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.
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.
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.