by B.B. Pelletier

This is a question I get asked a lot. Today, it’s easy to find good pellets, but back in the 1970s that wasn’t the case. Back then, you had to try pellet after pellet in a gun before you would stumble onto something that worked. That was because of bad pellets – not bad guns. In fact, here is something to think about. A 1955 Crosman 160 rifle may have initially grouped five shots in a 1″ group when it was new, but today we expect it to group inside 1/4″ with good pellets. That’s how much pellets have advanced over the years.

So, what’s a good pellet?
I have written about this many times, but here we go again. The JSB Exact domed pellets in all calibers and weights are always the place to begin. Most air rifles will shoot them better than any other pellet. That’s because these pellets are hand-sorted by weight at the factory. If you take the time to do that with your pellets, almost any pellet will shoot better.

Also consider the Beeman Kodiak (or H&N Baracuda, which is the same pellet). Sometimes, it out-shoots the JSB. I’ve never found the “match” grades of this pellet to be any better than the standard ones, so I buy them on price, alone. All Crosman Premiers are good, BUT ONLY THE ONES IN THE CARDBOARD BOXES! They are boxed by die number, where the pellets in the round metal tins are not. Sometimes, the tinned pellets are just as accurate, because they are the same in all ways except sorting, but the cardboard box guarantees that what you get is all the same.

10-meter guns are different
Each 10-meter gun needs to be tested not only with all pellet brands (only wadcutters, of course), but also all head sizes – if you want to shoot in competition. If you’re just fooling around and plinking, almost any wadcutter is suitable, and some inexpensive ones such as the Gamo Match are real bargains.

What about other pellets?
Many other pellets are very good and should be tried. The Logun Penetrator, for example, can be one of the most accurate pellets in a particular airgun. And, there are many pellets that shoot well – just not the best. I’ve already listed the best. Start with them.

What pellet should be avoided?
I usually avoid the novelty pellets, such as the new Gamo Raptor. It isn’t accurate, plus it develops LESS power in a spring gun than a light lead pellet – so it isn’t very efficient, either. I also avoid those pellets with steel tips and other gimmicks. I usually don’t shoot synthetic pellets; but, of those I have tested, both the Skenco and the Prometheus brands seem to be the best.

Be sure you have a good gun before testing pellets
You can shoot for days and test every pellet in the book, but your average Chinese air rifle will not perform. It’s a waste of time to try to shoot well with it. The Chinese are starting to bring out better air rifles, and the B20 is a long way from where they used to be, but it’s still only as good as an average Gamo breakbarrel (not the latest line of Gamos, but the ones made in the 1990s).

Just because I recommended only a few pellets doesn’t mean they are the only kind I use. Like you, I have a cabinet full of all sorts of other pellets, and I try to test each new one as it comes out. After all, testing means shooting, and that’s ALWAYS fun!