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.
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.