Pellet firing cartridges vs. pellet firing cartridges Part 2

Pellet firing cartridges vs. pellet firing cartridges Part 2 Part 1

The Long Game

Find a Hawke Scope

by Dennis Adler

The final test of front and rear pellet loading cartridges was done with the 6-inch barrel length Dan Wesson Model 715 and Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. The rear loading rounds (foreground) again proved to deliver higher velocity than the front loading pellet cartridges (in the cylinder).

I have to admit to a certain degree of disappointment with Tuesday’s test of front and rear loading pellet firing cartridges. The difference in both velocity and accuracy were greater than I expected. Was it the gun, the CO2, or just that there is that great a difference between the two types of pellet loading shells? To get another answer I have changed guns to the ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 with 6-inch barrel and the two types of ASG Dan Wesson pellet loading cartridges. The longer barrel should help bring the pellets up to factory spec which is 410 fps. Today’s ambient temperature is 60 degrees, sunny and light wind. The Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. Professional Line wadcutters will be chronographed the same way with two sets of six rounds for each cartridge type and an overall average velocity. The test will also be shot at 21 feet, which is close for a 6-inch rifled barrel revolver; this is a solid 10 meter gun, but the idea is consistent accuracy. So, one more time down the rabbit hole.

The shooting test was done from 21 feet and fired offhand using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold. Outside temperature was around 60 degrees with a light wind. All shots were fired single action. Both front and rear loading pellet firing cartridges had already been chronographed, and once again the front loading shells produced slightly more accurate groups.

Using the 6-inch Dan Wesson Model 715, the 7.0 gr. wadcutters fired from the ASG front loading pellet cartridges clocked 289 fps, 302 fps, 299 fps, 303 fps, 295 fps, and a high of 314 fps for an average muzzle velocity of 298 fps. This compares with the 4-inch revolver’s speeds of 274 fps, 275 fps, 273 fps, 281 fps, 275 fps, and a hig have drh of 284 fps. The 6-inch model is just marginally better with a higher velocity of 314 fps vs. the 4-inch model’s 284 fps.

The Meisterkugeln wadcutters fired from the ASG rear loading pellet cartridges cleared the Chronograph’s traps at 378 fps, 372 fps, 375 fps, 373 fps, 377 fps and a high of 393 fps. This compares with the 4-inch model’s speeds of 375 fps, 368 fps, 375 fps, 365 fps, 368 fps, and a high of 377 fps. The 6-inch model showed higher average muzzle velocities and a high of 393 fps which is the closest to the factory specifications of 410 fps. The tests are now two for two supporting the theory that rear loading pellet cartridges provide superior velocity than front loading shells.

Accuracy at 21 feet

The final evaluation was fired offhand using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold from a distance of 21 feet. The sights on the Dan Wesson had to be adjusted up and right and on this gun the elevation adjustment screw worked perfectly (there had been comments about it not adjusting up high enough on the Model 715 but not so with this test gun). Once dialed in, I was able to shoot decent groups. Some days you just don’t have a great run for consistent accuracy, and this was one for me, but the end results once again proved that the edge for velocity goes to the rear mounted pellets, and better accuracy to the front mounted rounds. At 21 feet offhand, I fired two 6-round groups with each type of cartridge. The rear mounted pellet loading cartridges put 12 rounds at 2.5 inches with a best 6 shots covering 1.0 inches across the 9 and 10 rings at 9 o’clock. The front loading rounds, aimed just below the 10 ring, grouped 12 rounds at 2.18 inches with a best 6 shots measuring 0.875 inches clustered in the 9 ring at the 8 o’clock position. I have had better results with the Dan Wesson 6-inch model.

Not one of my better shooting sessions, especially with a 6-inch barrel at 21 feet, but there it was again, the same consistency as the previous test with the 4-inch barrel length Dan Wesson Model 715. The rear loading cartridges deliver noticeably higher velocity, while the front loading rounds have a slight edge on accuracy.

Bottom line here is that the front loading pellet firing cartridges do not increase accuracy in proportion to what they give up in velocity compared to the rear loading shells. Additionally, the rear loading rounds come in a pack of 25 shells, while the more costly front loading cartridges only come in a 12 count pack. After conducting two back-to-back tests with two different revolvers, I would have to go with the easier to handle rear loading ASG pellet shells over the front loading rounds, especially for shooting at 10 meters where the added velocity could really make a difference. 

The Airgun Experience will return on April 4th with a look at the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open Competition Version. 

A word about safety

Double Action/ Single Action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. Most airguns, in general, look like cartrrige guns, this Dan Wesson Model 715 even 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.



24 thoughts on “Pellet firing cartridges vs. pellet firing cartridges Part 2”

  1. I will stick with the rear loading higher velocity cartridges. A loss of 75 -90 fps is more than I can bear! It most likely comes down to higher pressure from the early filling of the pellet ,to a shorter jump to engage the rifling and ,and earlier stabilization in the barrel versus a longer free bore jump.

  2. Thank you very much for this second test Dennis. I have the Schofield and looking forward to rear loading cartridges so I can try pellets in it. I guess that is why I enjoy air guns so much. There are so many variables involved and the physics of shooting just blows me away.
    Looking forward to your next post.

      • Don’t know how I missed it , but the Remington uses rear loading shells for bb and pellet, but on the website , Pyramid shows the front loading shells for bbs. You could run the Remington with the rear loading bbs then use the Dan Wesson front loading bb shells from the da revolver , these work in the Crosman SNR and DW revolvers, should work in the Remington as well

          • My theory is that the rear loading cartridges have already picked up maximum velocity from the outset , there is probably a higher friction to pellets and their broad flat front than round bb s. The rear loaded cartridge has velocity and momentum to enter the forcing cone . It may lise a little velocity but not much . The front loading cartridge encounters resistance from the outset this means more energy expended before peak velocity is reached . The roundbbs may lose velocity as well but not as much as pellets . Just a theory

  3. hate making more work that involves shooting , but what would happen in a comparison using bbs? Maybe there is more resistance to pellets in the rifled barrels. Trying rear loading pellets and bbs in both a rifled and smoothbore Peacemaker , for a start. Believe the Crosman and Webley bb cartridges work in the Peacmaker

  4. I guess I did pretty good in buying my first NEW John Wayne Colt Peacemaker. All of your posts bear this out. So many questions- so little time! Not knowing just HOW the air is dispensed on each shot, is it possible to increase the puff and get more FPS? Does the rifling cause the pellet to spin leftish, or is it my choice of pellets? Next, I also have a Umarex Makarov that you say is a good repro if you nix the cylinder screw. How can you say that when looking at the muzzle? Not much like 9mm to me! But BB’s are not my fave, so is there a gun with a magazine that holds pellets, or is rotary the only one? Lastly, on the Peacemaker, could you please tell them that a 45 cal cylinder and cartridges would be more authentic. The 38’s fall through my 45 cal gunbelt loops! “Hey pard, yer trailin’ all yer bullets!”

    • Well, I have to laugh because the very first 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker I wrote about, which was the BB cartridge model, was for an article in Guns of the Old West, and my holster fit perfectly but the bullet loops in my .45 Colt cartridge belt let the BB rounds drop right through. I commented in the article that they were closer to .38 Colt or .32-20 actually, and you had to carry the BB rounds in a .38 caliber cartridge belt. I also had one of those and it is the one you often see in my Colt, Schofield and Remington SA airgun articles. To the best of my knowledge the rifling is a left hand twist but I will ask Umarex to be sure and get a firm answer. As for increasing velocity it is optimized for the Peacemakers design and you should not try to modify the airgun’s operating system. Regarding the Makarov, I think I was referring to the Gletcher model which has a recessed .177 caliber muzzle, but if I implied it was the Umarex version I was in error. Last, the forthcoming Sig Sauer P320 will be a pellet firing semi-auto that uses a pellet-loaded magazine and has proper blow back action.

    • There are a few solutions to your ammo belt problem. I had both 357 and 45 cartridge belts and the Umarex cartridges fir them fine. You can buy a plain belt with no loops and then use 38 or 45 belt slides with 12 loops for either round. The easiest is to just get a new 38 cal ammo belt, Pyramid has them in every belt size for the Umarex cartridges , under their Western Justice brand. My favorite is a plain belt with a John Wesley Hardin holster with six 38 cal loops on the holster

  5. My bad! I thought that the photo was comparing the Umarex with the real item. I will be trading up to a Sig P320 pellet as soon as I see them. Now, with my gunbelt with the .45 loops, I’m planning on finding some soft tubing like latex medical cord to cement into the loops. Six inches will do it. I can’t find a belt that is a “drop” style like Little Joe wears on Ponderosa. Mine is XXL found on sale so I will cut it to size & rivet a drop into it with a piece of leather, so I can wear it on my hip. I’m sporting an idea on whether it is legal to “open carry” a pellet revolver on my hip like a cowboy. Maybe legal and VERY DUMB? Well, until the law changes I’ll have to wear a skirt over my rig!

    • The question is where you want to carry it? At a CAS match or an airgun shooting event? Certainly. As to “open carry” of a firearm where it is legal, and some 45 states do allow it, (however there are certain restrictions depending upon the state), you would not want to carry an air pistol, if I am understanding your question. At the end of almost every Airgun Experience article I have a note about safety. I would never recommend brandishing an airgun – revolver or semi-auto – in public, regardless of the carry laws. It is too easy for an airgun to be mistaken for a cartridge gun. There are too many cautionary tales about this, so no I would not recommend open carry with a pellet revolver outside of a sport shooting venue where others are carrying guns in the open. This has no bearing on concealed carry laws or open carry laws, this is just not applicable to an air pistol. As to your cartridge belt choices, Lawman67’s suggestion about the Pyramyd Air Western Justice cartridge belts is a good one, they are correct for the pellet loading cartridges and very affordable. The low slung Buscadero style gunbelt with the holster’s skirt or back panel passing through a wide loop in the cartridge belt, was a TV and movie idea to make the guns lower on the hip and faster to draw. Most of the styles worn on TV westerns, including Bonanza, were based on the Arvo Ojala design which allowed the gun to be cocked while still in the holster! That was part of the fast draw technique devised for TV actors by Ojala, who was also the gun coach on many of the shows. The Western Justice series is a more traditional style of western holster. My favorite Ojala-style rig is the one worn by Richard Boone on Have Gun – Will Travel.

  6. I’m so proud of my John Wayne nickel Colt, I want to show everyone; just NOT by brandishing or being stupid and getting shot because of it, and NOT being like many of those tuff guys who try to tweak the law, and ruin things for us all, so they’re no better than the criminals A special license to open carry (w/ special police training & an open carry badge) so the cops can see that you’re a good guy, makes more sense. But $150 for permission to conceal is just abusive. So I, in jest like to use an axiom that works in other areas of my life is, “Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine!” Well, –in my backyard, anyway! If openly displaying that you are armed is so offensive to people, why are they not banning the TV westerns? John Wayne was a much loved hero,by many– with a six gun.

    • Well when open carry is allowed in the majority of states across the nation, I don’t think it is much of a question any longer, nor is concealed carry with a permit which is also allowed in the majority of states. Where I live there is no fee for a CCW, but that varies from state to state and sometimes county to county within a state. It is generally a Police Chief or County Sheriff’s discretion as to issuing CCW permits. As to offending the public with open carry, there will always be those who are against guns, and those who are not. It is a debate that has gone on for generations. You can look back at copies of American Rifleman from the 1930s and the same discussion was going on then as it is today. Guns, Western guns in particular, are a part of our American heritage, so let it shine and be proud of that JW, even if it is only in your own backyard.

  7. Someone had asked if the Umarex Colt Peacemaker pellet firing models had a right hand or left hand twist to the rifling. The answer is a 1: 7.34 inch right hand twist. Got this from the Umarex USA Tech Dept.

    Dennis Adler

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