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Education / Training Is pellet-sizing a waste of time? Maybe not!

Is pellet-sizing a waste of time? Maybe not!

By B.B. Pelletier

Pellet sizing was hot in the 1970s, when pellets weren’t as uniform as they are today. I own a sizer and I’ve used it to compare the accuracy of sized pellets against unsized pellets from the same tin. I have never seen a difference in accuracy, but I have heard of one reason for sizing that might make sense for some shooters. I’ll get to it at the end of this post.

Pellet_sizer
A pellet sizer squeezes pellets
smaller as they are pushed
through a steel die.

Even a world champion can’t tell the difference!
The late Don Nygord, world champion air pistol shooter in the 1980s, once wrote that he could not see any difference between sized and unsized pellets. Don sold target airguns and pellets to shooters for many years and perhaps had the opportunity to test this theory more than many people in his quest for perfection.

You can easily conduct your own sizing test
The best way to determine if pellet sizing makes a difference is to conduct your own test. Clamp an accurate airgun in a vice so it cannot move. Fire all groups while it is in that position. For obvious reasons (i.e., movement), don’t use a breakbarrel gun. (No modern target airgun is a breakbarrel.) Precharged pneumatics (PCP) or gas airguns are the easiest to test because they don’t need to move much to be reloaded.

Shoot a 20-shot group of sized pellets and another 20-shot group of unsized pellets at the same distance. You really should shoot at 20 yards or more to see a significant difference, although at 10 yards you can sometimes notice a difference if the number of shots is high enough.

What size should the pellets be?
This is the question that reveals the fruitlessness of sizing pellets. Nobody knows what size they should be! In fact, pellet sizing has become so unpopular in the past five years that you’ll be hard-pressed to find sizing dies in as many different sizes as you would like to try. So, if you do find that sizing helps, it will only be because of a lucky chance of finding the perfect size for the one gun you are testing. Use another gun and all bets are off!

All target airguns and most high-quality adult airguns have choked muzzles that squeeze the pellet by one-half of a thousandth of an inch at the muzzle. That automatically sizes all the pellets and negates any other sizing efforts.

One REAL advantage of pellet sizing
If you’ve tried Pyramyd Air’s Predator heavy pellets, you know how hard they can be to chamber. Predators are solid and must be engraved by the rifling in order to enter the bore. Many repeating rifles have difficulty feeding them. AirForce recently relieved the breech of all their barrels to allow easier loading of these pellets.

Some shooters are running Predators through a sizing die to reduce their outside diameter by one-thousandth of an inch. This makes them easier to load. Keep in mind that sizing much more than one-thousandth can also render them inaccurate. I only have this secondhand and have never tried it myself. But it does make sense. If it works, this is a legitimate use of a pellet sizer.

If you’ve tried sizing pellets or have conducted the test I set forth in this report, let me know your findings.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

12 thoughts on “Is pellet-sizing a waste of time? Maybe not!”

  1. I have an Airforce Talon SS and have purchased some Predator .22 cal. pellets which I find very difficult to insert into the breech. I have been afraid to try to shoot them for this reason. Should I get a pellet sizer and if so, where do I look for one?

  2. What’s happening with your Talon SS is you have an older barrel that does not have the relief at the breech that I mentioned. When you insert the pellet, it runs smack dab into the rifling and you have to engrave the entire pellet before it’s deep enough to close the breech.

    Some shooters use a penny on their thumbs to help load solid pellets. I don’t know for certain that sizing will help, but I was told that it does by a gentleman who also shoots a Talon SS.

    An alternative heavy pellet would be the Eun Jin pellet that weighs 28 grains. But I think even that is too heavy for the power of a Talon SS unless you use the optional 24-inch barrel. Then the rifle will get the heavy pellet up to speed for best accuracy.

    As far as a pellet sizer goes, I was afraid someone would ask where to buy one. Beeman stopped selling them a couple years ago because there was no demand for them. I’m pretty sure there are some used ones available, if you watch the classified ads on American Airguns web site.

    Good luck and please report back when you have a solution.

    B.B.

  3. what about on lower price air rifles, does sizeing help seal air leakage from around pellet skirt
    I recently purchased A Crossman G1 Extreme pellet rifle new with som oil still in barrel, we had excellant velocity, once shot out the air rifle seems week at best

  4. Hi
    I have a cheap chinese 22( b-3 underlever)the only things done to it are a cleanup and .375 spring shim. The spring shim and cleaning gave it an additional 30 fps from stock of 420. I have found that by sizing the pellet skirt(increasing it in diameter to .257 from .224) I can get an additional 50 fps. On the chrony it goes from 454 unsized to 510 using the 14.3 grain daisy wad cutters which is a pretty good change. I have tried several different pellets and found this works every time to some degree. With some pellets it makes a bigger difference. The daisy wad cutters makes a full 50 fps but the crossman field points only make a difference of 35fps and with the 28grain enjin they gain only 15fps from 330 to 345fps. I am doing this by hand at this point and the enjin and the crossman have thicker skirts and I am not able to get them to the .257 mark without damaging the rest of the pellet. To make things easier I am looking into making an insert for the barrel chamber. I have spent a lot of time on this to determine why and unless I am wrong it allows the pressure to increase to a higher level before the pellet begins to move. I measured the force to start the pellet moving without skirt sizing to be 12lbs and with it expanded it goes to 16 lbs. I think I may be incorrect in my thinking on making a barrel insert as it will size the pellet smaller than the rest of the barrel and have leakage. What do you think?

  5. Jim,

    Your experiences with the B-3 are interesting. Your pellet sizing has had a dramatic effect on velocity. How has the increase in velocity affected accuracy?

    You’ve posted your comments/questions on a topic that was written in 2005. Not many people check back on a post this old. I’m going to move your interesting comment/question to the current comments section where knowlegable airgunners, like yourself, are asking and answering airgun related questions.

    Here’s a link to take you there:

    /blog//

    Hope to see you there!

    kevin

  6. Back in the 80's a friend and I tried sizing and seating of pellets for a long time. The result in accuracy? Nada. We couldn't even imagine a difference; it just wasn't there

    Today, we don't even know what we did with the sizers and seaters. I suppose they are around here somewhere, but there's no incentive to find them.

  7. Your experience with pellet sizing seems to be the same as everyone else. But pellet seating is a different matter — WITH SOME AIRGUNS. Lower-powered spring guns may do better with pellets that are seated, or at least I am getting some results that suggest that. The jury is still out on seating, but sizing does seem to be a useless endeavor.

    B.B.

  8. You mention in your article about Don Nyord.
    His company sold a pellet resizer and I have one that I purchased from him. (late 80'3)
    So, I suppose if he produced and sold them he must of felt they where worth while.
    I personally see a difference when the skirt is dinged or out of round.

    As a competitive pistol and rifle shooter damaged pellets as stated do cost points.
    So, sizing do's have a benefited use.

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