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Airgun Pellet Round-up

Airgun Pellet Round-up

Airgun Shooting is a highly enjoyable activity for all, but whether you consider it a sport or hobby, very much depends on your approach.

With a multitude of disciplines, all coming together under the general umbrella, just trying to decide on which kit to buy is enough to blow the mind of any novice. Once you’ve made the main purchase however, and invested in some serious hardware, there’s another minefield to navigate and that’s pellets!

There are literally hundreds of pellet brands from which to choose; so how do we arrive at the best pellet for our gun? Well firstly, it’s worth stating an interesting point. Spring/ piston powered airguns tend to work more efficiently with lighter pellets, (7-8-grains), and pneumatics can be far more efficient with a heavier variety (Bisley Magnum at 10.6-grains); purely in terms of ft/lbs energy, so something to bear in mind if results are sluggish, or getting a little too near the legal power limit.

The first crucial question is just what sort of shooting will you be doing? This largely dictates the type or grade of pellet used. I’ve listed just a few options in each category, as there are far too many to list.

Hunting

Perhaps the one area of airgun shooting most open to personal taste and approach is that of hunting. A plethora of designs exist, to appeal to hunters who wish to gain a ballistic advantage in the field, and increase their ‘shot to kill’ ratio, where and when it matters. Pointed inner cores, steel tips, twin driving bands, boat tails, even the legendary sabot design, where an outer jacket, used to form the bore diameter, drops away from an aerodynamic inner bullet, has made an appearance over the years. One highly innovative and imaginative design after another; yet I fall firmly into the camp that says accuracy is the governing factor that trumps all. Hit a rabbit in the brain, and the chances are he will drop- irrespective of pellet design. So if we’re after maximum accuracy, and that perfect head/brain shot, then in my experience, forget the gimmicks and opt for the good old dome head. Read through that list of FT candidates above, and you won’t go far wrong.

That said, for close-range, more specialist hunting duties, various designs exist to give added knock down power- and we have a raft of interesting designs these days, from which to choose. Piledriver, originally designed by Hugh Earl and now made by H & N, is a super heavyweight option, (21-grains in .177!), and when shot from an FAC gun, these can be highly effective.

The super large .25-calibre is an interesting option, and we have a much greater choice of brands from which to choose these days. Close range rat shooting, where the target will emerge at a known distance, is a perfect scenario for pellets that pack more punch, and here, trajectory can be irrelevant; so opening the door to more radical designs too.

Of course, given environmental concerns in recent years, the anti-lead lobby has been doing plenty of sabre rattling, and whilst I like to think that common sense will prevail and the powers that be won’t introduce any frustrating legislation, it’s interesting to note that several manufacturers have introduced their own pellet designs with ‘green’ credentials, not featured here, alongside their traditional lead pellets. The fact remains that the soft malleable quality of lead makes it perfect for our pellets, and the way they mate with the rifling in the barrel; so I for one wont be taking any alternative route in a hurry.

Plinking/Practise

Informal fun shooting, or ‘plinking’ as it is often termed, requires no specialised pellet, and here the main governing factor could well be cost. Why bother to feed super-precise, competition-grade pellets into a cheap and cheerful entry level rifle? Potential accuracy will almost certainly be limited by the gun’s barrel in any case, and relatively close range fun shooting just doesn’t have to be so precise at the end of the day. Trying to hit a tin can at 25-yards for example, is well within the capabilities of most makes of ammunition, so cheaper brands should suffice.

As skill levels increase, so progressing onto higher grade ammunition may tighten groups, whilst learning the trajectory of any new pellet, (especially heavier varieties) will pay dividends in any scenario.

As for calibre, a major consideration at the budget end is the fact that the smaller .177 works out at roughly half the cost of .22.

Pellets & prices

 

  • Panther Domed Pellets .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 9.2grains weight, guide price: £4.99 per 500
  • Panther Domed Pellets .22 (5.5mm) calibre, 16.9grains weight, guide price: £6.99 per 500
  • Panther Pointed Pellets .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 7.5grains weight, guide price: £4.99 per 500
  • Panther Pointed Pellets .22 (5.5mm) calibre, 14grains weight, guide price: £6.99 per 500

Contact: Range Right www.range-right.co.uk

  • Bisley Practise .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 8.18grains weight, guide price: £5.99 per 500

Contact: John Rothery Wholesale www.bisley-uk.com

  • BSA Elite .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 7.87grains weight, guide price: £4.99 per 500
  • BSA Storm.177 (4.5mm) calibre, 7.87grains weight, guide price: £4.99 per 500

Contact: BSA Guns www.bsaguns.co.uk

Hunter Field Target or FT

The old adage, that a rifle combination is only as good as the weakest link still holds true, and even the best rifle/scope rig stands for nothing, if it is fed substandard, inconsistently formed pellets. Indoor competition is one thing, but move the action outside, and push targets out to 55-yards (45-yards in HFT), and the requirements on the pellet are very different. In this hotly contested, highly competitive world, accuracy is king, but allied of course, with a fairly flat trajectory; so the lighter .177 again dominates the top end. Of course, if you favour the larger calibre, there are specific classes to cater for this, and on that note, pellets listed are on the whole, also available in .22.

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Top-grade diabolo, dome headed designs still dominate outdoor airgun tournaments, and much comes down to preference on weight. For Field Target, weight is not so critical, since the vast majority of competitors just dial in the trajectory for any given target. In Hunter Field Target however, where no rangefinding is permitted, keeping the trajectory as flat as possible, is the key to success for many.

The standard JSB derivatives, Air Arms Diablo Field, and JSB Exact at 8.44-grain, are a good place to start. Other quality options are RWS Superdome, H&N Field Target Trophy, RWS Superfield, Daystate Sovereign/ Kaiser, Crosman Premier, and Webley Accupells, and Mosquitos. Between them, it’s fair to say that these brands dominate results, but they have to suit your barrel.

Newer designs have included JSB Express, which has dropped the weight to 7.87-grain, JSB Exact RS Diabolo at 7.33-grain, and the fairly new Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign claims a special grading process at the manufacturing stage, to ensure consistency. One thing unites all these makes, and that’s the fact that they are all conventional, waisted, round head designs, which speaks volumes for the down range efficiency of this time-honoured configuration.

Many manufacturers print head sizes on the base of the tin, in a bid to allow the shooter to match an ideal pellet with a specific barrel and this may be worth some experimentation if satisfactory results are hard to come by.

Pellets & prices

 

  • JSB Exact Premium .177, 8.44grains, guide price: £12 per 200
  • JSB Exact RS Diabolo .177, 7.33grains, guide price: £8.99 per 500
  • Air Arms Diabolo Field .177, 8.44grains, guide price: £8.99 per 500
  • Air Arms Diabolo Express .177, 7.87grains, guide price: £8.99 per 500
  • JSB Exact RS Diabolo .177, 7.33grains, guide price: £8.99 per 500
  • H & N Sniper Light .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 7.5grains weight, guide price: £8.99 per 500
  • H & N Field Target Trophy .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 8.64grains weight, guide price: £7.69 per 500
  • Bisley Long Range Gold .177, 7.56grains weight guide price: £7.49 per 500

Contact: John Rothery Wholesale www.bisley-uk.com

  • Weihrauch F&T Special .177, 8.64grains, guide price: £7.99 per 500

Contact: Hull Cartridge www.hullcartridge.co.uk

  • Kaiser .177, 8.64grains, guide price: £10 per 500
  • Rangemaster Sovereign, .177, 8.44-grains, guide price: £8.99 per 500

Contact: Daystate www.daystate.com

  • Webley Accupell .177, 7.9-grains, guide price: £10 per 500
  • Webley Mosquito .177, 7.87-grains, guide price: £14.99 per 500

Contact: Highland Outdoors www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk

  • Crosman Premier .177, 7.9-grains, guide price: £20 per 1250 box

Contact: ASI www.a-s-i.co.uk

  • RWS Superfield .177, 8.44-grains, guide price: £5.99 per 500
  • RWS Superdome .177, 8.3-grains, guide price: £6.99 per 500

Contact: www.ruag.co.uk

Indoor 10-metre Match

Indoor Match Shooting, as in the Olympic discipline, has been traditionally shot using the ‘wadcutter’, or flat headed design, in .177-calibre. The idea here was that the flat nose would punch a clean hole through a paper target, making it an easier task to accurately score the shot with a gauge. Nowadays, with the advent of electronic target systems, where the computer automatically tracks and pinpoints the shot, the necessity for the clean hole has gone.

Having spoken to several recognised match shooters in the last couple of years, I have it on good authority that many of the top exponents are now using conventional, dome-headed JSB pellets for example, which is an interesting development for sure. RWS have always been a big player in this sector, but the introduction of specially graded JSB Exact Premium pellets, although heavier than a traditional match pellet, makes them another great choice for the serious target shooter.

Given that Match shooting takes place over a static range, and to a maximum of 10-metres, learning a trajectory is irrelevant, yet other factors still dictate the type of pellet used. Remember that Match rifles are invariably set-up to produce low power (typically 5-6ft/lbs), so a heavy projectile fired at low velocity would be sluggish in the barrel, and produce a slower lock time into the bargain. It therefore comes as no surprise that suitable ammunition is often of the lighter variety.

Pellets & prices

 

  • JSB Exact Premium. .177, 8.44 grains, guide price: £12 per 200

Contact: John Rothery Wholesale www.bisley-uk.com

  • RWS R10 Match .177, 7.0 grains, guide price: £8.00 per 500
  • RWS Meisterkugeln .177, 7.0 grains, guide price: £5.99 per 500

Contact: www.ruag.co.uk

Conclusion

So that’s my basic pellet overview, and two points deserve repeating. Firstly, the very best designs in terms of pure, raw, down-range accuracy, remain the conventional waisted shuttlecock profiled, dome heads. Secondly, as mentioned, there are a mass of brands currently available, and there will be many worthy products that I have failed to include in this overview. But finally, there really is no substitute for getting out and doing your own homework, to see what pellet best suits your rifle. Tiny variations in gun barrels mean that what suits one rifle, may not suit another example- even of the same model! So, happy and safe testing!

  • Airgun Pellet Round-up - image {image:count}

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  • Airgun Pellet Round-up - image {image:count}

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  • Airgun Pellet Round-up - image {image:count}

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  • Airgun Pellet Round-up - image {image:count}

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  • Airgun Pellet Round-up - image {image:count}

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  • Airgun Pellet Round-up - image {image:count}

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