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Education / Training Can you keep a clean barrel with Crosman Premier pellets?

Can you keep a clean barrel with Crosman Premier pellets?

by B.B. Pelletier

The short answer is, “Yes.” But some explanation is required.

What’s the problem?
All Crosman pellets, not just Crosman Premiers, are made from a hardened lead alloy. I presume the principal hardening element to be antimony, because it is both cheap and easy to use in production quantities. It’s the same alloy (lead hardened with small amounts of antimony and tin) used by lead bullet casters when they want to shoot lead bullets at velocities higher than lead alone will permit. I suspect Crosman uses a harder lead alloy to prevent their pellets from distorting though normal storage and handling. Several decades ago, Crosman pellets (the style we now call “ashcan” pellets for their appearance) were pure lead, and they had a bad reputation for denting and oxidizing. The pellets they make today have none of these problems, generally speaking.

Former Crosman Super Pells were pure lead and prone to deformation plus oxidation.

Current Crosman Premiers are hard lead alloy that can take rougher handling.

Many Crosman pellet guns are repeaters, such as the 1008 pistol and the new NightStalker carbine. In repeaters, pellets have to move through the mechanisms and can sometimes be damaged if they are too soft. But Crosman’s harder alloy pellets resist deformation and pass through repeating mechanisms more readily.

Explanation of the term “pure” lead
I’m going to refer to things made from “pure” lead. What I really mean is lead that has no antimony in it. Lead that is cast needs some other metal to lower the casting temperature and allow the metal to flow easily. Tin is often used for this purpose, so when I say pure lead, I really mean a lead/tin alloy with good casting properties.

Hard lead alloy has a fault
The fault is bore leading. Yes, as conflicting as it sounds, hard lead alloy deposits lead on the surface of the bore more readily than pure lead. What hard lead does permit is shooting bullets at higher velocity without melting the base from the heat of the burning gunpowder gasses, and also hard bullets tend not to strip out from the rifling (rip loose from the rifling lands) as easily as pure lead (lead/tin alloy) bullets. When we shoot at velocities under about 1,450 f.p.s, we use a lead bullet alloyed with a small amount of tin. When we want to shoot over 1,450 f.p.s. – up to 2,000 f.p.s. – we use lead bullets alloyed with antimony. These bullets nearly always leave lead deposits stuck to the walls of the bore, while lead/tin alloy (pure lead) bullets flying at speeds under 1,300 f.p.s. do not leave any metal deposits at all. There are some gray areas, where each type of bullet metal alloy starts to lead the bore. Shooters rely on different types of bore preparations, bullet lubricants and sometimes cloth or paper patches to control this. I have not gotten into the paper patched bullet at all, and please forgive me for going no farther here.

How does this affect pellets?
Pellets have pretty much the same reaction to velocity as bullets, though they are not being pushed by hot, burning gasses. My experience is that Crosman Premiers start to leave metal deposits in the bore when their velocity climbs to around 900 f.p.s., give or take. The “give or take” probably has to do with variations in the metal alloy of the particular barrel, plus the relative smoothness of the surface finish of the bore. A more slippery steel with a smoother finish will resist leading at higher velocity than a less slippery steel with a rougher finish.

900 f.p.s. is not a magic number
We often say pellets are most accurate at speeds under 900 f.p.s. But, now I’m also saying that Crosman Premiers start to lead the bore above that velocity. The truth is more complex. Sometimes, you can get good accuracy at velocities above 900 f.p.s., and Premiers will lead the bore of one airgun faster than another. The number 900 is just a general speed around which things usually start happening.

If you want to shoot Premiers, what can you do?
You can lubricate your pellets. The right kind of lube can do a good job of keeping the leading problem in check. I have a Daystate Huntsman in which I shoot 7.9-grain Premiers all the time. The velocity is set at 930 f.p.s., but I never have a problem with a leaded barrel. I lube my pellets with FP-10, which is made by Shooter’s Choice. I have been warned that FP-10 dissolves o-rings, but my Huntsman has been doing fine with it for the past 10 years. In the late 1990s, the chat forums were alive with all the special pellet lube formulas shooters had concocted. One company in England even claims their lube increases both velocity and accuracy, but when it was tested here in the U.S., it did neither. Maybe someday soon I’ll do a posting on all the snake oil salesmen who haunt the airgunning market!

Spring guns have a special problem!
Detonation happens when small amounts of oil explode from the heat of compression in a spring air gun, so oiling pellets is a bigger problem for springers than for CO2 or pneumatic shooters. However, the king of all spring gun makers is John Whiscombe. His rifles are the most powerful springers ever made, yet he oils his pellets. He uses a mixture of two parts Hoppes Gun Oil and one part STP Engine Treatment by volume. This he stirs to mix well, then he puts several drops on a foam cushion in the bottom of an empty pellet tin. Then pellets are poured into this tin and rolled around on the foam. The lube they pick up is enough to prevent most bore leading in Whiscombe’s extremely powerful rifles (up to 35 foot-pounds in .25 caliber!).

So the answer is, “Yes – you can keep a clean barrel with Crosman Premiers.” If you are going to shoot very fast, though, you’d better oil the pellets.

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.

36 thoughts on “Can you keep a clean barrel with Crosman Premier pellets?”

  1. B.B.
    Thanks for another great article. This Blog is the best source I have found on the web for information on air guns. Today’s article raises several questions in my mind about lead deposits in the barrel. First, is this true for other similar pellets? I shoot a RWS 52 in .177 and I mainly use B&N Baracuda heavy 10.65g and Crosman Premiers at 10.5g heavy and pellets. This is what the gun shoot best, tightest groups at 10 yards. I also shoot very heavy Corba 13.5g (a house brand made in Korea) and Eun Jin 16.1g. First question is will all of these pellets lead the bore? And a related question, will I see the lead if I look down the bore and use a bore light? Second question, I know you recommend lighter pellets, but since this is a powerful air gun, the light pellets I tried seem to make larger groups perhaps because they are moving close to the speed of sound and become unstable. So, are heavy pellets like these recommended in this rifle? And/or will the heaver ones do any damage to this spring gun?
    New air gun shooter

  2. New shooter,

    Good questions! It sounds like you have reasoned things out well. Shoot the pellet that groups best, regardless of what anyone says – including me.

    As for seeing bore leading, you can’t see it by looking though a barrel, but sometimes you can see it by shining a light in the muzzle or breech and looking in from the side. You can only see for an inch ot so, but if you see silver or gray streaks – it’s leading.

    However, the normal way to know you have leading is a decline in accuracy.

    Premiers have a special problem because of their alloy. Those other pellets you mentioned are all pure lead and will not lead the bore as easily. But with enough speed, all pellets will lead the bore.

    Heavy pellets will not damage a mainspring, but I think very lightweight ones might. I have no proof, but it seems some pellets take off so fast they don’t cushion the piston well. That can’t be good for anything!


  3. Have you heard of a Lubricant called TSI 301? It is 100% petroleum free and has a flammability rating of zero. It might make a better pellet lube than FP-10. It is also a solvent and can be used to clean airgun barrels.
    Great blog,

  4. B.B.

    I finally got some CP .177, the ones in the card board box. I found that I get about half inch group at 10 meters with daisy 853. My rifle is capable of less than .20 5 shot group with match pellets. Do you know the CP doesn’t group well? I notice that the skirt is quite thick on the CP. Could it be that the 853 is too under powered so that the pellet skirt is not expanding enough to obtain the full accuracy? I would like to hear what your opinion is. Thanks in advance.

  5. Daisy 853,

    You didn’t mention whether you have 7.9-grain or 10.5-grain pellets. That would make a difference, with the 10.5-grain pellets being too heavy for the 853.

    The 853 has a Lothar Walther barrel that is ideally suited to pure lead wadcutter pellets. I am surprised that Premiers group so poorly (if they are 7.9-grain pellets), but they are not a pellet to use in any target rifle. They are best-suited to the sport of field target, hunting and other sporting uses.


  6. 853,

    Well, that is a mystery and I have no more ideas at this point. Well, perhaps just one. Are you oiling the Premiers? They are much harder than pure lead pellets and they may need a little oil on the outside to pass through the bore smoothly.


  7. B.B.

    I gave up on the CP 7.9gr. I tried some gamo pointed pellets (which are not very accurate) on my 853 this morning, I still got about .25 5 shot group… I did oil the CP pellets, didn’t seem to make any difference. Sometimes the group can grow as wide as 1 inch at 10 meters. I think the skirt thickness is to blame. I will never shoot CP on a low powered air gun again. They are so frustrating. Thanks anyway.

    (I guess I’ll call myself 853 from now on :))

  8. I just got done shooting 5 different kinds of pellets this afternoon. 2 were the CP, the 10.5 gr domes and the hollow points. The other 3 were Beeman H&N match, high speed match and Silver Bear. Both Crosman Premier pellets were very consistent in speed when fired through a chronograph. 10 shot groups had a deviation of as little as 8.5 up to 25. They weren’t as accurate as the Beeman pellets though. Which is funny because the Beeman’s had the highest deviation in speed, anywhere from 20 to 50 but hit where you aimed most times at 20 yards. My favorite of the bunch is the Silver Bear. It has a thick skirt and seats beautifuly. The Crosmans seemed a little loose in when loading them and worked best when seated with the round end of the Beeman pelseater. I was using a Mendoza RM-200 in .177 btw. I have a .177 Bore Snake w/ brush and use a little bit of Hoppes solvent when cleaning the barrel. Is there any potential problems using a brush or solvent on an air rifle? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks. Shawn

  9. BB.
    Two questions:
    1- If i shoot crosman premiers at around 500 fps, do i need any lubing or barrel cleaning?

    2-Do PCPs need lube in all pellets at all speeds?


  10. I have a .177 Crosman Sport XT which shoots at 1000fps. I am currently hunting with Gamo rockets 9.5 gains. I shot a large jack rabbit at about 25 yards in the shoulder, it kicked hard and ran away. I had to track and finish it with a neck shot. What pellet/weigh do you recommend that would give me knock down power and pentration if I had to shot in shoulder or heart area?

  11. All game runs – that’s something a hunter has to get used to. As far as penetration, I’d say those Gamo Rockets have too much of it. That’s something to be aware of in a .177. A high-velocity small pellet will tend to zip through the animal without doing much damage.

    Because you are shooting the smallest caliber, I recommend you use the best hollowpoints on the market, which would be JSB Prdators. You won’t find them at Wal-Mart. They come from top-selling airgun dealers, only. Here is a link:


    The .177 has very little knockdown power for a jackrabbit. You need a .22-caliber pellet before you get that.

    The brain shot is your best bet. A heart shot works well, but expect the rabbit to jump straight up several feet and perhaps run a bit. That may have been what your Jack did.


  12. Thanks for the information. However, I have another question.. being that I do not have a .22 rifle, by using a heavier .177 grain will that make up for the small caliber? Also, by using a heavier grain will it cause damage to my seals?

  13. Heavier pellets slow fast guns down, so the answer is yes. However, spring piston guns may not shoot heavy pellets accurately. So test them first.

    There will be no damage to your seals. In some guns that have a very hard mainspring, like Dianas, the spring may not tolerate heavy pellets for long before breaking. Other guns like Weihrauchs will shoot them as well as light pellets. Gamo springs are probably on the hard side of normal.


  14. BB,

    I use CP’s in my .22 cal Diana 54 that shoots around 820 fps and I do notice after a box or 2 of these, my accuracy tends to drop off a bit. I’ve experimented with different cleaning styles, but what would be the BEST cleaning style in your opinion to clean the bore of this rifle without causing dammage(I keep reading conficting advice on cleaning and heard that Diana’s may require different solutions because of their type of seals getting dammaged from bore cleaners, etc..) if i’m using the CP’s exclusively.

    Also, would you recommend lubing these pellets for this rifle, and if so, what kind of lube would you recommend for this rifle, to be safe for it’s seals and rings?


  15. Well, you read the blog, so you know Premiers are always going to lead your bore. The best thing would be to use pellets that were more accurate and didn’t lead the bore. JSB Exacts will do that.

    As for cleaning, you have to go in from the muzzle – which puts the rifling at the muzzle at risk. Use the same JB Bore Paste that is recommended for all pellet rifles, but clean it off the breech before you close the breech to fire. That’s all the precaution that needs to be taken.

    You will have to use a shorter brass brush, so it will exit the bore in the short space of the loading port. Otherwise the brush will be hard to reverse directions when you try to pull it back out the muzzle.

    Use Whiscombe Honey to lube those Premiers. It’s half STP Engine Treatment and half Hoppes Gun Oil.


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