By B.B. Pelletier
Selecting the best pellet for your airguns seems like a challenge, doesn’t it? How do you know which one, out of the hundreds out there, will turn out to be the best? You’ve heard that every pellet gun is an individual, which is true; so will your gun develop a craving for some strange pellet that everyone else says is no good? Probably not, and that’s what this is all about.
While different airguns do like different pellets, there ARE some standards you can almost always count on. Those are the ones we will examine today.
For starters, have you ever tried Crosman Premiers in the square cardboard box? They are a domed lead pellet and come in .177, .20 and .22 calibers. In .177 they are available in two weights, 7.9 grains for use in spring and CO2 guns and 10.5 grains for use in pneumatics – both multi-pump and precharged. In the other two calibers (.20 and .22), they only come in the 14.3-grain weight, which turns out to be exactly what’s needed. They have a deserved reputation for accuracy in most airguns and should be on your list of things to buy when you get another new gun.
Incidentally, you will also find Premiers in round tins. What is the difference, if any? As it turns out, Crosman packages Premiers in the cardboard box by die lot, and the die number is stamped on the bottom of the box. You are assured that the pellets in that box all came from the same manufacturing tooling. Shooters believe this gives them a little more uniformity, so the cardboard box is how the winners buy their Premiers. The Premiers in the round tin can be just as accurate as the others, but they may not all have come from the same tooling – at least that is the current belief among competitive shooters.
Another great pellet is the Beeman Kodiak, which is also sold as the Diabolo Baracuda. This is a heavy pellet in all calibers and should be used in rifles that can achieve at least 700 f.p.s. in the caliber you own. That doesn’t mean 700 with Kodiaks, just with any light pellet. These pellets are a bit too heavy for pistols, though at ranges under 15 yards they will do fine in almost any gun.
One final pellet that is fast becoming a legend is the JSB Exact by Josef Schulz Bohumin in the Czech Republic. My opinion is that these are not necessarily that much different in design than other domed pellets; I believe Bohumin holds closer tolerances than the other companies.
We are not finished. ANY pellets you buy, and I don’t care who made them, will have irregularities in the box or tin. So after you open the package, you have to sort through all the pellets to find the best ones if extreme accuracy is important.
Here is the difference between sorting and not sorting. A sorted pellet may shoot a half-inch group at 50 yards when everything else is right. An unsorted pellet may shoot anything from a half-inch to an inch and one-half. Shooting unsorted pellets is a crap-shoot. You won’t know how they perform until you shoot the group!
Sorting – how do you do that? Well, for starters, you pick out all the visibly damaged pellets and discard them. And then? Well that sounds like a good subject for another day.