My top 5 pellets

By B.B. Pelletier

Okay, these are MY picks. You don’t have to agree. But some people might like to hear what someone else thinks.

Pellet No. 5 – RWS Hobby
Hobby is the German codeword for cheap. RWS Hobbys aren’t cheap, but they are good! I like them for plinking in most airguns. And I like them in either caliber. They come in both .177 and .22. I think RWS makes Hobbys just a little better than their price reflects.

Hobbys are especially good in lower-powered airguns. If you have an air pistol or a weaker spring rifle, this might be the pellet to jazz things up.

Pellet No. 4 – Crosman Premier
That’s ANY Premier in the cardboard box. ANY caliber, and they come in three of the four smallbore calibers, with two weights in .177.

I also like Premiers in round tins. They are less expensive that way. And let’s be honest – Benjamin Sheridan Diabolo pellets are Premiers by another name and just as good. The pellets in the tins don’t get packed by lot, or at least it’s not stamped on the tins, but they still shoot very well.

With Premiers you do need to sort by weight and discard the light ones. And they do lead the bore if shot too fast. Otherwise, this is a wonderful pellet.

Pellet No. 3 – H&N Match
Accurate, accurate! I only have experience with the .177 Finale Match high speed; but with the H&N reputation for quality, I bet the .22 and .25 calibers are just as good. These also make good critter-busters at close range. I like the high speed best, but I don’t have as much experience with the low speed. And, you can choose head size with this brand, though I always go with 4.51 unless I know a good reason to try something else.

Pellet No. 2 – Beeman Kodiak/H&N Baracuda
Beeman Kodiak pellets or H&N Diabolo Baracuda used to be numero uno. They’re heavy in all calibers, so they’ll slow down those overly powerful guns so they can do good things. And, these are pure lead and very uniform.

Pellet No. 1 – the BIG KAHUNA – JSB Diabolo Exact
This is the best hunting and all-around pellet I’ve ever seen. Forget deviation – there seems to be none! I think they must hand-sort them, but what do they do with the tons of rejects? Melt them? I think not. Apparently, Mr. Bohumin has found a better way to make pellets. This pellet in .22 caliber has no equal that I know of.

Them’s my picks. Tell me yours.

Which caliber is best for you? .177? .22?

By B.B. Pelletier

I really don’t have to write this report; Pyramyd Air already has a whole article on the subject of pellet calibers. After reading that article, though, I thought I’d add my two cents.

I agree with the author, Tom Gaylord, that .177 caliber is best if you just want to shoot a lot and you want to save money on pellets. A tin can doesn’t know the difference between being hit by an 8-grain wadcutter from a .177 and a 14.5-grain round nose from a .22. The .22 smacks harder, but if hitting is all you’re after, go .177 and save money.

Speaking of saving, are you guys taking advantage of the pellet special on Pyramyd’s site? They offer four tins or boxes of pellets for the price of three. This is their message and I think it’s on every page selling pellets: Buy 4 tins of pellets and one of them will be FREE! One of 4 pellet tins in your shopping cart will always be FREE. 9mm, 0.45 and 0.50 pellets are excluded from the promotion. I would take advantage of that one every time!

I’m a hunter, so I like .22 caliber airguns. I also like .25 caliber in a powerful gun, though I admit that the pellets are much more expensive. I think it really delivers the knockdown power I need – even more than a .22. My ideal hunting airgun is the Webley Patriot in .25 caliber.

But, between .177 and .22, I tend to go with the .22 more often because of the type of shooting I do. My pellets do cost more, but I buy so many at one time that I don’t think about it the rest of the time. Imagine what you’d pay if you were shooting a firearm!

Now, here’s a crock that’s been passed around for too many years. Some people say a .177 is more accurate than a .22, to which I reply, “Bullfeathers!” Prove it! They can’t! To my knowledge, there’s never been a test published that proves any caliber is more accurate than another. People just like to talk, and I guess this provides some of the fodder.

“But they shoot .177s in the Olympics!” Yes and they drive Formula Three race cars in Europe and NASCARs here in America. So what? There is NOTHING about one caliber that makes it inherently more accurate than another – I don’t care what anyone says.

If you’re going to use your gun to shoot targets or plink, pick .177. If you intend to hunt with the gun, get a .22 caliber. If you are a really serious airgun hunter, consider a big .25-caliber rifle, as well. But whatever you do, do what seems right to you. All airgun calibers are good because they all work in airguns!

Should you buy a hand pump for your airgun?

By B.B. Pelletier

Filling a precharged pneumatic is easy when you use a scuba tank. What about using a hand pump? You’ll hear all sorts of conflicting reports about hand pumps, and it’s difficult to know what to believe, so I thought I’d take a stab at it.

Are hand pumps reliable? Yes, they are IF you don’t rush them! Their makers tell you to pump for a maximum of five minutes, then let the pump cool. I’ve found this to be good advice. If you just keep pumping, any hand pump available today will fail in a very short time. If you stick to five-minute sessions, it will last for many years.

How hard is it?
The higher you go, the harder it becomes. Any average adult should be able to pump up to 1,500 pounds per square inch (psi) with one hand! That’s anyone! From 1,500 psi to 2,000 psi, the pumping is easy, but it may take both hands. From 2,000 to 2,500, the effort starts to increase, but most adults should be able to do it with no trouble. However, from 2,500 psi to 3,000 psi, a hand pump is difficult to operate.

When the pumping effort becomes hard for you, you can stop pumping with your arms and let your entire body weight do the work by doing deep knee bends. That is a well-known pumping technique. But people weighing less than 150 pounds may find at some point that their entire body weight cannot make the pump handle go down all the way.

One more bit of advice; go all the way with the pump handle on both the upstroke and the downstroke. The pump does most of its work in the final inch of travel in both directions.

How many pumps?
How many pumps it takes to fill a gun will vary with the size of the gun’s air reservoir. A BSA Hornet has a tiny 75cc reservoir that fills very fast, while an AirForce Talon SS has a huge 490cc reservoir that fills slower. BUT, and this is an important point, you get more shots from a larger reservoir. In other words, the BSA may give you 20 shots at a certain power level while the Talon SS gives you 40 shots at a higher power level! So, consider what you get from each gun.

As it turns out, it takes pretty close to the same amount of air to deliver the same power from all precharged airguns of similar caliber. One gun may be a little more efficient than another if it has a longer barrel or perhaps a more efficient valve, but the rule of thumb with hand pumps is that they take one to three pump strokes per shot they deliver from any smallbore air rifle.

Pumping big bores is harder!
One BIG departure from everything I’ve said so far are the large bore precharged guns. That’s anything over .25 caliber. The big guns give from two to ten shots per fill, and they take just as many pumps to refill as the smallbores. Most shooters prefer to use a scuba tank to fill the big guys, but a hand pump allows you to go hunting without dragging that heavy tank along.

I’ll leave you with this: if you can follow the rules and let your pump cool between sessions, get a hand pump. If you are an impatient fellow, avoid hand pumps at all costs!

Important! How to find your way around and leave messages

By B.B. Pelletier

We had a comment TODAY that was bumped off the active list by THIS message! It occurred to me that I should tell you guys how this Blogger software seems to work, so we can talk to each other.

First, at the bottom of THIS MESSAGE there is a comment counter and an icon of an envelope with an arrow in it. If you put your cursor on the comment counter and click on it, a window opens for YOU to leave a message.

You MAY have to open that window larger by clicking on the lower right corner and dragging it down until you see the button marked Login and Publish. Once you are satisfied with your message, click this button to leave your comment.

I will leave a comment at the bottom of THIS message for you to read.

What people have been doing is scrolling down to the LAST MESSAGE that can be seen and leaving their messages THERE. Once I post the next day’s message, it bumps their comment off the active list and you can’t see what they have asked. Bummer!

What prompted this special message was a comment we got TODAY from a reader asking why I haven’t written about the Sheridan Blue Streak. Well, I did write about the Blue Streak in the very first message, but that was on March 1 and it has been bumped off the list.


Look at the BOTTOM of the list of reports at the right side of this message. TODAY ONLY, it says “Synthetic skirts, steel tips and other pellet oddities” Tomorrow, it will say “Become a better shot!” because tomorrow’s posting will bump today’s last posting off the list. Got it, so far?

If you click on the oldest title on the right of this page, you’ll be taken to that posting, and the list on the right OF THAT POSTING will reflect what was current ON THAT DAY!

That’s how you can get back to the first posting on the Sheridan Blue Streak. It’s not straightforward, but right now it’s the only way you can see the posts that have been bumped off the list. Good luck.

Everything you need to know about airsoft BBs

By B.B. Pelletier

Airsoft guns (or soft air or whatever else they may be called) owe a large part of their “soft” performance to the ammunition they shoot – 6 millimeter balls that the industry now calls “BBs.” They’re not the same as steel BBs used by conventional BB guns. Airsoft BBs are usually plastic and sold and used according to their weight.

Grams vs. grains
The weight for an airsoft BB is listed as a fraction of a gram rather than a grain weight, which is how airgun pellets are stated. There are 7,000 grains in a pound, but only 454 grams in the same pound. Therefore, one gram weighs about 15.43 grains.

Airsoft BB weights are stated as a fraction of a gram. The lightest is 0.12 grams, and then the weights jump to 0.20 grams, 0.25 grams and so on. All these different weight BBs are the same 6mm size, so the varying weights come from different compositions.

Increase your fun with aluminum, biodegradable & tracer BBs
Some airsoft BBs are made of aluminum and are very heavy, others are environmentally friendly and biodegradable, and still others glow in the dark and create a realistic tracer effect when shot at night. Several companies are developing airsoft paintball BBs, though the technology is not quite where it needs to be for reliable operation in automatic electric guns (AEGs) or reliable breakage on target.

The lightest BBs are used in inexpensive spring guns such as the Daisy Airstrike 240, which shoots at a lower velocity. The 0.20-gram BB can be used in gas guns, such as the M9 Tactical Master, and more powerful electric guns, such as the DPMS Panther A-15. In fact, 0.20-gram BBs may be the most common weight used. That said, there are still plenty of guns that shoot best with other weight BBs. Check the gun’s box and owner’s manual to find the right weight BB.

Why Hop Up increases accuracy
Most airsoft guns have some sort of Hop Up mechanism to assist with accuracy. Hop Up imparts a backspin on the BB as it leaves the gun. Without it, BBs fly erratically; with it, they fly relatively straight and do not fall quickly. In the more expensive guns, Hop Up is often adjustable, so you can experiment with several BB weights.

If you use the wrong weight BB in a gun that can’t be adjusted, it will not be nearly as accurate as it would with the right one. Read the instructions and don’t improvise unless you have an adjustable gun.

Another cause of scope shift: over-adjusted scope knobs

By B.B. Pelletier

In my March 14 report, What causes scope shift?, I promised to return to some of the other causes of scope shift. One more way to acquire scope shift is when either one of your scope knobs is adjusted out too far, allowing the reticle to flop around.

How your knobs got over-adjusted
Inside the scope tube, the reticle is housed in a smaller tube called the erector tube, which rests on springs that are on the opposite side of the windage and elevation knobs. When you adjust the elevation knob “down,” you are actually applying pressure to one side of the erector tube, which compresses the spring on the opposite side. If you adjust either knob as far as it will go, the spring either becomes bound up and refuses to move, or it becomes so relaxed that the adjustment knob starts feeling mushy and indistinct.

When the adjustments feel mushy, the spring that pushes against the erector tube is relaxed and not able to keep proper tension on the tube. A bump to the rifle or even regular recoil can push the erector tube to a different spot – and you end up with scope shift! Some scopes are designed to minimize this problem – but yours may not be, so keep scope knobs fairly well centered (up/down and left/right).

Get more out of your scope without risking scope shift
How do you get on target without using the scope’s adjustment knobs? Use an adjustable scope mount! It lets you zero a scope without using its internal adjustments. When you want to make small changes, you’ll have the scope’s entire adjustability available.

Adjustable scope mounts are more difficult to set up initially. Once they’ve been properly adjusted, the scope is far easier to use – you put in time up front to save time later. If you don’t want to remount all your scopes, follow my rule of thumb: use adjustable mounts on your most precise airguns and fixed mounts on guns used for more general shooting.

How, when & why to lube your spring gun’s piston seals

By B.B. Pelletier

You’ve asked about proper lubes for spring-piston guns, so I thought I’d offer some pointers.

Spring-gun piston seals are either leather or synthetic. It matters because there are different lubes for different materials. It isn’t always easy to tell what’s in your gun, so this may involve some research.

The gun’s owner’s manual is the best resource to consult about oiling, however most gun makers only recommend their own brand of oil and don’t tell you what type oil is inside. So here are some tips for when you just don’t know.

When in doubt, use silicone chamber oil
For most spring-gun seals, either leather or synthetic, silicone chamber oil is an ideal lubricant. It works best when used sparingly (one or two drops) in guns that have synthetic seals. RWS/Diana guns need one drop every 2,000 to 3,000 shots. Gamo airguns can tolerate a bit more – perhaps a drop every 1,000 shots or so. The models sold today don’t really need that much. Other gun brands should get a drop every year or so.

Leather seals in spring guns need a lot more oil to stay flexible. RWS/Diana guns of the 1970s (models 25, 27, 35 and 45 rifles) as well as most other 1960s-vintage German and English spring guns can use 5-10 drops of silicone chamber oil every 500 shots or every six months.

Lower-powered guns with leather seals, such as the youth models made in the 1950s and ’60s, can actually use regular petroleum oil. If you aren’t sure of the gun’s age or the piston-seal material, silicone chamber oil still works okay. Sparingly lube the synthetic seals of spring guns, but use a little more on spring-gun leather seals – and a little more often, too.

Use oil ONLY – and nothing else!
Do not use anything but oil in spring guns. Don’t use moly, regardless of what you read. Moly that is suspended in solvents will diesel and may damage your gun!

Do NOT try to make spring guns diesel! Internal combustion fuels – diesel, kerosene and similar ones – will explode in a spring gun, causing SERIOUS HARM to the shooter! Even petroleum oil can diesel in a powerful gun! If it explodes, it can cause gun damage and possibly injure the shooter and those standing nearby.

Some target spring guns, such as the FWB model 300 rifle and model 65 pistol, have seals that self-lubricate and do not require any additional attention. Just shoot and enjoy.

Old gun won’t spit out a pellet? Rejuvenate it with oil!
When a gun with leather seals won’t shoot a pellet out the muzzle, put 10 drops of silicone oil down the muzzle and stand the gun with its muzzle pointed up for two hours. The oil runs down the barrel, through the air transfer port and into the compression chamber, where it soaks into the leather seal. Usually, this rejuvenates the gun.

If your gun is spitting any sort of material into the barrel, STOP SHOOTING IMMEDIATELY! That material is the piston seal breaking up and being expelled through the transfer port. Repair it before shooting the gun again.