Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dust Devil
Dust Devil Mk2.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The first and best test
  • Test strategy
  • Crush test
  • Test 2 — close impact
  • What have we learned?
  • Hard target test
  • What does this tell us?
  • One last test
  • Summary

Today we look at the frangible properties of the new Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs. Remember — these are the only Dust Devils you can buy and the box does not say Mark 2. But the BB I am testing is what you can buy and all that you can buy!

The first and best test

What I show you today is the first time I have tested Dust Devils at all. I did shoot the Mark 1 Dust Devils against a concrete floor with nothing remaining and no bounce-back, and at the 2018 NRA Show where Pyramyd Air always runs the airgun range, Dust Devils were the only BBs fired and there was not one bounce-back in perhaps 10,000 shots. Today I will take it several steps further.

Test strategy

I reasoned that I am interested in the low threshold of the BB’s performance. If they work at slow speeds they will also work at higher speeds. So — what is the weakest BB gun I own? Well, overlooking catapult guns like the Daisy 179 and the Johnson Indoor Target gun, the weakest BB gun in my possession is my Daisy 499.

The new Dust Devil is slightly slower than the older version. A 499 that shoots a conventional Daisy BB at 232 f.p.s. shoots the new Dust Devil at 237 f.p.s. So it’s comparable.

So — how do I test them? I had initially thought of shooting them at my concrete garage floor, but then a more involved test plan formed in my mind. Let’s see what I did.

Crush test

In any test you should always try to practice-test the item if possible first. With some things like atomic bombs that proves impossible, so you test each of the components, subassemblies and assemblies, seeing how closely they adhere to your projections. But there were physicists in the Manhattan Project who predicted that the reaction of the first atomic bomb would not end with the destruction of the fissile material but go right on exploding every atom in its path and destroy the earth. Where do you stand to test that? It may seem funny now but before the first test it was nothing of the kind.

The Dust Devil is different. It’s possible to test them without shooting them, and that’s what I did first. I put one BB in the jaws of a pair of common household pliers and held it over a clean sheet of paper as I squeezed. It took less energy than I expected to make the BB burst apart, and when it did it sent dust flying everywhere. Some of it hit me. I also heard one larger fragment hit some thing in my office.

I guessed that one-quarter of the BB’s mass remained on the paper. A Dust Devil Mark2 weighs 4.6 grains and I weighed 1.2 grains of dust from the paper. That’s just over a quarter the weight of the whole BB.

Dust Devil plier test
You can see from the plier test that the BB turned into dust, with a couple larger pieces remaining. The whole BB is for scale.

Test 2 — close impact

Next I went into the garage to test the BB against a hard target. I didn’t use the floor this time because there was no way to control the remnants or to gather them after the impact. Instead I used a deep box with a white styrofoam sheet on the bottom. Anything that stayed in the box after impact should be visible on the white sheet.

Inside the box I put a plate of 10-gauge steel. I shot the 499 at that plate from 2 inches away. The BB shattered completely and became invisible.  I did hear one larger piece hit elsewhere in the room, so there was some bounce-back, though I’m sure it was very small from the sound it made.

Dust Devil box
The box is deep enough to contain some of the Dust Devil particles when it explodes from contact with the steel plate.

I figured some of the BB remnants would be on the white sheet, and they were, but when I removed the steel plate from the bottom of the box, I felt a small piece of the BB that had fused to it. I carefully removed it and photographed it for you to see.

Dust Devil fused piece
The small piece of a BB on the left was fused to the steel plate, when fired from a Daisy 499 from 2-inches distance. This photo has also caught the whole BB on the right perpendicular to its band that now looks like a shiny halo above it.

Dust Devil dust
This is a little over a one-inch square section of the white foam after shooting at the 10-gauge steel plate. The entire bottom of the box looks like this, except the larger pieces like the one near the center of the photo did not travel as far from the plate.

What have we learned?

I think these tests have revealed a couple things. First, that the Dust Devil tends to hold together until it doesn’t any longer. It doesn’t flake apart slowly — it explodes. Not from any force from within, but from holding together until it can no longer stand the strain. That makes it very safe when it comes apart. But you need to know that larger pieces do come off the BB and you need to wear eye protection the same as you would for regular BBs. You probably will never be hit by a particle that causes pain, but from time to time you or someone in the vicinity will feel some larger pieces come back.

The second thing we have learned is that it doesn’t take much force to break up a Dust Devil. That is in the advertising, of course, but my two tests demonstrate it quite well. However, that begs a question I have not yet asked. What is the definition of a hard target?

Hard target test

The last test I did for this report was to try to determine what constitutes a hard target. The steel plate obviously is hard, but what about a tree with thick bark? I would think that is not a hard target because the bark is softer and does give a little. How about a lightweight steel spinner? Where does the “hard” in a target begin?

For this test I used a small steel can of the type that green beans might come in. I placed it inside the box, standing it up so the bottom of the can was presented as a target.

Dust Devil can
A small can stood up so the bottom presents a target. I have shot through the sides of this can a couple times with other airguns.

This time I held the muzzle of the 499 about 12 inches from the bottom of the can. I had no idea of what to expect, except I knew that the can would give just a little to a regular steel BB.

The Dust Devil hit in the center of the can bottom, denting it slightly, and the BB bounced back out just a little. It came perhaps 2-3 inches above the top of the can, but landed inside the box. 

Dust Devil can hit
The Dust Devil hit the can bottom in its center.

I was surprised to see the Dust Devil apparently intact, except when I looked at it closely I saw a frosted area on one side, where the BB’s shine had turned dull.

I took the BB to my office to examine it under a 10X jeweler’s loupe. When I did I saw that the frosted area appeared to be the particles in the BB, just as they are coming apart.

Dust Devil frost
This is difficult to see and even harder to photograph. Look at the BB band at the top in this picture (arrow). See how it is frosted, not shiny like the spherical portion below? I believe this test has captured a Dust Devil just before it explodes into dust. 

Apparently the can that was slightly dented by the BB provided just enough slowdown for the low-velocity BB that we captured a very rare phenomenon. We have a frangible BB that has been brought to the brink of destruction but still remains whole.

On the opposite side of the BB there is a very small dent that I have never seen on a Dust Devil. Not only is it a dent, but around the side the material is raised, as if the material within has been displaced. I think this is the opposite side of the shock wave that passed through the BB on impact.

Dust Devil dent
Almost (but not quite) on the opposite side of the frosted area is this “dent” with raised edges.

What does this tell us?

This time the entire BB bounced back — BUT — the bounce-back wasn’t very fast. I believe the BB’s energy was absorbed by both the slight dent in the can as well as the near-destruction of the BB, itself. This was a chance happening and nothing to bank on, but it does answer that other tricky question about what makes a target hard. 

When you shoot Dust Devils, protect yourself and others in the area the same as you would for conventional steel BBs. But you can shoot at hard targets with BB guns, which is something I would never recommend doing with conventional BBs.

Targets will range in hardness all over the place from very hard to marginal. If you protect everyone in the vicinity, the Dust Devil gives you a safer way to shoot.

One last test

Since these little critters are so friendly and safe, do they work in a full-auto BB gun? Now I know that they do because Pyramyd Air was shooting thousands of them in Crosman DPMS guns at the NRA Show. But I said I wanted to test them this way too and since I own an Umarex MP-40, I thought, why not?

Well, I tried but my MP-40 wasn’t cooperating. I loaded two fresh CO2 cartridges into the magazine, and if I tap the valve stem the mag does fire. I was able to get the gun to shoot a couple shots full auto when I held the trigger down and released the cocking handle. Yes, the selector switch was set in full auto. It’s something I need to sort out. You see, BB has the same sort of problems as everyone. You just hear about it when they happen.


This is the first good hard target test I have given the Dust Devil, and it is the Mark2 version that was tested. The BB seems to perform as well as anyone could hope for. You still should take every precaution you always do when shooting any pellet or BB gun, but if you do we now we have a BB that won’t shoot your eye out.

Sig Sauer P365 air pistol: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sig P365
Sig Sauer P365 BB pistol.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • The first shot
  • Sig BBs
  • Discussion
  • New CO2 cartridge
  • Crosman Black Widow BBs
  • What I’m up against
  • The trigger
  • Dust Devil BBs
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the Sig P365 BB pistol. So far this gun has been performing as it should. I just hope it will stay on the paper at 5 meters. There are two reasons I say that. First, with guns that have a short barrel, ANY movement of the gun/barrel causes large movements of the shots downrange. Short-barreled handguns are just as accurate as handguns with long barrels — they are just harder to shoot accurately. And second, with a sight radius (distance between the font and rear sight) of just a few inches, ANY amount the sights are off will be exaggerated downrange.

The test

I shot from a UTG Monopod rest at 5 meters, the same as with any BB gun. I debated how best to hold the gun and decided on a two-hand hold with the bottom forward portion of the frame resting on the monopod rubber sling. Except for the first shot, all others were shot that way.

I shot 10-shot groups because the P365 is semiautomatic. That didn’t make it easy, just easi-ER.

The first shot

Given the shortness of the barrel I was really concerned about missing the BB trap altogether, so I loaded 11 BBs and fired the first shot from ten feet. I used a two-hand hold and my hands were resting on the foot-rail of my bed.

I held a 6 o’clock hold on the black bull and the BB hit the paper 1.7 inches below the center of the bull and 0.9-inches to the left. Given that I am human, I thought that was close enough. So I backed up to 5 meters and fired 10 more times.

Sig BBs

The first BBs I shot were the ones Sig provided with the pistol. I got an 11-shot group that measures 3.217-inches between centers. The center of the group is 2.4-inches below the center of the bull and 0.8-inches to the left of center. The first shot from 10 feet is inside the group, though not centered.

Sig P365 Sig BB group
The P365 put 11 of the Sig BBs into 3.217-inches at 5 meters.  I marked that first shot from 10 feet.


Don’t think this is a bad group! I am dealing with both those issues I mentioned earlier — a short barrel and a short sight radius. Instead, I draw your attention to the group of 4 shots at the bottom, under the BB. This P365 pistol has ULTRA-CRISP sights, front and rear! When I do my very best this is what happens. The problem is, it is difficult to maintain that level of concentration. I actually watched that little hole grow, shot by shot.

What you are seeing in this target is 3 shots plus the first shot up high and then the final 7 shots on the bottom, when I settled down. What this really is, is a (lower) group that is very horizontal — once I got my act together.

New CO2 cartridge

I loaded 10 Crosman Black Widow BBs next. I selected them because, of all the premium steel BBs on the market right now, I am having the most consistent success with them. After the first 4 shots, though, I noticed the power was dropping off. The gun was running out of gas. Since I tested it in Part 3 and know that it runs out of gas very quickly at the end of the cartridge, I knew that the first group of SIG BBs was okay. But it was time to change the CO2 cartridge.

I also know that the first 3-4 shots from a new cartridge will have some liquid in them and will be much faster than the 45 shots that follow. Since this is an accuracy test, I blank-fired the gun 5 times with the fresh cartridge before loading 10 more Black Widow BBs.

Crosman Black Widow BBs

Because the Sig BBs hit low on the paper with a conventional 6 o’clock hold, I raised the front post above the top of the rear notch and still used a 6 o’clock hold that is the most accurate with this type of sight. If that sounds confusing, let me show you what it looks like.

Sig P365  sight picture
This is the sight picture I used for the next 2 groups.

That looks like a difficult sight picture to maintain, so some really good pistol shooters used to have a gold wire inset across the front post to show them the same amount of elevation on every shot. Elmer Keith was famous for it. On some of his sights there were several wires.

Sig P365 Keith sight
Elmer Keith’s front sight was used for distance shooting.

What I’m up against

Now you understand, I hope. Not only do I have to maintain a 6 o’clock hold on the bullseye, I also have to hold the front sight above the top of the rear sight by the same amount each time.

This time with careful aiming I managed to put 10 Crosman Black Widow BBs into 1.96-inches. The group is fairly well centered on the bullseye. I gotta tell you, guys. This group is a combination of me trying real hard and the Black Widow BB being as good as it is.

Sig P365 Black Widow group
Ten Crosman Black Widow BBs made this 1.96-inch group at 5 meters.

The P365 deserves credit, as well, for it functioned properly all the time. Again I remind you how difficult is is to shoot a short-barreled pistol with accuracy. Yet, I can shoot my Sig P365 9mm handgun with astonishing accuracy. Why?

The trigger

The secret behind the accuracy of my 9mm pistol is the trigger. The 9mm trigger is light and very predictable. The BB gun trigger is not that heavy, but I haven’t learned it yet. When I have to keep the bullseye on the tip of the front sight, both sides of the front sight equidistant from the sides of the rear notch, AND keep the front sight at the same height above the top of the rear sight every time, it gets difficult.

The P365 BB gun trigger pull is just a little too heavy, at 5 lbs. 12 oz. for me to do all this. The firearm trigger breaks at 5 lbs. 6 oz, but it’s a very crisp pull that can be anticipated. The BB gun trigger feels similar, just not as predictable — yet. I just shoot better with the firearm. I can’t explain it, other than to say the concentration on the sights needed to get the group up into the bullseye is probably what’s throwing me off.

Dust Devil BBs

Next I loaded and shot 10 of the new Dust Devil BBs. Yes — these are the Mark 2 Dust Devils, but since the box isn’t marked that way, I will just say these are the Dust Devils you get when you buy them today.

Ten Dust Devils went into 3.356-inches at 5 meters. It’s the largest group of the test. I held the gun with the same care as with the Black Widows, but I may have been tiring out.

Sig P365 Dust Devil group
Ten Air Venturi Dust Devils went into 3.356-inches at 5 meters.


The Sig P365 BB pistol is a remarkable feat of engineering. It is the smallest repeating BB pistol on the market with full blowback. The appearance is an homage to the P365 firearm that is undoubtedly one of the most successful concealed carry arms even built.

If you want realism, this is it! If you want to learn how to use your pistol’s sights, there aren’t many better trainers than this. If feral pop cans have invaded your yard, this’ll get ’em! Just remember — you have to do your part, too.

Air Venturi Dust Devil Mk2 Frangible BB: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dust Devil
Dust Devil Mk2.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Daisy 499 shooting Crosman Black Widows
  • Daisy 499 shooting Precision Ground Shot
  • Daisy 499 shooting Dust Devils
  • M1 Carbine shooting Crosman Black Widows
  • M1 Carbine shooting  Precision Ground Shot
  • M1 Carbine shooting  Dust Devils
  • The verdict?
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the new Air Venturi Dust Devil Mark 2 BB. From this point on I will just refer to them as Dust Devils.

The test

I shot from 5 meters, using the UTG Monopod as a rest. I was seated, and using the monopod is almost as stable as a sandbag rest.

I only shot 5-shot groups today, so I could test more BBs. I decided to test accuracy with the two most accurate BB guns I have — the Daisy 499 Champion and the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine. When you see the results I think you will understand why I picked them.

I shot three BBs today. The first was a conventional premium BB, and I selected the new Crosman Black Widow for that. The next was the Avanti Match Grade Precision Ground Shot that’s made exclusively for the 499. You guys always want to see how they do in tests, so I almost always include them. And finally I shot the new Air Venturi Dust Devil Mark 2 BB — the one this report centers on. 

We have already seen how the new Dust Devils stack up in one BB gun. The Lil’ Duke put 10 of them in 1.348-inches at 5 meters. The best it shot with BBs that are still available was 10 Smart Shot in 1.148-inches.

The two BB guns I’m shooting today are the most accurate I have, though the Lil’ Duke is certainly very accurate. Let’s start shooting.

Daisy 499 shooting Crosman Black Widows

The 499 put five Black Widows into a 0.44-inch group at 5 meters. That’s some shootin’! The group is high and left, but I didn’t want to fool with the sight on this test.

499 Black Widow group
The 499 put five Black Widows into a 0.44-inch group at 5 meters!

Daisy 499 shooting Precision Ground Shot

Next to be tried was Daisy’s own Avanti Match Grade Precision Ground Shot. This is the BB that’s made for the 499, and we expect it to be the best. Five went into 0.25-inches at 5 meters. That’s exactly a quarter-inch, and it is the best group of this test!

499 Precision Ground Shot
The 499 put five Precision Ground Shot in 0.25-inches at 5 meters. This is the smallest group of the test.

Daisy 499 shooting Dust Devils

The 499 put five of the new Dust Devils in a group that measures 0.564-inches at 5 meters. It’s actually two smaller groups, as you can see.

499 Dust Devil group
Five Dust Devils went into 0.564-inches at 5 meters when shot from the Daisy 499.

M1 Carbine shooting Crosman Black Widows

Now it was time to see what the Dust Devils could do when shot from an accurate BB gun that is not a target gun. The Springfield Armory M1 Carbine is the most accurate non-target BB gun I own.

The M1 Carbine put five Crosman Black Widow BBs into a 0.38-inch group at five meters. Yeah — that’s an accurate BB gun alright!

Carbine Black Widow group
The M1 Carbine put five Crosman Black Widow BBs into this 0.38-inch group at 5 meters. This is the second-smallest group of the test.

M1 Carbine shooting  Precision Ground Shot

Next I tried five Avanti Precision Ground Shot in the M1 Carbine. Many of you think this is the most accurate BB there is, but in my experience the gun it is shot in is just as important. In the 499 it is the most accurate and the 499 is more accurate than any other BB gun, but in other BB guns this may not be the most accurate BB.

Five Precision Shot went into a group that measures 0.651-inches between centers. That is larger than the Black Widow group, but it’s still extremely good for a BB gun.

Carbine Precision Ground Shot group
The Carbine put five Precision Ground Shot into 0.651-inches at 5 meters.

M1 Carbine shooting  Dust Devils

Now it was time to test the Dust Devils, which is what this report is all about. The other two BBs were just to give us some perspective on the Dust Devils.

Five Dust Devil BBs went into 1.15-inches at 5 meters. It’s the largest group of the test, but it’s still not bad for a BB gun.

Carbine Dust Devil group
The Carbine put five Dust Devils in 1.15-inches at 5 meters.

The verdict?

I have to say that Dust Devils have decent accuracy. In the two guns I tested them in they were not as accurate as the other two BBs, but that isn’t the question. Dust Devils are a frangible BB that won’t bounce back at you from a hard target. Given that role, is the accuracy seen today okay? I would say yes. I plan to shoot them at the Bada Bang target, using the M1 Carbine, because they were made for something like that — rapid-fire at a hard target with safety.

And there is one more thing. The Dust Devils fed through the M1 Carbine’s magazine and semiautomatic action perfectly. That was one more test I intended running and there is more of it to come. I plan on shooting them in the Umarex MP40 submachinegun to see how they do there, as well. Given that the purpose of that gun is to shoot at targets of opportunity, a Dust Devil BB is as ideal as it gets.


The new Dust Devil Mark 2 BBs are holding up well. Let’s keep in mind they are one of only two BBs that are safe to shoot at hard targets, and that feature will be tested next time, as well. I think we have a winner here.

Springfield Armory XD-M Compact blowback BB pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The XD-M BB pistol from Springfield Armory.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Compact pistol
  • The grip
  • Installing the CO2 cartridge
  • Not a small pistol
  • The loading assist — doesn’t!
  • Velocity Air Venturi Steel BB
  • Dust Devils
  • Slide does not remain open
  • Smart Shot
  • Shot count
  • Blowback
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation
  • Summary

I don’t encounter many airgun copies of firearms that I am unfamiliar with, but the Springfield Armory XD-M Compact blowback BB pistol is one. So my report will be a first hand observation of all the features I notice about this handgun.

Today is the day I test the velocity of this BB gun and we will get right to it, but first I need to make a couple observations. They came from installing the first CO2 cartridge in the pistol.

Compact pistol

In Part One I told you I was testing the smaller version of the Springfield Armory XD-M pistol. There is a larger pistol whose barrel is 4.5-inches long. The pistol I’m testing has a 3.8-inch barrel. On the cover of the owner’s manual Air Venturi refers to this one as the Compact. The other one they call Full-Size. 

Springfield XD-M mahnual description
The manual distinguishes between the Full-Size pistol and the Compact I am testing.

The grip

The Full-Size pistol has a conventional grip. The Compact has a grip that’s in two sections. Let me show you.

Springfield XD-M grip
The gip of the Compact pistol has a separate section that’s held in place by the magazine. I left the magazine sticking out in this photo.

When the magazine is locked in place, it holds the separate grip section in its place. The grip then feels like the grip of the Full-Size pistol. The only thing that’s smaller on the Compact pistol is the shorter barrel and slide.

The Compact version of the firearm does not have this two-part grip feature. It has the same 3.8-inch barrel as this BB gun, but the grip appears full-sized and solid. It must not be quite full-sized though, because Springfield Armory differentiates between the magazines for the Compact and for the Full-Size handgun. 

On the BB guns the magazines for the Compact and Full-Size guns both hold the same 20 BBs. So in terms of the grip size, they are the same. But the Compact barrel is 0.7-inches shorter than the Full-Size barrel, so the velocity will be lower.

Installing the CO2 cartridge

To install a fresh CO2 cartridge the magazine floorplate must first be removed. 

Springfield XD-M floorplate
The magazine floorplate has to come off to install the CO2 cartridge. Press down on the button (arrow) and slide it off.

Springfield XD-M floorplate off
The magazine’s floorplate comes off and the CO2 cartridge end cap is accessible.

Once the floorplate is off the end cap is unscrewed by a large Allen wrench that comes in the box and a new cartridge is dropped in. Obviously the piercing pin is deep inside the grip, so I inverted the pistol and dropped in three drops of Crosman Pellgunoil before inserting the cartridge and screwing the cap down. I never heard the slightest puff of gas, and the cartridge pierced perfectly. And the floorplate went right back on.

Not a small pistol

I have to comment that the Compact XD-M is not a small pistol. In fact, it is on the large side. A little bigger around than a classic M1911A1 grip, by a few millimeters. Mostly that’s due to the width of the firearm double stack magazine, which the BB gun faithfully copies. My point is, this BB pistol is for regular-size to larger paws. Not giants, perhaps, but larger hands for sure.

The loading assist — doesn’t!

There is no lockdown for the spring-loaded magazine follower. Instead a loading assist tool is provided. You use it to hold the follower down to load the BBs. I found it very inconvenient and fiddly, and after dropping it many times I abandoned it.It’s easy enough to hold the follower down with a fingernail, but this needs to be addressed!

 Springfield XD-M loading assist
This little piece of plastic does nothing to assist loading!

Velocity Air Venturi Steel BB

This gun is sold by Air Venturi, so I tested their BB first. Ten shots averaged 288 f.p.s. The low was 284 and the high was 290 f.p.s., which is a difference of 6 f.p.s. Two shots failed to register on the skyscreens, so this string actually took 12 shots.

I waited a minimum of 10 second between shots and sometimes a lot more. I tell you that because the CO2 cools the gun as it flows, lowering the gas pressure and slowing down the BBs. Though I must say this gun doesn’t have that problem as much as most CO2 pistols.

Dust Devils

Next up were Air Venturi Dust Devils. At 4.35-grains (though I measured them in Part one at 4.6 grains)  these BBs are slightly lighter than conventional steel BBs. Through the XD-M they averaged 287 f.p.s., though the spread was much larger. It went from a low of 276 to a high of 297 f.p.s. — a difference of 21 f.p.s.

Slide does not remain open

In this string two shots failed to register and the slide did not remain open after the last shot, so another blank shot was fired at the end. On that blank shot, though, the slide did stay back. To get the 10 shots that registered on the chronograph I had to shoot 13 shots. I’m telling you this because I’m doing the shot count as I go.

Smart Shot

We know that the lead Smart Shot BB is heavier, so it will go slower, but in a CO2 gun it won’t be as different as it would in a spring-piston BB gun. Smart Shot averaged 252 f.p.s. in the XD-M. The spread went from a low of 248 to a high of 259 f.p.s. — a difference of 11 f.p.s. There were no failures to record any velocity on this string and, although the slide did not remain back after the last shot, I did not pull the trigger again. 

Shot count

At the end of the last string there were 35 shots on the CO2 cartridge. I wondered if the gun was still shooting at its best, so I fired another string of Air Venturi BBs. Nine of the 10 shots registered, giving an average of 282 f.p.s. In the first string the average was 288 f.p.s.

The low for this string was 276 and the high was 287 f.p.s. The high was the very first shot and the low was the last shot, so the gas is starting to run out. But the power is still good, so I continued shooting Air Venturi BBs. There are now 45 shots on the CO2 cartridge.

The next string is indicative of gas pressure decline. I will show the entire string.


Yes, the gas is definitely running out. But the slide still cocks the pistol and still does not remain open after the last shot. There are now 55 shots on this CO2 cartridge. Since the gun seemed to be shooting okay, I shot four more times. Let’s look.


After these shots (shot 59 was the last one fired) I shot 9 more blank shots and the gas exhausted itself. The slide continued to blow back right to the end, though not far enough to cock the pistol on the last couple shots. From that data I’m saying there are about 50-55 good shots on a CO2 cartridge.


The pistol does have a full blowback slide. It imparts a smart push to the hand that simulates recoil pretty well, though nothing like the force of even a .380 ACP cartridge. It’s more like a .22 Short.

Trigger pull

The two stage trigger is single-action. Stage one takes one pound and stage two breaks crisply at 2 lbs. 14 oz. For an action BB pistol that is right there with the best of them.


The XD-M pistol is very realistic. It has a beautiful trigger. The Compact model that I am testing is on the large side. 

The blowback is realistic. The slide does not remain open after the last shot. That is probably a magazine issue that will vary from mag to mag.


So far so good. The pistol behaves like a good copy should. Of course we are waiting to see the accuracy, and with a trigger as nice as this I hope this pistol can drive tacks!

What is a BB gun?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Intro
  • Wow!
  • Red Ryder
  • BBs have changed
  • Safer BBs
  • Modern BB guns
  • Conclusion


This blog went live on March second, 2005. Two days later, on March 4, I wrote this report that I am reprinting today in total — just as it was published then. After you read it, I have a few updates at the end.

A BB gun is the fundamental starting point in our hobby. We shoot them, talk about them, collect them, and, for most of us, just hearing the term “BB gun” evokes a flood of memories. But what we think of when we think of BB guns depends largely on how old we are and where we came from.

The most common BB gun known today has got to be Daisy’s Red Ryder. It was the first BB gun many of us had or wanted and, since it has been around almost continuously since its introduction in 1938, that includes nearly every airgunner alive today.

Contrary to the spiel Ralphie rattled off in the movie A Christmas Story, the Red Ryder is not a “200-shot carbine-action range-model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.” Author Jean Shepherd got confused when he remembered the Red Ryders of his youth and not only clipped a bunch of shots from the magazine capacity, he also added the compass and sundial that were only found on the Buck Jones pump BB guns. But we forgave him because of the thousands of pleasant memories he brought to life. Daisy even made a special Christmas Story Red Ryder that DID have a compass and sundial, though they put them on the correct side of the stock (the left) for right-handers. Little Ralphie’s gun was built in reverse for his left-handed operation.

If you are under 40, the Red Ryder may not hold the same fascination it does for older kids. You may, in fact, remember one or two other airguns with equal fondness. One is Crosman’s M1 Carbine, a very close copy of the military firearm that was made popular in the 1960s and ’70s. It was a powerful BB gun that cocked by pushing in on the barrel to compress the mainspring. That took some effort, so smaller kids couldn’t do it, which was good because the carbine was very powerful for its size.

The other gun you may remember is still made by Crosman – the ever-popular model 760 Pumpmaster. Millions of them have been sold since introduction in 1966, the same year the M1 Carbine hit the street. The name was Powermaster back then, a tribute to the easy, short pump stroke that develops magnum power with incredible ease. Millions of boys, along with more than a few girls, fondly remember their 760s.

We still haven’t answered the title question, but here comes a bit of confusion. One of the coolest BB guns ever made is the fantastic Russian Drozd. It shoots .177 lead balls that are SO EASY to call BBs, and yet they are not the same steel BBs that are correct for Red Ryders and 760s. They are both larger and softer, being made from pure lead instead of mild steel. The Drozd has a rifled bore of true .177 specifications, so it shoots round lead balls both accurately and with great force! But, if you put steel BBs, which are both smaller and much harder, in your Drozd, you can jam the feed mechanism and ruin the rifled barrel.

So, have I answered the question yet? Not really, because I haven’t even touched on the latest BB-type gun – the airsoft gun. Maybe this is a good place to stop for now, though, because airsoft deserves a decent discussion (or two) of its own.


Things were certainly much simpler (and shorter) on Day Three of this blog! I use that many words in some of my intros today — like I just did in this one.

And things have changed in the past 15 years. The Drozd is no longer available new, though I do know of a large cache of new-old-stock guns, along with a bunch of very desirable NOS Blackbirds!

The Crosman 760 is still being made, though we recently had a test of the upgraded gun — the Crosman 760 Pumpmaster Classic. In fact, I’m still testing that one and need to put a dot sight on for the next test. Maybe I’ll use the Romeo5-XDR. Wouldn’t that be strange — testing a $35 airgun with a $300 sight? 🙂

Red Ryder

The Red Ryder is still with us, of course. And Daisy has released several Christmas Story commemorative Red Ryders for those folks who don’t want to drop $500 to buy an original 1983 Christmas Story gun. Yes, they are easily that much and more, when you can find one.

But recently Daisy came out with a Red Ryder that is sized for adults! Yep, they finally officially recognized that many of their fans have voted for the past 30-40 years.

BBs have changed

The common steel BB that in 2005 was still in it’s humdrum era, has suddenly blossomed in glorious splendor! For starters, the airgun world has recognized that a BB is supposed to be uniform in size and shape. The rusty broken-down BB manufacturing lines that were built more than a half-century ago and produced steel spheres of dubious size and roundness are almost gone. Hint, hint, Crosman. They have been replaced by modern machinery and selection methods that give us BBs of world-class quality! Daisy once bragged about their U.S.-based BB-making capability. Now they buy them from China like everyone else, and we benefit from greater quality control.

I wrote about a BB gun insert that Hammerli made in the 1950s for the Swiss K31 rifle. That insert was supposed to turn the K31 into a decent training rifle for troops. It was a great concept because the soldiers got to shoot their own assigned rifles and become used to their weight, the trigger and the sights. Today that could all be done so much better and cheaper if airgun manufacturers would only realize it. The pellet-shooting Crosman MAR 177 that sold for $600 a decade ago could be remade as an accurate BB gun insert system for AR-15s, M16s and M4s today. Think of all the military could do with savings like that! Of course they would have to wear protection to keep from shooting out their eyes, but from the pictures I see, they already are. [By the way, and the manufacturers all know this — there are tens of millions of AR-15s and copycat rifles in the world. Make an adaptor that is a cheap, safe, close-range BB-shooter for them and you can retire — your fortune is made. You see, gentle readers — AR-15 owners don’t think twice about spending money on their rifles!]

Just so everybody gets it — BB Pelletier just gave away a huge marketing idea to whichever airgun manufacturer is smart enough to capitalize on it. I’m betting on a race between Crosman and Sig. Crosman, because Ed Schultz works there now, and Sig because they can be smart about the market when they try.

Safer BBs

Now we come to two different but fabulous inventions that are revolutionizing the BB gun industry today. The lead BB that has existed for more than 80 years was recognized and is now being sold as H&N’s Smart Shot. Heck — they were making lead balls in that size already; someone just needed to explain the marketing opportunity to them. Rename and repackage the product and suddenly their slow sales to a couple hundred faithful Zimmerstutzen shooters are kick-started to far greater levels!

And then there is the Dust Devil. Now in its second generation, the Dust Devil will feed through magazines that rely on magnets, is accurate and when it hits a hard target it shatters into dust. No more bounceback! No more shooting out your eyes! Mothers of America — you need a new slogan. How about “Texting reduces verbal fluidity”? Too verbose? Maybe “Thumbs make you dumb”, or something like that?

Modern BB guns

And now we come to the BB guns of today. Compared to 2005 we have guns with incredible accuracy, beautiful functionality and other performance aspects. The M1 Carbine from Springfield Armory is fast-firing and hyper accurate with the right BB. The Lil’ Duke from Air Venturi is accurate, powerful and affordable. The Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun from Umarex is probably the most accurate BB gun I have tested, short of the all-time champion Daisy 499, and I’m just getting started!

The Legends MP40 BB gun from Umarex is so realistic that I had to buy one for myself! I actually bought a lot of these new BB guns. The Legends P08 (Luger) pistol with blowback is another champ! And don’t forget the Crosman DPMS that gives you both accuracy as well as full-auto capability.

And, by the way, I’m not letting you off the hook, Diana. You promised me an American version of the model 30 bolt-action gallery gun that shoots conventional steel BBs! Since steel and lead BBs are way better today are you concerned the new gun may outshoot your existing European Diana 30? Buck up and take one for the team!


I could go on, but I won’t. The world of BB guns has changed more in the past 15 years than it did in the previous 50. We are truly living in the golden age of BB guns.

And now, in the immortal words of Porky Pig, “I believe we have reached the end of our scheduled entertainment, ladies and gentlemen.”

With airguns home IS the range! — Part1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The indoor range
  • Quiet airguns
  • The 499
  • Quiet traps
  • Build your own trap
  • What about more powerful airguns?
  • You don’t have to just shoot paper indoors
  • Safety
  • Distance
  • Pellet trap
  • Lighting
  • Shooting table
  • Shooting at home is fun!
  • Your turn

Some of you are sitting at home right now, bored out of your gourds! Have you forgotten that you are airgunners? This is your time to shine!

This is a refresh of an article I wrote for the website in 2006 — 14 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, so I have updated it.

The indoor range

With the right airguns, it’s not only possible to shoot at home, you’ll wish you’d started years ago. I’m not talking about your backyard today. Some folks have large private backyards that let them shoot without disturbing their neighbors. But many people like me are squeezed into closer quarters with neighbors who may call the police if they see someone outside with a gun. However, a home is still a castle, and yours can have a shooting range inside.

Lucky, indeed, is the shooter with a large basement, attic, garage or shed. These are ideal places, because they are usually away from the other family members. That also increases the margin of safety. But, you don’t have to have a private space! I don’t have any of these and 90 percent of my shooting is indoors.

Any interior room with sufficient distance can be quickly turned into a range. I have set up ranges in bedrooms, living rooms, hallways and even in an empty adult classroom in a modern office building.

Quiet airguns

The secret to shooting in small spaces with thin walls is to shoot quiet airguns. There are several to choose from. If you like pistols, a multi-pump like the Crosman 1377 is perfect. On three pumps it is very quiet and will not disturb folks. You may only have 15 feet to shoot, so the lower velocity is no problem.

For long-gun shooters, I just tested the Lil’Duke BB gun for you and we all saw how well it shoots. But Any Daisy Red Ryder-type BB gun is quiet. You just have to keep the range short, which is not difficult indoors. The Lil’ Duke stock is well-suited to small children and can be used by folks all the way up to adults.

Bada Bang
When this one hits the market this summer you’re gonna be surprised!

Bada 1
The first 4 shots I fired were from the Lil’ Duke with open sights at 12 feet. I aced the target, hitting all 4 paddles in 12 seconds. The blue light flashes to let you know the target is turned on.

If you can tolerate a little more noise the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine is ideal. It’s accurate plus it’s a semiautomatic. 

Need a pellet rifle? Consider the TR5. For my money, the TR5 Pro is the one to get. Or, if you want a CO2 repeater consider the Umarex Fusion 2. It’s quiet and accurate at a bargain price. I tested the Fusion and I hope to test the Fusion 2 soon.

The 499

If you want to shoot as quietly as a mouse’s cough, Daisy’s Avanti Champion 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun, and probably also the quietest. It can shoot 10 BBs through the hole of a Lifesaver candy at 5 meters (16.4 feet). It is easy enough for a six-year-old to cock and light enough to shoot all day, though the adult-sized stock may have to be cut shorter for youngsters. Be sure to also buy the Avanti Precision Ground Shot that is made specifically for this BB gun. It’s what makes the magic happen.

A great target pistol that’s fun indoors is the V10 Match pistol from Air Venturi. It’s a single-shot pistol that has a single stroke pneumatic system — one pump is all it takes. Sig’s new ASP Super Target is another fine single stroke and this one is easier to pump! Of course the single-stroke Beeman P17 can’t be beat! When used with a quiet trap the only noise from these guns will be their quiet discharges. 

Quiet traps

You need to catch all pellets or BBs when you shoot indoors. Pyramyd Air’s Quiet Pellet Trap is perfect for both types of ammo, though the impact putty compound does need to be cleaned from time to time. The same trap also works for steel BBs. I will be discussing the safer BBs in a bit.

With a metal trap the impact sound is often louder than the gun’s report, but with these quiet traps, there’s almost no sound at all. The trap makes zero noise, yet it is suitable for powerful pellet guns up to 1,000 in .177 and 800 f.p.s. in .22.

Build your own trap

Okay, I will state the obvious. You can make your own quiet BB/pellet trap if you want. I have certainly written enough articles about how it’s done!

To protect the wall behind the trap, I recommend a plywood or chipboard sheet at least three times the size of the trap. It will stop any stray pellets or BBs from hitting the wall or door behind the trap. That’s very uncommon, of course, but when others shoot your guns or when you shoot a gun you aren’t familiar with, it’s good to have the extra protection.

What about more powerful airguns?

You can shoot more powerful airguns in your house, but you’ll need a stronger trap to contain them. Pyramyd Air stocks a steel pellet and rimfire trap that is ideal. It’s strong enough to stop a 40-grain bullet from a .22 long rifle cartridge. It’s also strong enough for any smallbore (.177, .20, .22 and .25) airgun made. However, when the velocity of a lead pellet exceeds about 600 f.p.s., the pellet starts breaking up on impact, and that generates both lead fragments and lead dust.

You may not want lead dust in your home, so stick with guns that shoot slower than 600 f.p.s., or use a quiet pellet trap for guns shooting from 600 up to about 1,000 f.p.s. The Quiet Trap generates no lead dust if the pellets are cleaned out after use.

You don’t have to just shoot paper indoors

We did not have safe BBs in 2006 when I initially wrote this article, but we have them today. You have a choice of two — the lead Smart Shot or the Air Venturi Dust Devil 2 that has just come out. You know from my recent testing of both BBs in the Lil’ Duke that they can be quite accurate at close range. While I haven’t yet tested the new Dust Devils in the M1 Carbine I am expecting to see the same results — if not even better. That Carbine is a shootin’ machine!

I can’t recommend the larger action targets for indoors because it takes too large a backstop behind them to stop the BBs, but the Slynger Metal Silhouettes can be placed inside a steel trap and shot with either a BB gun shooting safe BBs or a low-powered pellet rifle like the Crosman 1077. My advice is to use the hole that’s in the base of each target and somehow attach them to the metal trap with monofilament line. That will save you the trouble of fishing them out from behind the washing machine.

If you do shoot at metal traps or targets, remember to have a plan to keep the house clean. It won’t do to loose your shooting privileges over stray BBs and steel dust. You can place the targets or traps deep inside large cardboard boxes and they are great at catching any stuff that comes back out.


1. Shooting safety is always an issue, and inside the home there are some additional things to think about.

2. People who are not shooting should be kept away from the downrange area. If the pellet trap is located near a door or hallway, do whatever is necessary to prevent anyone from wandering into the hall or coming through the door. This applies especially to young children. If you shoot down the length of a hall, always stop if a person has to use the hall and wait until they have come out before resuming.

3. Keep pets away from the pellet trap. Cats and small dogs are especially attracted to the noise of a pellet striking the trap.

4. Pellets shot at velocities above 600 f.p.s. shatter into fragments when they hit a hard surface. Set the trap deep inside a large cardboard box tray to help contain the fragments. Sweep up after every session to prevent small children or pets ingesting the lead particles on the floor.

BBs rebound from most traps. The silent trap is filled with impact putty that holds them tight. After you’re done shooting, a sweep of the floor with a strong magnet will collect any stray BBs before they get sucked up by the vacuum cleaner or eaten by a child or pet. This works for everything except the lead BBs. You have to sweep for them .

5. Everyone in the shooting area should wear safety glasses.

6. You must use an approved pellet or BB trap. Cardboard boxes filled with newspapers will not contain your shots for very long. In fact, they won’t contain even one shot from a powerful airgun such as an AirForce Condor. A Condor will shoot through a 2×4 or the wall of a house and still have enough force to severely dent appliances such as washing machines or refrigerators.

Construction of the range


The ideal distance for an indoor range is 33 feet or more, because so many airgun sports shoot at 10 meters. If you don’t have that much room, use smaller targets like those made for BB guns and use whatever distance you do have. I have 16 feet in my garage, which is the international competition distance for BB guns.

Pellet trap

The trap should be ideally about the same height as the muzzle of the gun. If several people are using the range and are both standing and shooting off a bench, locate the trap at about four feet off the floor. Shoot straight into the trap, not on an angle, to prevent ricochets.


It’s important to have good light on the target. The shooting area should be not as well lit, so the targets appear very bright in comparison. A clip-on light with an aluminum reflector that you get for a few dollars at any hardware store is a great way to light the target. A single 75-watt floodlight bulb is bright enough if placed within eight feet of the target. A 500-watt halogen work light is even better! That’s what I use.

Shooting table

You’re going to want something on which to put your guns, pellets and other items, so plan for a shooting table at the firing line. The table should mark the line that no one passes when shooting is taking place.

Shooting at home is fun!

If you follow the safety precautions outlined in this article, shooting at home can be great fun. You will be surprised how much it increases your opportunity to shoot.

Your turn

Okay, I got you started but this report is really for you. Tell us what you shoot at indoors and especially how you stop the BBs/pellets and keep the place clean!

John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Lil Duke and scope
John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • What happened?
  • I thought I knew better
  • Is it really tight?
  • The scope
  • The test
  • Air Venturi Steel BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Avanti Match Grade Precision Ground Shot
  • Smart Shot
  • Old Dust Devils
  • Dust Devil Mark 2
  • What have we learned?
  • Summary

I tested the John Wayne Lil’ Duke BB gun with scope in Part 4, but if you read that report you’ll see that the scope base was a little loose. Today’s report clears that up.

What happened?

Reader Chris USA asked me if I read the instructions that came with the scope base, Of course I read them. The better question to ask was when did I read them? I read them as I was editing my report and wondering why Pyramyd Air would let a scope base this flimsy go out. That was the reason for the Oh, fudge! title at the end.

I thought I knew better

You see, I tested a BB-gun scope base like this back in 2016. You may remember the Brice scope base for the Red Ryder BB gun. That was years before this base hit the market and I thought I knew everything there was to know about BB gun scope bases.

And, by the way, Chris, that is the scope base Tyler shows in his video. He is mounting a scope to a Red Ryder — not the Lil’ Duke. That base has the acorn nut. This one for the Lasso scope on the Lil’ Duke does not. Nor does it have two screw holes in back for mounting the scope that are shown on the description page. Look at the picture I showed you in Part 4. That is the base I am testing. It has one screw hole and no acorn nut.

Duke scope base
This is the scope base that comes with the Lil’ Duke. It has a single screw hole.


I told you the one screw that screws into the top of the pistol grip and holds the scope base tight is important. It’s a machine screw — not a wood screw like you might assume. I had screwed it in many turns and it never got tight. I thought it was not long enough to grab the threads in the stock, but now that I was fiddling with the base again I turned it many more revolutions and it finally tightened. I just had not turned it in far enough! That’s the difference between a wood screw with fast threads and a machine screw with finer threads. With the screw tight the scope base also got reasonably snug, though not what would call tight.

But there is more to it. I showed you a picture of the scope base installed without the rear sight elevator back in the sight. In the caption I said the elevator is supposed to be in the sight. When do you think I wrote that caption? That’s right — after writing the Oh, fudge title for that paragraph! Yes — as difficult as it is to believe, even for me, old BB Pelletier messed up big time!

As it turns out, that elevator is very important to the mounting of this scope base. It raises the rear sight leaf, putting downward spring tension on the scope base. Voila — the scope base is now tight!

Duke elevator
The rear sight elevator puts downward pressure on the scope base, tightening it when the rear mounting screw is tight.

Is it really tight?

Now that I have corrected the scope base, is it really tight? Yes and no. It’s tight if no pressure is put on the scope tube. But it is still possible to wiggle the scope from side to side just a little. The base is plastic and I see no way around some movement because plastic flexes. But it seems to return to the same position after each wiggle. I think the accuracy test will determine whether it is solid or not.

The scope

Since I was perfecting things I also spent time with the Lasso scope. I unscrewed the eyepiece close to a half inch and finally got the reticle lines sharp. The target is still not in focus, but that is a problem with the fixed parallax that I will live with. It isn’t that bad.

The test

I ran another accuracy test from 5 meters, resting the BB gun on the UTG Monopod as before. I shot 10-shot groups as before and I shot the same BBs that were used in the first scope test in the same order, so we can compare groups.

Though the scope has been taken off the gun and the mount tightened, I still sighted in from 5 meters because that is very close. I shot the first group that landed low and right. I attempted to adjust the scope up, but it was already up as high as it would go. If I really wanted to use it I would put a thin washer under the base before screwing it tight. A shim under the rear might raise it up to the aim point.

Air Venturi Steel BBs

At 5 meters 10 Air Venturi Steel BBs went into a horizontal group that measured 1.905-inches between centers. In the previous test the group size was 2.385-inches, so this is 0.48-inches smaller. It’s a good start.

Duke Air Venturi group
Ten Air Venturi Steel BBs made this 1.901-inch group at 5 meters.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

Hornady Black Diamond BBs were next to be tested. In the previous test ten BBs went into 1.814-inches. This time ten went into 1.662-inches — a difference of 0.152-inches. That’s really too close to call.

Duke Hornady group
Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs went into 1.658-inches at 5 meters.

Avanti Match Grade Precision Ground Shot

In the previous test ten Avanti Match Grade Precision Ground Shot made a 1.711-inch group at 5 meters. In this test another ten of the same BB went into 1.096-inches. That is 0.615-inches smaller, which is significant. It’s less than half the size of the previous group.

Duke Avanti Shot group
The scoped Lil’ Duke put 10 Avanti Match Grade shot in 1.096-inches at 5 meters.

Smart Shot

Now we come to the BB that has proven itself to be the most accurate one in this gun — the lead H&N Smart Shot. In the previous test 10 made a 1.148-inch group with one shot that was a pull. This time 10 went into 1.327-inches at the same 5 meters. Yes, nine of them are in a much smaller 0.952-inches, but the shot that is out to the right was not a called pull, so it is a legitimate part of the group. In this case, the previous group was better than this one by 0.179-inches. That is almost enough of a difference to be meaningful.

Duke Smart Shot group
Ten Smart Shot lead BBs made this 1.327-inch group at 5 meters.

Old Dust Devils

Next to be tested were the Old Dust Devils that are no longer available. In the last test ten made a Ten of them made a 1.147-inch group at 5 meters. This time ten went into 2.128-inches at 5 meters. That is considerably larger by 0.981-inches! I cannot explain why this group is nearly twice as large as the one from the former test.

Duke old Dust Devil group
Ten of the old Dust Devils went into 2.128-inches at 5 meters.

Dust Devil Mark 2

The new Dust Devils did okay this time. In the previous test 10 went into 1.345-inches at 5 meters. In this test ten made a 1.469-inch group at 5 meters. That is a difference on 0.124-inches in favor of the previous test. Once again, not a very significant difference.

new Dust Devil group
Ten new Dust Devils went into 1.469-inches at 5 meters.

What have we learned?

I hope the big lesson today is to both read the manual and also spend time with the gun as you mount the scope base and scope. I don’t care for scopes on BB guns, yet this one seems to do okay except for being out of focus and shooting too low.

I think all the testing has proved beyond any doubt that the Smart Shot BB is the most accurate in this gun. It has also demonstrated that this little BB gun is remarkably accurate with many BBs, and should be on your short list as an ideal kid’s BB gun.


The Lil’ Duke is a winner! With the open sights it’s the most accurate lever action spring piston  BB gun I have ever tested besides the Daisy 499. If you need a BB gun, this is the one to get.