by B.B. Pelletier

This test is for anyone who wonders how well hollowpoint pellets work. I have written several posts about hollowpoints, and I’ve usually made the statement that hollowpoint pellets are not accurate at long range. I’ve also mentioned more than once that Crosman pellets are made from a hardened lead alloy.

So, today’s question is: Will a hard lead hollowpoint, specifically a Crosman Premier Hollow Point, expand when driven at a reasonable velocity, and will it be accurate at long range? Bad weather will keep me from going to the range for a few days, but I can get the first part of the question answered for you today.

While putting this blog together, I had an interesting comment from pestbgone regarding hollowpoints. Seems he has been doing some testing of his own, using ballistic gelatin, and he used two of the pellets I’ll use for my tests, so now we’ll have a comparison of penetration in ballistic gelatin against penetration in soap.

“Two of the 9 different pellets I tested were the Crosman Premier Hollowpoint 7.9gr and the Beeman Crow Magnum 8.8gr. The results were so odd I had to repeat them on different days with different batches of gel to validate the data. For a baseline I used Crosman Premier Domed 10.5gr, and they penetrated a whopping 11” with a deviation of only about +/-.2” between shots. The CP HP penetrated an average of 5.9”, with a deviation of about +/-.5”. Kind of puny compared to the CP heavy domed, I thought, but it’s a HP.

“But the BeeCM penetrated only 4” on average, with a deviation of only +/-.1” . Obviously, the CM was dumping all its energy very quickly into the gel, but still, 4” of penetration seemed weak, and odd. When I removed the pellets from the gel, though, I was amazed at what I saw. As expected, no shape or size change in the CP Domed. And the CP HP had minimal expansion of about .015”. But the BeeCM, incredible! Consistently, every pellet ended up mushrooming into the shape of a perfect little toadstool. The pellets that started out as .177 dia x .252 long ended up being about .255 dia x .188 long. No wonder they only penetrated 4”. B.B., this may be old news to you, but its all new and exciting to me.”

I’m using my Whiscombe JW75 for this test. Because it’s so powerful, I put in a transfer port limiter to slow the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier Hollowpoint down below the sound barrier. The way the rifle is set up, the pellet averages 913 f.p.s. at the muzzle. That’s 14.63 foot-pounds.

My JW75 with barrels in all 4 calibers – .177, .20, .22 and .25.

These Allen screws are the transfer port limiters. By removing all limiters and leaving the transfer port wide open, you get the maximum power the rifle can deliver.

The other two pellets used in this test are the Beeman Crow Magnum (8.6 grains for the pellets I have) and the JSB Predator (8.0 grains, though my Predators vary a lot). The Crow Magnums averages 874 f.p.s. That works out to a muzzle energy of 14.59 foot-pounds.

The Predator averages 895 f.p.s., so that calculates to 14.23 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Since the Whiscombe was set the same for all three pellets, you can get a sense of how the same powerplant performs with three different pellets.

Crosman Premier Hollow Point on the left, Beeman Crow Magnum on the right. Notice the entire top of the Premier Hollow Point has broken off and stopped sooner in the soap than the tail. Also, notice that the Premier gave up a lot of energy in the very beginning, where the hollowpoint deformed

JSB Predator lost its black nylon tip halfway through penetration. Notice that the energy given up resembles the Crosman Hollow Point. The Predator wound channel is larger, though the pictures seem to say the opposite. That’s due to different sizes of enlargements.

The Crosman Premier was a surprise to me. I expected little expansion, but it was dramatic. Remember that the speed I shot was above the terminal velocity (velocity on target) that any hunter would probably achieve, because no one will shoot the pellet supersonic and expect to get accuracy. Or will they? When I go to the range, I’ll shoot a group with this pellet moving supersonic, just to see for sure.

The Predator performed very well, too, but the Crow Magnum just plodded through the soap without drama. However, we have pestbgone’s report that in ballistic gelatin the Crow Magnum penetrates only about one-third the distance of the Premier Hollowpoint. Why the big difference?

Perhaps the testing medium is the culprit. Maybe at high velocity in a hard medium, the Crow Magnum performs average, but in a softer medium it shines. Several readers did question my use of Neutrogena facial soap as a test medium. Might that suggest that Crow Magnums would be good on smaller birds, while Premier Hollow Points would do better on squirrels?