe cleaner”) for sealing, aligning and guiding the darts.

      (A dubbing brush is fuzzy rope made by a material in-between two wires – same as a the way many cleaning brushes are made).

      A bump of thread near the point, saturated with glue, keeps the dart centered in the bore and served as a grip to pull the dart out.

      I make the arrows for my miniature (1/4 scale bows) in a similar way except they are fletched with feathers.

      The darts only take a few minutes to make. Had the materials at hand so made up two styles to show you…

      Cheers!
      Hank

      • Hank,

        This is actually brilliant and I wish I would have thought of it!

        I’ve been tying flies for over 50 years. What is brilliant is that even a cheap fly tying vice would allow you to “build” the diameter of the dart body to fit your bore and because you can spin the vice and keep the body concentric to an appropriate diameter then add Cyanoacrylate Glue (super glue) to keep the body intact after usage. You could vary the body length and height very easily for effectiveness and longevity.

        Brilliant!!!

        • Kevin,

          Close to 60 years at the vise for me. Been collecting materials ever since and have enough to stock a couple of stores. LOL!

          Never found the need to match the bore diameter too close – the dubbing takes care of that. I do like to have a thread-ball at the front of the dart to be sure that the metal point can’t touch the bore.

          Wish we had super glue way back then! It’s a lot better than lacquer. Been using UV cure resin for a lot of my pike streamers – great stuff!

          Cheers!
          Hank

  4. BB

    One reader has said he shoots darts successfully with his Benjamin 1377 pistol which does not have a smooth bore barrel (at least mine is rifled). I have both darts and bolts on order and will soon find out if rifled barrels are suitable. If the downside is only wearing out the lands and grooves in a barrel that isn’t a tack driver using pellets, so what? Maybe a .177 dart or bolt shot from a .22 pellet rifle would reduce the velocity enough to manage excessive penetration.

    Deck

    • Hi Deck,
      That was me. I use the bolts and wrapped a strip of aluminum metal tape about 1.25 times around the steel hip of the bolt. The tape is softer than the steel of the bolt and I think that reduces wear inside the bore and increases the diameter so it seals better. The tape stands up to use, because the darts don’t go in that deep. We load them through the muzzle and press them home with a plastic rod, if they need it. The bolt should fall through the bore, but be aware that the plastic tail is bendable and you can straighten them out during loading.
      Two pumps at 15 feet works nicely. Lots of fun.
      The future son-in-law and I are beyond the “all grins” phase and have become more crafty and competitive. Still lots of grins and amazing scores happen occasionally.
      I hope you make it work, Decksniper!
      Regards,
      Will

  5. BB,

    First off, I am not digging around in the trash. If I throw it away, it is truly useless.

    Next, where can we get .22 darts? Although I do not as of yet have one, perhaps someone with a Gamo Viper Express would like to know where they can find some? With a spring compressor and a lighter or cutoff spring, one of these could be turned into a modern dart shooter.

    An HW30S with a light spring and a smoothbore barrel would be a superb dart shooter. Maybe your writings will bring about a renaissance.

    I think Yogi’s idea with putting a cork layer or two on a pine board my work fine.

  6. For anyone using a dart board I’d suggest removing the wire. Darts go all over the place when they hit it!
    I’ve had good results with low density chipboard (I think you guys over the pond call it particle board?).
    A smoothbore co2 BB revolver with a swing out cylinder makes a great dart gun. Just load directly into the barrel.

  7. I could use some advice regarding an old Daisy No. 25 BB gun. It appears to be low in velocity. I clocked an average of 10-shots at 230 fps. I suspect that the gun needs some oiling. What I have is a Plymouth, Michigan version. It has no hole for oiling the gun. What I have found so far (online) is the instructions from Daisy. They say to add a few drops of oil down the barrel every once in a while, and let it sit with the muzzle pointed up. Is this the best way to proceed? And should I use pellgun oil or something else? I think it is probably a leather seal that needs some oil. Thanks in advance.

    • Elmer,

      Yes. But I would remove the shot tube and put 15-20 drops of household oil straight into the barrel jacket. Put a rag under the butt because some oil will flow out the rear of the action when it’s standing up. And leave it standing overnight.

      Oil it at least once a month if you shoot a lot.

      BB

  8. BB

    Again thanks you for the series on darts. Trying to find a list of smooth bores. Right now, the only current production smooth bores I could find in the US are:

    Crosman 760
    Daisy 35
    DX 17
    Marksman 1010

    Any help with adding to the list is appreciated
    Kind Regards

    jda001

  9. HURRAH for ARKMAT ! πŸ™‚
    _______________________

    I have found my final ingredient to successfully plink with darts: natural rubber matting as a target backer.

    Despite considerably reducing the power of my smoothbore breakbarrel airgun, the darts buried themselves too deeply when shooting at
    a rolled-paper dartboard, then
    a sisal fibre one (Winmau Blade 6 triple core),
    varying layers of cork with
    one or two thicknesses of doublesided carpet tape or
    as adhesive inbetween,
    while pine board backing gripped the darts so tightly, I again had to use needlenose pliers.

    Paper, sisal, cork, adhesive and wood were out.
    Then I thought, what about an old rubber backed doormat but, it too, was no match for the little darts that went through it with ease.

    At this point I wondered about much thicker- and not brittle old rubber. And remembered a temporarily placed offcut of a horse stable mat (read, rubbish lying around).

    It worked surprisingly well. Perfectly actually! πŸ™‚

    Because I assumed that the black rubber mat was made of recycled car tyres, I tried shooting at an actual car tyre. Yes, it too was temporarily placed. The dart bounced straight back at me. Happily I was out of bounceback range.

    So I asked Vickie, my horse-enthusiast girlfriend, what the stable matting was made of and she showed me where she bought them: https://www.arkmat.co.uk/stable-mats/bubbletop-stable-matting/12-or-18mm-thick-bubbletop-stable-mats.html

    For what it’s worth, it says “natural rubber”.

    ———
    pictured is my ‘new’ dart target backer…

    • By the way, I also tried shooting the fluffy tailed darts with their points filed flat. This only had a noticeable, but rather positive, effect when shot at the old stable matting.

      Thanks shootski for suggesting to dull a dart. πŸ™‚

      ——–
      pictured are some of those 4,5 mm calibre (.177″) and pointless darts…

    • The dart speed was measured at an average of 71 metres per second (233 ‘/s).

      Oddly, distance to target made no noticeable difference to penetration. Whether I shot from fifteen, ten, eight or five metres at the old stable matting, the darts, especially the blunted ones, showed just a nice bit of shank. This allowed my fat fingers to grip the body and not the tail. Those little mops of hair pull out very easily.

      Yes, I can now retrieve my darts by hand, every time, hurrah! πŸ™‚

      ——–
      I added my comments to this page as it seems to be where a current search for “dart” directs the seeker.

      My previous darts related comments were below the article “Slavia 612 breakbarrel airgun: Part One” ( https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2024/01/slavia-612-breakbarrel-airgun-part-one/#comment-512859 ).

      ——–
      pictured below the perfect dart penetration…

        • Roamin Greco,

          thank you. Nothing is ‘forever’ but my lifetime? Yeah, maybe the mat will last that long.

          Now that I know how to dart plink, I can start to work on finding a dart that gives me accurate results. I’ve already seen how those five darts, pictured above, each fly somewhat differently, the green one being my current favourite. I have many more to try… πŸ™‚

          ——–
          By the way, I have once again tried the feedly application. It now returns very few, random comments which is not of much use. Shame.
          Do you use the paid version?

          • No. I’m almost as cheap–um, frugal, yeah, that’s better–frugal as Ridge Runner. The only drawback to feedly is that while I can see comments, it does not show the pictures that readers attach to the comments. So every once in a while or where the context indicates a picture is present, I go to the actual blog site to look at pics. I’ll try to show you my settings again.

            • Roamin Greco,

              thanks.
              As expected, my apple settings (ipad) seem somewhat different to your android ones.

              The weird thing is, I asked it to look for “https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/#comments” (the bit between quotation marks) and, a couple of lines under FEEDS it has translated it as “Comments for Pyramyd AIR”. Odd.

              Oh, erm, I don’t know why, but I just selected “All”, also below “FEEDS” and got, what seems like many, many pages worth of comments, like I was originally hoping for!
              I haven’t accidentally stumbled on how to drive this feedly thing at last, have I ?
              Hmm… dunno, but looking good! πŸ™‚

              ——–
              pictured below, a screen print, showing the above mentioned renaming of the feed and the key “All” choice to reveal loadsa comments, the latest of which can be partially seen in the background…

              • You got it. You can adjust how far back to look under settings.

                Under you “Airguns” category, you should add the main Blog: “https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/feed/” to get B.B.’s daily blog report, then you’ll have it all in order. Just click on “Airguns” and it will show you both feeds in one list.

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