From educating shooters to plinking to competition to keeping in top shooting form, Daisy’s Model 499B Champion Competition Air Rifle is a win for youth shooters, newbies, and veterans.
by Jace Bauserman
I didn’t grow up in a hunting or shooting family. My dad was a baseball coach and a school teacher. Don’t worry; this isn’t one of those “I had a rough childhood” sob stories. I had an excellent childhood.
I got interested in shooting at nine. My dad didn’t get upset. Rather, he bought me a Daisy air rifle. I can’t remember the name of that rifle, but I could pump it up for power, it had open iron sights, and after a year of intense shooting, I was deadly with it.
Starlings, ground squirrels, and countless pigeons paid the price. I shot daily, and as my form developed and I learned my rifle inside and out, I became incredibly accurate. When my dad was having an addition put on our home, one of the construction guys gave me some thin wood shims that measured one-inch wide. I would split them down the middle from 15 yards almost every time I pulled the trigger. The guys would cheer, hoot, and holler. I loved it. I hammered grasshoppers off weeds daily during the summer and worked tirelessly to perfect my craft.
Later in life, when I started hunting with a shotgun and high-powered rifle, I discovered I was an excellent shot. No, I’m not bragging. I credit my sound shooting ability to all those years shooting my air rifle.
Great Training Aid
Air rifles are a blast to shoot and are excellent training tools. I have a solid collection, and my boys, ages 11 and 18, shoot in the backyard several times per week. Both have rifles and shotguns of their own, and both have harvested small game and big game; however, they love to shoot and learned they can safely shoot an air rifle almost anywhere.
Air rifles are great for teaching first-time shooters gun safety and proper mechanics, and are an excellent tool for helping accomplished shooters stay sharp during the off-season. From shooting Birchwood Casey paper targets to busting clay targets, to hammering varmints, air rifles are a blast.
I like using an air rifle to train myself to be a better shot. Air rifles can be shot almost anywhere — safety first — but nearly every backyard environment will do. I can work on my target acquisition, cheek placement on the stock, hand placement on the forearm if shooting offhand, trigger pull, et cetera.
One air rifle I’ve been testing for a few weeks now and am having a lot of fun with is Daisy’s Model 499B Champion Competition Air Rifle. Daisy slugs the rifle as the most accurate 5-meter competition rifle in the world, and while I have not yet hit the tournament trail, I have conducted my field tests and agree with the statement.
The air rifle measures 36.25 inches and weighs 3.1 pounds. The Monte Carlo wood stock, forearm, and smooth-bore steel barrel give the rifle a classic look. After removing the air rifle from the box, the wide, flat, wooden forearm was one of the first things to jump out at me. A quick measure told me the flat surface portion was 1-1/2 inches wide. I loved the way the flat, wide surface felt in my hand. This air rifle shoots accurately offhand, and the wide base of the forearm is a nice addition.
The wooden stock boasts a swell that comes off a dip in the upper backend. The raised (not-adjustable) cheekpiece felt solid. The raised cheekpiece and wide forearm provided a stable, balanced shooting platform when I shouldered the rifle, and though I had yet to attach the rear sight, I expected superb eye-to-peep alignment.
The lever action isn’t overly stiff, cocking is easy, and I appreciate Daisy included a stiff lever catch that prevents lever slop. Daisy added a wide, ample, gridded, and raised safety. The safety sits on the rifle’s right side just above the trigger, and manipulation is easy. Lift the trigger finger to press the safety forward to the fire position and back to return the air rifle to the safe position.
The air rifle’s sights are where things get interesting. Not an air rifle with standard iron sights, this competition air rifle was engineered for accuracy. The sights include a hooded front sight with six interchangeable aperture inserts and a competition-style rear sight. The rear sight mounts to the receiver via the included Allen wrench and is fully adjustable up/down and left/right. More to come on this sight system, but I will also note that the rear competition sight is a peep-style aperture sight.
The rifle is a single-shot muzzle-loading rifle, another piece I love if you plan to train, teach rifle safety, or teach young shooters the value of making a single shot count.
To load the rifle:
- Ensure it is not cocked and the safety is in the labeled “safe” position.
- Stand the gun on the butt of the stock; it will almost balance.
- Keep your face away from the muzzle and use your non-brace hand to drop a single BB in the muzzle.
You are now ready to cock the lever, point the air rifle in a safe direction, remove the safety, and take a shot.
In The Field
Some may roll their eyes, and that’s fine, but I love shooting air rifles. I like to get creative with my courses and have fun.
For the first portion of my test, I wanted to get the rifle zeroed at 5 meters (5.46807 yards). Sighting in this air rifle is easy. I chose to do it offhand. I used the left/right turret dial and could watch the arrow move across the engraved-in-the-plastic grooves, which made achieving accurate windage easy. Elevation followed, and the process was the same. Daisy includes elevation marks, which makes the zeroing process simple.
My final three-shot sight-in group at 5 meters put two out of three BBs in the black ring on a National Rifle Association 5-Meter BB Gun Target.
With the rifle sighted in, I spent hours busting clay targets, sending BBs at 240 fps. I will note that the rifle doesn’t have the power to crack clay beyond five meters. It will chip the clay but will not bust it.
For fun, I set paper targets at 10 yards and 20 yards. With a muzzle velocity of 240 fps, bullet drop past 5 meters is significant. Accuracy does suffer the further you move from the target, but it’s still fun to shoot some distance.
The further you move from the target, the more improper shooting form shows. Jerk the trigger, which does have some creep, and you’ll miss by a large margin. Try and peek above the peep sight at the shot, and you’ll drop the barrel with your offhand and hit low. This air rifle is a remarkable training tool for learning and perfecting proper shooting form.
I switched the front sight inserts several times to see what peep-to-hooded-housing worked best for me. I liked the single bar from the bottom of the insert’s circular housing, but my son preferred one of the full-circle inserts. Swapping inserts is easy. Daisy put a slot in the hooded front aperture. Depress the slot, and you can slide inserts in and out of the front sight.
You can have a lot of fun with your Daisy air rifle, and I recommend getting several — the manufacturer has an extensive lineup — for you and your family.
Daisy Model 499B Champion Competition Air Rifle (Specifications)
- Caliber: .177 BB
- Action: Lever
- PowerPlant: Spring
- Maximum Shooting Distance: 152 yards
- Length: 36.25 inches
- Weight: 3.1 pounds
- Rail: None
- FPS: 240
- Stock: Monte Carlo
- Barrel: Smooth Bore Steel
- Length of Pull: 13.25 in.
- Sights: Hooded front with aperture inserts/adjustable rear peep
- Safety: Manual
- MSRP: $185.90