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The Great BB Hygroscopy Experiment™

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After having my M249 jam twice today whilst running in a new bucking on what I suspect were the mixed-in .30g Nuprol tracers (I know they're usually fine) I've decided once and for all that perhaps we should work towards a proper way of categorising all the common BB brands to find which expand like the bullshit BB King rebrands they are, and which are safe to use even after years in a damp closet.

 

It would be silly for me to go out and buy 40 different bags of BBs, so I need your help with swollen BBs. Heh.

 

What do you mean?

If you're out of the loop, some BBs - most notably BB King, Nuprol and Gunfire Rockets & Platinums have come under fire for adsorbing water in the air at a rapid rate (i.e. being highly 'hygroscopic') and swelling - jamming people's barrels. Nuprol, for example, have denied these claims and pinned the issue on a 'bad batch'. We need to put this to rest and find out which brands are hygroscopic and which are not. I'm really not satisfied with some of the answers we've had from both retailers and brands so far. I can't be the only one that feels this way.

 

How does this work?

 

Step 1. - The ammo

I need 150 of each BB brand/weight we're going to test. If you have some lying about then please, please, please PM me. I will pay postage costs if you like.

We need a diverse set of brands, but the BBs must be new. You must have purchased them in the last 3 months and the bag must not have been opened before you open it to send them to me. This bit is incredibly important - if your BBs are old then they're of no use I'm afraid.

As such, you may only be in a position to send a couple of brands or weights. That's completely fine - please just PM me with whatever you can contribute.

Step 2. - The setup

Each set of BBs will be split into three different testing groups (50 bbs in each): The control, the vacuum seal and the underwater groups.

The control group

These BBs will be kept in an open-top container at room temperature (and in the dark to avoid photodegradation).

The vacuum sealed group

These BBs will be kept in your bog-standard 'hoover operated' bed sheet/linen airtight storage bag with bags of silica gel to remove air moisture (and in the dark to avoid photodegradation).

The underwater group

These BBs will be kept in an closed-lid container that's filled with lab-grade distilled water (and in the dark to avoid photodegradation).

I will start new batches every week as more BBs arrive, so they're not sitting about doing nothing and potentially marring our results.

Step 3. - The measuring

Every week all samples will have 3 BBs removed, dried off with a paper towel (where applicable), measured with digital vernier callipers and weighed on scales. The average of the 3 measurements will be logged for the week.

We can do this for up to 4 months. Most of the BBs we see today have an 'expiry' of 3 months when opened, so this should be fine. Remember, we're using extreme conditions here in both the vacuum and underwater groups.

A nice side effect is that I'll also be getting the average weight of your brand of choice too, and I'll do a crush test on the two spare BBs from each test for air bubbles.

Final results

Every month (or even more frequently) I will compile a list of the BB results in a public spreadsheet with graphs and shizzle.

 

 

So if you're now at all interested in helping then please send me a PM about your BBs (ifyouknowwhatimean).

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I have some BB King Sniper 0.43s which might be good to test as reliability and consistency is most critical to snipers or marksman. I only opened them a few weeks ago :)

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This will give some results but the problem is that the BBs aren't consistent between batches. The test batch of these heavy BB king / Nuprol / Rockets was extremely awesome. They sent it out to retailers. A guy I know who makes living of building custom airsoft sniper guns was blown away. Every retailer ordered huge amounts of it, but what came was the proper sh*t ones. Then the factory fixed it and now we have somewhat better ones but still not the same as the tester batch.

 

It will be great to have your tests, but there will still be a problem with these batches... Maybe contacting retailers or the factories directly?

If you could somehow identify the factories behind the rebrands, that would be awesome.

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You are missing a very important and, what I suspect to be the primary issue here, that is Humidity.

Your vacuum group is a fail before you start, because its the only one you are manipulating humidity which you are not in the rest. But you are not testing, or controlling that humidity. it is a complete random process.

Also you state room temperature? what is that? how are you recording or monitoring that? temp is variable, room temp can vary significantly from day to night, heating on and off, again it's completely unaccounted for.

 

Both of these together are so important that your study is insignificant before you have even started, all you are doing is wasting a few thousand bbs for anecdotal findings.

 

Also fwiw your control group isn't a control group, as its already been manipulated. your version of a control is actually an "open air" group. The true control group would be a new factory sealed bag, from the same batch that has not been interfered with at all.

 

I know that all sound very negative, but what good is science without peer review?

 

 

Temp is a difficult one to regulate domestically, The best way i can forsee it is to store them all in a cool box, this solves the uv exposure issue (another variable you should be testing) a cool box won't regulate temperature, but will be more stable than a wardrobe. The other alternative is the freezer, but that just adds another confounding variable.

 

Isolated Humidity is an easy one to test, take a bag, split them in half into zip lock bags. place a few high RH boveda bags in one and wait. regulate temp and UV.

Regulating humidity between all procedures is going to be tough.

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Well, I knew this one was coming :D Thank you for the feedback, seriously. However, this isn't good science. This is me doing it in a cupboard and not wanting to spend more than £30 on getting it done; we're still talking about BB guns here.

 

I feel it's unfair to dismiss the entire thing as anecdotal. I'm entirely convinced this wouldn't hold up under any scrutiny, but remember that we're anticipating absolutely zero swelling from anything not Chonggao. Even if we can get some degree of swelling at the kind of ambient temperatures you'd find inside a home, that's still a massive finding. Vacuum sealing BBs send in with decadent is the best that can be done; people aren't going to be sending me whole bags and I'm certainly not buying them. I take your point, but it's certainly not something I've not thought of. I've simply dismissed it as impractical, unfortunately. Don't worry, I'll make sure the disclaimer is nice and clear. I would really love to be able to do a properly controlled test - I don't have the time or money, but I wanted to take it a step further than just dropping some BBs in a Petri dish with some water for a night or two.

 

And I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure BBs underwater is manipulating humidity a little, right? Lol. I realise isolating the variables is important so we're only testing one at a time. Again though, practicality comes into this. It's not ideal. I can't run that many separate test groups at least on the first try. Again, I'm not aiming to find deformation in the UV-degradable bio BBs here. Perhaps for that reason I shouldn't use them until UV can be properly controlled.

 

I'll PM you and see if we can figure something out. I'm particularly interested in humidity if that's possible to do within a reasonable budget. Those packets look like they might be able to help, so thanks.

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I've got some brand new (but opened once) G&G 0.25g Bio BBs if you're interested in a few hundred. And some madbull 0.2g tracer (green or red) if you're interested in running lower sample sizes (20 instead of 50).

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Can't take any if they've already been opened more than a couple of days ago, sorry.

Ah, glad I mentioned that, I've got sealed Madbull 0.2g Tracers (red), would be sad to part with them though. :P But as I only use them to mark ammo consumption I can do that np if they're interesting to your experiment - got 5500 left.

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If they're sealed and you want to send them then that'd be great, but only if you want to :)

 

This will give some results but the problem is that the BBs aren't consistent between batches. The test batch of these heavy BB king / Nuprol / Rockets was extremely awesome. They sent it out to retailers. A guy I know who makes living of building custom airsoft sniper guns was blown away. Every retailer ordered huge amounts of it, but what came was the proper sh*t ones. Then the factory fixed it and now we have somewhat better ones but still not the same as the tester batch.

 

It will be great to have your tests, but there will still be a problem with these batches... Maybe contacting retailers or the factories directly?

If you could somehow identify the factories behind the rebrands, that would be awesome.

Oops. Completely missed this.

This is something I was thinking about as well, and I'm happy to email them but the thing is I don't imagine they'll reply. Maybe if we do this first run, perhaps it'll get some attention and they'll provide another batch?

 

I dunno. There's no real solution unfortunately.

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One way to regulate humidity could be to use a method used in humidors.

 

A capsule with holes in containing cotton wool saturated with a solution of propylene glycol and distilled water will help to keep the humidity constant in a fixed vessel. As the water is absorbed you just dampen the cotton wool with more distilled water.

 

Have a look here:

 

http://www.simplycigars.co.uk/cigar-accessories-humidor-accessories-c-266_100_130.html

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