.25” Calibre Pellet Round Up
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- Last updated: 08/12/2016
Calibre is a very personal thing, be that with rimfire, shotgun, centrefire or airgun, everyone has their own choice, experiences, likes and dislikes. I have my favourites for sure but I think that each calibre has its own unique place in the hierarchy of cartridges, with specific tasks it does well.
None more so than the .25 cal airgun pellet. On first looks everyone says slow and heavy, with a trajectory like a fully laden dustbin but look closer and the big lead slug has certain merits. What the .25 calibre offers the hunter is sheer short range knockdown power. In that I mean whereas the smaller more common .177 and .22s can over penetrate a rabbit or pigeon and thus lose some energy transfer to the animal, the big old .25 often stays inside the carcass and expends all its energy within the vital area. This gives it excellent hunting potential, so long as the range is kept below the 25yard mark.
No surprise here, there is less choice in the pellet selection department than the more common .177, .22 or even .20 cal pellets but there is still enough choice for certain game to get the job done. Problems really come with barrel dimensions. Generally speaking .25 bores are on the tight side and some European pellets are a real tight fit, which will affect both accuracy and general performance!
I was able to source 13 differing .25 pellet types ranging from domed to hollow points and finally pointed types. Each sample of ten were weighed and the average result taken to gain an accurate weight for calculations later for velocity, energy and trajectory. Due to the varying sizes and head and waist dimensions and tight bores on some .25 rifles it can be prudent to use a very handy tool such as a pellet sizer.
There are two types, both swaging a pellet through a metal die to correct dimensions, one is a large flat cylinder with many holes through which pellets are sized, this is available from PCMB for £25 (www.pmcb.co.uk) The one which I own is the T. R Robb single pellet probe sizer which is more time consuming but just as accurate. For testing I used my trusty BSA Tactical, Hatsan Dominator 200 and a Theoben Eliminator to give an overall impression of 12ft/lb against FAC-rated performance.
To me and I have said this before many times; an FAC air rifle helps flatten your trajectory, especially with a .25, so less hold over is necessary. The advantage of this calibre is that big old pellet bucks the wind better, so less compensation for windage adjustment is necessary at range and it retains energy better if the pellet is aerodynamic enough, not all .25’s are though. Zeroed at 20 yards an FTT pellet for example travelling at 476 fps will also be zeroed at 10 yards, useful if a sight height of 2” is used but at 25 yards you are 1.1” low and at 30 yards 2.5” low. Velocity drops from 476 fps at the muzzle to 381 fps at 20 yards and 340 fps at 30 yards with energy figures of 9.9, 6.35 and 5.1ft/lbs respectively.
The Rhino pellet flattens the trajectory a tad more at 510 fps for 11.03 ft/lbs so zeroed at 20 yds is low by -0.6” at 25 yds and at 30 yds -1.9” low. Every fraction of an inch counts in .25 pellet world! Up the velocity from the Eliminator to 730 fps with the FTT pellet and when zeroed at 30 yards it is also zeroed at 15 yards, -4.5” at 50 yards and -12” at 70 yards. Energy at 30 yards is 13 ft/lbs (more than a 12 footer at the muzzle and at 50 yards is 8.0ft/lbs.
That brings me to the use of this type of rifle, as the calibre’s main benefits to a sporting user is its tremendous close range energyshocking factor, or wallop! With a slow moving projectile, with that high sectional density the trajectory will be curved, although it will retain energy longer, but if you keep your shots well under 25yds, 20yds is better you have a sledge hammer in your hands.
CH Westons 01273 326338 Pellets, air rifles s/h Theobens
Uttings www.uttings.com Pellets
BSA www.bsaguns.com Tactical .25 cal air rifle
Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 Hatsan air rifles
Terry Robb www.trrobb.com Pellet Sizer
www.pmcb.co.uk Pellet Sizer
Past that range and drop/compensation becomes too great and the slow pellet does not have enough velocity to penetrate, it rather releases most of its energy externally on impact and not internally, not so good! That is not to say that at 40yds, it is not accurate, it is, but that is not the purpose of this calibre. That’s where the FAC-rated .25 cal takes over, increasing range to 50 yds or so. Even at these velocities energy is good but trajectories are a tad curved.
Also with 12 ft/lbs rifles there is less over penetration at close range and therefore if shooting in a factory at feral pigeons, the pellet stays within the bird and does not damage any of the surroundings. One thing to remember however is that slower moving heavy objects ricochet more than fast moving light ones. When hit squarely in the chest or head the quarry literally lift off their feet with the impact.
There are usually no exits when chest shot but total penetration on most head shots is normal. Where the big .25 pellet wins is if you keep the range short and allow all its energy to transfer into the animal for very satisfying humane kills. Increasing the velocity would destroy this ability at close range but would give it more legs for longer shots only. The Theoben therefore at closer range obviously needs a little more care, as the up-rated power will over penetrate at close ranges but out past 25 yards the energy or kinetic transfer between pellet and quarry is visual and audible. A very satisfying “whop” as that pellet connects.
My 12 ft/lbs choice would be the Rhino or BSA Pylarms out to a maximum 20-25yds but for the Theoben FAC-rated rifle I would choose either the FTT’s, Logun Penetrators, RWS Superdomes or Bisley Pest Controls as all were accurate.
Not for everyone and as a one rifle calibre then for sure the .177 and .22 would be more versatile. But most airgunners I know have more than one gun anyway and with some .25 rifles for under £300 they are worth a try.
I had the new Hatsan Dominator in .25 to test, which performed very similarly to the BSA Tactical but with a 10-15% power increase but a fuller report will be coming soon, as I have not finished with my interest in this cal yet or bigger, oops spoiler!