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Ammo Some thoughts on pellet design: Part 1

Some thoughts on pellet design: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Kevin asked me to tell “the rest of the story” about a pellet I designed a few years ago. That design never got to market under my name, but it did appear on the market from another manufacturer. How that came to be is a question that I can’t answer, but my suspicions caused me to break my relations with the company I’d been working with.

I’m not naming names because I cannot prove what happened beyond the obvious parts that affected me. But, today, I thought I would share some of my ideas about pellet design — ideas that have been proven because they’re now in production and are apparently successful.

Not a novice
Usually, I would make all sorts of self-depricating remarks at this point about how I’m not qualified to design pellets, but this time I don’t think I have to. The things I’m about to tell you are things I’ve observed in my experiences with airguns, and I know them to be true. Sometimes, you can learn a lot just by doing things.

Heavy pellets
When I was working for AirForce Airguns, the owner, John McCaslin, asked me to test a couple heavyweight pellets in the Condor rifle to see how good they might be. The Condor is so powerful that we figured it could easily handle the heaviest pellets on the market.

The first pellets he gave me were a sample lot from a UK manufacturer. They were shaped like cylinders with points on either end, and the maker claimed they could not be loaded backwards because they were the same on both ends. When that’s the selling feature for something, you know it’s bad before you start the test, and I wasn’t wrong about these! They refused to enter the bore!

The “maker” had assumed that pellets must be bore-sized to seal the compressed air behind them. That part he got right, but he had obviously never loaded a muzzleloading rifle. Bore-sized bullets (they ARE NOT pellets, no matter how much anyone wants them to be) will not go into a rifled barrel without a LOT of force being applied to them — as in a hammer!

Had the maker known anything about the evolution of the rifle, he would have stumbled across the patched ball, which is considered to be the biggest advance in rifled guns since the invention of rifling. With a patched ball, the patch takes the rifling, leaving the lead ball unmarked. It is an order of magnitude easier to push a tight cloth patch into rifling than it is to engrave a lead bullet with the rifling lands!

loading patched ball
The patch fills the rifling, sealing the gases behind the ball and causing it to spin without actually being engraved by the rifling. This advance made loading a rifle much easier and faster.

Well, the pellets I was trying to test could not be loaded into the barrel. But I forced them in with a hammer and punch, and the results were not good. Accuracy was terrible and velocity was in the 700s for this 30-grain bullet, when it should have gone about 1,000 f.p.s.

I then tested other heavy solid “pellets” for AirForce, but each of them had the same drawbacks that the first one did. They didn’t load easily.

I could regale you with dozens of other anecdotes involving solid lead bullets (that were invariably called pellets), but they all worked the same. I remember working with the original Pelletman, who found it hard to believe that the diameter of the bore of our Lothar Walther barrels was as tight as it is. He finally gave up when his 0.218-inch pellet proved too large to easily enter the breech of a Condor. Swaging dies cost hundreds of dollars apiece, and there’s only so much money to be lost on trial-and-error tests before you have to throw in the towel.

Lesson No. 1
A pellet has to be easy to load. If it isn’t, no one will buy it because they find it too difficult to use.

Spin or drag — what stabilizes a pellet?
We just started looking at this, using the vintage Diana 25 smoothbore. As that test seems to have revealed, both spin and drag are important. Drag for the first 10 meters of flight and spin after that — or at least that’s what the test appears to have demonstrated. Only powerful rifles like the Condor can drive a heavy .22-caliber pellet to supersonic velocities. The rest of them should probably also generate high drag. That rules out boattail shapes and solid bullets — even though you will find the airgun chat forums ablaze with thoughts of using them. At the velocities we’re able to achieve, the boattail shape is useless; and we still need a lot of drag, no matter how fast we get the pellet moving.

boattail bullet
The .30-caliber flat-base bullet on the left is much shorter than the boattailed hollowpoint .30-caliber bullet on the right. The shorter bullet will stabilize with a slower spin than the boattail. The boattail will remain supersonic longer than a flat-based bullet of identical weight. But neither of these bullets has very much drag.

One thing I know for sure is that Winchester rifled their target rifle barrels, which were chambered for the .22 short cartridge, with a 1:22″ twist. That’s been documented. The .22 short cartridge fires a domed-shaped solid lead bullet weighing 29 grains. That happens to be very similar to the weight and composition of a heavyweight .22 airgun pellet. A standard-speed .22 short bullet usually leaves the muzzle at 1050-1,100 f.p.s.

I also know that the shorter a solid conical bullet is, the slower it has to spin to stabilize. Short bullets stabilize sooner than longer bullets when fired from the same barrel. I learned that on the rifle range, but it’s also very evident in the literature.

Lesson No. 2
A shorter solid bullet is stabilized with less spin than a longer bullet of the same weight.

Okay, so given lessons one and two, how would you design a solid .22-caliber pellet that you wanted to be extra-heavy? That was what I was trying to do when I had the problem I mentioned at the beginning of this report. I wanted heavy .22-caliber pellets that would perform well in PCP rifles generating 20 foot-pounds, 35 foot-pounds and 50+ foot-pounds. My thinking was to sell these designs as a brand but also approach the makers of some powerful PCP rifles and see if they wanted to buy the design. We would make those pellets only for them. That’s a business strategy.

Let’s concentrate on the 20 foot-pound pellet for now, because that one will be the most difficult to make. Because it will be going so slow — wait a minute — do you know how slow it will be going?

Homework assignment
I want you to take the design from this point. The tools you need are available on the Pyramyd AIR website. This drill takes almost zero mathematics — but you do have to use the tools that are available and you have to think the problem through.

Design a solid pellet that should work well in a PCP capable of generating at least 20 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. You don’t have to draw your pellet for us, but you do have to describe what it looks like and why you designed it that way. And tell us about the expected velocity this solid pellet will have to travel.

On Monday, I’ll show you my design and tell you why I made it the way I did.

This doesn’t have to be the last time we look at pellet design. I have a LOT more material I can bring into this discussion if there’s interest

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

78 thoughts on “Some thoughts on pellet design: Part 1”

  1. Well for the most punch I’d use something like the design of the Prometheus Dynamic “pellets.” More a bullet than a pellet since it would have to be spin stabilized. Basically a 0.22 round nose bullet. behind the head the cylindrical would be about 0.20 inches, and it would have a small flare on the rear.

    You’d need to shoot them about 900 fps.

    I understand the desire for more power, but for my use I like the limited range of a drag stabilized pellet.

  2. I for one am very interested, and would find it absolutely spiffing to see this topic carried further. Roll on Monday, i wait with bated breath. as a novice, a domed head with with the sides in a wave pattern so the bullet touches the bore at the head, base, and twice where the wave rises out. It’s all trial and error in the end for the likes of me. Just jesting, i haven’t a clue how it will perform.


    Best Wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe

  3. This is a shot in the dark, but the first thing that popped into my head would be a domed or flat nosed pellet with the typical wasp waist, but instead of an open skirt one that’s pointed-like the head of a Predator Polymag. (resulting in a kind of skirted football shape) You’d get the extra lead for weight and reduce drag at the same time.

    • I’d probably go the other direction.

      A near cylinder with just a small ring near the front end sized to just catch the rifling, but not so tightly as to make loading difficult. At the base, a very shallow hollow (this maximizes the pellet mass while keeping a shorter pellet) with a pretty thin skirt so that the air impulse can seal the skirt against the rifling.

      Probably the closest one could get to a .22 short bullet without needing the high PSI impulse to compress/spread the bullet to fill the bore.

  4. Could a pellet be made to exactly match the bore of a rifle?
    I’m thinking of a thick head, kinda like the Beeman Silver Arrows or these big Eun Jin : /product/eun-jin-22-cal-32-4-grains-pointed-110ct?p=600
    With grooves that exactly match the rifling of your barrel. I’m thinking better sealing and more effective spin.

    I think it’s all I’ve got…


  5. B.B.,

    I think at least part of the solution is the math. Using PA’s tools a 29 grain pellet/bullet generating 20 ft-lbs of energy is traveling 557 ft/sec. Horrors!

    Short and fat seems to be in order. Tungsten perhaps?

    Mark N

  6. B.B.,
    I’m thinking something like a lead ball with a solid polymer cone attached for drag. If your talking just to 20lbs, 11.5 grains will sit right at 880fps. I’ll drink more coffee and see what holes I can find in my theory.

  7. This is a fun idea for the weekend blog..

    I’m off the to Fresno, CA air gun show this weekend to help with a field target demo booth, but I’ll leave my ideas before I go..

    What comes to my wacky brain for the 20fpe pellet is a H&N Baracuda style that elongates more and has double skirts that are thinner at the edges than a standard Baracuda, and would expand into the rifling better, like the JSB design. The rear skirt hollow would come to a complete “Vee” and not have a flat spot at the bottom. This would be pure lead. It should weigh 13 grains and travel around 830fps. The head size should be a couple thousandths smaller than the bore, but the same size as the smaller squeezed barrel end… and the skirts exactly the bore size.

    The 30fpe pellet has the same design, but weighs 16 grains and travels about 915fps and might have three skirts.

    The 50fpe pellet has the three skirts for sure, weighs 25 grains and travels about 940fps.

    Wacky Wayne,
    Match Director,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

      • Hi Hank,

        Thanks, let’s see what BB thinks about it..

        Nope, just me.. Mark can’t make it.. but I’m gonna pick up Ronnie E. in Sacramento on the way down.

        Hey, come on down next weekend for some practice and fun:-)


    • To expand on that concept… The idea of more skirts or “Fins” is that I believe, if one has a high quality barrel, to start with, the issue that hurts accuracy most is a minor defect in the barrel rifling that collects lead over a number of shots. That clump of lead stuck in the rifling will take a larger and larger chunk out of the pellets skirt, causing an imperfect flight. I’m thinking extra skirts creating more stabilizing wind drag, might even out the defects in the skirt, and possibly balance the negative “out of balance” effects a little.

      The idea is just as likely to cause more inaccuracy if the defect in the rifling actually takes more lead off the pellet on one side, but maybe the extra wind surface drag, with the extra fins, would outweigh the “out of balance” effect.. who knows?


      • Hi BB,

        “Solid” as in only a round ball? .. or a cylinder with a rounded nose?

        solid – definition of solid by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus …
        http://www.thefreedictionary.com/solida. Of definite shape and volume; not liquid or gaseous. b. Firm or compact in substance. 2. Not hollowed out: a solid block of wood. 3. Being the same substance …

        “Firm or compact in substance” must be where you are coming from.. I was using “Being the same substance” as my term of “solid”…

        So, adding a dragging device to a round ball is not “solid” anymore?.. or using two different materials would not be “solid” anymore?


  8. For my purposes I’d want something with a nice sharp point on it like the Predator pellets. I’d likely make the body of the pellet denser and thus heavier than a lead alloy which is what I believe they do anyway. I’d keep the skirt design to not only stabilize but also open up slightly as they do to seal the rifling and get that twist going to stabilize the flight. If something works, don’t change it. One thing we need to realize is air rifles are not powder burners and they need different ammo designs to operate efficiently. I’ve tried these plastic pellets with the metal centers and I was not impressed with them. From my own experiments I am convinced that plastic does not have much of a place on any gun. Definitely has no place in the barrel of the gun. Also I’d avoid aluminum alloys and definitely soft steel since these would be likely to destroy the rifling in a barrel over time.

  9. I think we are supposed to be designing an extra heavy solid pellet. If I read the blog correctly it states “Okay, so given lessons one and two, how would you design a solid .22-caliber pellet that you wanted to be extra-heavy? ”

    Hanks 11.5 grainer is very light for .22cal and Wackys 16 grainer is light-to-mid for the .22cal.

    My suggestion is to use tungsten which is denser than lead. I do not want to take the time to do the calculations on weight distributions for a given shape but since the criteria is 20 ft-lbs the extra heavy pellet will be a slow moving one. Hence the short design which is more stable at slower speeds.

    Perhaps a composite of tungsten and lead. Lead for the skirt maybe. I would think such a design would be to costly to produce and sell but maybe not. I know tungsten is expensive when it is incorporated in fishing tackle.

    Anyway , correct me if I am wrong, but I think were looking to design an extra heavy (29 grain) pellet??

    Mark N

  10. This is a very interesting topic.

    Since I’m a simple guy this is not only complex but perplexing to me.

    B.B.’s recent tests of many different solid bullets in the new version of the Rogue brought back memories of when I got my first pcp’s. I shot a lot of heavy weight pellets/bullets. Sharks, eley magnums, heavy weight daystates, eunjins, etc. I was not only interested in fpe but accuracy.

    About the heaviest pellet that I shot out of my pcp’s that still had decent accuracy were the barracuda/Kodiak pellets. The solids were awful but my most powerful pcp could only push a 30 gr at around 650fps.

    The “homework” is about a heavy (30+ grain?), solid (not diabolo design) shot around 20fpe? If accuracy enters into this equation I don’t think it’s possible. I think you need more than 20fpe for a solid bullet. My experience is limited though.

    My simple brain explained my inability to get accuracy in solids because of stabilization. A diabolo pellet is like a badminton birdie that stabilizes in flight whereas a solid is like throwing a stick or rod. But wait. A properly designed/weighted spear or javelin can be stable in flight??!!

    If you have the power to shoot a solid bullet then the design I would follow would be similar to the Robert Vogels and the DAB’s (Drummen Accuracy Bullets) that were designed for the Drummen Sinner .223/.308. Solid round tip, around 41 gr. Solid bottom and several rings near the bottom. Soft lead.

    Looking forward to the next segment.


  11. I’m thinking that a solid ,pure lead bullet with a wt. of 18.5 – 20 gr. with a short flat melplat (instead of a round nose )tapering back to a medium narrow bore sized front driving band, with a thin tapered groove diameter driving band at the rear . Another words, this driving band at the base would fit the groove dia ,but would be tapered so you could load the thing . The slug wouldn’t have a groove dia the whole length of the bullet. Perhaps incorporating a concave base. Lubed with a dry wax. Mike’s suggestion of the TC type Maxi’ball, BP bullet is similar to what I’m talking about ,but the bands are to wide and you don’t need deep lube grooves. Over 30ft /lbs and I’d go with at least .25 cal, and better would be 7mm(.284 dia) in a modified Loverin style bullet with a flat melplat, flatbase, about 65-80 grains wt., and sized to groove dia . /pure lead and used in 1-10 to 1-12 twist barrels. Again lubed with a dry wax.

  12. B.B.,

    I have been analyzing this but I am confused about what you are after. I understand it’s supposed to be a puzzle but you seem to be contradicting the design criteria. On one hand you state that we need high drag and that “rules out boattail shapes and solid bullets — even though you will find the airgun chat forums ablaze with thoughts of using them.”

    On the other hand you are asking for a “solid .22 caliber pellet.” And you state that you “could regale you with dozens of other anecdotes involving solid lead bullets (that were invariably called pellets), but they all worked the same.”

    Confusing. What I think you are after is a 29 plus grain projectile that will have enough drag to be accurate around 550 fps and also engage the rifling enough to get some spin on the “pellet” . Is there also a shape criteria?? Solid everywhere??

    My original post suggested using tungsten which earned me a :D. How about a hint or some clarification?

    Mark N

    • Mark,

      I think the gist would be to think of casting the “pellets.” So they are really bullets which must be spin stabilized, not “pellets” which would drag stabilized.

      You couldn’t just jam a 0.22 short type round into the rifling. You’d have to pound it in with a hammer. The friction would also result in significant energy loss when fired.

      All in all you’d want the “main” diameter of projectile to be just small enough not to engage the rifling. So you’re trying to get BC more like 0.22 short bullet than a pellet.

    • Mark,

      You didn’t get the 😀 for the tungsten. You got it for your understanding of how this pellet has to be shaped. You aren’t exactly on the money, but you were the first person to understand what is needed.


  13. Hi Tom,

    My kids are psyched that I have homework too.

    This solid body pellet design is based on a round lead ball seated in a solid non-lead metallic tail, a bit like a scoop of ice cream in a cake cone. A .22 cal lead round ball might be a good starting point, but this design needs a slightly smaller ball to sit at radius depth in the base– let’s say .20 cal weighing 11.66 grains. At minimum 20 foot pounds of energy, the complete pellet should weigh up to 18.7 grains, to result in about 700 fps at the muzzle to provide a useful trajectory for most purposes inside 40 yards. To hit the target weight of 18.7, we have about 7 grains to work with to devise a base for our 11.66 grain ball. (Most .22 cal. non-lead pellets are close to 10 grains, so 7 grains should be enough material from which to craft a sturdy, short, non-lead base.) It would have a shape resembling the the nylon base of the Skenco type 1, but with some subtle waist tapering down to a bottom driving ring roughly the shape of the old Sheridan .20 cal cylindrical base. The top of the base would engage the rifling via a tiny driving ring just about at the lead ball’s radius depth. The overall pellet length would be short to medium so it should fit any repeating magazine and hopefully stabilize at 700 fps and higher velocities.

    The round head, and mild waist with driving ring final surface should provide aerodynamics not too different from round head diabolos. The heavy head and light tail should also mimic the weight distribution of diabolos, without the hollow tail. Sounds promising, but big questions remain: Which non-lead, non-nylon material? Tin would seem the initial choice, aluminum if you need less density. If tin alloy worked, I’d call it pewter for fun. And how to secure the lead ball to the base? Superglue?

    Thanks for this fun challenge, and for years of great writing and blogging.
    Best regards,

    • Andy,

      Oh, my gosh! You get an A for your work!

      This is the kind of thought I was looking for!

      You haven’t hit on my exact idea, but on Monday, when you read the blog, you are going to see how close you have come to some of the essential elements I also included in my design.


  14. BB,
    I assume that most of the targeted PCP’s will have a 1:16 twist rate as that seems to be pretty much the industry standard in air rifles? That puts a kink in the works if you look at the Greenhill formula! My “dream projectile” turns out to be quite long (and heavy), so far; I think it would test even your love of heavy conicals with its low velocity and over the rainbow trajectory :)!

      • BB,
        Not sure how much I understand :)! My latest “design” is based on two truncated spheroids made of lead and joined by a (hollow) synthetic tube/body. .22 cal. by .45″ long with a target weight of 22 grains and v=640 fps with 20fpe. The front spheroid is trucated past hemispherical somewhat under bore diameter with the waist being groove diameter. This provides a “driving band” near front but not so thick as to complicate loading. The rear spheroid is slightly larger in radius before truncation but cut short of hemispherical at groove diameter, providing a decent seal and a rear driving band and a flat bottom, at least presenting the appearance of a solid projectile. The design’s goal is to provide spin-only stability, although the driving bands (and the reduced diameter between them) will obviously produce some drag. The front is weighted a bit more heavily than the rear, as this appears to be beneficial at subsonic speeds for either spin or drag stabilization and will work in concert with the fairly minimal drag to maintain orientation without producing any very strong force counter to spin.

          • More like the exterminator, except with a solid (roughly hemispherical) base with flat side toward breech and synthetic body, and the head would leave a little more of a sphere (i.e. not cut off as a hemisphere). I’m just clearing the cobwebs out of my head — haven’t even gotten the slide-rule out yet! Length can and probably should be reduced a little — I neglected the non-lead SG portion of the Greenhill formula!

            • BG_Farmer,


              So a synthetic tube/body (sabot thinking?) like the skenco pellets but shaped like the exterminator/dynamic pcp2/defiant long/logun penetrator pellets.

              Never shot any synthetic tube pellets (like the skenco’s) in any of my guns. Didn’t want to deal with the potential of imbedded plastic in my bores. What has your experience been since I have none?


              • Kevin,
                Close. I’ve never tried any synthetic tubed pellets. I didn’t intend the synthetic portion to contact the lands, very tightly at least (the “bullet” rides on the “driving bands”), so didn’t think about fouling. Not a sabot — the synthetic just hold the two lead ends together.

            • Tom,

              It’s been years ago but remember loading piledrivers like it was yesterday. Tried them in multiple pcp’s. My thumb wore out quickly. Had to use a scrap piece of leather to seat them properly since all the bores of my guns were a tight fit.

              The piledrivers I used were grooved not smooth. Never tried the smooth sided piledrivers. I had high hopes for these heavy, boat tail type bullets. Accuracy was horrible.

              Maybe the hard seating damaged the bullet. I’m more inclined to think that for boat tail/cylindrical style bullets in an airgun that you either luck out and get a bore that fits them well (not too loose, not too tight, just right. A goldilocks bore) or they won’t shoot worth a darn. Of course an option is swaging but that’s over-the-top for me with a pellet gun.

              The piledrivers are on a short list of pellets/bullets that didn’t shoot well in any of my guns along with napier hunting pellets and eley magnums. They all sit together in a dark corner of my garage. Maybe someday I’ll acquire an airgun that shoots them well.


          • BB,
            The top an bottom parts are just like lead pellets, so swaged (probably too tiny to cast). My initial thought was the tube would press and “glue” on to stubs on the base and head. I think that could be made to fit assembly line process with blocks loaded one piece at a time. I also had another thought — if the tube were some thin walled metal, it could be crimped on to either end. Just don’t know if it would be worth the trouble :)!

            Anyway, with 1:16 twist and almost certainly subsonic velocities, don’t we want to try to get something similar to a .22LR in length (maybe a little shorter) and shape, but quite a bit lighter (to take advantage of lower pressures) and with less bearing area to ease loading? Eliminating as much drag as possible is more desirable on a “heavy” pellet since its mv is lower to start with, also, right? I have shot quite a few pellets at long ranges (relatively) and CD seems to be one of the more critical factors in trajectory.

  15. B.B.

    Almost on topic…

    I wonder how hard it would be for Crosman to make some LEAD CP instead of alloy. Just in boxes…not the tins.
    I was dissapointed when I found out about the .22 Ultramags. At first I thought they would be like the .177…..a version of what we call CPH. But no..


  16. BB,I started reading the blog today and I was just going to say how much fun in is to come to class…and you had to go and assign us HOMEWORK?…and on the weekend?So I’m going to have to belay that comment.:)Anyway,if I don’t get the dunce cap for that;I don’t see how I could know if my design is feasible if I don’t figure the lead volume and find the specific density of lead.It could end up weighing a lot more than I want.I favor pure lead for conformance to the rifling , ease of loading and deformation on impact.My first idea has already been pretty much covered.I have a more daring idea.I favor a high domed tip;so high that it could be argued that it isn’t a dome anymore at 1/3 the pellet length.The dome finishes with a shoulder to fit the barrel and arrest wobble.Then a straight cylinder mid section of1/3 pellet length is a few thousandths smaller than the barrel.The end of that section has a raised band to take the rifling.It has a chamfored leading edge.OK,now let’s keep laughter to a minimum.I want the last 1\3 to taper like a boat tail and it needs to be mostly hollow to keep the center of mass forward.If you want more drag,just think of what a drag it might be to have to load these all day.I choose 30 grain for the design and it will fall out of the barrel at about 547 feet/second (even more if you aim the barrel straight down at your feet) with 20 FPE.A more powerful PCP might be in order.-Tin Can Man-

  17. Tin Can Man,
    I would think the front band should have a slight leading edge slant also to facilitate loading. A 90 degree edge would catch on loading those guns that have flush chambers.

  18. I’m jiggered if I know the answer to this one. If you’re using a solid bullet and you want it to fit, you need to restrict the diameter. To get the extra weight you must have length. How about if you increased the rifling twist? 🙂

    That’s pretty tight for someone to steal your pellet design and profit from it and doing it on the sly. I had a similar experience myself on a smaller scale. I sent in an analysis of some data for a committee I was working on. I received no acknowledgment. But when the head of the committee went to report the results to a large group, lo and behold, there were all my ideas and my language too. And while she acknowledged the members of the committee by name, I was the only one left off?! Well, I believe that the Phantom of the Opera became what he was because someone stole an opera that he had worked on for 10 years. When he realized what had happened, he really flipped out. All important not to let that happen.

    Robert from Arcade, yes being a landlord is a tough business. My parents gave it a try but their first tenants were deadbeats in the process of getting kicked out of the military and one of them had been judged mentally defective. I bet you’ve got some people living in squalor.

    Mike, perhaps the comparison between the 7.62X54R and the .308 was a case of other things being equal.

    Speaking of which, my Mauser 98 is sitting beside me, home at last! And I even had a stroke of luck. It turns out that there is a gunsmith right next door to my transfer place, and this guy is extremely nice. I took my gun over, and he had it checked out in short order. He said it looked great. Good things come in bunches. So, now I’m ready to go. And there was more. While casting my eye over empty shelves at the transfer place, my eye happened to light on a SW686 with a 6 inch barrel. This is the very model I’ve been looking for, inspired originally by B.B.’s description of the airgun versions, without luck for months. And here it appeared right under my nose. It’s a classic design for a classic cartridge. But as the paperwork was running through, I realized that it was used, not new as I originally thought and 7 shots instead of 6 as I had supposed. I originally decided against the 7 shots from tradition and because it gave the cylinder a honeycombed look that I didn’t care for. But no doubt the design works and why not have an extra round ready. As for the used part this violated my own rules about engaging in the trading of guns. I had wanted it to be mine, mine, mine all the way. On the other hand, the price is good and I wouldn’t have to wait for months or years. The manufacturing date was 2011 making it less likely it had seen heavy use. The people told me that they had inspected the gun and that the seller told them it had only 500 rounds through it. And then, the final crushing argument: all these surplus guns are used already. So, I was sort of worshiping an idol about exclusive ownership. So, another of my assumptions has fallen a way and I am now a barterer in guns. In a couple weeks, when I pick up the revolver, I will really be in clover.

    Incidentally, at this place, not only were the guns gone but there was a huge waiting list for the shooting range just like last time. That’s kind of disturbing. I had the impression that people were stockpiling ammo. But if they’re shooting it all off, then they’re going to buy some more. This shortage could go on forever!

    I have one question about this pistol. I was going to take full advantage of the fact that it takes three different loads .38 special, .38 special +P, and .357 magnum. I pictured myself moving between the cartridges during a shooting session much as I do with my Ruger Single Six when I interchange the cylinders for .22LR, and .22 magnum. But, I’ve heard from a couple sources now that you’re supposed to clean the gun between different loads. Is that true? Does cleaning mean swabbing out the bore and the cylinder chambers? If this is true, have I been wrong to switch between calibers with my Single Six without cleaning?

    You guys did so fabulously with the German sidecar motorcycle question that I have another one. What is the headgear commonly used by Special Forces that I think is called a Doo Rag which is tied around the head? I suppose this thing goes back to the pirate days. But Special Forces will not wear something in the field without a reason. Mostly I see it in hot environments, and it looks like it would make it even hotter.

    Recently, I’ve found another reason to rage on YouTube: the elimination of rhinos through poaching. It’s like all of the interesting species are being destroyed right in front of us. Originally, I didn’t care about the rhinos since they seemed dumb and ugly. But intelligence, if that can even be defined, is not much of a criteria, and their looks do have a rugged charm. They can also be surprisingly quick on their feet even though they lumber around most of the time. The little ones really go bouncing around. So, I’m all for rhinos. But then what should I discover on YouTube but a program called Rhino Wars. This appears to be a reality show about Navy Seals protecting rhinos from poaching. That’s my fantasy come true. The Seals are much more geared up than the Indian Park Rangers with their .303s. I can’t think of better personnel for the task except for maybe the SS Death’s Head Division.


    • There is no need to clean the revolver when going from .38 to .357 with jacketed ammo. Now, if you are shooting lead bullets in the .38 then going to jacketed for the .357 cleaning (Or vise versa) will improve your accuracy. But, in the real world, you won’t notice much difference.


    • Matt,
      I can offer an opinion about that Doo Rag. The answer is only one word – sweat. Ever try to do anything in hot weather with sweat dripping into your eyes? Sweat is another reason to wear a hat but the Doo (Dew?) Rag would make a better absorber than a hat, would be cooler as you pointed out plus be less visible as camouflaged. The Doo Rag would also allow heat to escape out the top of your head which is the place you lose a lot of heat in the winter.

    • I’d be less worried about cleaning the bore… But if you’ve been shooting .38Special /cases/ you may need to use a a brass brush in the cylinder to clean out the residual ring that forms at the mouth of the cases. .38Spl is about 0.10″ shorter than a .357Mag case, and the build-up could cause problems loading the longer case.

      But if you had .357Mag cases loaded down to .38Spl levels (might be tricky — extra air-space in the case may require a different powder) using lead bullets the build-up would be at the same location regardless of power level.

  19. Why not just use the memdoza solid pellets (use a pellet pen push it deep enough to fit a cleaning felt behind it ) in .22 cal with Beeman cleaning patch behind it.Off topic last summer while at a airgun show I heard that there was a factory Wiehrauch 30 cal barrel with cocking link for sale.And I saw the Mike Remes die for making 30 cal pellets,it was amazing they showed how it works they put a led ball inside the cast and wacked it with a hammer it made a pellet simular to the Benjamin .20 cal cylindrical pellets.I just wanted to mention that since we’re talkin about pellet making.

    • I think the Mendoza pellets that you referred to are these:


      There pellets did come in 0.22 also. At one time the name was “solid skirt.” The tip is hollow and the rearward weight seems to result in poor flight dynamics.

  20. Guess the time sync on the new blog posting hasn’t been updated. It’s now 15 minutes past the time for the new blog to post. Is the time not sync’d with the daylight savings changes?

  21. Mr. Gaylord, with all due respect, the superior pellet you’re coveting is Hugh Earl’s Pile Driver boat tail pellet. I’ve studied what he’s made for the last 3 yrs. He holds a pedigree in aerospace engineering and has been making pellets and in the airgun trade for over 25 yrs. Hate to disagree with you completely, but you are completely wrong about the boat tail design. From the best of my study, Hugh didn’t start from scratch, he perfected the Pickett bullet design by moving the driving band to the front and placed the boat tail at the rear. Pickett’s only design flaw was that he didn’t have a bolt probe to enter his bullet from the rear and centralize it in the bore for a extremely accurate and low draw projectile. Mr. Hugh Earl I’m sure has read your dig in this blog by now at his very profitable design and is laughing at your folly. I’ve had to build my airgun around the Pile Driver; it’s so superior to any known pellet. Readers: You must build your guns harmonics UP to shoot the Pile Driver correctly. 46 to 54 ft/lbs is ideal, and you must read up on 30 grain boat tail bullet to under stand the shoot excellent at 900 fps. I take deer at 100 yids with head shots with the Pile Driver. Good shooting!

    • allangallon,

      I tried Piledriver pellets in a 65 foot-pound AirForce Condor. The accuracy was not good. Besides being too difficult to load (I have to use a penny on my thumb to seat them in the bore) they were not accurate at6 all. And with most other superheavyweight pellets the Condor is more accurate than other PCPs of equal power.


  22. Mr. B.B. Pelletier in all due respect, I’m a former recon marine and was a range coach for my battalion; what I recall of the 7.62 boat tail 169 grain bullet has a high ceiling of 3200 fps, however, snipers launched them at 2600 fps for optimal accuracy. Similarly with the Pile Driver pellet that Hugh Earl designed, its high ceiling is maxed out for accuracy at 900 fps or 54 ft/lbs. 65 ft/lbs is in transonic range for this projectile and to ascertain this fact look up .22 caliber 30 grain boat tail bullets in ballistic charts and you will see that the max ceiling is 905 fps. As far as accuracy wise, I only have one PCP, a AA S410 FAC and I’ve built it up to shoot the PlieDrivers. I can stack all 10 shots on a fifty cent piece at 150 yards with a breeze…. I can do it all day! What you’ve describe as far as lack of loading probe to centralize a Pile Driver is like shooting Pickett’s bullet errant out of your Condor. Hugh Earl is clear in his instructions on what is necessary to shoot the Pile Driver accurately. The Pile Driver accuracy vs all known diabolo wasted pellets is second to none irrespective of the ft/lbs you’re using in the Condor; they deliver more kinetic energy on target at ranges the diabolo was not designed to shoot period. What Hugh Earl designed into the Pile Driver was all the variables that must be taken into account before the projectile leaves the barrel and down range kinetic energy which is what most air gunners want in a pellet design. After that, just apply a little Marine Corp dope and squeeze the trigger! Semper Fi

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