by B.B. Pelletier

Today I answer a question that came in last Sunday:

Posting late…hope you still check your blog.
What kind of velocity do you get with various balls, pellets out of the 909 44? The site lists 720fps but I am interested in real world tests. Any info would be helpful.

Testing the big bores
I tested the Big Bore 909 several years ago. It’s a .45 caliber rifle that shoots 0.454 bullets the best. I shot actual blackpowder rifle and pistol bullets weighing 125, 140 and 190 grains. The 190-grain bullets were the only ones sized 0.454, so they shot the best. Velocity was 673 on high power, and I got 5 shots per charge. Max energy was just over 190 foot-pounds. I got a quarter-sized group at 20 yards with open sights.

I got 762 f.p.s. with the 125-grain bullets and 737 f.p.s. with the 140s, so the advertised velocity is conservative, if anything. A swaged 0.454 ball weighs 140 grains, so you can calculate the velocity from that.

Career Dragon Slayer
I don’t have any experience with the Dragon Slayer 50, but there’s a test article about the .50 caliber Career Dragon on the web site. The Dragon was a conventional bolt-action rifle, where the shooter cocks the bolt by pulling it straight back. The Dragon Slayer has a sidelever, which offers better mechanical advantage, so it’s possible they also beefed up the mainspring at the same time.

The old Dragon posted a high velocity of 613 f.p.s. with a 225-grain lead pellet. Best energy seen was with the 250-grain pellet at 192 foot-pounds. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new rifle do even better because of the possible mainspring upgrade I mentioned. The 225-grain pellet was the most accurate, and posted energy of just under 186 foot-pounds, which isn’t far off the pace. A .495 lead ball weighs 191 grains, which should improve the velocity a little.

Fire 201
I got a Fire 201 years before it became popular. Mine was a .25 caliber air shotgun instead of the 9mm rifle sold today. I got 125 foot-pounds from a load of shot, but I have seen 9mm rifles break 200 foot-pounds with heavy bullets. The problem is that the rifle won’t stabilize those long bullets, so they’re just a drill for “braggin’ rights.” If you want to hit what you’re shooting at, stick with either the the diabolos from Eun Jin or the bullets made and sold by Pyramyd Air. Stay under 100 grains for best performance with a 9mm.

Are there other big bores?
Yes, as a matter of fact, there is another big bore ON THIS SITE! The Drulov Rada 9mm (named for Rada Plesinger, I believe) is a 9mm carbine that uses CO2 to propel a OOO buckshot ball, making it the cheapest of all the big bores to feed. Add to that the fact that you can operate it on CO2 powerlets, so there’s no additional expensive equipment to purchase.

The Rada is an entry-level big bore that will get you into the sport with a minimum of trouble. Don’t expect the accuracy of the other big bores, but it gets you into big bores as inexpensively as possible. You can shoot with just a common powerlet instead of the support system required by precharged big bores. Pyramyd lists a velocity of 470 f.p.s., which sounds entirely reasonable.

Well, that’s the answer that was too big to put in the comments section. I hope it clears things up for the person who asked the question and for any of you who might be curious about these large bore airguns. If any reader owns one of these guns or a model I didn’t mention, please feel free to tell us about it.