Synthetic skirts, steel tips and other pellet oddities

By B.B. Pelletier

Have you ever wondered about those “funny” pellets? You know which ones I mean. Some have synthetic skirts, while others have steel embedded in the body of the pellet. Let’s take a look at these odd pellets and some of the other unexpected configurations.

Skirting the issue of synthetics
Synthetic skirts on pellets were pioneered by the British to increase velocity in any airgun. Over the years, they’ve been refined and are now quite good. They’re still not as accurate as top-quality lead pellets, but you might want to give them a try to see how they perform in your guns. They just might shoot better than the pellets you currently use. If you’d like to read more about velocity and pellets, here’s an article with some interesting info.

Skenco is a U.S. brand of pellets with synthetic skirts. They have several styles and calibers. When you select the type you want, remember that they don’t fit in certain airgun magazines. Shooters often buy them to speed up slower guns, which may be the very ones they don’t fit!

Tips about steel and synthetic tips
Then, there are pellets with steel tips in the nose. Their makers advertise them as hunting pellets, but they can over-penetrate the animal and not transfer their energy like a lead pellet. And, they tend to be less accurate than pellets with synthetic skirts. Velocity and penetration are their chief features. Depending on your range and the size game you hunt, higher velocity combined with greater penetration could still work to your advantage. A bit of experimentation on the practice range will help you decide if this type of pellet works well for you.

Another oddity is the lead hollowpoint with synthetic tip, which helps expansion and aerodynamics. This one is new to the field and early tests I’ve done show it’s very accurate for a hollowpoint, which is traditionally the least accurate pellet shape. If you hunt, try these.

Is there such a thing as a safer pellet?
Finally, there are non-toxic pellets advertised as lead-free! That’s supposed to make you believe lead pellets are toxic. They are if you eat them, or if you don’t wash your hands after handling them; but lead pellets have been around for over a century and are definitely NOT dangerous when reasonable care is used. My blood lead level was tested, and I am well below the national average – despite the fact that I shoot pure lead pellets all the time. But, lead may be toxic to someone other than the shooter. Years ago, I met a man who found his two-year-old son picking up stray pellets from the floor and eating them like candy! There’s a case where lead-free pellets are an excellent idea, although I’m not sure I’d want a child eating even lead-free ones.

So, what good are funny pellets? To have fun with, of course! Buy them. Shoot them. But, read before you buy so you know the best ways to use them and what you can expect when it comes to accuracy and velocity.

Drop me an email and tell me how they work for you. I’m here to help you get the most from your airguns!

3 thoughts on “Synthetic skirts, steel tips and other pellet oddities

  1. I have tried the JSB Predator pellets in .177 and they are very accurate! They have a good balance of penetration and expansion. Two rabbits ruining our lawn needed only one shot each from my Daisy 880S!



  2. Although, yes; airguns really should be “pointed” away from people.

    I remember Crosman having rubber tipped pellets. In the sport of accidental discharge or someone forgetting to put their safety on. This is where rubber-tipped ones come in handy. (Aside from the soft injury zones like eyes and temples etc. but we should be wearing saftey glasses in a area with gun discharges no? : ) ).

    I guess they make it safer for the not-too-bright people who shoot them at each other. Honestly. It’s better then being hit with BB’s and/or lead pellets.

    And ricochets.

    All in all, the lead-free ones (That I know of, that use rubber tips) provide safer and as they say, more environment friendly, shooting fun (and if people have airsoft targets, I think they can be used on those too )


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