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I’ve been curious about the Russian-made DROZD automatic BB gun since first reading about it in the sporting press, so when a visiting friend from another state dropped by with his, I was anxious to try it out.

Picking up the DROZD, you can’t help but notice that this is a substantial piece of equipment- there’s a fair bit of steel in there. It’s not all plastic like some BB and soft air guns. It’s a hard shooter, too, with some reviewers claiming velocities of 1200 to 1600fps- although as I didn’t chronograph the gun, I can’t verifiy those figures. They’re reasonable numbers, though, as the computed muzzle energy would only be between 3 and 5 foot-pounds, assuming a standard steel BB.DROZD

Although- reading the reviews and recommendations at Pyramid’s web site leaves some question as to exactly what the proper ammunition should be. Pyramid initally said only lead shot should be used, but later discussions said that lead shot could deform and jam the gun, and that the factory actually approved the use of steel. This is even more confusing when you consider that BBs are smaller than .177- so if indeed the gun was designed for lead, BBs will allow a lot of air blowby.

And if the DROZD was designed for steel, lead shot may well jam. Back in the 70s, Robert Beeman sold .177 lead pellets and recommended that they be used in preference to steel in all BB guns, which led to a lot of jammed guns (including my collectable Daisy 1894!) and a lot of malfunctioning guns that normally depended on a magnet to hold a BB in position for firing.

Regardless of what shot you use, this isn’t a gun that particularly interests me. I like accurate guns, and the DROZD is very much a spray-and-pray gun. You can’t shoot target with it, and it would be downright inhumane to shoot even vermin with it. It does have some of the charm of the fairgrounds shoot-the-playing-card BB machine guns I enjoyed as a child, but loading the magazine could get very tedious. Of course I suppose that’s true of automatic firearms as well. And if you live in a state that bans Class 3 weapons, this would really be your only option, other than a plastic pellet firing “machine gun”.
Regardless, I’ve already had my fill of BB machine guns. If you look at the lower right hand corner of this fragment from a 1960s Johnson-Smith catalog, you’ll see a picture of the hand-cranked plastic BB machine gun I saved up my pennies for many years ago. (I bought the jet engine, too, but that’s another story for another web site.)

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