Do hollowpoint pellets work?
by B.B. Pelletier
This question comes from Bryan. "Do hollowpoint pellets really work?" Since Tom Gaylord already did that exact article in Shotgun News last year, I borrowed some of his ideas and added a few new ones to demonstrate the effect.
There are a couple of considerations before we begin. I think we all understand that the term "work" asks if hollowpoints expand in game. Gaylord used Neutrogena facial soap bars that are transparent as his test medium. I decided to use duct seal, like what is found in the Quiet Pellet Trap. Because duct seal isn't transparent, I had to remove the pellets to photograph them. Tom was able to photograph them through the soap bar. His test also showed relative depth of penetration and the wound channel, but his pellets looked blurry. My pellets look sharper but I lost the wound channel and the relative penetration depth. You takes yer choice!
I shot from 12" into a new Quiet Pellet Trap that has no pellets in the ballistic medium. The pellet is going much faster than a hunter's pellet would strike a target, but duct seal is softer than flesh and bone. I feel this is a good representation of what a similar pellet would do at 20-25 yards in an animal. Even if it isn't, it is a standard medium that all pellets were subjected to. The pellets were then carefully removed and more carefully cleaned for photography.
.22 JSB Predator
The Predator is a relatively new pellet from JSB. It's more accurate than a lot of other hollowpoints, but not up to the level of good domed pellets. I shot it from the B40 used in the evaluation report, and it left the muzzle at 667 f.p.s.
JSB Predator shed the nylon tip and expanded well. Front half of pellet peeled back over rear half.
.22 Beeman Silver Bear
Beeman Silver Bears are oldies that are lightweight in .177 and on the heavy side of medium in .25. In .22, they're lightweight. Also shot from the B40. Velocity was 744 f.p.s.
Beeman Silver Bear squashed together. Skirt appears blown out and top of pellet peeled back over it.
.177 Crow Magnum
The Beeman Crow Magnum is one of the legendary hollowpoints, with an established record of success. On the down side, accuracy drops off after 25 yards in many guns. For this pellet I used the .177 B40 I reviewed. Velocity was 916 f.p.s.
The Beeman Crow Magnum came apart. Front separated as lead ring and rear squashed together into solid chunk.
We also need to ask whether other types of pellets mushroom - even as well as hollowpoints. For a control, I fired a .177 Chinese domed pellet from the B40. This was a very cheap pellet that I would never shoot in the field. It felt too small for the bore of the B40 during loading. Velocity was 879 f.p.s.
Chinese domed pellet was garbage to begin with. But it mushroomed like a hollowpoint!
Some hollowpoint pellets do work. However, so do some domed pellets, and they work just about as well. This "test" was just a minor excursion into the question Bryan asked. It generates more questions than it answers. For example, with a given pellet, at what velocity does it start deforming? How accurate are these pellets at a given range? And so on. All I tried to do was answer the question, but you can see there is a whole universe of knowledge before us.