Why you need a good airgun pellet trap!

by B.B. Pelletier

When I was a kid, I loved hot rods! As I grew older and began accepting responsibilities, I realized that function and reliability beat fashion and performance every time. When you are late for an important interview, you cannot use the “car broke down” excuse and expect to be hired. And, so it goes with all the really important things in life. Like pellet traps, for instance.

On Friday, an anonymous reader posted that he was starting to shoot through his Gamo cone pellet trap with his RWS model 52. This surprised him. Thankfully, he caught it right away. Allow me to tell you why this happens and share a few tales when it didn’t work out so well.

But before I do, this comment just arrived as I was completing this posting. “I would like to mention pellet traps. I’ve been using the Cone Pellet Trap by GAMO for months and have quite an investment in paper targets for it. It’s falling apart just from using my 392 at no closer than 10 yards and further. The spot welds on the bottom cap of the dead-pellet well gave loose so I “glued” it with a metal epoxy and it’s been holding. But I’ve noticed that the top and sides of the funnel are bulging due to pellet impact and I’m getting concerned it may fail, so I’m thinking about a replacement.

Why doesn’t the Gamo trap work?
It DOES work – providing you don’t shoot at it with an airgun that’s too powerful. HOWEVER, when I went to the Gamo website and looked at the specifications for this trap, they say nothing about which airguns are best suited for it! So, how is a dealer like Pyramyd Air supposed to know what a certain trap can and cannot handle, if the manufacturer doesn’t tell them? Here is what I do about things when they REALLY have to work!

Get a pellet trap that no smallbore air rifle can EVER shoot through!
After having a similar experience, I finally coughed up the money for a genuine bullet trap – one made to stop a 40-grain lead bullet from a .22 long rifle cartridge. If it can do that, there ain’t no smallbore airgun in the world ever going to do it any damage! I shoot a 65 foot-pound AirForce Condor at my Outer’s bullet trap, which is rated to 100 foot-pounds. In a million shots, there will be no sign of damage to this trap. There are already more than 50,000 shots from various airguns on it, as it’s been used for club shooting as well as my own for over 14 years. I used this trap to catch the shot from the Fire 201 air shotgun, which, you may recall, generates over 250 foot-pounds. Because the projectiles were small birdshot, each with far less energy than the whole shot column, the trap took it in stride. I have also shot .22 long rifle bullets into this trap with no problems.

Bullet traps of equal strength by Do-All and others are also available. All it takes is a Google search to find them.

Some things you may not have thought about
When you shoot an air rifle, the pellets all land close to each other. Down at the trap, those pellets land like an impact chisel! Each shot tries to go deeper than the one before. I know of a case where a shooter shot a 30 foot-pound air rifle (Webley Patriot) through his Daisy pellet trap (rated to just 6 foot-pounds!) then through a cinderblock wall behind the trap (he had no safety backstop!) and through the control panel of his wife’s dryer on the other side of the wall! Granted it took almost 100 shots for all that to happen, but he KILLED his wife’s clothes dryer! What you need for a rifle like the CF-X or a Diana RWS 34 is a trap so rugged that it can withstand ANYTHING you throw at it. I have other stories of guys shooting through their garage doors and wrecking the fronts of their cars and of guys shooting through the walls of their houses!

Don’t feel too bad, though. In World War II, Standard Products of Detroit made M1 Carbines that they tested in their plant. They had a backstop of 10 feet of wet sand, backed by a concrete block wall. Needless to say there weren’t very many real shooters working at Standard Products. One night early in production, the inevitable happened. They shot through the wall and began spraying bullets around the neighborhood! It may not happen all the time but it happens more frequently than it should.

What’s behind your trap?
Shooting at a bullet trap without a safety panel behind it is like doing a trapeze act without a net. You may be very good, but it only takes one mistake. I had a 3/4″ plywood panel behind my trap, and I actually shot through that and cracked a cinderblock in my foundation! Ouch! The odds of missing in exactly the same way more than once are extremely low, but I did it, nevertheless. And, with a Condor or a Career 707, you only have to miss twice the same way to do it.

Airguns are very safe compared to firearms, but there are still some fundamental safety precautions we have to take. Using a pellet trap that’s up to the task is very close to the top of the list.

30 Responses to “Why you need a good airgun pellet trap!”

  • Bill D Says:

    When I rcently got into airgunning. both .177 and .22, I purchased a gamo trap. The seams did not hold up well and I understood why. I built one much larger, using one inch hardwood boards. I then stuffed it full of old phone books, which I always seem to have too many of. In front of those, I palced 2 inch foams blocks, again recycled material and use that to hang targets on. Obviously, I have to change backing material more often an it shreds but I don’y miss the target and nothing gets loose.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi B.B.

    I’ve been using a pellet trap suggested by the owner’s manual of my Crosman 664. It’s just a cardboard box with two thirds stuffed with newspaper (or phone books) stacked upright and then the last third stuffed with crumpled newspaper. I’m sure it wouldn’t work for the more powerful guns but I’ve shot at it with my RWS 34 and got no penetration through it. Any thoughts on the viability of this set up? Also, so you happen to know how man foot-pounds the RWS 324 generates in .22 cal? Thanks.

    jw

  • Anonymous Says:

    Sorry for the typos. Hit the dadgum Login and Publish key rather than the Preview key!

    jw

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    jw,

    That type of trap will work for a while, but an RWS 34 will eventually shoot through it. A 34 develops 13-15 foot-pounds in .22

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    The rws 34 in my oppinion is the best gun out ther for your money in terms of power outside of the legacy100 and the crosman quest.I am thinking on eather the rws 34 or legacy1000.I like powerfull airguns without spending alot of money.I have also found I dont like .177 caliber that much .22 is my pick for favorite airgun caliber because it is cheap enough for alot of target shooting but delivers good hunting power.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Leagacy1000 crosman quest and rws 34 to correct myself.

  • Joe in MD Says:

    I have two traps with probably about 10,000 shots into each with no dents even.

    One is an Outers that is rated for .22LR.

    The other is a Gehmann 17CM square trap. The Gehmann is unique in that it uses a spring-loaded plate to “trap” the pellet. It is incredibly quiet, too. Both very highly recommended (but you can travel with a Gehmann since it only weighs a couple of pounds). Pilkguns sells the Gehmann but so do some others.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    You can easily make any trap safer and quieter by adding duct seal to the back of the trap. Some airgun retailers sell this as “ballistic putty” and is used in their quiet traps. Duct seal can be bought at most home centers and local hardware stores. It’s also easy to make a plywood box and put 2 inches of duct seal at the back wall to make a safe quiet trap. When the putty gets loaded with pellets you can clean them out or replace with new duct seal. Two inches will handle any air rifle except for the Condor, Careers, and big bore rifles. Four inches will do for the careers and condor. I can’t recomend this method for big bore air rifles. Sorry so long.

    Jason

  • Bill D Says:

    I read this column daily and now need help. Does anyone make scope rings that are at least three inches tall. Also, want to buy small carbine in .22. Target and small animals. Recommend Daisy 22sg or blue streak? Do need scope with high mount.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I BUILT MY PELLET TRAP OUT OF .120″ STEEL PLATE. I FABRICATED A BOX OUT OF THIS PLATE AND SET THE BACK SIDE AT A 45 DEGRE ANGLE.
    THIS TRAP CATCHES ALL PELLETS AND HAS WITHSTOOD ABOUT 10,000 HITS FROM VARIOUS HI POWER SPRING RIFLES. I MOUNT CARDBOARD OVER THE FRONT OPENING TO STAPLE TARGETS ON.
    I ALSO SCREWED A 3X4 FOOT .120″ STEEL PLATE TO THE SHED BEHIND THE TRAP, IN CASE OF A WILD SHOT.

  • Anonymous Says:

    funny question but how do you know if your a left or right handed shooter. My trigger finger is my right hand but I’m a left handed person for normal everyday life so what does that make me a left or right handed shooter? Thanks for helping the confused.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Bill D.

    Yes, I have seen scope rings that were even taller than three inches. They were custom-built and cost over $500, so I doubt they are what you are after.

    However, do a Google search on the sport of metallic silhouette. Some of the shooters have ultra-high rings and they rest their chins on the comb of the stock to sight through them.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Confused shooter,

    Usually your dominant eye will determine which side you shoot from. To find out which eye is dominant, hold one finger up at arm’s length and align it with a distant spot. Then close or cover each eye and notice whether your finger seems to move, relative to the distant spot. The eye that keeps the finger in the same relative position is your dominant eye. That side of your body should feel the most confortable to shoot from.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hmmm. Everytime I try this eye test I always see two fingers. If I focus on my finger, I see two of whatever I’m looking at in the background. Does that mean my eyes are equal with neither dominant?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    I am not an eye doctor, but I suppose what you say could be true. If so, I guess you can shoot of whichever side feels best!

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    will a leapers 4x16power with a 56mm objective scope take the recoil of a gamo 1250 in .22 caliber?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    If you are referring to the scope with the 30mm tube, range estimating, AO, mil dot reticle, then the answer is yes. That’s a TS platform scope and it can take more recoil than any airgun has to give.

    There is a test article on the Pyramyd Air website about how that TS platform was tested. You might want to look at it.

    B.B.

  • Joe in MD Says:

    High scope mounts — BKL sells extenders which can be stacked.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I have been using a cardboard box stuffed with old worn out T shirts and havent penetrated through for a year’s worth of shooting yet! Not even a 10 feet with my CF-X shooting .177 round pellets.

    I used to have a metal trap but dont know what ever happened to it.

    dsw

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,
    I mostly shoot my pump up airguns indoors, i usually just use three pumps, can you recommend a pellet trap that is suitable for my needs?
    Or better yet, can u make a posting about making pellet trap on my own?
    I was trying to get some putty to make pellet trap, but can’t find any here in Indonesia….

    Haque

  • Ian Says:

    Newspapers are perfect! Fill a standard grocery bag with flat folded newspapers, and put metal or hard wood behind that to make a loud sound when paper is penetrated. That way you know when it’s time to replace the newspapers (probably between 100 & 150 shots unless you hit 1-holers consistently). My testing at 6 yards with a moderate speed .22 stopped both Crosman premiers and Beeman round-nosed pellets at about 100 pages (50 folded) of newsprint. The bag holds 500 pages or more.
    I also move targets slightly to avoid hitting the same spot all night.
    Safe Pellet Traps – definitely important in this age of semi-lethal air rifles!

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Haque,

    With three pumps you are going just 450 f.p.s. Use any pellet trap you can buy.

    B.B.

  • Kiwi Says:

    I’m planning to make my own trap for home shooting, and I was wondering what sheet metal to use for a stop. It’d need to be able to withstand shots from a Remington Genisis (Benjamin Legacy-type action) at 35+ feet. I was thinking 1/8 inch Aluminum, but was looking for input.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I just bought a beeman 2085 pellet trap for my cfx. The box tells what velocity the trap is rated to at 15-25-35 yrd ranges in .177, .20, .22. Im shooting at about 25 yards and its holding up. I notice a tiny bit of bulging in the center of the trap from where the bullseye is but it works. To bad I can’t use it today in this noreaster up in New York :(. Anyone know of a cheap rimfire trap, say 40 bucks?

    Kyle

  • Kevin Says:

    I’ve found that recycling the square bucket from the 23lb size of Tidycat cat litter mades a great cheap homemade pellet trap. Fill the bucket with dirt, snap the lid on, use a razor blade knife to cut a hole in the lid that is slightly large than a target, tape target over hole, tip buck on side, step back 10 meters and open fire :)

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Kevoin,

    Good idea and we have the cats to do it!

    B.B.

  • Ed333 Says:

    Any problems with lead dust in the air from pellets impacting a steel trap?
    What about a piece of heavy carpeting, hanging loose behind target, so it can move slightly with impact, and then pellet drops to tray below…???…thinking no lead dust from impact.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ed333,

    The home user should have no great problem, but Pyramyd Air, who shoots hundreds or even thousands of shots every day uses a water curtain over the steel backplate to cancel the dust. It works perfectly.

    B.B.

  • ae em Says:

    I was initially excited bout the 1 gallon paint bucket design filled with 5 pounds of duct seal design (photo posted by ‘ballistic’). Actually it worked quite well until I managed to shoot the rim of the bucket and now the lid wont close. After lid issue I decided to retire the bucket pellet trap. But recycling the putty from a paint bucket is really difficult. If you want to do the responsible thing and send the lead pellet goo to hazardous materials depot then a deep metal bucket is the least friendly container to get it out from.

  • ae em Says:

    Wooden picture frame + polyethylene cutting board backside. As little as 2 bars of duct seal can do the job for a 6×6 inch square. When the putty is flush with the wood frame it becomes very easy to stick a bulls eye sheet directly on top of the putty. No fancy sheet holder needed. Use disposable paper plates, or squares of parchment paper. Add target cross with black sharpie. Cheap and easy! Pellets cut very cleanly through the target sheet because it leans directly against the putty. Two putty bars gives about 1/2 inch of goo but even this little seemed to be just fine for a Benjamin 392 air rifle plinking (.22 / 14 grain / less than 600 fps). When you are done shooting then stick a 8×8 square of parchment paper on top of the putty to prevent smears while storing the pellet trap. When plinking inside the apartment a generously wide wood frame is appreciated .. catching occasional outlier pellets.

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