How to shoot your Daisy 880 Quietly

Low powered air rifles are pretty quiet compared to firearms, but they still make a good bit of noise. In this post, I’m going to talk about the things that I do to make my Daisy 880 shoot quieter, enhancing my hunting capabilities and being less noticeable to those around me.

My 880 - a quiet hunting machine
My 880 – a quiet hunting machine

Probably the first noise you’ll notice when using your 880 is the sound of the pump handle. That clack-clack sound is pretty loud, and it seems even louder when you are trying to kill that second squirrel you see. There’s a really simple fix you can do. First, remove the pump handle retaining spring. This will make opening the handle easier and quieter.

Now we need to make closing the handle quiet. I went to my local hardware store and picked up some adhesive-backed felt pads. My pump handle was cleaned with a bit of rubbing alcohol, then I stuck one of those pads on:

Cheap, easy fix for pump handle noise
Cheap, easy fix for pump handle noise

Notice that it is near the end of the handle. Now you can pressurize your 880 quietly and possibly get followup shots where you couldn’t before.

The next real noise your 880 will make is the muzzle report. There are a few ways to minimize shot noise. First, be sure your pumping matches your quarry. If you are taking down pest birds or mice, 3 to 5 pumps at close range are likely all you need. Less pressure, less noise.

When you are hunting things that require more power, switching to a heavier pellet will give you more power and reduce the report. Two for the price of one! Out of the box, the Daisy 880 shoots heavier pellets with better efficiency and less noise, and that trend continues as you apply power mods.

The ultimate in quiet shooting
The ultimate in quiet shooting

The final step in getting your Daisy 880 shooting quietly is to install a LDC, or airgun moderator. This reduces the noise of the shot down to a mouse sneeze. When I was wanting to quiet my 880 down, I couldn’t find any that would work, so I designed and made my own. If you are interested in getting one for yourself, check out my sale page.

Combined with all the previously mentioned steps, the LDC will make multiple followup shots possible from a good hidden shooting position. You’ll be able to target practice in the backyard without annoying those around you. Many of these techniques can be applied to other pumpers such as the Crosman 2100, 13XX series, and Benjamin rifles as well.

Stroking the B3-3

In my last post, I mentioned installing a shorter piston in my B3-3 to increase power. I was originally going to use a piston from a B4-2, but that turned out to be too small. Looks like I’m going to have to modify my original piston.

Piston air rifles are similar to car engines. Common techniques to improve power with car engines are boring and stroking. Boring involves making the cylinders a tad larger. With multiple cylinders, this can really add up. Our rifle has a single cylinder and not enough meat to remove much. Stroking is going to be our best bet. More air will be ahead of the piston and the piston will generate more speed and momentum, both increasing power.

A shorter piston gives a longer power stroke. The original stroke length was only 58mm, much too short to produce any real power. In fact, it produces 7.73 fpe at the muzzle with RWS Superpoints. Let’s see if we can shorten the piston, increasing the stroke, and gain some power…

I noticed that the head of the piston was attached to the skirt by means of pins. I drilled those out and expanded the skirt by hammering a wedge down the back seam. With a bit of prying and wiggling, the head popped free from the skirt:

Time for modification
Time for modification

Take a close look at the skirt on the right. You’ll see a collar that fits in the rear groove of the piston. I cut the skirt right behind that collar. The head was then placed back into the skirt. I placed the whole assembly on a small anvil and hammered the skirt carefully around the head. Here’s what it looked like at that point:

Cut down piston by the compression chamber
Cut down piston by the compression chamber

To attach the head to the skirt, I drilled holes in the skirt above the rear groove in the head. I then welded them together, concentrating the heat into the head, and letting the puddle bond with the skirt. The same technique was used on the top and bottom where the seam and cocking slot exposed the head.  In this way, the head and skirt have become one nearly seamless piece, much stronger than the original pinned design.

I then rounded the piston on a belt sander. It fits the compression chamber beautifully. Several holes were drilled along the body of the skirt to further lighten it. The cocking slot was ground into the head to give the necessary clearance for the longer stroke. Here’s what it is looking like:

Nearly completed piston
Nearly completed piston

Ignore the plastic on the rear for now. I cleaned everything up and added a light coat of lube. There was some minor adjustments I had to make to the cocking linkage. To test the fit and function, I installed the spring with almost no preload. The results were immediately impressive. The RWS Superpoints went from averaging 490 fps with the spring nearly coilbound to 525 fps with almost no preload. This is an increase of over a foot pound, with a huge decrease in cocking effort. Stroke length went from 58 mm to 70 mm.

Of course, I’m not content with that. I calculated a potential muzzle velocity of 588 fps and began increasing spring preload in an attempt to get there. I got to 545 fps and then ran into a bit of trouble. There was too much play between the rear of the skirt and the body of the action. Under heavier spring tension, the sear would not stay engaged, and the rifle would attempt to fire as the cocking lever was brought forward. Remember that plastic in the last picture? That was a lame attempt to fix that issue. It fixed that issue, but also acts as a brake.

Moral of the story – always remember these rifles are known as finger chompers! Keep your fingers out of the breech unless you have a firm grip on the cocking arm with your other hand. When returning the lever, make sure your hands are not between the lever and barrel. I observe these rules and my fingers and hands are intact.

To fix this issue, I’m going to attempt heat forming HDPE plastic to fashion buttons. This will provide a low friction surface between the skirt and action wall, while keeping everything tight and centered.

Been shooting and experimenting

The weather has been nicer lately, so I’ve been doing a good bit of shooting as well as experimenting. I came across my old Hercules B-4-2 air rifle. It is in terrible shape,  but has usable parts. I plan to cut, shorten, and reweld the piston to add some swept volume to my B3-3. Perhaps I can get it up to 550 fps?

Old B-4-2 Piston
Old B-4-2 Piston. Shortened a bit, time to weld for safety.

Of course power is nothing without accuracy. In my never ending quest for spring piston accuracy, I’ve decided to soft bed my B3-3 with Sorbothane. Man, that stuff is expensive! I got a square foot of it, enough to bed all my rifles and then some. Of course, it arrived just before dark, on the night before my workweek starts. Even so, I’ve got the bedding job done and did a little outdoor plinking. The initial results are promising, and I’ll be sure to detail it all soon.

Soft bedding
Soft bedding my B3-3 with Sorbothane disks.

A lot less vibration is felt and heard though the stock. I did some 30 to 60 yard plinking on clay pigeons using a firmer rifle type hold with very pleasing results. I’ll put it on paper this upcoming week and see how it does. I’m hoping that Sorbothane will make my spring pistons less hold sensitive.

In spite of having higher quality guns as well as more powerful guns, it is funny how I always end up back at the old B3-3. I’m very tempted to pick up another in .177 to balance my collection.