Outdoor airgun shooting, such as Field Target and Hunter Field Target, puts great demands on our skill, but it also requires top notch equipment if silverware is the aim. The old adage, that a rifle combination is only as good as the weakest link, still holds true, and even the best top-flight rifle/scope combination stands for nothing, if substandard, inconsistently formed pellets are used.
Field Target requires the shooter to hit kill zones out to a full 55-yards, and even at 45-yards, the maximum distance for HFT, only the best pellets will group consistently well. In this hotly contested, highly competitive world, accuracy is king, and several factors dictate down-range performance. The lighter .177 calibre dominates the top end, due to its comparatively flat trajectory, but fans of larger calibres have their own class. Pellets listed here, are on the whole, also available in .22 for the record. 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 range-finding is permitted, keeping the trajectory as flat as possible, is the key to success for many. Obviously, the best, most accurate pellets are desirable for hunting too, where clean kills are paramount.
Here, I’ve listed out several top brand names that lead the pack, with several variations included. As usual, get out and test a selection though, as some gun barrels are more pellet sensitive than others.
JSB exact/Air arms diabolo field
Look down any competition results list, and it soon becomes obvious that not all pellets are equal, with several makes featuring time and time again. JSB, based in the Czech Republic, are one such brand, and have built-up an enviable reputation, since production began in 1991. Their success in competition is legendary, and there are several variations, which will suit some guns better than others. The standard JSB Exact, is very similar to the Air Arms Diabolo Field- made for Air Arms by JSB; and both these top-class pellets weigh 8.44-grains. The Air Arms Diabolo Express is slightly shorter, and lighter, and if it suits a particular barrel, can be another great performer. An even lighter option, is the JSB Exact RS Diabolo at 7.33-grains, and this too has its fans; especially among spring gun enthusiasts, where a lighter pellet can match the power delivery characteristics. All are quality dome head designs, but for ultimate consistency, JSB also offer their Exact Premium, which has 200 pellets individually weighed, sorted and packed, for added confidence. JSB Exact Premium .177, 8.44-grains, guide price £12 per 200 JSB Exact RS Diabolo .177, 7.33-grains, guide price £8.99 per 500 Air Arms Diabolo Field .177, 8.44-grains, guide price £8.99 per 500 Air Arms Diabolo Express .177, 7.87-grains, guide price £8.99 per 500 Available from John Rothery Wholesale www.bisley-uk.com
H & N sniper light/ H & N sniper medium / H & N field target trophy
Haendler and Natermann have been synonymous with Field Target shooting from the off, and whilst H&N Pointed were popular, they weren't especially suitable. The heavy Silhouette dominated results for a while, but latterly, the H&N Field Target Trophy, at 8.64-grains, have shared some of the spoils. The Sniper Light and Sniper Medium designs feature an unusual long parallel sided body, and are based on the Defiant pellet, formerly made by PAX Guns, before H&N bought out production. Again, variation in weight means there's plenty of options to suit. H & N Sniper Light .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 7.5-grains weight, guide price £8.99 per 500 H & N Sniper Medium.177 (4.5mm) calibre, 8.49-grains weight, guide price £8.99 per 500 H & N Field Target Trophy .177 (4.5mm) calibre, 8.64-grains weight, guide price £7.69 per 500 Available from John Rothery Wholesale www.bisley-uk.com
Weihrauch F&T special
If top German manufacturer Weihrauch put their name to something, it's liable to be pretty good, and their pellets are just that. Made in conjunction with H&N, these are based on the Field Target Trophy design, with the same weight and profile; and as such, another great pellet for any trials shortlist. Weihrauch F&T Special .177, 8.64-grains, guide price £7.99 per 500 Available from Hull Cartridge www.hullcartridge.co.uk
Again, marketed by Daystate, the Rangemaster Sovereign is another quality pellet, based on and very similar to, the widely popular JSB 8.44-grain specification. The relatively new Rangemaster Sovereign claims a special grading process at the manufacturing stage, to ensure consistency, and in my experience, they have proved extremely effective. Rangemaster Sovereign, .177, 8.44-grains, guide price £8.99 per 500 Available from Daystate www.daystate.com
Similar in profile and the same weight as the Crosman Premier, the 7.9-grain Webley Accupell is a great performer; especially in spring guns that favour the lighter weight. The Mosquito Express has proved extremely popular on the Field Target circuit too and both designs are up there with the best of them in the performance stakes. Webley Accupell .177, 7.9-grains, guide price £10 per 500 Webley Mosquito Express .177, 7.87-grains, guide price £14.99 per 500 Available from Highland Outdoors www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
Bisley long range gold
Several pellets have taken a turn at being in vogue on the FT circuit, and Bisley Long Range Gold or LRG held sway for some time. At 7.56-grains, it's a relative light weight, and definitely another quality round head that's worth trying, If it suits your barrel, it can be supremely accurate Bisley Long Range Gold .177, 7.56-grains weight guide price £7.49 per 500 Available from John Rothery Wholesale www.bisley-uk.com
The Kaiser brand of pellets are made for Daystate, again by H&N in Germany, and are made to a high standard, so consistency of weight and dimensions is maintained. Rangemaster Kaiser .177, 8.64-grains, guide price £10 per 500 Available from Daystate www.daystate.com
Crosman premier/FX pellets
When the Crosman Premier hit the market back in the early 90s, it was an instant hit, with its distinctive stubby body, sealed nose, and relative lightweight. Up until this time, heavier designs had been the order of the day, and the super-fast, ultraflat shooting Premier won an army of fans. Now of course, there's a plethora of rivals, but the Crosman is still a good all-rounder in the right barrel. With top Field Target shooters often able to range find targets to within a yard, heavier pellets are also used, since their more pronounced trajectory can be dealt with. Crosman produce a heavy version of the Premier called the Ultra Magnum, and these come in at a hefty 10.5-grains. A quality option for those that favour heavier ammo. From the same importer comes FX Pellets, and at 8.44-grains and a near identical profile to the JSB derivatives of the same weight, we can expect much the same performance; both in terms of trajectory and accuracy. In other words, if it suits your barrel – excellent! Crosman Premier .177, 7.9-grains, guide price £10 per 500 FX Pellets .177, 8.44-grains, guide price £13.50 per 500 Available from ASI www.a-s-i.co.uk
RWS R10 match
The only Match pellet in my selection, the RWS R10 Match, is a wadcutter design, and whilst a flat head (used to cut cleanly through paper) is no longer required, given the latest high tech sonic sensor targets used in indoor match shooting, the quality of this pellet remains impressive. That said, strictly for indoor use. RWS R10 Match .177, 8.2-grains, guide price £7.99 per 500 Available from www.ruag.co.uk
RWS superdome/RWS superfield
RWS Superdome was 'THE' FT pellet for a few years, and it remains a quality option, with great consistency of manufacture, and the same distinctive ribbed body. Imitation as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, and the RWS Superfield is an unashamed jump onto the JSB bandwagon. Very similar profile, and an identical weight of 8.44-grains to the standard JSB Diabolo design, the Superfield doesn't disappoint, and should perform well, down range, from a variety of guns. Bearing all that in mind, it's competitively priced too. RWS Superfield .177, 8.44-grains, guide price £5.99 per 500 RWS Superdome .177, 8.3-grains, guide price £6.99 per 500 Available from www.ruag.co.uk
Between them, it’s fair to say that the brands listed here well and truly dominate results, but they have to suit your barrel. One thing unites all these makes, (bar the RWS R10 Match) and that’s the fact that they are all conventional round head designs – which speaks volumes for the down range efficiency of this time-honoured configuration. Eley Ltd have just launched a new Match pellet for indoor use. We will be testing it soon, so look out for a review. 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 is well worth some experimentation, if satisfactory results are still hard to come by.