by B.B. Pelletier

Update on Tom/B.B.: Things are still progressing nicely. He’s eating regular meals, walking unaided and calling home 8-10 times a day. We’re waiting for someone to make a decision on when he can be discharged.

Last week, I wrote several reports that asked our readers to take action of some kind. Many of you did, and upon doing so discovered things were not the way you may have thought. One of these lies in the area of pellet weight uniformity. Chuck wrote that he was surprised to discover a very significant weight variation in H&N Baracudas and Beeman Kodiaks. At the same time, he alerted us to the fact that the overall weight of these pellets is significantly below the 10.6 grains shown in their descriptions. We’re checking that out with the manufacturer right now.

Another customer wrote to Pyramyd Air and was even more astonished that there would be any variation whatsoever! So, today, I’d like to conduct a little exercise in variation amongst mass-produced products.

Pellets are made by machines, yet some people think they should all weigh the same.

Pellets are made of lead, which is an extremely dense, heavy substance. Even a tiny bit extra or missing makes a big impact on their weight. What about other products that I’m sure you all assume are uniform?

Your assignment is to buy a bag of plain M&Ms and weigh them on your powder scale. Now, they don’t make these by the millions…they make them by the billions. They’re the epitome of what we mean when we say “mass produced.” And, if you examine them, they’re also uniform.

The material they’re made from is much lighter than lead, so you would expect less weight variation from piece to piece. What do you find?

Okay, we all know that M&Ms are nothing but candy and there’s no need for absolute precision. So let’s move to an area where precision does matter. Over-the-counter drugs. It’s off the shelf, but wouldn’t you expect aspirin tablets to weigh the same tablet to tablet? So, surely somewhere in your house you can find some aspirin or other pain-relief tablets, weigh them and tell us what the uniformity is. Edith weighed 10 Aleve tablets, and found the weight ranged from 4.5 to 4.8 grains.

Steel BBs should weigh 5.1 grains.

Now, nothing could be more uniform than a sphere. Right? So, a steel sphere that’s the same size, sphere to sphere, has got to be the same weight. Right? So let’s go weigh some of those steel BBs you have. Find any variation? Edith weighed 10 of them and found they varied from 5.1 grains to 5.4…yet their advertised weight is 5.1 grains each.

If the weight of a CO2 cartridge varies, does that mean the CO2 level is different or the cartridge weight?

How about CO2 cartridges? You’ve not only got the cartridge but the CO2. Two things that could make the weight fluctuate. Edith weighed 10 from our stash, and the weights ranged from 43.07 grams to 44.33 grams. Do some have more CO2 than others? Or is that weight fluctuation in the cartridge? Maybe both?

There’s no end to this experiment. You can take it anywhere. Nothing that’s manufactured will be 100% uniform. Some things will be close, others not as close. But, until you get to something that’s hand-selected by weight, you’e probably not going to encounter uniformity. Modern pellets are as uniform as they can be made to be. Some companies go to extra lengths to make their pellets more uniform. But they’ll all have measurable variations.