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Pellet types

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I start, I’d like to thank all of you readers who are waiting for a certain report. This blog has become so popular that I have reports backed up in many categories. Don’t worry, I will get to whatever you are waiting for, and you can check with me from time to time to make sure my infallible method of Post-It notes has not failed.

Today, I’m addressing the different types of pellets for a reader who requested it back in September. You must learn the difference between a diabolo and any other pellet shape. The diabolo has a wasp waist and a hollow skirt, both of which create drag in flight. More than the rifling twist rate, these two features stabilize a pellet for accuracy. Non-diabolo pellets rely on the rifling twist for stabilization. I’m going to discuss only diabolo shapes today, with the exception of round balls.

A wadcutter has a flat nose and cuts a perfect circle in target paper. It’s used exclusively in 10-meter competition. It is well-suited for lower-velocity airguns and for hunting at short ranges (out to 25 yards). Beyond 25 yards, a wadcutter’s accuracy starts falling off. Some other pellet types, such as the Beeman Ram Point and the RWS Super-H-Point, incorporate the wadcutter shape in different types of pellets (domes and hollowpoints).

A wadcutter has a flat nose. Left to right: Gamo Match, H&N Finale Match and RWS R10 Match. All are .177.

A domed or round-nosed pellet is just what it sounds like. They have the best aerodynamics and are used in field target, hunting and general shooting. Suitable for guns of all power levels.

Domed pellets come in all shapes and sizes. From the left are Crosman Premier 7.9-grain, JSB Diabolo Exact 10.2-grain and Eley Wasps. All are .177.

Once again, the name tells the story, except that there are many variations on the hollowpoint theme. The purpose is rapid expansion in game, and this is a 100 percent hunting pellet. Accuracy usually drops off after 25 yards if the hollowpoint is an effective expanding pellet. Those that don’t expand usually perform better at long ranges.

Hollowpoints are designed for rapid expansion in game. From the left are RWS Super-H-Point, JSB Predator and the Beeman Crow magnum. RWS and JSB are .177, Beeman is .22.

Pointed pellet
Designed for the best penetration. To most eyes, pointed pellets look streamlined. At the ideal subsonic velocities at which airguns operate, this shape offers no advantage. Usually, a pointed pellet is not quite as accurate as a domed pellet at long range.

Pointed pellets are for penetration. The rings on the Beeman Silver Jet do nothing for performance. From the left are the Daisy Precision Max Pointed, RWS Superpoint and the Beeman Silver Jet. All are .22.

Round lead ball
A round lead ball is a superior penetrator and can be very accurate in some guns. Because it is a bore-sized projectile, it is safe to use in most airguns. Repeaters may have problems with the round lead ball, except those designed for it, such as the Drozd submachine gun. Round lead balls can also be used in some vintage BB guns. Because it is a sphere, there is no choosing of weights. A .177 ball weighs 8.1 grains and a .22 ball weighs 15.1 grains. Variations due to surface plating are usually within two-tenths of a grain.

A ball is a ball! Great for penetration. From the left we have Gamo round ball, Beeman Perfect Round and the Lobo round ball. Gamo and Beeman are .177. Lobo is .22.

Novelty pellets
There’s always something different out there, and you will encounter some strange pellets. I lump them into a novelty category and seldom use them for anything.

Two novelty pellets are the Gamo Rocket (left) and the Gamo Raptor. Most novelty pellets have very little application in the real world, though in some guns they may offer better velocity.

I hope I’ve addressed the topic sufficiently.

48 thoughts on “Pellet types”

  1. Good general info here, BB.
    Can I use the round balls in my Talon SS? Would like to try them but have been hesitant.

    As far as the “novelty” pellets, I agree that most of them are just that. The exception, for me at least, is the Gamo Rocket. I’ve had very good luck with it on small game (pigeons, mainly) out to about 30 yards.

  2. B.B. I assume .177 round balls are not the same diameter as .177 steel BBs. I purchased a Gamo V-3 a few years ago and steel BBs were recommended. The BBs would not function properly in this gun (they would roll out) and, later, Gamo recommended round balls!(Actually, Pyramyd recommended round balls).——-D.G.

  3. This is EXACTLY the reason I keep harping on these things. THERE ARE NO .177-caliber BBs. BBs are 0.172-0.173″ in diameter, and if they were to be stated in milimeters, it would be 4.3mm. But as long as companies like Gamo keep writing .177 on the boxes of their BBs guns, (or 4.5mm) people will keep getting confused.

    Gamo has been making guns that shoot round LEAD balls, size .177, for decades. That’s why they make a .177 (4.5mm) lead ball.

    A steel BB is .172 caliber or 4.3MM. The nominal bore size of a BB gun is 0.175″. Sometimes companies mislable their guns as .175 caliber, but that’s wrong, too.


  4. Could you recommend a pellet for a FWB 124 in .177 that has just been tunned with Maccari spring and seal. I know I need a heavy pellet. I love this old gun (c. 1978)and I’d like to see it’s true potential. Thanks

  5. B.B.

    You have explained lubrication for CO2 and pump internals (drop of Pellgunoil), and for springers. What type of lubricant should be used
    1) for pump lever joints (e.g. the 1377)?
    2) on the o-rings (mostly urethane?) of CO2 bottles (e.g. the LD pistol)?
    3) on the bolt assembly of an RWS 850 (it came lubricated with something thicker than silicone oil – does it have to be sent in for this)?
    Also how often?

    I’m also wondering about a lubricant call Super Lube Synthetic Grease(www.super-lube.com) for airgun applications needing a thicker lubricant. It has a large temperature range, is not petroleum based (it is food grade) and is supposed to be compatible with most other lubricants. The only “grease” or “paste” lubricants I see on Pyramyd site are Beeman/FWB Joint Grease and Beeman Metal-2-Metal (M2M) Moly Paste.

    .22 multi-shot

  6. Good one word answer when ya gotta give one BB.

    The exacts are just about the “one best”.

    But since we’re back on this I thought I’d respond to your comment Re: the dimples on a golf ball carrying it farther than a smooth ball would fly. This when I asked why any Co. would rib the skirt of a pellet.

    As far as i know the dimpels carry a golf ball farther due to the backspin on the ball. I’d thought the top dimples were rotating against the direction of travel of the ball. I assumed that caused the same effect as an airplain wing, lower pressure=creating “lift”… and thus farther flight.

    when we place the ribs on a horizontal plane and spin it I figured neither top nor bottom of the projectile was gaining from that effect…so that would not be the case…neither was gaining or lossing surface air speed due to the direction of pellet travel. So no effect on the flight…at least as far as distance caused by lift would go. In fact if anything I figured that a pellet in the northern hepisphere would travel to the side one direction and the opposite in the southern hepisphere. Something like the water running down the drain phenomenon…but I’m just guessing.

    no need to respond I’m just tossing it out there because those exacts are so good and don’t have the ribs…and it was my thoughts when I read your responce. Heck you give me tons to think about…just returning the favor.

  7. Tomorrow I am buying a 22 caliber benjamin legacy 1000 from this site. I will be using it to shoot canadian geese in the head trying to kill them.

    1. Is this possible with this air rifle if they are on the ground within 30 yds?

    2. which scope would you recomend and the scope that you recomend does the scope mounts come with it?

    3. Which pellets do you recomend?

    I will wait to buy this equipment until you give me your advice.


  8. I’m not really into pistols I’d perfer a rifle, but recently I have been considering the Evanix hunting master AR6. I was just wondering if you could add that one to your list of guns to review. Thanks.

  9. Here is a very good pellet,hard hitting,accurate and terribly deadly. I recommand it to the hunters : DIANA HIGHPOWER. Available in : .177 .22. and .25. Sold on this webside.Try it !


  10. RWS 48,

    RWS downgraded the lifetime waranty in the 1990s. Since then the company has changed hands twice. I would check with Umarex USA to see what kind of warranty they offer. Usually these are good for the original purchaser only.


  11. dbarr,

    Silicone oil (Pellgunoil) is used for ALL CO2 lubrication on ALL CO2 guns. Nothing better!

    For joints like the 1377, use a tiny amount of regular oil.

    Any other lube must be a silicone-based lube for the seals of CO2 and pneumatic guns.

    I don’t know what the 850 bolt is lubricated with. Why don’t you ask Umarex USA? Whatever it is, it’s topical and you can apply it. But wait until the gun needs it. Over-lubrication is very bad for an airgun.


  12. Benjamin Legacy,

    Wow! You have lined up a very tough row to hoe!

    First, the Legacy is accurate, but it requires TONS of shooting technique to do what you want it to do. You are talking about hitting a quarter every time at 30 yards. That’s hard to do with any gun, but you have picked the hardest one to try with. The hold has to be perfect to get the Legacy to group well. By perfect, I mean the artillery hold. Have you been reading about that?

    The pellet choice is easy – a JSB Exact domed in either weight.

    For a scope, you know that the Legacy 1000X does come with a nice 4-power scope and mounts. Maybe you should start with that and then decide if you want a better one. I would choose any one of the Leapers scopes in the 3 to 12 range. The mounts do not come with these scopes, so be sure to get the right size. I like two-piece mounts because they are more flexible when mounting the scope.


  13. The Beeman Silver Arrow is a heavier pellet than the old Silver Jet.

    Actually, you do want to use the wadcutter or hollowpoint in the power-powered airguns. I don’t like pointed pellets in anything, because they are not accurate at long range. Neither are the wadcutters and hollowpoints, but with a 22SG you aren’t really shooting long range.


  14. Thanks for the info on the Legacy 1000. As far as the distance for goose shot I may have been exagerating a bit. 30 yards would be the absolute farthest shot I would take. You said that this gun is the hardest one to do this with. Is that because it is not as accurate as other pellet guns that are around the same price? I grew up shooting a 22 caliber pump benjamin that I thought seemed to be pretty accurate. How does the legacy compare in accuracy and power compared to the old benjamin pump? And last would you recommend another type of pellet gun with scope and pellets that would be better than the legacy for about the same price give or take a few dollars?

  15. Great information. I was hoping to read something on super magnum pellets like the eley magnum. Can you test them for us? What are they good for? What is the minimum power you need to use them?

  16. B.B.

    Any idea why pointed pellets are inaccurate at range? I do prefer domed pellets for just about everything but the dome would seem to be just a rounded point.

    Springer John

  17. Legacy,

    The Legacy is a breakbarrel spring gun, and because of that it needs perfect technique to shoot well. It’s probably a little more accurate than a multi-pump like your old Benjamin, but it’s quite a bit harder to shoot well.

    I would recommend a Benjamin 392 for the job you plan.


  18. Eley magnum,

    These “pellets ” (Eley Magnums) are actually bullets. They stabilize through spin alone. I find them adequate in powerful guns like the Condor, but inaccurate in guns of less power, like an RWS 34.

    They also turn the Condor into the equivalent of a .22 short, because they travel over a mile when shot. A 28-grain Eun Jin diabolo only goes about 500 yards. So I don’t shoot them unless I’m shooting into a dirt berm, the same as for any rimfire cartridge.

    I don’t know that they are available in the U.S. any more. I have just a single tin I bought years ago. Do you know of a source?


  19. Springer John,

    I have always believed that the pointed pellets must have a symmetry problem the round-nosed pellets don’t share. Kodiaks are very sharp domes and are close to being pointed, yet they are often quite accurate.

    I guess I don’t know.


  20. I just tryed to order the benjamin legacy 1000 in the 22 caliber and I was told that they no longer have them and they have been discontinued. BB or anyone elso know anything about this?

  21. I’m not sure, but I think baldtrucker was referring to the AR6 pistol when he mentioned the Evanix hunting master AR6. BB has promised a review of that pistol in the future, which I eagerly anticipate. Sadly, this pistol is *way* beyond my means, though it tempt me greatly. I do like the power it generates, though I am not happy about the quick loss of power that happens.

    Michael in Georgia

  22. BB,

    Thanks for the info on the legacy 1000. You have convinced me to go with the benjamin 392. What scope, mount and pellets should I ask for when I call Pyramyd to order?


  23. Benj 392,

    Could I convince you to mount a Williams peep sight on the gun instead of a scope? Scoped muli-pumps are so difficult to pump because the scope is right where you want to hold the gun.

    If you really want a scope I would ask Pyramyd AIR if they can mount the Bug Buster 2 on one fore you. The reason I can’t pick the mounts for you is they change all the time and I don’t know what they have in stock today.

    As for a pellet, I would try the following

    JSB Exact Jumbo 15.9-grain, JSB Exact Express 14.3-grain and the 16 grain Logun Penetrator.



  24. Predator pellet guy …

    I tried a sampling of those in both .177 and .22 last year thru the courtesy of the president of that part of the JSB company, but found they are a bit long for rotary magazine pistols and rifles … had to Dremel down the points a bit, or single-feed each round … their site used to have testimonials about how somebody got rid of armadillos with his .22, I forget what model rifle he used or the range, but if a Predator can pierce an armadillo’s hide at 20 yards, it should go right thru a squirrel.

  25. BB,
    Do you know if a pellet’s LENGTH affects it’s flight/accuracy? (probably a dumb question, because trying a longer pellet would be the same as trying a different pellet anyway). Still, the Beeman Trophy Domed are short and stubby compared to the picture on the tin, but they work well. I would think Longer would improve aerodynamics, but maybe open more room for spin imbalance. JP

  26. JP,

    Length plays a big part in stability, but drag plays an even bigger part. Don’t confuse aerodynamics with the ballistic coefficient. Long or short doesn’t affect aerodynamics as much as shape. The Crosman Premier was hailed as one of the most aerodynamic pellets of its day when it first came out. But most weights of Premiers are not long.


  27. I think I see. I was perhaps thinking of length like the armor piercing (sabot discarding) projectile from an M1 Abrams: of course, it’s just a hard, pointed rod with a “badminton” skirt on the back fired from a smooth-bore. I guess I’m starting to understand this stuff when I ask a half-stupid question (I said the Trophy’s worked well anyway). Thanks again. JP

  28. JP,

    Actually, the APDS round from an Abrams isn’t using drag for stabilization. Those fins on the back act to impart a spin on the penetrator (the name of that long rod), so it is spin-stabilized just as if it were spun by rifling.


  29. Xavier – I assume you mean a steel BB. Yes, it will shoot – as long as you don't point the gun downward, because if you do it will roll out.

    But steel BB's will wear out the rifling in the barrel pretty quickly and cause the gun to shoot worse and worse as time goes on. The B3 wasn't designed for steel BB's, so you're really better of not trying to use them.

    BTW, if you wander over to:


    you'll find the most recent blog. Might be interesting for you.

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