by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Before I start this report, here’s an interesting tidbit. I heard something interesting about the Edge target rifle at the SHOT Show, so yesterday I did a special test. The results were dramatic enough that I will make another report on the Edge on Monday. If you own an Edge or are considering buying one, you won’t want to miss this!

Now, let’s get on with today’s report.

Hy Score model 801 is a handsome vintage spring rifle. Note the walnut stain on the beechwood stock. Beautiful!

Some interesting feedback on the first report of the Hy Score 801. One of our readers from Belgium says he’s never heard of nor seen this rifle in his country, so it may be scarce even there. And several readers commented on how lovely the rifle is. That’s my own assessment, as well. I’m so glad I’m able to bring your attention to this little-known classic springer from the 1940s.

Today, we’ll test the velocity of this rifle, and I’ll do two separate tests, because this unique breakbarrel spring rifle has a pellet seater built-in. Each pellet will be tested by using the pellet seater and, again, seating flush with the back of the breech.

Gamo Match
The first pellet I tried was the old standby, Gamo Match. These were the light 7.5-grain pellets. Seated flush with the back of the breech, they averaged 438 f.p.s., with a spread from 384 f.p.s. to 464 f.p.s. That’s a pretty big spread. When I load pellets, I always press them hard into the breech so they don’t fall back out as the barrel is closed. That may have been the reason there was such a large velocity spread–I theorize that some pellets were popping completely into the barrel while the ends of the skirts of others were remaining outside. The average muzzle energy was 3.2 foot-pounds.

Next, I used the pellet seater mounted on the rifle. It stops at the same depth every time you use it, so the pellet is a uniform distance into the breech. With the seater, the average velocity was 469 f.p.s., and the spread went from 464 f.p.s , to 474 f.p.s. That’s both a higher average velocity and a much tighter velocity spread. The average muzzle energy with the pellet seater was 3.66 foot-pounds.

The pellet seater sits atop the breech, waiting to spring into action.

This pellet is seated flush with the breech. The pellet seater shown here flips back up out of the way when the barrel is closed.

Pushing forward on the spring-loaded pellet seater seats each pellet a uniform depth into the barrel.

RWS Hobbys
RWS Hobby pellets were next. Seated flush with the end of the breech, they averaged 384 f.p.s., with a spread from 351 f.p.s. to 411 f.p.s. That works out to an average 2.29 foot-pounds. That’s a large drop from the energy of the heavier flush-seated Gamo Match. And the pellet seater revealed the reason why.

Using the pellet seater, Hobbys averaged 484 f.p.s. with a spread from 482 to 490 f.p.s. Once again we see an increase in the average velocity, and this time a huge one of 100 f.p.s. At the same time, the velocity spread drops from 60 f.p.s. to just 8 f.p.s. From this we can learn two important things: (1) Deep-seated pellets are both faster and more uniform than flush-seated pellets in the 801 and (2) that RWS Hobby pellets have very large skirts. That was the reason they didn’t go faster when seated flush with the end of the barrel, even though I pressed them in hard. All of you who shoot rifles with weaker springs will want to pay attention to this.

JSB Exacts
The next pellets I tried were the JSB Exact domes that weigh 8.4 grains. I would normally expect a pellet this heavy to shoot slower than the Hobbys that are 1.4 grains lighter except for one thing. When I seated these pellets flush with the breech, I could feel each of them pop past the breech and into the barrel. All it took was my thumb pressure. So, the diameter of the skirt on this pellet must be very close to the 801’s breech diameter. That’s just a coincidence, but look what it does to the performance.

The flush-seated Exacts averaged 436 f.p.s. The spread went from 430 f.p.s. to 444 f.p.s., a spread of just 14 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 3.55 foot-pounds, which is more than one full foot-pound greater than the RWS Hobbys that were seated flush. I know these energy levels are low, but this is an energy increase of greater than 25 percent! That’s very significant.

When the Exacts were seated deep with the seating tool, the average was only 437 f.p.s. And the spread went from 432 f.p.s. to 444 f.p.s. Those values are practically identical to the first set, which means that the act of “breaking” each pellet past the breech is the most important step toward higher and more uniform velocities. I think we’ve learned something from this test! I’ll come back to it in a moment.

RWS R10 Heavy pellets
The final pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match heavy pellet that weighs 8.2 grains. They gave an average 334 f.p.s. with a spread from 320 f.p.s. up to 339 f.p.s. These were all seated flush with the end of the breech. This was also the most uniform result I got from flush-seating, which tells me the skirts on this pellet are uniformly large and do not “break” past the breech to enter the bore with finger pressure, alone. At this speed, they deliver an average 2.03 foot-pounds–the lowest energy of this test.

When the pellet seater was used, the average velocity climbed to 416 f.p.s. and the spread went down just 4 f.p.s.–from 414 f.p.s. to 418 f.p.s. That’s remarkable uniformity, which you expect from a premium target pellet like this. The average muzzle energy was 3.15 foot pounds–another dramatic increase.

This test was just supposed to be a quiet little velocity test of this unique old breakbarrel rifle, but using the built-in pellet seater has opened my eyes to a unique situation. It seems that a low-powered spring rifle may do better when the pellets are seated deeper into the bore. That’s something I need to explore more.

I also need to find out if this same relationship extends to the higher-powered springers. In other words, at what point does pellet seating cease to be an advantage. Or is there no point at which it does, and should we all be seating our pellets deeply?

Now, I’m not the H.P. White Labs nor the Shell Answer Man, so I’m not planning on doing a doctoral dissertation on this, though I won’t discourage any of you from doing one. So, don’t start wondering about group sizes with seated versus unseated pellets, seating depths correlating to velocities and groups sizes and stuff like that. I gotta blog to do here and plenty of products to look at as it is.

Still, I don’t suppose it would hurt to run a few tests as we go.