Convert-A-Pell: Any good?

by B.B. Pelletier

Let’s look at something way out there, as far as mainstream airgunning goes. It’s called Convert-A-Pell. According to the research I just did, it’s sold direct off the internet. I’ll tell you everything I know by the end of this posting.

What is Convert-A-Pell?
Airgunners are as curious as cats. They are always thinking of things that relate to airguns, so it’s no surprise that someone thought of powering a pellet with a primer! Actually, this method of propulsion dates back to about 1840, when the first experiments that used percussion caps and very small lead balls were performed. They quickly evolved into a percussion cap that had a ball stuck in it, which was the grandfather of the rimfire cartridge. So this has been done before – many times. Convert-A-Pell is just a modern adaptation of an old process, with an interesting twist.

The “Convert” part is what’s interesting
With the Convert-A-Pell system, you can adapt a firearm to shoot pellets. You get a barrel for a specific model firearm, like a S&W 586, that attaches to the revolver barrel tightly. It does not injure the rifling in any way, because the insert tube is made of brass. You also get six brass “cartridges” that accept lead pellets at one end and a large pistol primer at the other. The advertising says you will get groups of one-inch or less at 15 to 20 feet. It also says a handgun will get about 500 f.p.s.

Airgun Letter tested one with poor results
Back in 1997, Tom Gaylord tested a Convert-A-Pell in a S&W 686 6″ stainless revolver. He had the following remarks:

  • Accuracy was 3 to 6 inches for five shots at 15 feet.
  • Velocity ranged from 293 f.p.s. to 375 f.p.s. (He used both heavy diabolos and round balls).
  • Velocity spread was high – 80 f.p.s. with balls and 50 f.p.s. with pellets.
  • Noise was louder than a powerful CO2 pistol
  • It took a lot of work to load each cartridge. Seating depth was essential to the best accuracy.
  • Although the primer flashholes were bored out, the primers still sometimes backed out, tying up the gun’s action
  • The gun needed nearly as much cleaning after shooting just primers as it would have with loaded .357 cartridges. The only thing that didn’t happen was bore leading.
  • I tried them in an M1911A1
    In 2002 I tried this system in an M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol. I didn’t have the action hang up problem, because the 1911 doesn’t work like a revolver, but all the other problems were there. Accuracy in my test may have been slightly better, say 2″ to 4″ at 15 feet, but it was still nothing to write home about. I didn’t have a chronograph to test velocity.

    And, yet, they persist!
    What amazes me is that this system is still on the market. After all these years, it should have gone away, which makes me wonder whether Tom or I gave it a good test. I scanned the internet for info, and here’s what I found. For starters, the company seems to have changed hands at least once. The current company seems to have only a website with a phone number, but their last site update was in November 2005. That makes me believe they are still viable. However, they have no prices on their website, and that’s never a good sign.

    I tried to find actual test reports on the system but there isn’t much. I did find some mentions on forums that suggest the .22 centerfire system is not too bad. In a single-shot action such as a rolling block, there would be zero functioning problems.

    After reading about the product on their website, it looks like the product may have been updated since Tom and I tested it. I mention this because I am not opposed to retesting one, if there is enough interest. By enough interest, I don’t mean one or two persistent people, but a larger crowd.

    Is this an airgun? Definitely NOT! Does it have to do with airgunning? Probably, just because it uses pellets. Are we interested? You tell me.

    40 thoughts on “Convert-A-Pell: Any good?

    1. Sorry for the out of context question but can’t find how to ask you a new subject question.
      I have purchased a Beta Chrony, and I understand what it is telling me about the velocity and turning that into footpounds. But, what is it telling me about the different pellets I am testing. Should I be able to select a best pellet for a certain airgun? The highest velocity and the highest footpounds are never the same pellet. And standard deviation, would that mean, with the lowest reading, that a pellet is more uniform. Thank You, F Nash



    2. Eun Jin,

      I don’t really know how far it will be accurate, but out to 30 yards, the SS can handle the 28-grain .22 caliber Eun Jin just fine. I have no experience with a .177 because I don’t own an AirForcfe rifle in that caliber, nor does anyone I know who lives close.

      B.B.


    3. BB,

      I read that the weihrauch hw97k’s spring is square,Is that true?
      And what difference does it make?
      I read that the round spring gets mor power out of the rifle,but I dont know scince this could change accuracy.Can you explain and if you want a post about the different tipes of spring forms.I read that there were round,square and rectangular springs.

      CF-X guy



    4. F Nash,

      Well, your chronograph can tell you that a heavy pellet is more powerful than a light pellet in a CO2 and pneumatic gun, but just the opposite in a springer.

      The best pellet for any airgun is always the most accurate. Among pellets of equal accuracy, choose either power or velocity as the feature you want.

      Standard deviation is a statistic that tells us generally how close to the average the extremes are. With a smaller velocity spread, you should have better accuracy at extreme distances, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

      B.B.


    5. CF-X guy,

      By square I assume you mean made from square-section wire. Because a square spring isn’t going to be very good in a round powerplant.

      Webley pistols used to have square section spring wire, which at one time was thought to pack more power into a confined space. Really all it does is fail sooner, since the corners of the wire are all stress points.

      It might be fun to do a post on spring types.

      B.B.



    6. BB,

      The convert-a-pell system seems to be more of a novelty than a real shooting system. The accuracy that you and Tom got from the system, really kills it for me. Never mind the cleaning. The only positive practice for the shooter that I can see is, practicing trigger pull. I’m happy to shoot pellets out of my airguns and conventenal ammo out of my firearms.

      Jason


    7. Jason,

      That was my take on it, too, but the thing seems to have lasted a long time. Could we have missed something? That’s why I left the door open. I will wait awhile and see who asks for it.

      Thanks,

      B.B.



    8. BB,

      Is the convert-a- pell system that is sold currently the same exact design as the models both you and Tom tested? Perhaps, they are of a new, or modified design. While I won’t be buying one of theese systems tomorrow, I would be interested to see if the product has possibly been improved.

      Thanks,

      Jason


    9. Jason,

      When I said it looks like the product has been updated, they now mention O-rings in the primer pocket. There were no O-rings in the model I tested, and Tom didn’t mention them, either, In fact he noted that the primers had to be deprimed the same as with a regular cartridge, not the easy way they now describe it. So I do believe they have updated something.

      I just re-read the Q&A and they seem to have a lot more information about the product than they did when I tested it. So maybe it does work better using their instructions. I’m certainly willing to give them a second chance.

      B.B.


    10. I noticed that the .22 center fire kit doesn’t come with a barrel so they must be expecting you to use .22 pellets didn’t you once say they are actually smaller than .22 cal bullets for a firearm.


    11. BB,

      I just read on the convert-a-pell website that the 22 centerfire models use 209 shotshell primers(except 22 hornet, they use large rifle primers). It also reads, and I quote “exceptional groups from 20 to 60 feet”. Ofcoarse that might mean nothing, as what is the standard for “exceptional groups”. Like the other reader posted before me, it mentions nothing of a barrel insert to deal with the projectile diameter differences between a .22 cal pellet and a .224 bullet. What type of primer did the 1911 model you tested use? Just curious. Thanks,

      Jason


    12. Jason,

      All handgun shells use a large pistol primer. I think it correlates to the strength of the firing pin. While a revolver has a lot of striker force, a pistol doesn’t, because of the lack of striker mass. So they designed the system for the weakest link. At least that is my theory.

      B.B.


    13. .22 bullet diameters,

      Yes, the difference between possible .22 firearm bullet diameters (0.222 to 0.224) and a .22 pellet (0.218) is significant. That would appear to be a design flaw in this system.

      I was ready to point a finger at that on my own test, however, the insert barrel was 0.177, as far as I know.

      They now specify using a Benjamin Sheridan Diabolo pellet, which is a Crosman Premier by another name. So it’s evident that someone has done a lot more testing with this system and determined that the harder pellet is required to contain the force of the primer – especially when using number 209 shotgun primers.

      B.B.

      B.B.



    14. CF-X guy,

      Check around. There used to be a front sling swivel that would attach to the underlever. Beeman carried it. I believe it came from Uncle Mikes.

      B.B.


    15. I dont think the convert a pell system is worth it,I think that it is just best to shoot bullets in firearms and shoot pellets in airguns.Unless the beging to make pellets for firearms and bullets for airguns it isnt worth it.By the way they do sell bullets in the 35 cal to 50 cal range here at pyramid air,they are called “pellets” but they are definately bullets,I think they are just called that so it isnt confused with a regular firearm ammo Jed


    16. I would like to a test on the crosman phantom,hopefully as soon as it comes out,I was thinking f buying the ben/sheridan legacy but I am waiting to see what the phantom is like when it comes out first.


    17. well off topic but which one if you had a choice would you pick a gamo 1250 .22cal or a beeman kodiak .22cal? I know that beeman kodiak in .25 is hard hitting but regardless out of the .22′s which one would put up with practice and still get the point across to anything it hits at say even 25yards? The reason I ask is because I don’t beleive clever marketing, just opinion’s in experience.

      Thanks
      Robert


    18. I have just really started my intrest in airguns I have been surprised that they can be alot more powerfull than I thought even though they run on highly compressed air,apperently air compressed at very high levels can really send a projectile flying alot faster then I relized before I got my intrest in airguns.I have a crosman powermaster 66 and I thought this was basically the limit to power when it came to airguns but I soon found out that was not the case!


    19. Jed,

      I saw and held the Crosman Phantom at the SHOT Show. It’s a big airgun with a strangely shaped synthetic stock. It reminds me of a Gamo Shadow and I imagine the performance is about in the same ballpark.

      It will be awhile before I test one.

      B.B.


    20. Gamo 1250 vs Beeman Kodiak/Webley Patriot,

      Well, you picked the two most difficult-cocking spring guns available! I doubt you will want to shoot either one more than 50 times per session.

      Both are accurate beyond 25 yards, but both require BUCKETS of technique to shoot accurately! They are both very sensitive to hold. It’s been awhile since I tested a 1250, but I remember it being somewhat less hold sensitive than the Kodiak/Patriot.

      You definitely don’t need airguns this powerful to kill small game out to 50 yards. But if you want to take woodchucks at that distance, either one of these would be good.

      B.B.


    21. BB,

      The convert a pell reminds me of the “primer powered rubber bullets” I bought years ago. The current model is “X-Ring Rubber Bullets” sold at Dillon Precision among others.

      The rubber bullets look like diablo pellets. Mine are in .38/.357. (other sizes .44, .45 are available) They are loaded in standard cases, that have the flash holes drilled out. Regular pistol primers are used. They operate in my revolver just fine.

      Accuracy at 10m is acceptable for practice indoors, not too loud either. They are a little tedious to load, have to eject primers, reprime, push in bullets. You have to shoot at a soft target backstop (cloth towels hung in a cardboard box) to keep them reuseable! They are a neat & fun way to shoot that iron collecting dust in the cabinet!!

      I know these are not “airgun” related, but might intrest someone!

      JDB


    22. I would be interested in seeing a re-test or this system. Sounds as if some changes should have been made.
      About 45 years ago I had a western style black plastic pistol with a metal barrel insert that fired cap pistol caps to launch a #6 lead shot. It was a lot of fun, but finally got broken. Does anyone know if anything like this is still available?



    23. JDB,

      I have seen these things but never tried them. Does the projectile have a bomb-like fin for drag and stabilization?

      B.B.


    24. BB,

      I want to tell you people what my experience is with the beeman kodiaks in the gamo cf-x.I read that the cf-x doesnt like heavy pellets.In my experience they were really accurate.Im not a very good shooter and got a 1 inch 5 group at 25 yards.I love this pellets.I dont know why they can be accurate in my cf-x and be un accurate on others.The pellets that arent accurate at long distances are the eun jin.But I got a mangosta(a type of squirrel we have in Puerto Rico that is bigger than a cat and has rabies) at 40 feet and I dont want to be discusting but I got him in the head and he made a big mess.It was a headshot so it was humainly done even though what happend.The kodiak has more penetration than the eun jin.I found that the kodiak vs eun jin test I did proved that when I shot the book the kodiak came through the other side,the eun jin did not but the eun jin hole was a mess.It made a slight difference in the middle of the book.But I guess the eun jin is supposed to make some sort of a punch.And props to the best cheapest pellet I can get,the daisy super point.They are very accurate in my cf-x and are $3.00 in my local store!!!!!!But the crossman copper heads are very unaccurate.I also tested the gamo magnum pellets wich appear to be pretty good.The beeman silver arrows are accurate at short distances and carry one heck of a punch.Those are the pellets that I have tested so far.Here in Puerto Rico the walmarts dont carry airguns nor pellets and I can only count on my local store.By the way,they are bringing the gamo rator wich ill be testing even though they wont be accurate I wanna make some noise!!!!!!!!!

      CF-X guy


    25. BB

      The X-Ring rubber bullets look just like a wadcutter diablo pellet. Flat nose (slightly beveled, probably to allow better feeding in auto’s) and hollow inside just like a pellet.

      These things don’t fly too fast, they can be stopped by 3 towels hanging in a box. I will shoot some over the chrono later today and let you know how they do.

      Check out a picture here:
      http://makarov.com/Makamutt/xring.htm

      JDB


    26. JDB,

      Okay, this is news to me.

      By the way – you sent me to the Makarov site. I just happen to be a Mak fan and I shoot one all the time. I have that website bookmarked for parts!

      B.B.


    27. Greetings,
      I just ran across this site.
      I am the current owner of Convert-A-Pell.
      It seems there is some misinformation or confusion about the products.
      Only the .22 centerfire rifle kits utilize a 209 shotgun primer. Only the .22 centerfire case has an o-ring in the head of the case to hold the primer in place.
      As for the diameter of pellet verses .22 rifle bore. That is addressed as soon as the 209 primer is ignited. The skirt of the pellet is expanding and spreads to fill the bore as soon as it clears the case mouth.
      I get very good accuracy for a 16″ Contender in .223. I do not fire at the ranges some people use. My home range is just a bit over 50 feet and I get accuracy right at one inch.
      I believe that time spent shooting is not deducted from my lifespan! I recieved a call from a gentleman that purchaced a centerfire rifle kit in .22-250 more than 25 years ago and claims he, in his own words, is shooting virtually a one hole grouop at 30 yards from a 26″ barrel.
      I do not keep any purchacing information on the website. It keeps the hackers off our back. There is an information e-mail link on the site for questions about the products and purchacing info. One less thing for us to worry about.
      We recommend using Winchester Large Pistol primers for the handgun kits.
      We also recommend Winchester 209 shotgun primers for the .22 centerfire rifle kits. I don’t own any Winchester stock. They just happen to be the most consistent as far as size goes. I ream the handgun primer pockets to fit these primers and if other primers are used there could be fit problems.
      As for the price of the handgun kits. They have been the same price for nearly 30 years — $39.95.
      Last and most important is that the Convert-A-Pell system is designed to allow the handgun shooter a method to practice sight, trigger and grip control in their own home, with a full sized firearm, without the need to make a trip to a shooting range. It is an excellent way to train new shooters. They get firearms training without being exposed to the noise and recoil of full bore ammunition. I like to say “Teach them to shoot without teaching them to flinch”.
      I thank you for the opportunity to respond and I enjoy you site.
      R.


    28. I have been playing with the 22-250 convert-a-pell system I my friend picked it up at the gun show and ever since i have been eddicted . I have a target set up in one end of my house. You wouldn’t even know I was shooting if You went into the other room . Its nearly silent . The thing i like about it the most is the fact that the gun on a bench rest when the system is used correctly.
      I put 5 pellets through the same hole at 50 feet . Then my wife tried it and put 3 through the same hole at 50 feet . the gun is a remington model 700 22-250 with a 4-9 power scope.
      The same bench rest With my beemen . Reacts weird on a bench rest it won’t group correctly on a rest . Shooting out of the rest it would do a 1 1/2 group at 50 feet .

      The recoil from a piston air gun feels like it kicks back then kicks forward then back again befor the pellet even gets out of the gun. I think this causes it to be a little harder to shoot. It must have something going on because it has wrecked 2 of my scopes that worked fine on my 30-06 and 22-250.
      Just to let you know it is fun in a bolt action high end 22 cal rifle like the 22-250 .
      I am going to order the system for my AR15 and i will see wha i think .



    29. Jason and the happy shooter,

      I have heard this comment before. It seems that the shooters who use the Convert-A-Pell in rifles experience better results than those who try it in pistols.

      I think the Convert-A-Pell people were unaware that pellets are not the same size as centerfire and rimfires calibers, and they screwed up when they used .22 bore liners as barrels in the pistol kits. For some reason, the system works when the actual rifle barrel is used, but not when their bore liner barrels are employed.

      B.B.


    30. Convert-A-Pell handgun kits do not use .22 cal bore liners. They are .177. That is pretty damning evidence. Makes me wonder if you even tested a convert-a-pell kit. Might be you listened to someone else bad mouth the product and drew your own conclusions.


    31. Sorry but mine was a .22. It fit a 586. And if it wasn’t a bore liner, it was a pretty poor barrel!

      I did this back in the last century, so that could explain the discrepency.

      B.B.


    32. Just found this web site & read all comments today.I got my convert-A-pell as A gift from the owner of the company. As he has stated it was designed for hand & eye control & not for bulls eye target shooting. One more thing to say to the Jason who made the comment(all handgun shells use A large pistol primer) you are so wrong. I have been hand loading for over 35 years. Get a re loading book & try reading it.


    33. Lee,

      You posted your question on a blog that was written in 2006. I cann't answer your question, but if you post it on the current blog, which is written by B.B. on a daily basis Mon-Fri, someone might have tried the Convert-A-Pell and be able to help you out.

      There is only a small handful of people checking the old blogs for current comments.

      Mr B.


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