Calibers and range: Part 2

Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, I’ll make the connection between black powder bullets and pellets, so you’ll understand why a .22 caliber pellet travels just as far as a .177.

Did you notice…
…that the modern .30 caliber streamlined bullet in the 1906 cartridge went 200 yards LESS than the fat old .50 caliber black powder bullet at the Yuma test mentioned in yesterday’s posting? Funny thing about that. The .30 caliber bullet is streamlined, but it was not optimized for supersonic flight. It didn’t perform as well as it might have if it had it been the right shape. From that, we know that the 1906 bullet still has high drag, despite being streamlined. Remember that.

Did you ALSO notice…
…that the 675-grain .50 caliber black powder bullet (and by that term I mean that the bullet was propelled by black powder and not by smokeless powder) left the muzzle at a speed just over the speed of sound? Very soon after leaving the muzzle, certainly within the first 50 yards, it became subsonic. That bullet was very poorly streamlined for supersonic travel, so it had extremely high drag until it went subsonic again, then the drag subsided considerably. And, after it dropped below the transsonic region at something under 1,000 f.p.s. (REMEMBER THAT VELOCITY!), it lost even more drag and went into a smooth flight. From that point on, its speed dropped slowly because the heavy bullet resisted the loss better than a lighter bullet (like the 1906 .30 cal. bullet) would.

Here comes the tie-in!
Pellets are very much like black powder bullets, in that they also have high drag caused by their hollow skirts and wasp waists. These two things keep pellets on track as they fly, which is what makes them so accurate…but, they also slow them down more rapidly. So, a pellet acts very much like a huge black powder bullet in that it really likes velocities under 1,000 f.p.s. (did you remember?).

When a pellet leaves the muzzle at velocities above 1,000 f.p.s., it slows down more rapidly than the same pellet going out at 950 f.p.s. When a pellet leaves the muzzle at supersonic velocities, it loses speed so fast that it is subsonic within just a few yards. All the hype about pellets going 1,250 f.p.s is a load of dirty diapers! In fact, pellets that go out at 1,000 f.p.s. do so for only a few FEET, then they drop back from the transsonic range into the subsonic range and cruise smoothly once more.

Conclusion
An AirForce Condor shoots a .22 caliber Crosman Premier at 1,250 f.p.s. That pellet travels downrange no farther than the same pellet leaving the muzzle of an AirForce Talon that poops it out at 900 f.p.s.! All that extra raw power is an advantage only for the first 75 yards, or so. Of course, 75 yards is near the end of the range for hunting with smallbore airguns, which is why the Condor is so popular. Both guns have a nearly identical maximum range (muzzle elevated 30 degrees to the horizon) of about 500 yards. Ain’t life wonderful? That’s called having your cake and eating it, too. Of course, what you can and should do with a Condor is shoot a heavier pellet to slow down the velocity down to the subsonic region, then you will get improved accuracy, not much more pellet drop and a more powerful shot.

Conclusion – part 2
There is no way that a 7.9-grain 1,000-f.p.s., .177 caliber pellet will shoot any farther than a 14.3-grain, 800-f.p.s., .22 caliber pellet. If you don’t understand this, please reread both postings carefully. What the .177 gives you is a flatter trajectory out to about 50 yards. You have to aim higher to hit with the slower pellet. After that, both pellets fall at about the same rate. Since the .22 pellet has already fallen farther than the .177, it will always be lower until the end of its flight. If both muzzles are elevated 30 degrees above the horizon, both pellets will hit the ground at approximately the same place.

I have wanted to make this argument for several years, and the thoughts suddenly came together in my mind last week. Now, you may understand when I caution against shooting at high velocity because it destroys accuracy. Just a little slower puts you back on target, plus it doesn’t really penalize you if you know where to aim.

31 thoughts on “Calibers and range: Part 2



  1. B.B.
    Amazing facts. When I got interested in pellet gunning, I was led to believe that faster was better. Now I know why I was diasppointed in the Tech Force 99 and still in. I have more faith in my Daisy 880 and use it a lot more. But, why is it that someone (Gamo ?) came out with a rifle that advertised at 1600 fps, if it is not accurate? If it doesn’t do the job, why bother. Bill D.


  2. BB,
    You compare a 7.9-grain 1,000-f.p.s., .177 caliber pellet to a 14.3-grain, 800-f.p.s., .22 caliber pellet, and claimed “both pellets will hit the ground at approximately the same place.” What effect does wind has on the two pellets?



  3. Bill D.

    I think I can answer that question for B.B. The reason Gamo came out with a gun that would shoot 1600 fps is because a lot of people think like you used to, that faster is better. So people see that high of a velocity and think it’s the best gun they can buy. These of course, are the people who need to be reading this blog. So the main reason is that velocity sells, not much else.

    lama



  4. BB,

    A pellet question. What is the Crosman Accupel and how does it compare to the Crosman Premier Light? I can’t find it listed on Crosman’s site, nor on Pyramidair.

    Thanks. Gazza.


  5. dm20

    I’m not completely sure but I don’t think there are any .177 pellets that can slow the gun down enough. Another thing you have to realize is the 1600 fps velocity was done with the Gamo Raptor pellets, not normal lead pellets, which would speed it up. If you get this gun, get it in .22 and you won’t have a problem slowing it down enough and you can harness all of the gun’s power.

    lama



  6. IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU’VE DONE A COUPLE OF POSTS ON BALLISTICS.
    LAST WEEKEND I DID SOME TESTING WITH 2 J.S.B.PELLETS. THE 8.4GR. AND 10.2 GR. .177. SHOOTING MY WEBLEY TOMAHAWK, I CHRONOGRAPHED A 5 SHOT AVERAGE MUZZLE VELOCITY OF 943.4 F.P.S. FOR THE 8.4 GR. THIS WORKS OUT TO 16.60 F.P. OF ENERGY. THE 10.2 GR. HAD AN AVERAGE OF 847.4 F.P.S. AND 16.26 F.P.
    THE EYE OPENER ON THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS AT 20 YARDS. THE 8.4 GR. IS MOVING AT 810 F.P.S. WITH 12.24 F.P. AND THE 10.3 GR. IS GOING AT 779.6 WITH 13.76 F.P. THE LIGHTER PELLET SHOWS A LOSS OF 133 F.P.S. AND 4.36 F.P. OF ENERGY. THE HEAVY PELLET LOOSES ONLY 68 F.P.S. AND ONLY 2.5 F.P. AT 20 YDS. THE HEAVY PELLET HAS 1.52 MORE F.P. OF ENERGY THAN THE LIGHTER ONE. I’M SURE THIS GAP IN PERFORMANCE WOULD GET LARGER AT LONGER RANGES BUT I DIDN’T HAVE ROOM TO TEST. I LIKE TO HUNT WITH THIS LITTLE .177 AND I NOW KNOW WHAT PELLET WILL HIT HARDER AT 50 YDS. THE LIGHTER PELLET IS MORE ACCURATE AT 20 YDS.
    HOWEVER AT HUNTING RANGES OF 40 TO 50 YD. THE HEAVY PELLET MAY SHOW MORE ACCURACY. I HOPE I DID MY MATH CORECTLY TO FIGUER THESE RESULTS.


  7. Springer John,

    Ballistic coefficient is one important component, but streamlining (for supersonic flight) is equally important.

    B.B.



  8. Great information! I cannot stop reading your reports. I would like to read something on airgun bullets like the new Piledriver or the Eley magnum. I have a .22 Theoben Eliminator. Should I give them a try?



  9. Wind and pellets,

    The longer a pellet remains in the wind, the more it will be affected. Given the same time exposure, the lighter pellet is affected more.

    Shapes do play a part, but it is too complex for a simple answer.

    B.B.


  10. dm20,

    Yes, Gamo made the rifle in the wrong caliber and there is no pellet that can harness it potential power. It’s like putting a Chevy V8 in a motorcycle. The Boss Hog may be a bragging machine, but no one will ever be able to use 500 horsepower in a motorcycle.

    B.B.


  11. Gazza,

    The Accupell is a British name for a Crosman pellet. It isn’t sold under that name in the U.S. Just like a Pontiac is called something else in Canada.

    B.B.


  12. I’m not familiar with the Piledriver, but I do shoot Eley Magnums. I use them in powerful guns like the 65 foot-pound Condor from AirForce (the SSS from GunPower Stealth). I’m not sure they will stabilize at 30 foot-pounds, but you won’t know unless you try.

    B.B.


  13. hi i’m new in this catogory of guns i use to hunt with a diana 48 .177 now i bougt a gunpower sss and after all the reading i don’t what to believe but i have a question does anybody know wich bullet i should use to hunt in a range till 50yds or the weight of the pellets i better use
    thanks please respons quick because i’m tired of testing


  14. The GunPower SSS is identical to the Condor. Best pellet for accuracy is the 15.9-grain JSB. That’s the one that will give you 1/2-inch groups at 50 yards on a calm day.

    Power setting 4-6 and you’ll get about 35 good shots with this pellet.

    B.B.


  15. I am new on the market for BB guns. I’ve looked into the Gamo, and fortunately I found this report. It’s a little confusing for a rookie. Basically my question is, what is the actual most powerful BB gun there is. I’ve had the Walmart BB 10 pump rifles for years that were actually pretty accurate. I haven’t shot those Walmart guns in a few years, I couldn’t tell you the FPS. So basically I am asking for your advice on the Name brand and model of which BB gun I should get. I’m looking for accuracy and power.

    Thank you,
    Jeremy.


  16. Jeremy,

    Are you sure you want a BB gun, and not a pellet rifle? BB guns are not very accurate, in general, except for the Daisy Avanti Champion 499, and it isn’t very powerfu.

    While a BB gun will do well to hit a two-inch circle at 25 feet, a good sporting pellet rifle will hit a one-inch circle at 150 feet.

    Wal-Mart has only the lowest quality of airguns because they sell based on price, alone. Better airguns are sold by mail-order firms like Pyramyd Air, who owns this blog.

    As far as the most powerful air rifles, there are some custom guns that produce more than 1,000 foot-pounds of energy. A standard BB gun produces about three.

    B.B.


  17. Yes you are correct. I thought that all BB guns were interchangeable with pellets. I am looking for a pellet break barrel rifle. Which air rifle is the most accurate with the most power? On another forum people are bragging about their Gamo Extreme 1600 fps. But I’ve also heard that FPS doesn’t really mean much when you’re trying to select a gun. Basically I’m on the market for the best break barrel rifle there is to offer. Could you point me in a good direction, or list a couple break barrel air rifles that are the most powerful and accurate amongst all?

    Thank you, sorry about my rookie-ish-ness. Haha.

    -Jeremy.


  18. Jeremy,

    It’s okay to be new, here. I just wanted to establish what it was you were looking for.

    The most power in a breakbarrel comes in the Theoben Eliminator gas spring rifle. It generates around 30 foot-pounds and retails for $1,000 or more here in the U.S. But it’s not the most accurate rifle.

    The Gamo Hunter Extreme isn’t the most accurate, either, plus there is great doubt that it really gets 1600 f.p.s. If it did, it would not be accurate at that speed. To be accurate with a diabolo leaD PELLET, YOU HAVE TO GO 900 F.P.S. OR LESS.

    Let’s look at some nice compromises. The BAM B40 underlever is very accurate and rerasonably powered, at around 17-19 foot-pounds, depending on caliber. plus at Under $300 it is a real bargain. But it’s not a breakbarrel.

    The best breakbarrel for power and accuracy is probably the Beeman R1 in .22 caliber.

    Breakbarrel rifles require lots of shooting technique to be accurate, so be prepared for that.

    B.B.


  19. What exactly is the main difference between an “Underlever” and a “Break Barrel”? If you have a blog already written about the topic I would be more than happy to read it.

    Thank you again for your time and much valued advise!

    -Jeremy.


  20. Jeremy,

    A breakbarrel uses the barrel, itself, as the cocking lever. An underlever has a fixed barrel and a separate cocking lever located UNDER the barrel. A sidelever has a fixed barrel and a separate cocking lever on ther SIDE of the gun.

    B.B.


  21. Is there any main difference between them in performance? Or is it mainly person preference?

    I’m pretty close to the gun that I am about to purchase.

    Thank you again,
    -Jeremy.



  22. So you recommend the B40 for the best all around accuracy and best power in a well rounded gun? I know it’s manufactured by the Chinese. Is that trustworthy? I’m assuming you’re recommending the .22 caliber?

    Thanks again for your advice.

    -Jeremy.


  23. Jeremy,

    The B40 seems to be trustworthy, and it certainly beats the others when it comes to accuracy.

    I tested both .177 and .22. Get the caliber you want, because both are good.

    B.B.


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