A whole bunch of questions

by B.B. Pelletier

Yesterday, I received this comment from a reader who is planning to buy an AirForce Talon SS CO2 rifle. He asked so many questions and was confused on the topic of pellet performance, so I thought I’d answer his questions here. If one person has these questions, others probably do, too.

His questions are in green.

I plan on getting the Talon SS CO2 .177. But I have a few more questions. I was wondering about the trajectory. I think it would be the same with any rifle shooting the same pellets at the same velocity.

You are right! A bullet fired from a .30/06 at 2,900 f.p.s. drops at the same speed as a .177 (or .22) pellet. Galileo demonstrated this principal by dropping two balls of dissimilar weights from the Leaning Tower of Piza. The thing to understand here is that gravity acts the same on all falling bodies.

Your other clause, “…and same pellets,” shows that you understand how aerodynamics affect ballistics. Pellets slow down rapidly in flight, while streamlined .30/06 bullets do not. Although pellets and bullets fall at the same speed, the DISTANCE FROM THE MUZZLE varies greatly between pellets and bullets.

At what distance will the pellet drop 1.5 to 2 inches below what I am aiming for? I ask because I plan to use open sights for now and wonder whether I will have to compensate very much.

That depends on the distance at which you sight your rifle to strike the target. The pellet falls very slowly, relative to the distance it travels when measured close to the muzzle; the farther it gets from the muzzle, the faster it falls (again, relative to the distance it travels). I’ve done a pretty good number of blog posts on this very subject:

At what range should you zero your scope?

More about sighting-in: How to determine the two intersection points

ANOTHER problem with scopes: Not mounting them correctly

The last reference is loaded with additional references to sight-in questions. Although all the references are for scopes, open sights function the same.

If you took the time to read a few of these posts, you’d understand that YOU are the one who decides where to sight in your rifle. If you’re smart, the first aim point will be at 20 yards, making the second one anywhere from 26 yards to about 35 yards, depending on the pellet’s initial velocity. Caliber has no bearing on any of this. Sure, you can sight in for 50 yards, but if you do you will have a horrible curve to your pellet (only relative to where you aim – the actual trajectory never changes).

If you sight in at 20 yards, all shots between 20 and 30 yards will hit close to the same aimpoint (for a domed diabolo pellet exiting the muzzle at 900 f.p.s.) Your 1.5″ to 2″ drop below the aimpoint will come somewhere around 45 yards. If the pellet is traveling 700 f.p.s., the 1.5″ to 2″ drop will occur somewhere around 35-38 yards, and your second point of intersection (please read the indicated posts) will be at around 28 yards.

For pellets I was thinking of getting Crosman .177 Premier Domed 10.5-grain for shooting at longer ranges.

The 10.5-grain Crosman Premier pellet is a great one for long-range shooting from a precharged pneumatic (PCP). In the CO2 version of the Talon SS, this pellet will be going much slower on high power (I would guess it will top out at around 575-600 f.p.s.), so you will need to sight-in accordingly. First point of intersection 20 yards, second point 26 yards (or so) and the place at which the pellet drops by 1.5″ to 2″ will be around 33-35 yards. A better pellet for the CO2 rifle, where a flat trajectory is desired, might be the 7.9-grain Premier. It will have increased velocity and will be almost as accurate, if not just as accurate, as the heavier pellet. If you sight-in at 20 yards, you’ll be on target out to 27-28 yards and your 1.5″ to 2″ drop will be at 34-35 yards.

I was thinking of shooting the 16.1-grain Eun Jin pellets, but might they have too much drop at 50 yards? I would like these to make better holes and blow things up more.

I hope by now you see the answer to your question. The 16.1-grain .177 Eun Jin pellet is not suited to the power level available in a PCP Talon SS, much less in the CO2 version. Far from “blowing things up,” this pellet would do very little damage to the target, compared to a lighter pellet that is better suited to the rifle’s power curve. Something in the 8-grain to 8.5-grain range, maximum.

I know the .22 would be better for this (blowing things up). But I’m thinking the pellet will drop a lot along the way, and you said in the review that the extra f.p.s. of the Condor is nice. That’s my reasoning for getting the .177. If I’m not right about that I will get the .22 and save up to buy pellets.

This last comment leads me to the conclusion I’ve been building all along. A friend of mine happens to be battling this same question: If pellets drop because of velocity, wouldn’t I be better off shooting as fast as possible, so I don’t need to worry about the trajectory as much? My answer to him and to you is “NO!” Velocity doesn’t make any difference if you don’t hit the target. My friend bought an AirForce Condor and fitted it with a 25″ .177 barrel from Mac-1 to get as much velocity as possible so he wouldn’t need to worry about trajectory. Now, all he has to do is find a pellet that will fly straight at 1,450 f.p.s.! I predict that when he does, it will be a spitzer (a long pointed bullet). He will have reinvented the .17 Aguila cartridge in an airgun (with less velocity, of course).


The .17 Aguila round fires a spitzer bullet at 1,850 f.p.s. It’s based on a necked-down .22 LR cartridge.
There is another way. It’s been around for more than a century. Please watch the movie Quigley Down Under, if you have not seen it yet. In that movie, Matthew Quigley shoots a Sharps rifle that fires a 540-grain lead bullet at about 1450 f.p.s. and manages to hit man-sized targets at 1,000 yards and beyond. The movie is not true, but the shooting is, for the most part.

In September of 1874, the world-champion Irish rifle team shot against an American team at the famous Creedmore rifle range in Long Island, New York. The six best shooters from each team fired for record. They shot at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards at a target that measured 12 feet square. The “center” of this target was worth 3 points and measured 6 feet square. The bullseye was a 3-foot square inside that and scored 4 points. The shooting took several days to complete. When the smoke had cleared, the U.S. team was the winner by three points – 934 to 931. One Irish shooter had shot at the wrong target and lost the 4 points his bullseye scored. Had he been firing on his own target, the Irish team would have won by a single point. That’s how close the match was.

That match was shot with peep sights! The shooters had to know how far the targets were because their bullets were dropping many feet in flight. A light wind could also push them several feet to the side, so they had to know how to compensate for it.

The point is that it is always best to shoot just one accurate pellet and to learn how it performs at all ranges. Then, learn to estimate ranges accurately. In the Army, I learned to direct artillery and mortar fire by learning how to estimate distances very accurately. It’s not easy, but it is a skill that can be learned. They may not allow laser rangefinders in field target, but nobody can deny me my own skill for range estimation.

In a few days, I will be reviewing a very special airgun hunting video for you. In that video, hunters shoot big bore air rifles with bullets weighing up to 510 grains in weight. They use a laser rangefinder to determine distances to the game, because those big slow bullets drop like stones after leaving the muzzle. But, they also take game such as deer, boar, goats, elk and even a 2,000-lb. American bison! They are extremely effective, but the hunters shooting them have to know their trajectory to the last yard they intend shooting. That’s my real answer to our future Talon SS CO2 rifle owner. Get the gun, find one good pellet and then GO LEARN TO SHOOT IT!

46 thoughts on “A whole bunch of questions

  1. Are RWS .177 Diabolo Basic pellets good? I have a tin of superdomes and they are good pellets, can I expect the same from the basics?


  2. Brian,

    The Basics are RWS’s cheapest pellet. They use them to broaden the line to compete with cheaper pellets like Gamo.

    They are good, but not as uniform as the other RWS pellets. I suggest you give them a try, because sometimes a gun will love them for no obvious reason.

    B.B.




  3. Oh yeah BB,

    Thats Randy, Eric, Stephen and gang you are talking about ! Great news that you’ll review the cd. I’ve been wanting to know the details myself for quite some time. If there’s one thing on earth that I REALLY envy, its that .457 Outlaw (the one they call the Green Monster).

    By the way ………

    You said : “…. because those big slow bullets drop like stones after leaving the muzzle”
    I’d say a 510 gr. bullet exiting @ 700 fps would drop much lesser than a 0.22 bullet at the same speed (and 700-750 fps is typical of most springers). Why? Because the heavier bullet conserves its speed better downrange. Isnt that true ?

    A .308 Exile tuned by Bob sends a 120 gr. conical @ 950 fps. Not likely to drop much.


  4. WOW Thank you for the big response!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 I have already read all those articals big did not put 2 and 2 toghther.

    note the reson why I said the Premier was that that is what you used for testing and it did well now are you saying it is to heavy? But I realise that this is not a pcp.



  5. B.B.,
    An excellent post with a very pragmatic wrap up. Always looking for bigger and better and easier (especially all 3 together) can be futile. I’ve tried 20 different pellets in my GamoShadow 1000 and it is always most accurate with the Beeman Kodiak XtraHvy Match 10.6gr, so I bought 5 tins and am sticking with them. There are a few close seconds, but most are no-contest. The BKs measure almost exactly 800fps and calculate to 15.1 ftlbs. What I found interesting was that the BKs also had the highest energy of all the pellets I tried in this gun (except for the tiny Daisy Max pointed 7.2gr at 978 fps–too fast). In fact, the EunJin 16.1gr only went 585 fps and had the LOWEST energy at 12.24 ftlbs. I re-read your blog about piston bounce and am guessing there might be something about maximum energy going into the pellet and not bouncing back into the gun??? The gun certainly FEELS smoother with the BKs than some of the other pellets.
    Thanks again for the free continuing ed,
    Pestbgone



  6. Peswtbgone,

    And today YOU taught ME something. After all these years I have said heavy pellets usually produce less energy than light pellets in spring piston guns, but I never put that fact and the possibility of piston bounce together until your comment. Thank you very much!

    B.B.


  7. BB ,

    “I have to find a dumber crowd to write for!”

    What was that ?! Upon my word ! BB, do you honestly think that 510 gr @ 700 fps will drop more at say 50 yards than a 30 gr. @ 700 fps, because it is heavier ??? I think not ! The 510 gr. will be much faster @ 50 yards than the 30 gr. That means lesser time of flight. And THAT means lesser drop.

    I dare say your wife is right.



  8. B.B.
    Just beginners luck on my part, I am sure. But there is such a wealth of information in your blogs and all the comments. I am amazed every time I search a subject……. and then the wheels start turning.
    Thanks again,
    Pestbgone


  9. MajorKonig
    im gonna have to agree with bb. a light pellet will get pulled down as much as a hevey pellet as newton proved to us. however the huge 500 grain pellet has more gravity acting upon it because of its larger mass. it would retain more velocity but would drop conciderably more. think of it as if you can throw a base ball and a pool ball at the same velocity which would hit the ground first? the pool bal probly would because its heavier. thats not a very good example because you would counteract the gravity by aiming up more. well think about that
    Nate in Mass


  10. Everybody,

    I want to make myself understood here. I agree with MajorKonig’s remark that a heavy bullet would have better velocity retention and therefore travel farther downrange than a diabolo pellet before falling to earth .

    My wife noticed that I seemed to say the opposite in my post and she questioned it. I really wasn’t comparing bullets to pellets when I wrote that – I was only saying that a slow-moving bullet falls pretty fast. But as this discussion has now included diabolo pellets, I have to agree that I believe thjey will fall sooner (not faster, but closer to the muzzle) because their increased wind resistance slows them down faster than a heavy lead bullet. That’s with both pellet and bullet starting out at the same velocity.

    I’m sorry for any confusion I have caused.

    And my remark about needing to write for dumber people was an attempt at a joke. You guys (MajorKonig and my wife) are so sharp you are catching me in my mistakes.

    B.B.


  11. bb,

    isnt the rifling supposed to spin the pellet/bullet to not only increase accuracy, but also to try to work against gravity…i forget where i heard that, but i’m not sure if its true. if it is, then all bullets wouldn’t fall at the same rate…it would depend on the rate of twist. it could just be completely wrong though.

    Dave


  12. Anonymous ,

    “however the huge 500 grain pellet has more gravity acting upon it because of its larger mass.”

    It doesnt matter whether its 5 gr or 500,000 gr. THEORETICALLY, you are correct when you say that the 500 has more gravity acting on it. PRACTICALLY ? No. Practically, the force of gravity felt by a 5 gr. pellet and that felt by a 500 ton aircraft would be same (provided it is flying very low). Thinking that I am nuts, are’nt you ?

    Force of gravity (F) experienced by a body of mass ‘m’ at a height ‘h’ above the earth is given by :
    F = M * m / (h^2) where M : mass of earth.

    Compared to the mass of the earth, m is TOTALLY DWARFED, be it a pellet or an aircraft.

    F would work out to be the same to hundreds of places of decimal.

    And yes, I am not comparing pellets to bullets. I am only comparing weights provided EVERYTHING else is unchanged.


  13. majorkonig, I think you’ve taken a misstep with your physics…

    Your equation is right, but your conclusions (if I understand them properly) are not. A 500gr bullet has exactly 100x the gravitational attraction to the earth that a 5gr BB has. That’s why it weighs 100x as much! Weight is nothing more than the gravitational force existing between the earth and some other body.

    Force is indeed proportional to mass X mass, if you double one of the “mass” variables, your force doubles as well. It doesn’t matter if you double the big one OR the little one, the product doubles in either case.

    So why doesn’t a heavier object fall faster (in a vacuum, anyway)? Because a heavier object is also harder to move. A 500gr bullet indeed has 100x the gravitational force on it that a 5gr BB has, BUT it is also 100x harder to move it downward (a=f/m). It balances out exactly, and you wind up with approx. 32ft/sec/sec acceleration due to gravity at sea level, no matter what the mass is.


  14. B.B.
    im sure you have gotten this request already but i will say it any way. i would be really interested in a blog post about the diana 460, me being a magnum aficionado.
    thanks, scopestop


  15. Dave,
    Bullet spin will have no significant effect upon bullet drop. A magnus effect force will impart a small (and negligible) upward or downward force upon a spinning bullet only in the presence of a crosswind.

    As for the physics of particles,

    s=(1/2)*at^2
    s = distance
    a = acceleration (gravity in this case)
    t=time

    You will note that mass does not appear in the equation, and hence does not matter for calculation of drop


  16. Dave,

    Spin produces no lift unless the pellet is pushed in a direction 90 degrees counter to gravity. Then precession acts to impart a very small force that would oppose gravity.

    B.B.



  17. Vince,

    Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, you are right.

    The point is, a body of ANY mass (provided it is much much smaller than M) will always fall down at the same rate. The drop calculation as anonymous rightly indicates is :
    s=(1/2)*at^2

    The thing to notice is that mass doesnt enter the equation at all (which he has also observed) ! So, muzzle speed being constant, a big bullet will never drop more than a small one at any given range. In fact it will drop less. A heavier bullet also has higher inertia of motion and therefore retains a higher %age of initial velocity. This results in a smaller value of ‘t’ in the equation s=(1/2)*at^2

    Contracting opinions, anyone ? Once again, Vince’s correction is appreciated. Thanks.


  18. majorkonig

    I don’t believe inertia has anything to do with flight time. An object placed in motion (you assume identical muzzle velocities) will not slow down unless acted upon by a force.

    That force is drag. The projectile with the higher ballistic coefficient (less drag) will arrive at the target sooner, and thus drop less.


  19. I suppose one could assume that two projectiles with identical frontal cross sections would suffer the same amount of drag force.

    The higher mass projectile would then better retain velocity since it has more inertia.

    This amounts to a very crude description of sectional density and ballistic coefficient.


  20. ok guys
    i obviously know little compared to you. i think the point bb was making by saying the bullets dropped like stones was that the big bore airguns didnt have very high velocity in the first place. the lower the velocity the more drop.
    Nate in Mass


  21. Nate ,

    “the lower the velocity the more drop”
    That is perfectly correct ! Thats what I have been saying all along!

    Anonymous ,

    “I don’t believe inertia has anything to do with flight time”
    That I am afraid is totally incorrect. It is inertia of motion I am talking abt. Why does a train or a bus need hydraulic brakes ? Why not the drum or disc brakes that you have on your Yamaha R1 ? INERTIA OF MOTION !!! Coz even @ 30 mph, those drums/discs will not stop it !

    What you said about drag is perfectly correct, but that is a totally different aspect. That is aerodynamics/fluid mechanics associated with bullet flight. I understand that, but my contention has nothing to do with bullet aerodynamics.

    In the end, Nate might have summed it up correctly when he says that all BB meant to say was that those big bores fire relatively slower than your Condors and Careers. But drop like a stone ? Heh Heh … dont think so !


  22. majorkonig,

    If we ignore aerodynamic forces then we have no drag, and therefore no force exists to slow the projectile.

    Under this assumption, a feather will fly just as fast and just as far as a lead canon ball. Neither will ever slow at all.

    From particle physics (since you request we ignore aerodynamics)

    v(t)=vo+at and F=ma
    F=0, so a=F/m=0,
    so v(t)=vo for all t
    mass matters not


  23. Good evening B.B.!

    A question for you. About a year or so ago, I asked you for a recomendation on which spring gun you’d recommend for being both accurate and easy to shoot accurately. At about the same time, our son was born and I got distracted by fatherly duties and had to put my air rifle shooting on hold.

    I now have more time for hobbies and can’t find your reply! I probably can’t work the search right, but it ocurred to me that with all the fresh innovations in air guns lately, I probably should re-ask the question.

    So, in your opinion, what springer or AirSource gun is the easiest to shoot accurately?

    thanks much!
    ben


  24. For some reason my first post didn’t make it. Anyway, the idea of a spitzer shaped pellet is very interesting…BB do you think one could be made using bullet swaging dies etc.


  25. kd5byb,

    by airsource do you mean crossman airsource bulk co2?
    If so you must go for the 1077.
    If you want a break barrel i must know how much you are willing to spend.
    A gamo cfx would be a good pick. I dont have many guidlines to go by.


  26. Ben,

    If the choice is between springers and AirSource, then Airsource guns are easier to shoot accurately

    But so are single-stroke pneumatics, multi-pumps and PCPs, and for some reason you didn’t include them.

    Please tell me more about what you want to do with this airgun.

    B.B.


  27. Spitzer-shaped “pellets” (bullets actually) have existed for airguns since at least the 1970s. The problem with them is always the same. The twist rate of an airgun barrel isn’t fast enough to stabilize a long solid bullet. And solid bullets are SO hard to engrave when you load them.

    Every company that brings out a solid “pellet” (really a bullet) goes through the same learning curve. First they sell a lot of them based on the supposed benefits. Then people try to actually shoot them and find out they don’t fit into the breech because it’s too difficult to engrave the solid lead body by hand.

    Then they see how innaccurate solid bullet are because they aren’t stabilized by the low velocity/spin rates of airgun barrels. And then they go off the market.

    It happened to Pelletman, to Eley, to BSA, to the spitzer bullet mold Beeman used to import, and it’s going to happen to the Piledriver pellet, as well.

    Until a pellet gun has a faster twist, more power and has a pellet designed for its bore, solid bullets, including spitzers, aren’t going to work.

    B.B.


  28. Good evening all!

    I see my question wasn’t worded all that well. Originally, my question about a year ago was limited to springers – what springer is the easiest to shoot accurately?

    But then I thought, why limit the field to just springers? Why not see if there is an AirSource gun out there that is easy to shoot accurately?

    Perhaps I should have asked three questions:

    1) What’s the easiest to shoot accurately springer?

    2) What’s the easiest to shoot accurately AirSource gun?

    3) Of the the two “winners” above, which one is the easiest to shoot accurately?

    thanks much!
    ben


  29. kd5byb

    the rws 54 is easy to shoot accuratly. A co2 gun is fust as easy to shoot to its full potential but the problem is that the potential is not as high.

    I think you should get an rws model 54 spring airgun.

    -sumo


  30. kd5byb,

    I agree with Sumo that the Diana 54 is a great choice. And so is the TX 200. The 54 probably has the edge on being easier to shoot accurately (less technique required). A BAM B40 is right there with the TX 200.

    The Benjamin AS392T would be a good AirSource rifle. It is easier to shoot than the Diana 54, but it isn’t as accurate. So you must choose.

    B.B.


  31. Good afternoon all!

    Thanks much for the input. Looks like I’ve got some thinking to do over the 54 vs. the TX200 vs. the B40. I want something that will be accurate, so I think the AirSource gun is out.

    thanks much!
    -ben


  32. Anonymous ,

    I am NOT saying that aerodynamic forces dont act. WHAT I AM SAYING IS IGNORE THAT EFFECT FOR NOW.

    If i asked you to find ONLY the effect of bullet weight in some phenomena, how would you go abt going it ? Would you only use diff. weights, or would you start simultaneously playing around with EVERY OTHER VARIABLE that has an effect on that phenomena ?

    What you are talking abt is something called ‘form factor’ in aerodynamics. WHEN YOU WANT TO ANALYSE THE EFFECT OF WEIGHT, LEAVE THE FORM FACTOR (AND OTHER THINGS LIKE SPEED, COMPOSITION, ETC) ALONE !!!

    This I believe is why so little is known about ballistics. There are more myths than facts. I have googled up experiments where they wanted to find the effect of bullet speed on penetration. They used all different bullet profiles (spitzers, round noses, HPs, FMJ, everything) in the same experiments. Their conclusion ? Velocity doesnt seem to effect penetration. STUPID CONCLUSION, but are you surprised ?

    I am not.



  33. MajorKonig,

    Yes, I had. I have changed that and republished, so comments can now be posted.

    Blogger’s default, which they hide from you, is to not accept comments. This one time I forgot to go in and force the comments to be accepted.

    Thanks,


  34. i’ve read some of the posts above. some perspective about the quest for energy and speed in taking prey. learn the ftlbs of energy needed for taking your game. you want the prey to absorb the maximun amount of energy. the key word is absorb. i’ll say it again, absorb.
    using an example above “The [10.6gr] BKs measure almost exactly 800fps and calculate to 15.1 ftlbs…In fact, the EunJin 16.1gr only went 585 fps and had the LOWEST energy at 12.24 ftlbs”. the energies matter most if they remain in the prey, otherwise, there is massive energy waste as due to projectile exiting out the other side. overkill looks great in numbers and on paper, but is not always efficient and effective. bb has given examples of a slower moving heavier projectile ammo knocking buffalo over and taking them effectively, and high-speed-lighter-weight ammo passing through and wounding prey for a prolonged death. if you’ve ever had to track a deer (after an appropriate shot placement) due to poor ammo (high-speed) or gun choice, you can appreciate my point.


  35. excellent point. a number of years back a policeman wearing a bulletproof vest died from being shot close range with a magnum firearm. even though the vest did its job and bullet never penetrated, his body absorbed too much energy and shock. ironically, they speculate he might have lived if he wasn’t wearing the vest. in cop shows its always a positive thing when they say “don’t worry, the bullet passed through”.


  36. gangsters use to sometimes us .22caliber handguns for executions, even though they had many more powerful handguns and calibers to choose from. they liked the fact .22 were powerful enough to penetrate the skull, but the round would most likely remain and bounce around inside the brain cavity.


  37. BB.
    I posted my question on another blog bot it seems to have dissaoeared from my computer.
    Ill post it again:
    I want to buy a field target rifle, ive been thinking of the tx200 and the hw77, could you give me your opinion about each?
    I have haerd that its easy to get your fingers cut off in underlevers, is that true for this two rifles?
    I have also looked at two scopes, the Leapers SWAT 8-32×56 and the Nikko Stirling 8-32×44 Targetmaster, could you give me your opinion about each? Arent these too long and make loading difficult, if so will I need special mounts, which do you recommend (I like B-Squares), also how wide are the dovetails on both rifles?

    Thanks in advance
    Alex


  38. Alex,

    You asked this question on the following post:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2006/04/hw-97-hw77-full-report.html

    This is the answer I gave you there:

    Alex,

    I have owned both these air rifles. My 77 was tuned for field target and my TX200 Mk III is still exactly the way it came from the factory. The TX is the better rifle. It has a better trigger (it’s a refinement of the Rekord that’s on the 77), the better stock shape, the more powerful powerplant and the smoother shot cycle. The TX also has a positive ratchet safety to prevent the sliding chamber from moving, so your fingers are safe. The 77 does not have anything.

    As for the scopes, I have experience with the Leapers, which is my current field target scope, but I have no experience with the Nikko.
    I believe both would handle either rifle.

    Alex,

    In the future, it might help if you just ask your question on the most current posting. That should make it eassier to find.

    B.B.


  39. Hi B.B.

    I have a question for you.

    Could you explain what the difference is, what the pros & cons are, & the concept of a "carbine" (in airguns)for me please.

    I'd like to fully understand it.

    Especially concerning PCPs.

    thanks,

    - The BBA -


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


3 + 8 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>