The Daisy 35: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Velocity per pump stroke
  • More than 10 pumps?
  • Loading
  • Consistency
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Velocity with BBs
  • Daisy Premium BB
  • Marksman Premium grade BBs
  • Smart Shot
  • Pump effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic. Let’s get started.

Velocity per pump stroke

First I tested the velocity per pump stroke with RWS Hobby pellets. Daisy says in the manual that 2 pumps are the least that should be used, so that’s where I started. Ten pumps are the maximum, and I was concerned to see if there would be any air left in the gun after firing after the maximum pumps. 

10..………….622 no air remaining after the shot

We see that the velocity increases with each pump stroke. The early strokes add the most velocity and things level off after 6 pumps. Velocity still increases, but the amount of the increase diminishes significantly.

More than 10 pumps?

I know that people always wonder what happens with additional pump strokes. I used to test that and here is what I have learned over the past 30 years. If you don’t exceed the recommended maximum number of pump strokes your airgun will remain fresh for a long time. Eventually the atmosphere does harden the seals and the velocity starts decreasing. This is when the gun starts to respond to more pump strokes than the recommended maximum. However, it will seldom exceed the maximum velocity of the same airgun with fresh seals. If it does, it will only be by a small amount. If you read the report I did on my Sheridan Blue Streak in 2016, especially Parts 2 and 3, you will see exactly what I’m talking about.

Pumping more times than the recommended maximum puts a strain on the bearings of the pump linkage. Any repair center can tell you that when they overhaul an older multi-pump, the linkage bearings are often shot. So I don’t do that anymore.


I tried loading the airgun with the reverse tweezers I told you about in Part 1. It did work, but not a hundred percent. While doing it I discovered the real loading problem with the gun and also how best to address it.

Daisy 35 loading tweezers
Loading the Daisy 35 with reverse tweezers was easy, but not necessary.

Several times the pellet I was loading fell backwards into the BB loading hole and that turned out to be the loading problem. It even happened when I used the tweezers. To load reliably I have to hold the rifle with the muzzle pointed down and roll the pellet into the loading trough with my thumb. It almost always falls into the breech when loaded that way.

Daisy 35 BB hole
That hole in the left side wall of the pellet loading trough is for BBs to be attracted to the magnet on the tip of the bolt. Unfortunately the hole is large enough for the skirt of the pellet to fall in and get jammed, so it won’t load when the bolt slides forward.


Next I tested the 35 on 7 pump strokes with the same RWS Hobby pellet. This time ten shots averaged 576 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 571 to a high of 579 f.p.s. That’s an 8 f.p.s. difference, which is reasonably tight and very typical of a multi-pump in good condition. Now let’s see how the gun does on different pellets.

Air Arms Falcons

I decide to test all other pellets on 7 pumps. The Air Arms Falcon dome averaged 554 f.p.s. The low was 542 and the high was 565, so the spread was 23 f.p.s. That is very large for a multi-pump. It suggests the Falcon may not be right for the Daisy 35.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

The last pellet I tested was the 5.25-grain Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter. On 7 pumps they averaged 624 f.p.s. The low was 621 and the high was 631, so a 10 f.p.s. spread that is not bad.

Thus far we have seen that the Daisy 35 is just as powerful as advertised on the Pyramyd Air website. Just for fun I pumped it 10 times and shot a Sig Match Ballistic pellet. It went out at 681 f.p.s. Is that close enough to the 690 f.p.s. printed on the box? You decide.

Velocity with BBs

Now let’s look at the velocity with BBs. I’ll test a conventional steel BB, a frangible BB, a lead BB and an oversized BB. All will be with 7 pumps. Let’s go!

Daisy Premium BB

First I tested 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs. On 7 pumps they averaged 582 f.p.s. The low was 570 and the high was 605 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 35 f.p.s., which is not terrible considering how much smaller these BBs are than the bore of the 35.

Marksman Premium grade BBs

We know from testing that Marksman BBs measure 0.176-inches in diameter and are therefore too large to fit in many BB guns. But this gun is also for pellets and it fed and shot these BBs fine. They averaged 572 f.p.s., with a 47 f.p.s. spread from 549 to 596 f.p.s.

Smart Shot

Next tested were 10 Smart Shot lead BBs. Since they are not ferrous I didn’t try to feed them through the BB magazine but loaded them singly, like pellets. Smart Shot averaged 478 f.p.s. with a low of 453 and a high of 512 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 59 f.p.s.

Dust Devils

The last BB I tried was the Air Venturi Dust Devil. It’s lighter than the Daisy BB but also smaller in diameter, so I wondered what that would do to the velocity. Dust Devils averaged 570 f.p.s. with a 28 f.p.s. spread from 554 to 582 f.p.s.

Well, BBs weren’t as consistent in the Daisy 35, nor were they as powerful as lead pellets. I guess their one advantage beside low cost is that the steel ones feed through the magazine.

Pump effort

I said in Part 1 that the Daisy 35 seems easy to pump. But is it? 

Pump…Effort lbs.

What is happening, here? Why are more pumps taking less effort? I think the reason has to do with the speed of the pump stroke. Slow down and it gets easier, but you don’t seem to lose any velocity. So the Daisy 35 is definitely an airgun for younger folks.

Trigger pull

The single-stage trigger breaks with 5 lbs. 5 oz. pressure. That is about ideal for young people and new shooters. The break is reasonably crisp, so it’s very pleasant.


The Daisy 35 is stacking up quite well so far. And with my previous experience back in 2011, I believe it will also be accurate. We will see.

Grandpa guns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Things to consider first
  • Red Ryder
  • Start with open sights
  • Fun!
  • Other grandpa airguns
  • Crosman 760
  • Daisy 880
  • Daisy 35
  • Lawyer triggers
  • Breakbarrels
  • BB — what about CO2? What about a repeater?
  • Over to you

Today’s report will be near and dear to many of you. What airguns does a grandpa need, so when the grandkids come over he has something fun to do with them?

When I was a boy, both my grandfathers were so much older that they didn’t really play with me at all — at least not that I remember. But watching guys these days, I see a big difference. Grandpas are fun guys! Well, airguns are fun and every kid wants to shoot — the girls just as much as the boys. So, what airguns can grandpa have that will be fun for the grands when they come bye?

Things to consider first

Long guns are the best way to begin. They are safer because grandpa can watch the muzzle easier and stop the kids from making dangerous mistakes. 

Some kids want to keep their fingers on the trigger all the time. Grandpa has to discourage this by taking the gun from them and explaining how dangerous it is. Each kid is different and grandpa should know how far to trust each one.

Single shot rifles are the best way to start a kid. That way you can coax the “spray and pray” mentality out of them before it becomes ingrained. Video games often do just the opposite, rewarding the fast trigger finger, so you have to battle that. If the kids will listen to you, get them started talking about making good shots.

When I trained junior marksmen the key was to get the kids to focus on hitting the exact center of the bull, rather than just pulling the trigger and hoping the shot was somewhere in the black. Each kid is different and you have to learn right away whether they are listening to you or not. In marksmanship training we used to not let them touch the gun until they could explain a good sight picture and respond to basic safety commands such as “cease fire.”

Grandpa shouldn’t be a safety Nazi, but he should insist on safe gun-handling practices before allowing the shooting to continue. This is an important responsibility — especially when one or both parents are impulsive and careless. Do it right and the kids will soon be correcting the adults.

Red Ryder

If I don’t put the Red Ryder down I’ll hear from you readers. Yes it is a good gun to use with grandkids, but being a BB gun you need to take some extra safety precautions. A BB gun in this class is shot at very close range and those BBs have a way of bouncing back and hitting the shooter. So — eye protection for everyone in the vicinity.

The good thing about the Red Ryder is it’s lightweight and relatively easy to cock. It’s a repeater, so the little guys and gals won’t get frustrated too soon. Shoot at targets that react for the greatest enjoyment. Balloons are a lot of fun, and the common tin can is the number one target of choice, with the feral aluminum soda can being the current high-tech favorite. Plastic army men are another good choice to sharpen the eye!

I said it’s relatively easy to cock, because for a small kid cocking a Red Ryder can be a challenge. This is where Grandpa steps in and shows the youngster the right way and the safe way to cock the gun. It is also self-limiting. The youngster will tire more quickly if he or she does the work, which is as it should be.

Start with open sights

Unless the child has a serious vision problem that precludes it, start them with open sights. Don’t graduate to a scope until they are proficient with opens.

I will put in a plug for the Daisy 499B here. It is a wonderful training tool that teaches the use of non-optical sights and may bring out a young William Tell or Annie Oakley.

499 sight picture
The Daisy 499 is a natural to teach a proper sight picture.

499 target
Yes, there are 10 shots in this 5-meter target. When youngsters apply themselves they can learn to do this offhand with a 499B in a few years.


Okay, BB got away from today’s topic just a little. This is supposed to be about fun — not work! Sorry, but I have seen too many kids who had the potential to become great shooters after just a few hours of instruction! But we’re interested in grandpa-fun today.

Other grandpa airguns

I’m not listing these in any order of preference. But I will mention the benefits of each gun as we go.

Crosman 760

Crosman 760

Crosman 760 Pumpmaster.

The Crosman 760 is a single-shot multi-pump gun that shoots either pellets or BBs. When it shoots BBs it is a repeater. For pellets it’s a single-shot.

This airgun is a smoothbore, so the accuracy isn’t going to be good at long range. I did get one good group of H&N Finale Match Light pellets, but I’m betting grandpa isn’t going to spring for pellets that cost $17 a tin. I did find the 760 accurate with RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets, as well, but the price is the same. It did okay with Hobbys, too, so either start with them or with Crosman wadcutters.

The 760 also did its best with H&N Smart Shot lead BBs at 5 meters. That’s a blessing because Smart Shot BBs are lead and don’t bounce back like steel BBs.

The 760 is reasonably lightweight and it also pumps fairly easy, so it’s a great airgun for older kids. It’s not for the youngest ones, but when they start growing, this is one to consider.

Daisy 880

Okay, we have now heard from Pepsi — what about Coke? Daisy’s 880 is another fine gun for grandpa. It too shoots both BBs and pellets. With BBs it’s a repeater and with pellets, a single shot. I did even better at 10 meters with the 880, shooting Hobbys and some obsolete Daisy Superior Match Grade wadcutters. And the 880 is rifled!

Daisy 880
Daisy’s 880 has a rifled barrel!

I did test the 880 with BBs, and Daisy also sent the target they shot that showed 5 Daisy BBs in 0.65-inches at 5 meters. It’s no 499 but it’s pretty good! I put ten Daisy BBs into 0.624-inches at 5 meters. So, grandpa, the 880 is a great little gun for the kids.

Unlike the Crosman 760, the 880 has a rifled barrel. That’s why it’s a little more accurate 10 meters. It’s also lightweight and easy to pump. There are several related air rifles when you search on the 880. Many are kits that have additional items besides just the rifle. These kits come and go too fast for me to address, but at their heart is the 880 rifle.

Daisy 35

Daisy’s model 35 is another good grandpa gun. It’s a multi-pump that shoots both BBs and pellets. So, how does it differ from the 880. Well, the pump handle is a short stroke instead of the 880’s longer stroke. In other words, it’s more like the Crosman 760. It’s also a smoothbore that shoots both BBs (as a repeater) and pellets (as a single shot.

Daisy 35
Daisy 35.

The 35 I tested back in 2012 and ’13 did not-so-good with BBs and very good with pellets. I liked it so much that I ordered another one for another test in the near future.

Like all the airguns we’ve seen so far the Daisy 35 is lightweight and easy to pump. But is does have one drawback that all the other airguns I’ve mentioned share.

Lawyer triggers

For some reason airgun manufacturers cannot put out a youth airgun with a decent trigger. I think the reason is simple. These guns all compete on price. They sell them in the big discount stores where most people shop by price and not features. All these airguns have variations of direct sear triggers. Putting a killer trigger on a $35 air rifle would add $5 to the price and make 300 sales to informed customers, while loosing 30,000 sales to moms and dads who only look at the price tag. So the lawyers have their day and I have to agree with that logic. Unless there is a caring grandpa or grandma who is willing to spend the time to train little Bobby and Susie on the right steps of gun handling, give them their lawyer triggers!


Now let’s take a big step up to the next level of kids airguns. I’ll start with the Ruger Explorer. Many of you can tell that it is a less-expensive version of the Umarex Embark. Both are breakbarrel spring-piston air rifles that are reasonably lightweight and cock easily. They are well-suited to children that are old enough to hold them offhand and cock them while standing up. I’m not giving ages now because boys and girls develop at their own rates over time. I wrote a 5-part report on the Embark and got superior accuracy from it at 10 meters. I’m guessing the Ruger can do just as good. Gramps — this one will make you a hero!

The Ruger Explorer
The Ruger Explorer.

BB — what about CO2? What about a repeater?

Well, sure. Repeaters can be great fun and CO2 is an inexpensive way to get one. My pick in this category is the Crosman 1077. And, I see that Crosman has brought back something that we have been asking for for years — the 1077W with a wood stock!

Now, you can get a regular 1077 for $40 less than the one with the wood stock. You’ll still be a hero if you do. But the wood one is the one you personally will be proud to own.

Crosman 1077 walnut
The 1077 wood!

All right you tire-kickers! Off the couch and get online to buy that rifle you all said you wished Crosman would bring back. Because — here it is — the 1077 with a wood stock! Grandpa — what beautiful airguns you have!

There is one drawback for a 1077. It’s certainly light enough for anyone, but that trigger that operates both the clip advancement and the hammer cocking has a pull that’s too heavy for the little ones. After it breaks in with a few hundred shots it does become smoother and easier to pull, but at first the trigger pull is an obstacle for younger kids.

Over to you

Okay, Gramps, now you have your say. You know what works and what doesn’t. Tell the world!

Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman Vigilante.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • RWS Hobby single action
  • Circular clip doesn’t advance all the way
  • Hobby double action
  • Air Arms Falcon domes single action
  • Air Arms Falcon domes double action
  • RWS Superdome single action
  • RWS Superdome double action
  • Shot count
  • Discussion
  • BBs
  • Crosman Black Widow BB
  • Air Venturi Dust Devils
  • H&N Smart Shot
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the power of the Crosman Vigilante CO2 pellet and BB revolver. I learned a few interesting things about the revolver’s operation during this test. Let’s get started.

RWS Hobby single action

The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. I shot the revolver single action for this string by cocking the hammer for each shot. The first string of 10 averaged 408 f.p.s. but the spread went from a low of 399 to a high of 440 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 41 f.p.s. At the average velocity this 7-grain pellet produces 2.59 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Circular clip doesn’t advance all the way

While shooting the pistol I discovered that the cylinder doesn’t advance all the way to where the pellet lines up with the barrel. The amount is small but there on every shot and it doesn’t matter whether I advance the circular clip with the hammer or by pulling the trigger. This will make a difference when it comes to accuracy and it could affect velocity, too, so I made sure to manually index the clip for every shot.

Hobby double action

When fired double action the Vigilante launches Hobbys at an average of 402 f.p.s. At that velocity the Hobby generates 2.51 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The spread ranged from 395 to 411 f.p.s. — a difference of 16 f.p.s. So the spread was tighter but the average velocity was lower. I think that may partly be due to the fact that I was taking a little less time between shots in this mode. I will continue to check this for the two other test pellets.

Air Arms Falcon domes single action

The second pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon dome. They averaged 394 f.p.s. in the single action mode. The spread went from 385 to 402 f.p.s., which is a difference of 17 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 2.53 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Air Arms Falcon domes double action

When I pulled the trigger to advance the clip and pull the hammer back (double action) the same Falcon pellet averaged 380 f.p.s. The spread went from 367 to 384 f.p.s. — a difference of 17 f.p.s., just like the single action mode. At the average velocity this pellet generates 2.35 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

RWS Superdome single action

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. When I cocked the hammer for every shot Superdomes averaged 375 f.p.s. The spread went from 362 to 390 f.p.s. — a difference of  28 f.p.s. At the average velocity Superdomes generated 2.59 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle when fired single action.

RWS Superdome double action

I tested the Superdomes double action next. The averaged 360 f.p.s. with a spread from356 to 366 f.p.s. That’s 10 f.p.s. difference. At the average velocity Superdomes generated 2.39 f.p.s.

Shot count

At this point in the test there were 60 shots on the cartridge. I now fired another string of Hobby pellets to see how they did. I will show each shot


An hour later after lunch I shot another 10-shot string. That gave the revolver time to warm up again.


The Vigilante is definitely off the power curve now. I’m going to say it fell off around shot 63. If you were outside and just shooting it you would hear a difference in the report around shot 78 and know to stop. Given the power the revolver has, this is a lot of good shots on a CO2 cartridge.


The Vigilante is clearly a little faster in the single action mode. Since that is how I’ll shoot it for accuracy, that’s how I’ll test it from this point forward. Now let’s look at BBs


I will test a standard steel BB, a Dust Devil and a Smart Shot. The circular BB clip holds 6 BBs so the test will be strings of 6. Here we go!

Crosman Black Widow BB

First up was Crosman’s new Black Widow BB. Six of them averaged 414 f.p.s. The spread went from 392 to 449 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 57 f.p.s. I noted that the BB clip also didn’t advance all the way and had to be hand-indexed.

Air Venturi Dust Devils

Dust Devils turned out to be too small for the Vigilante’s rotary clip. Two fell out as I was shooting. But I reloaded and did get an average of 427 f.p.s. for 6 shots. The velocity ranged from a low of 410 to a high of 438 f.p.s. That’s a 28 f.p.s. spread.

H&N Smart Shot

The final BB I tested was the H&N Smart Shot lead BB. They averaged 322 f.p.s. and the range went from 322 to a high of 344 f.p.s. That’s a 22 f.p.s. spread.

Trigger pull

In the single action mode (with the hammer cocked) the trigger is single-stage and releases with 5 lbs. 8.5 oz. Because the revolver grip fit my hand so well, it felt like several pounds less.

I said I would report on the double-action trigger pull but it is well beyond the range of my trigger scale. I’ll estimate it between 15 and 18 lbs. If you know firearms it’s approximately equivalent to a double action Colt revolver trigger of the 1930s to the ’50s.


The Crosman Vigilante is doing well so far, and I’m excited about the accuracy test. I think I will break that into two reports so I can take my time testing both pellets and BBs.

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!

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.

1896 New King Single Shot: Part 3

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

1896 King
1896 New King single shot BB gun.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Straightening the barrel
  • 4.55 mm BBs dropped to bottom
  • It also shoots 4.5 mm balls
  • 4.55 mm lead balls
  • Velocity
  • Muzzle energy
  • Oops!
  • 4.50 mm lead balls
  • Discussion
  • What does today’s test give us? 
  • Summary

Today I tell you how straightening the barrel of this century-old BB gun went and then we look at its performance. Last time I shot a single BB out at 157 f.p.s. What will she do today?

Straightening the barrel

Boy, did I ever have a lot of helpers ready to school me on how to straighten this solid brass shot tube! The way some of you talked you would think this thing is going into a NASA satellite!

I straightened the shot tube exactly as I described to you in Part 2, by laying it on a flat steel table (on my vise) and tapping it gently with the wide head of a plastic hammer.

The photo I showed you made it look like there was a single bend in the tube. The truth was the tube was bent in numerous places. It was twisted subtly into a serpentine shape.

I have some experience doing things this way, and in less than 10 minutes I had it much straighter. I also cleaned the inside of the shot tube with a wire bore brush. It’s not perfect, and I doubt it ever will be, but it’s better than it was.

4.55 mm BBs dropped to bottom

After straightening and cleaning the 4.55 mm lead balls dropped all the way down the shot tube to the place where the tube tapers smaller. After maybe 10 shots, though, the BBs began stopping a couple inches up from the bottom and remained that way for a while. I still had to seat the BB into the tapered place with a cleaning rod, but now they all shoot out. And I picked up one additional thing by straightening and cleaning the shot tube.

It also shoots 4.5 mm balls

Now that the ball goes into the tapered place in the shot tube, I can also load 4.50 mm lead balls. They are lighter than the 4.55 mm balls. But, better than that, they are widely available. Where the 4.55 MM balls are expensive and hard to find, the 4.50 mm balls are standard airgun ammunition.

4.55 mm lead balls

These are number 12 zimmerstutzen balls. If you don’t know what that means, read my article on zimmerstutzens. After straightening and cleaning the bore they were stopping about two inches from the bottom of the shot tube. Before I straightened and cleaned the barrel they had been stopping about two inches from the muzzle, so there was definite improvement.


The one shot I got with these balls in Part 2 was recorded at 157 f.p.s. That was before the barrel was straightened and cleaned. Today five shots averaged 159 f.p.s. They ranged from a low of 157 to a high of 161 f.p.s. — a difference of 4 f.p.s.

Just for fun I then dropped a ball into the shot tube and did not press it in with a cleaning rod. It did seem to fall all the way into the tapered breech. It came out at 154 f.p.s.

Muzzle energy

The 4.55 mm lead balls weigh from 8.5 to 8.7 grains If we take 8.6 grains as the average, at 159 f.p.s. this little BB gun generates 0.48 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s less than a lot of airsoft guns!


This little BB gun is not perfect. While I was shooting the 4.55 mm balls, the entire shot tube came out of the gun on one shot! It apparently works free, now that I have removed it so many times and also oiled the airgun liberally.

4.50 mm lead balls

Next I shot H&N 4.50 mm lead balls. Pyramyd Air isn’t stocking them at present, but they do have Gamo 4.50 mm lead balls. The H&N balls I shot weighed a very uniform 8.3 grains. They all seemed to drop into the taper in the shot tube, but to keep both tests the same I also pushed them lightly into the breech with the cleaning rod and discovered that they were already there!

These balls averaged 159 f.p.s. for 5 shots, as well. Their velocity ranged from a low of 157 to a high of 161 f.p.s. a difference of 4 f.p.s. But their lighter weight gave a muzzle energy of 0.47 foot-pounds.

Just for fun I then dropped one of these smaller balls into the muzzle and shot it without pushing it into the breech with the cleaning rod. That one registered 157 f.p.s. on the chronograph. So it does reach the breech.


The smaller lead ball may not go faster because there is more room inside the bore for the air to blow past the ball. I don’t want to try any smaller balls because I think accuracy will suffer. Remember that we learned that lesson while testing the Tell BB gun.

What does today’s test give us? 

Today’s little test gives us two lead balls to test for accuracy. I believe I will press all the balls down with the cleaning rod, but not hard. I just want to be certain they are all at the breech.


Well, this little 120-year-old BB gun still works. It may not have been too much more powerful that this when it was new — maybe 200 to 225 f.p.s.?. It cocks easily and is as light as a feather. Ideal for children!

1896 New King Single Shot: Part 2

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

1896 King
1896 New King single shot BB gun.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Design an Airgun contest
  • The bear
  • However!
  • Tapered breech
  • Something else
  • Clearing the barrel
  • Discussion
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Design an Airgun contest

Today is the last day of the Design an Airgun contest, and we have several interesting entries. I will announce the winner next week.

The bear

Sometimes the bear eats you! That’s almost what happened to the 1896 New King single shot BB gun today. I got one shot out the muzzle at 157 f.p.s and the next BB didn’t come out. I was still inside the gun, along with a second BB I loaded, thinking the first BB had rolled out. At least that’s what I believed at this point.

It will be hard to say what happened exactly before I get this gun running again. That’s assuming I can even do that. I will try, and I will document what happens so I can report it to you. But for now I was sure Part 2 of the 1896 New King Single Shot, the velocity test, was over.


But I was able to remove the shot tube from the gun, and in so doing I discovered several things. First, I discovered where the rough spot in the barrel is. The shot tube is bent!

New King bent shot tube
The New King shot tube is bent about a third of the way down from the muzzle on the right.

Tapered breech

I have written about how single shot BB guns have breeches that are tapered to hold the shot when it’s dropped in, but I had never seen one until I examined this shot tube. Let’s look.

New King tapered breech
This photo shows me two things. First is the tapered breech that holds the BB in a single-shot gun. This BB is stuck tight! The second is that the shot tube is made of brass.

Besides the tapered breech I also learned that the shot tube is made of rolled brass. That tells me that I can straighten the barrel with some careful tapping with a large plastic hammer while the shot tube rests on the steel flat of my bench vise.

Something else

Look at the picture of the shot tube again. See that small steel flange that’s soldered to the tube just behind the muzzle? Well, it fits into a spiral groove inside the outer barrel, and twisting it as far as it will go clockwise will pull the shot tube into the outer barrel and hopefully align the tapered end of the tube with the end of the piston plunger. If I’m right, straightening the barrel should accomplish three things. First, the gun should shoot harder because all parts are in alignment. Second, because the barrel is now straight (hopefully) a lead ball should drop all the way through the barrel to the tapered breech, where it will stop in the taper without getting stuck. And third, if the barrel is straight, I should be able to shoot smaller balls that will now fall into and also stick in the tapered breech.

I won’t need to press the balls down the barrel with a cleaning rod like I was doing before. That was what caused the ball to get stuck in the tapered breech.

Clearing the barrel

With the shot tube out of the gun I had access to remove the lead ball. It was stuck really tight in the breech taper. It took a plastic hammer to start moving it, and it only moved a smidgeon. A pin punch then moved it down to the bend in the tube. I had to bend a wire coat hanger to push it out of the shot tube completely.

When it came out I saw there was only a single BB in the shot tube. At least I did something right?

New King BB
This is the BB that came out. There was only this one BB in the tube. The bore is now clear.


I need to straighten the shot tube and see how the gun reacts. I’m hoping everything I said above is correct and Part 3 will be the velocity test.

Cocking effort

I told you the New King was a child’s BB gun. It cocks with 7 pounds of force, making it the lightest-cocking spring-piston airgun I have ever tested. 

Trigger pull

The single-stage trigger releases with 3 lbs. 4 oz. of pull. That is about right for a direct sear trigger. Anything much less would be unsafe.


This is a short report, but it took me a long time because of all the things I did with the gun. I believe I’m on the right track to get this gun back up and shooting again. The simplicity of the gun is a great help, because much more disassembly would require the removal of rivets.

1896 New King Single Shot: Part 1

Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

1896 King
1896 New King single shot BB gun.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • How this happened
  • Detailed history
  • Pop quiz
  • BB shot and air rifle shot sizes
  • Getting ready
  • Good news!
  • Summary

Sometimes we get the rare opportunity to examine something that’s really from the past. Today is such a time. We will begin looking at a New King single shot BB gun from Markham. It is the 1896 model that was made from 1896 until 1905.  Mine was made in either 1900 or 1901, as I will explain.

How this happened

Periodically I look at eBay to see what sort of antique airguns they have and a couple weeks ago I saw this listing. 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. In 20 percent condition it is a $400 gun. This one is 10 percent at best, which meant that the opening bid of $150 was reasonable. But oddly there were no bidders. So I bid on it and won it without opposition. The listing said that it works, which is far more important to me, and I took a chance that it did. So far — it does!

If you have never seen a BB gun from this era the size might surprise you. It’s very small! The stock is pushed down to cock a mainspring that is surprisingly light. I know it must have lost some force over the century-plus it’s been in existence, but it seems obvious that this BB gun was purposely made for a very young boy or girl. It’s 30.5-inches long and weighs just 1 pound 11.5 ounces.

1896 King broken open
This is how the gun cocks. It’s very easy!

1896 King broken open detail
And here is a detail shot of the gun broken open.

Detailed history

Markham was a BB-gun maker in Plymouth, Michigan, just across the railroad tracks from Daisy. They could very well be the first maker of BB guns.

The Blue Book does not give a lot of history on this model, but I found a website that does. Just prior to my 4th variant gun, the 1896 had a button on top that had to be pressed to release the barrel for cocking. My gun was the first one that used a friction release to keep the barrel closed. It was made in either 1900 or 1901.  My buttstock is rounded on its edges (everyone calls it the oval style), where later buttstocks are slab-sided. Also the muzzle of my gun is rounded, where later muzzles are flat. And my rear sight is pressed into a sheet metal slot and then crimped, where the next version has the rear sight soldered to the gun. It’s not that often that we can pin down a production date this close on a century-old BB gun, but this time we can, because of small variations and lots of good documentation.

No one had solved the problem of welding a thin sheet metal tube together so it was airttight when this gun was made, so the underside of the gun has a soldered patch that runs the full length of the “barrel” (the outer tube that encloses the shot tube, which is the real barrel) to seal the compression chamber against air loss.

The front sight is an extremely small blade and the rear sight is a crude notch. The trigger is a fat cast iron blade that is tilted too far forward and larger hands will find the trigger guard too small. But as I mentioned — this gun was made for children.

1896 King front sight
The front sight is very small, but visible in the rear notch.

1896 King rear sight
The rear sight slips into a base that’s soldered onto the spring tube, and then it’s crimped in place. 

Pop quiz

If you have been reading this blog for awhile you should know the answer to what I am about to ask. What ammunition does this BB gun shoot? If you said 0.180 lead balls, you’re right! That is shotgun shot size BB — with sizes B and BBB bracketing it. It’s the size shot that Clarence Hamilton used for his first BB gun that became the first model Daisy wire stock BB gun.

wire stock Daisy
Daisy’s first model wire stock BB gun wasn’t the first BB gun ever made, but it set the standard for all those that followed. It shot BB-size shot, which is 0.180-inches in diameter.

BB shot and air rifle shot sizes

Daisy dictated the size of shot for all BB guns, by virtue of being the 500 lb. gorilla. So, from 1888 until around 1905, all BB guns shot BB-shot. In 1905 Daisy downsized the shot their guns used from 0.180-inches to 0.175 inches. They changed the name from BB-shot to Air Rifle Shot, and for the next 20 years all their BB guns were made to shoot lead air rifle shot. It shot faster and took less lead so it was less expensive to produce — an important consideration when you are making shot by the billions. In the 1920s they changed the shot again to steel balls, but that’s another story.

1896 King Air Rifle Shot
In 1905 Daisy reduced the shot size to 0.175-inches. It went faster and less expensive to produce.

So, this Markham BB gun was definitely made for BB-shot. But I don’t have any 0.180-inch shot. Or, do I? If you remember the Tell BB gun test, I found that gun shot best with 4.55 MM lead balls. They measure 0.179-inches in diameter. That’s pretty close so maybe they would work? Several shots demonstrate that they do work!

Getting ready

This BB gun is more than a century old and as you can see it has led a hard life. But a BB gun mechanism is robust and prone to last a long time. The Army shot several Daisys more than 20 million times each during their Quick Kill training at Ft. Benning. No way has this gun had even one one-hundredth as much use! It’s just not been cared for.

I know without a doubt that the plunger is sealed with leather, so I dropped 10 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil down the muzzle and stood the gun on its butt overnight. And here is a tip. Some of these guns will leak oil out the back of the action when you do this, so I stood mine inside my large kitchen-type plastic wastepaper basket that’s next to my desk. It held the gun muzzle-up and kept any oil off the carpet.

This is a single-shot BB gun and it’s loaded from the muzzle — just like a Daisy 499. The bore is tapered in the back and the shot jams itself in when the barrel narrows.

Good news!

The really good news is that as I was reading one of my short stories in my book, BB Guns Remembered, I discovered how to get another old BB gun I have up and working again. So today’s report will precede a report on one of the most beautiful BB guns ever made. But first we finish looking at this one.


This will be as complete a test as I can give, but don’t look for this gun to surprise us. It represents where BB gun technology was a century ago — in the days of, “I’m just glad that it shoots!”