BBs vs. Pellets – Part 2

BBs vs. Pellets – Part 2

The choice between steel and lead with two exceptional Umarex Beretta models

By Dennis Adler

Both Beretta pellet and BB guns share this same level of high-quality construction, fit and finish, balance and weight, the 92 FS pellet gun at 44 ounces and the 92 A1 blowback action BB gun at 40 ounces.

Both Beretta models share the same high-quality construction, fit, finish, balance and weight; the 92 FS pellet gun at 44 ounces, the 92 A1 blowback action BB gun at 40 ounces.

Now that the guns have been explained it’s time to look at what will be coming out the end of the barrels. For the Umarex Beretta 92 FS there are a number of options. The principal pellet design in use today for target shooting is a diabolo wadcutter, a pellet with a flat (wadcutter) head, a thin (hour glass) waist and wide, hollow base skirt. This is an extremely efficient, self stabilizing pellet design for velocity and accuracy, and one of four primary pellet designs; wadcutter, pointed, round nose, and hollow point. For the majority of pellet-firing handguns, wadcutters are the most commonly used for punching holes in paper, much like wadcutters are used for target shooting with cartridge loading handguns. With pellet-firing air pistols the wadcutter really excels for accuracy at the traditional 10-meter target distance, that’s 33 feet. Like bullets, pellets are available in different grades and for accuracy, Competition and Match Grade pellets are the most desirable and also the most expensive compared to Basic and Hobby grade pellets, which generally cost much less (we’re talking a spread of under $7 for a 500 count tin, to as much as $40 for the best competition grade pellets).

Ammunition was Meisterkugeln Profession Line and Sig Sauer Match Ballistic alloy pellets, Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs and Umarex 1500 steel BBs.

Ammunition was Meisterkugeln Profession Line and Sig Sauer Match Ballistic alloy pellets, Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs and Umarex 1500 steel BBs.

For the comparison test I have opted to use two different types of pellets and BBs. For the 92 A1, Umarex 1500 Precision 5.1 gr. steel BBs, and Hornady Black Diamond 5.1 gr. black anodized steel BBs. For the 92 FS, the choice was Meisterkugeln Professional Line 4.5mm, 7.0 gr. lead wadcutter pellets ($11.95 for 500), and Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters ($34.95 for 500). To further level the playing field I set aside my traditional “real world” offhand shooting test protocol, and fired the guns rested on a 15 pound sandbag.

Aside from pellets vs. BBs the other big difference is how the guns load. The 92A1 uses a one-piece BB and CO2 magazine that loads just like a 9mm magazine.

Aside from pellets vs. BBs the another difference is how the guns load. The 92 A1 uses a one-piece BB and CO2 magazine that loads just like a 9mm magazine.

Both Beretta models are easy to handle but there is a clear advantage to the new 92 A1 which is a smoother operating airgun overall with one of the best DA/SA triggers I have found on any air pistol. It is also very close in feel to the trigger on the 9mm Beretta model. The white dot sights make it easy to point and hold on target (as evidenced by the results from 10 meters). In operation and handling the 92 A1 is as close to firing a 9mm 92 A1 as you can get with a CO2-powered semi-auto.

The 92 FS pellet gun uses an 8-shot rotary magazine loaded at the breech.

The 92 FS pellet gun uses an 8-shot rotary magazine loaded at the breech.

The older-style 92 SF pellet gun is still a solid, ruggedly-built air pistol that, even with 15 years behind it’s design, still delivers on accuracy, but is no longer superior compared to the 92 A1 BB model for handling and features. First, it is intended to be fired DAO (even though it has a hammer). To fire single action, you must manually cock the hammer for each shot as I did for this head-to-head test with the 92 A1. The new Beretta blowback only fires double action for the first shot, after which it operates as a single action pistol unless it is de-cocked by setting the safety. This lowers the hammer, disconnects the trigger, and resets the gun to fire double action when the safety is released.

Like the 9mm models, the new Beretta 92 A1 only fires double action for the first shot, after which it operates as a single action pistol.

Like the 9mm models, the 92 A1 airgun only fires double action for the first shot, after which it operates as a single action pistol.

Like the 9mm models, the new Beretta 92 A1 only fires double action for the first shot, after which it operates as a single action pistol. It can also be de-cocked by setting the safety, which lowers the hammer, disconnects the trigger, and resets the gun to fire double action when the ambidextrous thumb safety is up moved to the FIRE position (red dot exposed).

The 92 A1 can also be de-cocked by setting the safety, which lowers the hammer, disconnects the trigger, and resets the gun to fire double action when the ambidextrous thumb safety is moved to the FIRE position (red dot exposed).

IPSC Cardboard targets

For the test I used Law Enforcement’s Targets cardboard IPSC competition targets at a measured distance of 10 meters. Firing Meisterkugeln from the Beretta 92 FS in back-to-back 8-round groups (two 8-round magazines), the best measurement was 2.0 inches with a best 5 shots clustered at 0.75 inches. The 92 FS averaged 425 fps with the Meisterkugeln wadcutters. Switching to the Sig Sauer alloy pellets, the best 16-round group covered 2.25 inches, with a best 5 shots measuring 1.12 inches. I have had better results with the lightweight 5.25 gr. Sig Sauer alloy pellets in other guns, but groups were just a little wider fired from the Beretta than they were with the less costly 4.5 gr. lead RWS Meisterkugeln pellets.

The bench rested Beretta 82 A1 blowback punched 16 Black Diamond BBs into 2.25 inches with a best 5 shots at 0.95 inches. Two 8-round magazines from the 92 FS grouped 16 Meisterkugeln pellets at 2.0 inches with a best 5 clustered at 0.75 inches.

The bench rested Beretta 92 A1 blowback punched 16 Black Diamond BBs into 2.25 inches with a best 5 shots at 0.95 inches. Two 8-round magazines from the 92 FS grouped 16 Meisterkugeln pellets at 2.0 inches with a best 5 clustered at 0.75 inches.

From 10 meters the 92 FS punched 16 Sig Sauer Ballistic Alloy pellets into 2.25 inches, with a best 5 shots measuring 1.12 inches. The 92 A1 firing Umarex Professional steel BBs dialed in 16 shots at 2.50 inches with a best 5 overlapping into one ragged hole measuring 0.625 inches, actually better than the rifled barrel pellet gun for a 5-shot group!

From 10 meters the 92 FS punched 16 Sig Sauer Ballistic Alloy pellets into 2.25 inches, with a best 5 shots measuring 1.12 inches. The 92 A1 firing Umarex Professional steel BBs dialed in 16 shots at 2.50 inches with a best 5 overlapping into one ragged hole measuring 0.625 inches, actually better than the rifled barrel pellet gun for a 5-shot group!

Firing the 92 A1 with Hornady’s .177 caliber black anodized steel BBs and those shiny bright Umarex steel rounds, the average velocity was 320 fps. So, you have a hundred and change feet per second difference between .177 caliber BBs from the CO2 powered blowback action 92 A1 and pellets from the 92 FS. As for accuracy, the bench rested Beretta blowback punched 16 Black Diamond BBs into 2.25 inches with a best 5 shots at 0.95 inches. Using Umarex steel BBs, the best 16 covered 2.50 inches with a best 5 overlapping into one ragged hole measuring 0.625 inches, actually better than the rifled barrel pellet gun for a 5-shot group! Are BBs the equal of pellets? Maybe this time, but for long range accuracy and consistency, a precision lead pellet is still a safer bet than round steel.

5 part 2 post

As to which of these two excellent Umarex Beretta airguns to buy, both have great handling, accurate features to the cartridge-firing models, and are both good shooters. Neither is prohibitively expensive, nor are BBs, pellets and CO2. So, how do you choose between the 92 FS and the 92 A1? Well, as the great N.Y. Yankee’s legend Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

9 thoughts on “BBs vs. Pellets – Part 2

  1. Great write-up. Your assessment shows the shot groupings of the 92A1 to be close to or even better than that of the 92FS. So the accuracy, I presume, is similar between the two at 10 meters. I am presently interested innpurchasing the 92A1 but have hesitated because of the feedback I read on other sites about this pistol’s “average “accuracy (it consistently shoots low) and its low fps. So those latter comments seem inconsistent with your conclusions. I enjoy plinking at cans while at the same time honing my shooting skills with paper targets. Any additional feedback from you regarding the performance of the 92A1 and to clarify my understanding would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance


    • I am very pleased with the 92A1, I have tested two separate guns and both are accurate at 10 meters. I have a habit from years and years of shooting western guns, and testing hundreds of modern and vintage handguns of quickly learning to compensate for sights that are high or low of POA. For the Umarex Beretta 92A1, I did not encounter any particular issues, if I did, they were not noteworthy and I just corrected my aim. The sights are not adjustable so you compensate. The average velocity is about the same as most blowback action CO2 powered airguns, and is more than adequate for target practice and plinking. You can also get an affordable red or green laser and mount it on the bottom rail if you want to dial in tighter accuracy. In operation, handling, and design this is one the three best true to the original design blowback action airguns on the market, the other two are the Umarex S&W M&P40 and the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five. You cannot go wrong with any of them. Hope this helps with your decision.


  2. Thanks for your response. It is these 3 airguns which you’ve mentioned in your response that I am considering, which makes for a very difficult decision. I trust that you have write ups for the other two airguns and will review those as well. One final question — People have said that the 92A1 has an adjustable hopup. I’ve also seen them on various videos. Can you please share your thoughts on its function and how effective it is.

    Thanks in advance.


    • A hop-up is for Air Soft models and not for air pistols firing steel BBs. The hop-up concept works to increase velocity and distance with the lightweight Air Soft BBs. Many of the hop-up videos for Air Soft guns show this system in use. I am not aware of any hop-up devices for the Beretta 92A1 BB model, only for the 92A1 Air Soft version of the pistol. Anyone else know of one for steel BB pistols?


  3. Hi. Since my last query I have purchased the 92A1 and did discover that there was a hop-up dial inside the gun. The question is whether it actually functions or if the manufacturer just uses that same part for both the BB shooter and the airsoft version. On the side of the dial there is an arrow pointing toward the trigger , with the word, “Up”. This is a new airgun and I decided not to tinker with it for now to see what affect it has. BTW presently my new 92A1 shoots low and to the right (although the groupings are tight).
    Notwithstanding this potential adjustment, would a break-in period for the airgun result in better performance in terms of accuracy?

    Thanks in advance


    • This is interesting as I have a 92A1 and find no such hop-up dial inside the gun. Where exactly do you see this dial? As for accuracy, I can’t recall if my gun shot low, but it might have just slightly at 21 feet. As for left or right windage, I had no issues. Please let me know where you find this dial on the BB model 92A1.


  4. Remove the slide and under the slide you will see the main spring. Just behind it is the barrel component, which has a silver dial on it. You can see it better by removing the barrel. Just next to the dial (to the right), you will see an arrow stamped on the barrel, pointing toward the trigger, with the word, “UP” stamped next to it.

    I will gladly send you pictures if you wish. Just not sure how to provide them through this post. Please provide your email address and I’ll forward them on.


    • I have never taken the Beretta 92A1 fully apart before, and yes it is there. Since it is not noted in the instruction book, I will have to confer with Umarex as to why it is there and if it serves any purpose on the BB-firing model. I was told that only the Air Soft models have a Hop-Up setting. I will get an answer next week. Stay tuned! And have a Happy Thanksgiving!



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