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Are your hollowpoint hunting pellets mushrooming on impact?

By B.B. Pelletier

Before I get on with this report, I thought you’d like to know about a terrific new promotion! Pyramyd AIR is giving away 2 free Crosman AirSource cylinders with each purchase of an AirSource rifle! If you’re thinking of buying one of these guns, now is the time.

Mushroomed bullet

Rimfire hunters often select hollowpoint bullets because they mushroom at relatively low velocities and deliver more “punch” to the target by transferring more energy on impact. Some airgunners believe that hollowpoint pellets should also be their choice for hunting. However, that may not be the best pellet for the job. Will the hollowpoint pellets you select ACTUALLY mushroom when shot from YOUR pellet rifle? Will they perform at the range at which the game is encountered rather than at the rifle’s muzzle?

You’ll have to test your hollowpoint pellets to determine if they are up to the job of knocking down a target at the distances you hunt. Here’s a quick and easy way to do that.

A 3-step test to make sure your pellet is ideal for hunting
1. Expansion
To see how a particular pellet performs on game, shoot it into a bar of soap or a block of modeling clay at the distance you intend shooting your quarry. If your quarry is particularly tough, such as a squirrel or crow, use two blocks of clay/soap bars with a board the thickness of a popsicle stick sandwiched in between. While this isn’t an exact match for flesh and bone, it’ll give you a pretty good idea about your pellet’s performance.

Hollowpoint pellets such as an RWS Super-H-Point will expand at normal air rifle velocities, but they don’t actually mushroom in the classic sense. When shot from a magnum precharged rifle (like the Sumatra 2500), they will actually mushroom. The Sumatra’s 6-shot cylinder is also great for feeding hollowpoints.

2. Feeding
If you use a repeater, test to ensure the hollowpoint will feed reliably through the mechanism. Hollowpoints can only be shot from repeating guns having cylinders or from single-shots such as the Condor. Guns with linear magazines such as the Career 707 will not feed these pellets reliably.

3. Accuracy
Hollowpoint pellets perform differently from one gun to another. If a certain hollowpoint groups inside an inch at 25 yards, then that is the MAXIMUM range for that pellet in your rifle when used to hunt an animal with a kill zone that size. That or less is about the size of most of your targets when hunting airgun game. Some larger game animals (raccoons, woodchucks, etc.) may have a zone measuring 1.5″, but that’s about the maximum.

Only by testing each pellet in the rifle in which it will be used can you be sure of the actual accuracy. Unlike round-nose pellets, hollowpoint pellets do not have a reputation for long-range accuracy, so testing should be an important part of your selection process.

15 thoughts on “Are your hollowpoint hunting pellets mushrooming on impact?”

  1. B.B., Thanks for what you do for all of us in the sport. It is appreciated! I recently did some ballistic gel testing of 9 different .177 pellets, including some of your favorites. Two were HPs. The results from the Beeman Crow Magnum were quite surprising!

  2. Ah, I was hoping you would ask! I’ve been enjoying airgunning for only about 6 months now, with 40 years since the last time I touched one, a BB gun at that time. For a winter garage project I thought I’d try some ballistic gel tests with the Gamo1000 I bought last summer. I’m sure there will be more and better airguns in my future once I feel worthy. Reading your blog and the contributions of others, I still have much to learn, but am having a blast doing it! But back to the subject. Two of the 9 different pellets I tested were the Crosman Premier Hollowpoint 7.9gr and the Beeman Crow Magnum 8.8gr. The results were so odd I had to repeat them on different days with different batches of gel to validate the data. For a baseline I used Crosman Premier Domed 10.5gr, and they penetrated a whopping 11” with a deviation of only about +/-.2” between shots. The CP HP penetrated an average of 5.9”, with a deviation of about +/-.5”. Kind of puny compared to the CP heavy domed, I thought, but it’s a HP. But the BeeCM penetrated only 4” on average, with a deviation of only +/-.1” . Obviously, the CM was dumping all its energy very quickly into the gel, but still, 4” of penetration seemed weak, and odd. When I removed the pellets from the gel, though, I was amazed at what I saw. As expected, no shape or size change in the CP Domed. And the CP HP had minimal expansion of about .015”. But the BeeCM, incredible! Consistently, every pellet ended up mushrooming into the shape of a perfect little toadstool. The pellets that started out as .177 dia x .252 long ended up being about .255 dia x .188 long. No wonder they only penetrated 4”. B.B., this may be old news to you, but its all new and exciting to me. I’ve got some great pictures and such that I’d love to share if I can figure how to upload them. Thanks again for all the effort you put into this blog!

  3. pestbgone,

    How odd, and perhaps fortuitous! I happen to be testing three hollowpoints today. Two of them are the Crosman Premier and the Beeman Crow Magnum.

    I’m going to be doing a lot of testing with these two in the coming days, so perhaps you can add something to the results I get.


  4. B.B., Could I possibly forward you some of my pictures and charts to see if they would be of any use to you? I believe they are of reasonable quality, but your writing is much more knowledgeable. Let me know what you think by my regular email, if that is best.
    Thanks very much,

  5. B.B, I hope your testing went well today. The picture capability could be a nice feature on the blog comments, but I know that sort of thing takes time.
    Here’s a condensed version of the ballistic gel testing I did with the .177 Gamo1000. Tests were done at a distance of 8’, at 50 degrees F. Penetration depths are generally the average of 4 shots.

    The following .177 cal pellets with weight and penetration depths—
    Crosman Premier Domed Hvy 10.5gr, 11.3”
    JSB Exact Diablo Heavy 10.2gr, 10.3”
    Beeman Kodiak match XtraHvy 10.6gr, 9.2”
    JSB Exact Diablo 8.4gr, 9.1”
    Crosman Premium Pointed 7.9gr, 8.6”
    Gamo Rocket 9.6gr, 6.8”
    Crosman Premier Hollowpoint 7.9gr, 6.0”
    Beeman H&N Match wadcutter 8.1gr, 5.5”
    Beeman Crow Magnum 8.8gr, 4.0” (mushroomed to .25” dia)

    For reference and since I don’t have a .22 cal pellet gun (yet !), I tried the following .22 rimfire cartridges–
    Eley Pistol match 40gr 1000fps passed completely through 14” of ballistic gel
    Aguila super sniper 60gr 950fps 12”
    CCI subsonic hollowpoint 40gr 1050fps 10” (mushroomed to .40” dia)

  6. i have a question. Could i use a tech force 99 premier .22 cal with crosman hollowpoint .22 cal?

    If so, what would my results be. good or bad? just wondering because i am really trying to research what i want to buy. I am looking for something along the lines of small game hunting. The gun and pellets i mentiond i was planning to buy.

  7. Can any recommend a .177 hollowpoint or dome pellet that will put a rabbit or coon down hard? I'm shooting a Crosman Storm XT 1000 fps and were using Gamo Hunter pellets. I once shoot a Jack Rabbit at 20 yards about a 1/2 inch behind the eye at 20 yards, he jumped and hopped off. After about 10 yards it stopped and stared in the distance like a zombie. I walk up to it and it continue to stare as to be in a trance. That was the stranges thing i ever seen. The second animal I shot was a big coon, the pellet hit the shoulder, it jumped and ran off after about 3 hours I found it dead. While skinning it noticed that the pellet travelled through the shoulder and heart, leaving a perfect little hole in the heart.
    I would like to get a .22cal but they are rather pricey but until the meantime is there a more effective pellet I can use?

  8. Anonymous pellet searcher,

    This blog is published every Monday through Friday.

    The article you have posted your question on is over 3 years old. Few will see your question here.

    Pop on over to the current blog and post your question there. Go to the bottom of the first article on the page and click where it says Comments, with a number next to it. You will get the most responses from the most knowledgeable people, and in shorter time.

    I would offer suggestions, but I don't hunt, just target shooting.

    This is the address for the current day's blog

  9. Pellet searcher,

    The coon shot through the sholder and then a hole in the heart, man it don't get any better than that. A .22 with the same hit would probably have about the same effect–a dead coon. How far did yours travel after he was shot?

    Mr B.

    Sling Lead word verification fiessee a comment on my typing skills?

  10. Anonymous,

    You might try the Beeman Crow Magnum,
    Crosman Premier Hollowpoint,
    or the Predator Polymag.

    They all get good reviews when people post hunting stories on the various airgun forums, and they are generally found
    to be pretty accurate in most guns though the Crow Magnums don't group well in any of mine.
    Serious airgun hunters seem to gravitate towards the polymags as being particularly effective on game.

    B.B. has compared penetration as well as total deformation of various hollowpoints before. He also expanded the penetration tests to include other pellets. There should be more than enough data in those posts to answer your question 🙂

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