by B.B. Pelletier

Before I start, I will be on the road from Wednesday through next Monday, attending the Roanoke Airgun Expo on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 & 27. I will answer those comments I need to, but my capability is limited, so will you old hands please help out? Thank you.

Nate in Mass. asked if it’s permissible (possible, without damage to the gun) to shoot pellets loaded backwards. He was thinking of them acting as extreme hollowpoints.

Well, Nate the short answer is “yes,” and so is the longer answer I will give today. Diabolo pellets loaded backwards work fine in most guns. On principle, I would avoid loading them that way in repeaters, though I have shot some that way when they were misloaded.

My experience is limited
I don’t make a practice of shooting pellets loaded backwards. I have limited my testing to 10 meters, so others may be able to expand what I’m about to say. The guns I shot them from were all low- to mid-power. No magnums were used, though I did shoot several from an HW77.

Not as accurate
They don’t group nearly as well as when loaded the conventional way. The rifles I’ve tested seemed not to mind them at all, and at 10 yards I could see no evidence of them trying to turn around in flight.

Good for pests
I haven’t tried this but I’ve read for the past 30 years that pellets loaded backwards make good critter-gitters, for obvious reasons. The thin soft skirt opens rapidly when contacting tissue and is especially good on rats.

The “flying ashtray”
I borrowed that nickname from the defensive hollowpoints used in some handgun ammunition. It means a wide-open hollowpoint that hits its target in an attitude that’s ready to expand dramatically. There used to be a pellet made that way, and very curiously, it resembled a diabolo pellet loaded backwards – hence the title of today’s post. I’m referring to the Vortek Lamprey.


Makarov 9mm pistol bullet of the flying ashtray design.


Vortek Lampreys were remarkable hollowpoint pellets that looked like they were flying backwards. The pellet that’s standing shows the deep hollowpoint. The rounded skirt is shown on the pellet lying down.

The Lamprey has a huge mouth (Vortek called it a hollow head pellet), like its namesake, and a tiny shallow skirt. It seems wrong to load it the right way – as though the maker somehow reversed the directions. Yet, it’s reasonably accurate and is one of the few hollowpoint pellets that performs well at slower speed. The walls of the hollowpoint are thick, but this is a pure lead pellet, so it mushrooms well and holds together even better.

Lampreys are no longer made. The new crop of hollowpoints seem to have learned some things from them because the hollowpoints are now much deeper than in the past.

So, Nate, your idea will work. Give it a try!