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Are those advertised big bore velocities true?

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.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

12 thoughts on “Are those advertised big bore velocities true?”

  1. I have a new Career Dragon Slayer and the best velocity I have achieved so far is 622 f.p.s. with a .490 178 grain round lead ball from Hornady. That adds up to 153 foot-pounds which was less than I expected from this gun. I tried the round nost 225-grain pellets and averaged 146 foot-pounds at 540 f.p.s. The 250-grain pellets averaged 144 foot-pounds at 510 f.p.s. Even though these results were less than expected I am very satisfied with my Dragon Slayer. It is a beautiful weapon and the accuracy is excellent using the .490 lead balls. I shot 1/2 inch c-t-c groups at 25 yards and 1/1/2 inch c-t-c groups at 50 yards on a day with no wind. The accuracy from the 225 and 250 grain pellets was dissapointing. I know it sounds surprising that the lead balls would outperform the pellets but that is what happened with my gun. I would be very interested to hear what results others have gotten with the Dragon Slayer. (by the way, Career Dragon is the only name on the gun. I don’t know where the “Slayer” part comes from. Perhaps to identify it from the former Career Dragon?)

  2. Tin in Texas,

    Thanks for your detailed report. That’s the kind of feedback that does everybody good.

    I am surprised at the lower velocity. Do you fill from a scuba tank or a hand pump? If a pump, you might try increasing the fill pressure by 100 psi and see what that does to the top end.

    Have you tried .495 balls in your rifle? Being a little tighter, they may actually imrove accuracy a bit. And they are slightly heavier, so your muzzle energy should increase, as well.

    For accuracy with a conical bullet you need to find a short bullet. With the balls shooting best, it’s obvious your rifle only like short bullets.


  3. b.b.,

    Thanks for your quick response! I fill with both a scuba tank and a Hill pump. When my tank gets a little low I top off with the pump or just use the pump by itself. (about the only exercise I’ve had time for recently…)

    The tests I ran were from a top end of 3000psi and I am reluctant to go higher because that is where the gauge on the gun stops. I get the same reading on the gun gauge, the tank gauge and the pump gauge, so I am assuming they are all fairly accurate.

    I did try some .495 lead balls and got almost exactly the same ballistic and accuracy results as the .490 balls. I can find the .490’s cheaper down the street at Cabella’s, so…

    Thanks for your suggestion on the shorter conicals. Pyramid has some 200-grain pellets and I will see about trying them. I will let you know…


  4. High

    I possess the 9 mm single shot from Shinsung. MY QUESTION IS : Is it bad to shot this airifle with firearm reload bullets ? I mean : does this kind of projectile damage the barrell of the 9 mm shinsung single shot ? The manager of the Shinsung company told me that he wouldn’t shot this rifle with anything else than the EUN JIN PELLET. What do you thing about that ? THANKS ALOT FOR YOUR ANSWER ! ERIC

  5. Eric,

    I believe that as long as you use lead bullets that aren’t too hard they should do fine. I know a number of people who cast for their 9mm. They cast soft, like 30 to 1 lead/tin and they do well. Don’t use a long (heavy) bullet though. It won’t stabilize.


  6. I just ordered a 909s from PA yesterday. Cant wait to get it in. Read up all I could on it and folks seem split on preference for the old style 909 and the 909s. Some even say the old ones have more power.
    I ordered some .452 and .454 round balls 137 and (I think) 142 grains.
    Also got a couple heavier ‘pellets’ from PA to try in it. I’m interested in accuracy out to 50 yards. I wont have a need to shoot much past that. Also looking forward to testing power of it. I can blast through a 2×4 with my Condor using a Eun Jin on high power out to 40 yards. If I can send a .45 ball or pellet through a 2×4 at that range, I’ll be tickled. I know you posted velocity numbers in response to my query (thanks, by the way) but I, like a lot of others, tend to judge power by penetration moreso than a chrony, which I do own.
    Also, I’ve seen reports of folks filling anywhere from 2300psi to 3200 psi on the 909s. Do these guns have a ‘sweet spot’ as other PCP’s do and is it generally the same? I know my Condor shoots with no ‘soft shots’ best at a 2700psi fill. At that fill, I can get 35 shots above 1050fps using 21 grain Kodiaks. The bell starts at around 1060, up to 1100, then down to 1050 at shot 35.

    I’m assuming the bell will be much shorter with the 909s, but I’d like to have 5 shots with no more than a 75fps spread. Will it do it?

  7. hi everyone.

    please help me with something, i just bought a .50 caliber shinsung dragon slayer and the pellet got stuck inside the barrel. well i sent it back and they are fixing it, but my question is, i bought also a hand pump and it did not come with a female adapter to fit into the gun’s load hole, so i bought an FX and webley quick fill adapter. from the same site i bought teh hand pump, now im starting to realise this adapter may not work with this gun, can someone help em to tell me where i can buy a hand pump adapter for this type of gun?



  8. Andy,

    Please call us or email customer service (sales@pyramydair.com) so we can help you. We carry adapaters that are required to fill a Dragon Slayer with a Logun/FX3000 hand pupmp. Without having more information it will be difficult to answer your question.

    Sorry for any incovenience you may have experienced so far.

    Thank you
    Pyramyd Air

  9. What’s up to who ever has a909s big bore. My name is atomic and I got my 909s about a week ago and I also have my scubadiving tank but all I got was one good fill that couldn’t even shoot through a 2×4 piece of wood it got stuck about an inch and a half so that’s not wateverybody else is saying. But now I can’t somehow get enough air in the air chamber of my 909s and the air is also leaking out from the area where you stick the probe to fill air into the 909s. and the probe also snapped in half so now I’m all scewed up and very very very frustrated. If anyone has any advice please share it with me. I have to wait till monday to talk to the tech at pyramid air but I hope there is something else that I can do instead of having to send it back to PA because I’m from Honolulu, Hawaii and it’ll take forever and I already had to wait so long for my scuba tank to get hydro tested and all that stuff so I just wanna start shooting my 909s and have some fun. HELP!!!

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