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Crosman Pellets They weren’t always Premiers!

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I begin today, I must retract something I recently said. Several days ago, I showed you a photo of the new Crosman Outdoorsman 2250XE I saw at the SHOT Show. I told you the pistol would be sold only by Crosman, through their Custom Shop. That was incorrect. In fact, Pyramyd AIR is proud to now offer the Outdoorsman 2250 XE in their Crosman lineup. I also got it in my head that it was a pistol with a shoulder stock. It’s not…it’s a rifle. It’ll be available in .22 caliber when it reaches Pyramyd AIR the beginning of March. I don’t know how many they’ll get, but one look at that custom skeleton stock suggests these will be in short supply. I’m sorry I led you astray with my prediction.

Many of our readers are relatively new to airgunning and don’t remember the stuff we went through over the past 50 years. So, when I start talking about “pure” lead pellets as opposed to hard lead pellets, I get a lot of questions. I don’t mind the questions, but in the case of pellets I’d like you to know some of what has happened over the past half-century, so you can appreciate what we have today.

Going back to the 1960s, the airguns we had in the U.S. were primitive compared to today’s standards. Those were the days of the “Benjamin Franklin” guns and also the days of Sheridan and Crosman. Manufacturers were starting to experiment with materials and finishes, and we all lamented the loss of the blued steel, nickelplating and wood that was traded for painted metal, cast metal and plastic. In the U.S., we were unaware (for the most part) of the fine European spring rifles and pistols made by Weihrauch, BSF and Diana. Air Rifle Headquarters was just beginning to explore that world in 1963, and it wouldn’t become widely known until Robert Beeman lent his golden touch in 1974. We were also unaware of the pellets that the European companies were just beginning to make – pellets that would redefine the accuracy of airguns in time.

This was also the time when some companies such as Crosman were starting to make repeating pellet guns. Some, like the Single-Action Six, were of conventional design, while others, like the model 600 pistol, were far ahead of their time. And, the pellets Crosman made for these guns were responsible, in part, for their mediocre level of performance at that point in time, just as were the leaky CO2 cartridges of that era.

Super Pells – flying ashcans
The pellets in question were called Crosman Super Pells during this time, and they came in red and black tins that resembled spice tins. Later in the ’70s, the boxes were changed to a long plastic tube with a square section, but the pellets inside remained the same. They were, in fact, the same pellets Crosman had made on the same machinery since production began in the 1920s! Over the course of 60 years, the pellet-making machinery wore out and the shape of the pellets morphed from a traditional wasp-waisted diabolo into a lead cylinder with barely the hint of a waist – not too dissimilar from aging Hollywood starlets. It was those rough cylinders – we called them flying ashcans – that I shot from all my Crosman airguns of 1958 until 1990.


These Crosman Super Pells are of 1970s vintage, which means they were about as bad as the line ever got.

Those pellets were also made of pure lead, which made them easier to form but far more prone to damage during handling. In fact, in those days, you were lucky if a pellet started out round at the base. We took it on faith that the blast of air or CO2 would swage out the pellet skirt into the barrel walls, making it uniform, but I know now that probably didn’t happen outside of the few spring-piston guns that existed.

Being soft lead and prone to deform, those old Super Pells didn’t want to feed through repeating mechanisms. They were okay for revolvers like the SA-6 and the 38T and 38C; but in a 10-shot semiauto 600, they tended to jam the mechanism. We blamed the guns, because there weren’t a lot of choices when it came to pellets in those days. Only Crosman and Benjamin brands were popularly available, and the Benjamins, while more like a conventional diabolo, were just as out-of-round, misshapen and prone to deforming.

So fine repeating semiautos like the 600 and the 451 languished, because the powerlets all leaked and the pellets jammed the mechanisms. Imagine our surprise to rediscover these fine guns in the 1990s, when we learned they were accurate, powerful and very reliable when fed good pellets!

Quick to oxidize
Another flaw the older pellets had was oxidation. Within a year or two, they would start to accumulate a dusty white coat of lead oxide if left exposed. Benjamin pellets came coated with thick oil and they oxidized, too. Today’s pellets have either an oil, wax or graphite coating that resists oxidation for a lot longer, though they do cause airgunners to think their bores are dirty when the compound scrapes off.

I believe Crosman’s investment in repeaters caused them to think about hardening the lead in their pellets when they came out with their new line of pellets at the end of the 1980s. Premiers are not the only pellet that’s made from hardened lead – the entire Crosman lead pellet line is hardened with antimony. As a result, they deform less and feed better through mechanisms than soft lead pellets. However, they also deposit lead in the barrel at lower velocities than pure lead pellets. That’s a drawback. The repeaters Crosman makes are all low velocity and aren’t bothered by it, but when Premiers are shot from magnum guns at high velocities, they need to be lubricated or they’ll lead the bore.


The Premier is the flagship of Crosman’s pellet line. For all of the 1990s, they were the most accurate pellet in the world.

The change was worth it
Today’s Crosman pellets are light-years beyond the Super Pells of the past. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to go back to those times! The cheapest Chinese pellets are better than what we used to get from Crosman. However, today’s Crosman pellets are world-class in many respects. They represent a great value and the Premiers in the cardboard box are among the most accurate pellets available.

53 thoughts on “Crosman Pellets They weren’t always Premiers!”

  1. BB, I went through a lot of Crosman and Daisy pellets in the 1970’s and I remember the Daisy pellets generally looking better than the Crosman’s, and I believe they were oiled from the factory.

    But your comment about the “cheapest Chinese pellets” has me a bit perplexed – have you seen the super-cheapo Industry Brand pellets commonly sold in those plastic tins of 200? I’d gone through thousands of them before I realized there was any real difference between pellets (duh!), and I still think that no two of them were alike.


  2. Ken,

    I tested Napier Power Pellet Lube for its claim of increased velocity, which I found to be incorrect. However, I have no experience with it in the bore protection realm. It may work well; I just don’t know.

    I use something John Whiscombe recommended to me, something I named Whiscombe Honey in his honor.

    It’s two parts Hoppes Gun Oil by volume and one part STP Motor Treatment. Once mixed it stays mixed. I’ve been using it for nearly ten years and it works well.

    Lacking that, I also use FP-10, and I know it works, as well


  3. BB
    Do you lube all you pellets or just certin pellets for certin guns?

    I shot the last of my .22 Cal flying trash cans about a month ago. They came in the long black tube with red cap. Funny thing is they shot ok out of my Crosman Mk1; but really bad out of my Crosman 2200. Strange as it may sound I bought these new from a local dealer in the summer. It was the only pellets he had in that size. Now if I can find a dealer with an old supply of Beeman Silver Jets in .177 and .22 packed in the square cartons from the 1980’s I’ll be a happy camper. I still have a box of the 22’s with about 10 pellets left, must save them.

    Joe G from Jersey

  4. Jersey Joe,

    I lube all Crosman lead pellets going over 900 f.p.s., and I tend to lube pellets for those guns that have proved to be lead-collectors. For example, my Condor never seems to collect lead, so I don’t oil, but my Daystate Harrier does, so everything gets lubed. It’s not perfect, but that’s how I do it.


  5. hello, you mentioned “the entire Crosman lead pellet line is hardened with antimony”, so would this also be true of the entire Benjamin pellet line and be treated the same (oiled, etc.). does the Benjamin pellet line have less antimony? also, do you know if the new Benjamin Dicovery Hollowpoints will be nothing more than repackaged Crosman hollowpoints. thnx

  6. Hi BB

    ONe more question on this. I am using Crosman .177 Premier Ultra Magnum (10.5gr) pellets in a Gamo CFX. Do you think they will be exceeding 900fps?

    I will Google the products that you have mentioned and see if I can get them or equivalents.


    • Gee, Ken. Just spend some money for your own ‘chrono’ and find out for your self what your guns shoot at. Remember that the ‘fps’ you get from shooting in a room in your home is not the same as at distance, but some of us don’t really care about that as much as when testing, there is not a drop-off from the last time, which is all I care about checking for. It’s never a good thing when your average ‘fps’ goes from, say around 640 down to 470_ WTF!! lol

  7. Ken,

    No, I’m fairly certain that 10.5-grain pellets cannot go faster than 900 f.p.s. in a Gamo CF-X when 7.9-grain pellets barely go that fast.

    I sense that you don’t live in the U.S. Is that right? Because any auto store or Wal-Mart will have STP Engine Treatment, and if you can’t find Hoppes gun oil, use Remoil or some other good-quality petroleum-based gun oil.

    John Whiscombe lives in England and he’s the one who recommended the oils, so I have to assume they are available there, as well.


  8. Tom your not worried about his gun “dieseling”? I don’t know the velocity of my RX-1 with the C.P. 10.5 gr. But i’m sure it’s close to 900-1000 F.P.S.. I use felt (3) pellets to clean my bore, I lube the first one with beeman MP-5 oil, then use a pell seat to push two more in behind the first. I do that two or three times followed by three dry ones and that’s all folks. From SAVAGESAM

  9. W,

    It5 may not be as big a difference today as it once was, but the cardboard box pellets are all from the same die. I say it may not matter as much because Crosman has let the quality controls slip a bit on the cardboard box pellets. They aren’t as tightly controlled as they were ten years ago. The pellet weights from the same box vary a lot more today than they used to.


  10. BB
    Does anyone at Crosman read this blog? I work in QC, and if my boss read a comment like that about our products, he would be breathing down my neck like a hungry wolf.
    You got them to develope the Discovery, why don’t you see if you can get them to implement a preventive maintenance program…in your spare time of course.
    Great blog! Thanks

  11. Does anyone remember the Daisy pellets which came in a yellow plastic square hinged box – can’t for the life of me remember the name, but I still remember that box, which b&w pellet picture on it.

  12. Just purchased a Slavia 618 which was advertised to have seal that didn’t function. Was wondering if oiling seal didn’t revive it, how do you take this thing apart? I’ve looked in vain for any instructions for disassembly. Any hints / pointers for doing this would be appreciated.

  13. I’ve noticed that my most recent batch of boxed Premiers seems to have a lot more visible flashing and seams than ones I bought a while ago. And my last batch of .22 Premier HP’s (in the metal tins) were horrible.


  14. For accuracy, I’ve tried 4combinations of cleaning/non cleaning and oiling/not oiling pellets and most of the time right out the tin was the best. Still, I still put a drop of two per tin of CM silicone chamber lube for my springer pellets and the same amount of CM pellgunoil for my multipump, single pump and co2 airguns. I’ve used nondetergent 30w motor oil and is a goodsubstitute for pellgunoil if needed.

  15. Good post. Info (and pics) that show how far we’ve come are handy to help understand how to work things better on the range. I can see by the one pic how they got their name, which probably described their flight characteristics. Have you any knowledge or plans to blog other ammo that has been tried in the past (discarding sabots, wadded shot, darts, capsul-shaped bullets, etc)? JP

  16. BB,
    I’m supposed to remind you to work up a blog post about 10m running target.

    Speaking about pellet QC, I recently bought five or six boxes of Crosman Premiers in .20 cal. Opened them up and they were all .22 cal that had been mis- labeled. I have several .22’s, so it wasn’t a big deal. I just won’t need to buy .22 pellets for something like the next decade…(Had quite a pile of .20 already)

    E-mailed Crosman and they sent me some .20s for my trouble. They were really nice to deal with.


  17. B.B.

    This is interesting since Crosman Premiers are some of my favorite pellets. They do very well in all of my guns except for the B30. I now know what oil to use to lubricate the pellets, but what is the procedure for the lubrication itself? Surely, you don’t oil the pellets individually. How much lubricant do you use for a given number of pellets, and how do you apply it?


  18. BB, I just thought of an important question: How DO you tell a leaded bore from graphite deposits? I know you blogged well on how to clean a barrel, and how often, but what’s the give-away on lead? Also, do any of those “pot metal”, lead free alloy high velocity pellets leave deposits? How about plastic ammo? JP

  19. To BB and the rest of you knowledgeable air shooters:

    It never ceases to amaze me how much I have to learn about this sport. (Is it a sport or a hobby or an obsession as my wife claims?
    Does it matter?)

    Anyway, thanks to all of you for so much knowledge and fun. As old as I am (56, no wait 57) I just love this blog and shooting tiny lead objects down range!

    Al Pellet

  20. BB,
    Great bit of history. Too bad about the degraded QC of the CP pellets. On your recommendation I picked up some in the box and they have performed very well.

    Funny to read about your Hopppes and oil mixture. I’ve been using the same blend for decades. It works very well. My first application was patch lube for my black powder muzzle loader. Did not know anyone else used it.

    Great input and questions. Thank you.

    To the Daisy Plastic Pellet Box person,
    I too have one of those old plastic pellet boxes with a belt clip. I’d have to look at it to see what brand it was; have been reusing the box for years because it clips to the belt and is handy. Mine is white and I think it was originally 22cal.

    To the QC guy,
    I’m in the pricing portion of business and price and quality are a strict balancing act. Often we have to explain quality concessions are required to make the sale.

    When it comes to quality in business you can be dead wrong or dead right. In either case you’re business is dead. Profit is in the middle ground of compromise. It is not desirable but it is the reality of the free market and it is magnified when most of the buyers do not have the skills to distinguish high quality from average quality.

    I think there are some pellets out there that are do have better QC than the CP and the cost quite a bit more. One example is the RWS Meisterkugeln Professional Line (PA p/n Item#:RWS-2315030). These seem to have a better quality than the CP. Is it worth the extra cost?

    Considering the $3 per tin price difference the majority of pellet buyers will opt for the CP; especially if they value the better quality tin (screw off lid and foam packing pad) of the CP. Sometime the packaging QC is more important than product QC.


  21. its interesting that DB brings up the RWS Meisterkugeln Professional Line, which are wadcutters. in part of their description it is stated “…due [to] its weight, long-range knock-down power for all shooting applications.Perfect for sighting in, target shooting and general hunting where pin-point accuracy is a must…”
    I thought that round nosed pellets offered the best accuracy due to aerodynamics.
    I realize wadcutters are used for 10m shooting, but can wadcutters, with their flat-heads, be as accurate as round-nosed pellets over the same distances? Or are their characteristics more like hollow-points, which waiver past 25 yards? thnx.


  22. Does any of this lubing cause detonation? For kicks I put a drop of Crosman Pellgun Oil into the base of a pellet and shot it out of my Mendoza 2000. That thing went BANG. I stopped because I figured that was bad for the piston, spring, seal… and everything involved.

    I’m guessing that lubing the pellets means on the outsides and not where all the pressure builds, huh. (I mean come on, the base doesn’t even touch the bore! How could it lead from there?) Still, if it’s ok-ish to ‘wet’ a pellet every now and again, just to impress some velocity heads, I’d love to find out.

    On a side note about that Mosin – it was the long barreled one. I used a folded up bandanna as a makeshift recoil pad and was still getting beaten up. I can’t even imagine what a carbine would do to me.

  23. JP,

    Matt61 is right – you know your barrel is leaded when the accuracy suffers.

    I don’t know whether potmetal pellets like the Raptor leave deposits or not. Plastic pellets do leave deposits and the barrel must be cleaned after they use.


  24. DB,

    I never thought about that blend being good for black powder, but now that you mention it, John Whiscombe may have gotten it from there. I will now use it when I shoot primitive BP weapons.

    You’re certain;ly right about the delicate balance between quality and price. Knowing how to walk that fine line is what defines most good businessmen today. People talk about how quality rules supreme, but the truth is, most folks shop with an eye on the bottom line. Sometimes quality trumps price, and it’s different for every person and product, so this is a complex game vendors play.


  25. Shorty,

    As I told Matt61, on Monday I’ll explain how to lubricate pellets.

    Regarding the Mosin, bolt-action rifles transmit all their recoil energy to the shooter, while many semiautos like the Garand absorb a lot of it while they cycle. They don’t actually kick less, but they prolong the recoil energy transmission. They kick LONGER, and as a result, it feels like less!

    I used to hate my 1903 Springfield that kicked my teeth out with service ammo. Same for my 1917 American Enfield.

    But one military bolt action that isn’t so bad is the Number 4 Enfield shooting .303 ammo. Get some 150-grain stuff and the recoil is positively light!

    Someone made a comment about a Weatherby Mark V and I have to agree, the shape of that stock reduces felt recoil more than any other bolt-action rifle I have experienced. I had a .270WM that was a real sweetie!


  26. Confused,
    Like B.B. said, only a test in your gun will prove if WC or round nose is best. But in general I’d agree long range WC might suffer a bit.

    However, what do you think the percentage is for pellets shot over 20yards… seriously. Bet it is way less than 50%. Of course that is just a wild guess. Have no data to work with.

    Hey B.B. there is another idea. What is is the typical shot distance for all uses of pellets. Have no idea how you’d get the data but it might offer interesting hobby insight.


  27. On the Quality Vs. price issue I suggest a good many of you study up on what Robert Beeman did. I believe he put quality first knowing full well a good many customers would never pay those prices. It was for those who knew the difference. Having said that where is he now???? Well I believe he was ready to move on and cashed in his chips (to Marksman) I just wish someone with a like mind and backing capital would of bought him out instead. Anyone who made it to his Santa Rosa store knows what i mean. To Crosman: offer the “regular” C.P. and offer “select” or “match grade” and charge accordingly. Try it. If they don’t sell well stop doing it. From Savagesam

  28. Savagesam,
    Your request is fair enough. Doubt Crosman will act on it soon since they seem to be targeting the volume sales market exclusively; thus their need to balance quality and price.

    They seem to be content to leave the high end and low end to others. Again… just my observation and I have no data to support that other than their product line.

    Such a market strategy is wise for those, like Crosman, that need to volume to turn a profit.

    Smaller shops that can not handle volume but are able to produce quality are wise to focus on the smaller high end market share.

    Shops that have cheap labor and can not produce quality are wise to focus on the low end market share.

    And looking around this seems to fairly describe the airgun market.


  29. Savagesam,
    Hope my observations about pellet QA didn’t upset you. If it makes you feel beter my wish for Crosman to build a repeating PCP Discovery is likewise not going to be acted on.

    Too bad… I feel it would be a big hit. 12 nice rapid fire shots would be great for a winter hunt when CO2 just simply will not function. Of course I think there are some high end guns out there if one has the money.


  30. B.B.,

    Being a newbie, it has taken me a while to catch on to pure Pb and Pb/Sb pellets. Any chance that you could talk Pyramyd AIR into noting something like “pure lead” and “hardened lead alloy” to help us out?

  31. I have a Slavia 618 that was my uncles. My stepson and son were shooting it and the stock broke at the twwo front screws at the break in the barrel. It was later found that the screw on the trigger guard that holds the barrel had come out. Now the trigger bolt and one of the front screws are lost. Anyone tell me what size and thread they are so I can replace them?

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