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Ammo What about solid “pellets?” Part 1

What about solid “pellets?” Part 1

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

The most refreshing thing about this blog is that we keep getting new readers, while retaining a large percentage of our long-time readers. That allows me the occasional opportunity to share an inside story with several hundred of my closest friends. Today is such an occasion.

We got this comment yesterday morning from reader Jp:

BB, got another question: You ever heard of using a solid pellet in an airgun. A bullet, I guess would be the correct term. Considering an airgun tends to shoot like lower velocity black powder (usually subsonic, I assume), maybe use something like a Minnie-ball shot. Know anything about this, how it works, how it doesn’t work, is it worthwhile or even a good idea? Jp

From his remarks, it sounds like Jp may have been a blog reader for some time. And he asks a question that I’ve heard before — not always from the consumer side of the sales counter. Many manufacturers have ventured into the realm of solid pellets without knowing what they’re doing or the ramifications of using such technology in an airgun. I would like to address this issue in some depth today.

A solid pellet is exactly what Jp says — it’s a bullet. It does not have the stabilizing feature of high aerodynamic drag, so all its stabilization must rely on the rifling-induced spin. From tests we did with a smoothbore pellet gun, we know that aerodynamic drag does cause a pellet to fly true for at least the first part of its flight. See the results I got at 10 meters with the Diana model 25 smoothbore.

But that’s not a deal-killer because we also know that a solid bullet (and that’s what a solid pellet really is) can be accurate from spin, alone. I’ve gotten sub-one-inch 10-shot groups from my Winder musket shooting standard-speed .22 shorts at 50 yards, and that rifle has a twist rate of 1:22 inches. Even when the 29-grain lead bullet exits the bore at 1,000 f.p.s. (or less because the Winder has a 28″ barrel that cuts velocity), it can still be accurate from just the spin. We know that an air rifle twist rate is really 1:16 inches, which is faster than the 1:22 inches that’s the standard twist rate for the .22 short cartridge (actually, the rate varies by manufacturer, from 1:20 to 1:22 inches).

Winder musket

The Winchester Winder musket shoots a .22 short bullet of 29 grains weight at less than 1,000 f.p.s., yet it’s very accurate at 50 yards.

If a powerful air rifle can fire a solid “pellet” weighing about 30 grains at 1,000 f.p.s., it should be accurate. Right? I mean, wouldn’t that be what we’ve all been looking for: An air rifle that fires with the force of a .22 rimfire. This is the thinking that certain pellet manufacturers have undertaken in recent years when they got their great ideas to make solid pellets. Yet, I’ll bet a dollar that NONE of those pellet designers have ever shot a muzzleloading rifle.

But you readers have watched me shoot plenty of muzzleloaders. I guess the Nelson Lewis combination gun is the one you remember the best. Know what you have to do with a muzzleloader? You have to pound the bullet into the rifling to get it into the barrel — that’s what. For that, you use a tool called a short-starter. Every muzzleloading guy knows what that is.

Nelson Lewis combination gun short starter
This is me pushing a bullet into the muzzle of the Nelson Lewis combination gun’s rifle barrel with a short starter. They make it with a wide ball end so you can put some force behind it! And this is a patched bullet — not a naked lead bullet that needs to be engraved by the rifling.

Guess what?
If you try to load a solid pellet into a rifled barrel, YOU become the short starter. Or at least your thumb does! Back when a certain solid pellet called a Piledriver first came out, they sent a sample batch to AirForce Airguns, and yours truly had to test them in a Condor to see if they had any merit.

Test them? Heck, I couldn’t even load them! I finally resorted to using a penny on the end of my thumb to push the pellet into the rifling, and even that didn’t work very well. You can sit on the sofa and talk about the benefits of solid pellets all day long, but let’s see how your mind changes when you actually try to load one into a gun!

AirForce Condor air rifle solid pellet in breech
When you try to load a solid pellet like this 30-grain Eley solid into the breech of an air rifle like a Condor, as soon as it contacts the rifling, it stops cold. This is as far as it goes in.

AirForce Condor air rifle solid pellet engraved by rifling
Here’s the proof. Look at the short grooves at the top of the cylindrical section of the pellet, where the rifling has started to engrave the lead. This is the same pellet shown in the photo above.

At this point, the engineers will tell you that the diameter of the pellet’s body is critical. If you can just get it right, these pellets will load. Well, I’ve been testing solid pellets for at least 15 years in dozens of different airguns, and to-date I haven’t seen one that was right. While I was at AirForce, I worked for over a year with the Pelletman (a maker of many kinds of solid pellets), trying to get the dimensions correct…and we never succeeded.

But wait…there’s more
Jp asked a question that I know many other folks have been wondering about. I say that because this subject comes up a lot at the airgun shows. So, I’m not going to leave it here.

I will actually load some of these pellets into a Condor, which is one of the only air rifles powerful enough to shoot them anywhere near the same velocity as a .22 short bullet, and we’ll see just how accurate they are. That’s why today is Part 1.

If you have thoughts, stories or questions, now is the time to speak up.

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.

98 thoughts on “What about solid “pellets?” Part 1”

  1. Ok B.B., I understand the difficulty trying to engrave the rifling in a bullet that is full bore diameter and solid. What if the solid projectile just had a few driving bands that were full bore diameter? It would look like the Thompson/Center MaxiBall ( https://secure.tcarms.com/store/maxiball-superior-penetration-cat-no-7895.html ) or black powder cartridge rifle bullets. This should reduce the force needed to engrave the rifling down to near the same amount needed to engrave it on the head of a conventional pellet, only it would need to be done for each band on the projectile. Basically you would be decreasing the surface area that has to be engraved by the rifling and then spreading that force over more time which equals less work. As an added benefit it would also decrease the amount of friction the pellet encounters traveling down the barrel compared to a conventional, solid, bore sized projectile. Has any pellet manufacturer ever tried to make a solid pellet using this design? It seems to me like it would solve the problem. As an experiment, you could chuck a few of the solid pellets you have in a drill and cut some grooves in them so that you would leave three bands of about 0.5mm to engage the rifling and compare the force needed to properly chamber them in the air rifle.

    • Good thing I didn’t comment- I was about to be shown up by someone with knowledge! The wax or paste filler solves the aerodynamics problem my idea would have had.

    • /product/h-n-rabbit-magnum-ii-177-cal-15-74-grains-cylindrical-with-round-nose?p=754

      I still have most of a can of these. They were hard to load and did not do well in my Gamo CFX and I cannot even get them to load in my Talon SS.

      Most of those who are having success with solid projectiles are using firearm barrels and firearm bullets. There is a gentleman producing a “solid” pellet with deep rings that I understand works very nicely in powerful PCPs, but I think the smallest caliber he makes is .25.

      • B.B., I’m not suggesting you make a lot, just 2 or 3 to compare loading effort and see if they seal properly. Besides. without a lathe it would be impossible to make them consistent enough for any kind of accuracy testing. I’m not saying this will necessarily be easy either but yes, I have chucked many small parts in a drill to fit or polish them, it’s a trick I learned from a custom knife maker. To use as an improvised lathe you will need a variable speed drill that has a locking trigger (or a third hand) and a vise to hold it.

    • Whereas I’d consider approaching this from the other side… And it may be viable for AirForce models…

      Modify the barrel: cut out some free-bore to take the pellet, with a forcing cone for the front end.

      Granted, determining the amount of free-bore that works with the widest selection of pellets may be a tedious. OTOH: a solid “bullet” will likely be shorter than hollow-base pellets of equivalent mass.

    • Back about 15 or so years ago I was lucky to meet “pelletman”. He, as far as I know, was the first to swage airgun slugs. Not only did he make the absolute finest, but they were custom made for the rifle you used.

      He was an absolute innovator and an artist at the same time! The finest slug as far as performance goes was the 25 cal 37.3 gr hollow point. This was a fairly complicated swaged slug, it had 3 tiers of caliber. First was the round nose, then the body (probably the minimum bore size) then the final lower end size (max bore diameter). These things would have 2 contact points with the barrel, the body size would hug the grooves, and the base would hug the lands. (maybe I got this backwards, in a rifled barrel you see the shiny outside of the spiral which I call the max bore diameter, then the raised spiraling grooves which I call min bore diameter) I am sad that I only have maybe 75 rounds of this left and nobody has chosen to remake them after pelletman “dissapeared”.

      I could always shoot sub 3/4″ ctc at 100 yards, I even set my chrony downrange and they were still doing about 850 fps outta my career. Solid pellets have a excellent BC and need to be fired near the speed of sound. Sorry break barrel shooters, this is not for you…..

      I hope someday, someone can shed light on pelletman’s disappearance, as I can only believe at this point he was forced out of business by making something “too good” and stomping on the feet of giants.

        • B.B.

          Could the new H&N “pile driver” be tested for part II? It looks to be a great wind cheater with superior BC and I’m sure if it could shoot good in some high powered pcp that the down range energy would be impressive! I think it’s high time these big manufacturers make swaged slugs for the masses…..

          • Rob,

            I have tested the Piledriiver and found it wanting for accuracy. By thew way, it’s not new. I tested the first Piledrivers in 2004 in a Condor when I worked at AirForce, and the accuracy was horrible!

            BUT — it has been a long time and I’m always looking for something new to do.


            • B.B

              In my long experience with my career .25, nothing could outshoot solid pellets and there was really no comparison.

              I guess I find it a tad strange that you never obtained good results with solids. Pelletman made me a believer. I have never told anyone what I used to do when I competed, but it really was simplicity.

              Any time I got a batch of whatever, they were hand inspected for defects, then the good ones were sprayed with silicone spray. I would roll them and spray them again, and roll them some more on the paper towels. Then they would sit overnight to evaporate off the volatile components of the spray as they are very flammable.

              I made a bore cleaner out of fly fishing leader, took a small pellet and crushed it with pliers over the end, and at the other end made a slip knot. I could cock the career drop the small pellet down the single shot side followed by the leader and the slip knot held a patch. I used a firearm type bore cleaner, but just 2 patches that were bled off by paper towels as to not have any excess.

              Then it was dry patches until clean. The final patch was a silicone sprayed one. I did this after about 15 or so shots. I also knew my guns air “curve” as far as valving went. I could get more shots, slowly rising in FPS, then peaking and dropping. Silicone is a good friend for a pcp.

              I never knew they made a piledriver years ago. I do remember back in the day at a competition asking people of their thought of a boat tail slug. Nobody said it work, and maybe it has to do with stability. Since we are not using diabolic pellets to stabilize, the stability of a bullet in flight either needs extreme speed (rifling spin), or maybe needs a flat base. It seems to me that a boat tail that is not shot fast enough crates a slip stream effect at the tail. If there were to be any tendancy to go sideways some the boat tail might let it happen. A flat base seems to have a stabilizing effect of sorts in my opinion. Maybe cut off the piledrivers boat tail?

              There also seems to be no standard on air gun rifiling or exact bore diameter. So something that works great in 1 gun may be horrible in another. Try the piledrivers in a career or other high powered pcp.

              If all else fails, I guess I could part with some of my pelletman (precious) slugs for a career .25 for your testing. I hate to give up any as they are mostly folklore at this point, but if manufacturers study the design and can recreate it I would be happy as can be. This design would have to be most likely modified for different guns with different calibers, or bore sizes, but I have never found a pellet that can do what this slug does in my gun, or probably 99.9% of guns especially at long range…..


                • Thanks for the reply,

                  I did know about their website, but am unsure even if they would fit in my career (the texan stocks look awesome, I have one, the texan I mean). When I bought the .25 and bought pelletman solid slugs they would not fit in the single shot side. I took the gun apart and used a dremel with a cylindrical stone end and modified it to almost the extent of available metal lengthwise.

                  For some reason my old 707 .22 gold gun has a way longer single shot side than the .25 did. I only use that for short range with the peep sights, it’s pretty fun. The .25 I have had a 8-40×56 with a bkl 360 mount, but I moved that to the texan and am now scopeless for the time being. But I find it real hard to imagine, that the pelletman .25 37.3 gr. hollowpoint could ever be topped in MY gun.

                  I feel that B.B.’s statement as to never finding the right size is inaccurate. After the 37.3’s were discontinued and they switched to the 40 grain round nose, and the 40 grain round nose copper tops. Honestly I never fired even one of those. The 40 grain used the more common solid side design. This is where the entire contact area was the same size as posted in the pics B.B. posted above. The 37.3 was different, it’s like most of the base was one size, then stepped up a tad near the base. I can only assume that this round had some contact with the rifling, and the base did most of the sealing and covered the max diameter of the bore. This is very tricky and very precise, and lower drag in the bore.

                  Swaging lead is far and above more accurate than casting. It seems like only the big companies do this any more. I would just love to send them a few of what I have to duplicate it on mass production swaging presses, or find pelletmans old dies and make my own. Also I want to say that I was told that career rifling is not typical, it’s kinda like a pyramid. I can’t confirm this as my eyes are not that good to actually see it, but I was told this by Burroughs years ago.

                  I did tons of testing back in the day with the 707, and nothing could touch the solid, the closest competitor was the kodiak match, which was pretty good at up to 50 yds, but beyond that the solid delivered. It was just cheaper to shoot the kodiaks. But when it came down to pounding out sub MOA at 100yds there was no comparison.

                  Not many firearms can constantly get groups like that, let alone an airgun. I think someone needs to step up the game and make perfection again.

                  • As long as there is perceived demand there will arise a supply. The demand just has to be big enough.

                    I don’t suppose there is a machinist out there that can make the swaging die that you need?

                    • Thanks again, the original dies were made by corbin. I guess for me I might contact them and send them a few of the slugs. I am sure they already have the combo in the database, if not ,they can figure it out. Here is a link to corbins airgun pellet swaging selection, there is some real good info here:
                      I do not think anyone in the biz knows more.

                      If you look up “airgun pellet” on wikipedia, there is a statement which says that diablo pellet, which uses a high drag to induce stability and accuracy is not always the best choice. It says that other designs are superior at transonic speeds. I do believe this…..

                      There are sooooo many factors to consider to find the right bullet for you specific gun, that’s for the most part it is trial and error. Since the gun I use is just now folklore I see where you and B.B. are coming from. There is little demand. I guess I might just have to make an investment of sorts and make these bullets all over again.

                      In my last post I did mention that when B.B. worked with pelletman, I stated that they did find the right combo, but it may have happened before B.B. was was involved with pelletman.

                      Corbins website link I gave sheds light on bullets for airguns, and the variables involved. I say they have a future, maybe someone needs to do some experimentation with the new guns since there would be a greater demand.

            • There are a few things to consider here:

              Even a flat base bullet fired from an airgun has air drag stabilization to an extent. Diabolic pellets loose basically 1/2 of their speed and energy in the first 50yds or less.

              People who look at numbers as in FPS, .177 wonders, springer “magnums” and such, do you really realize that the .177 has no power left at even 50 yds? I fell for numbers too back 30 years or so ago with my beeman r-1. Could it beat my sheridan blue streak, well, no. Especially at distance.

              When a diablo pellet is fired, it’s like throwing a brick into the wind, the velocity loss also translates into a loss of RPM’S (twist, spin). With this loss, and using a light non-aerodynamic pellet, it has it’s range.

              However after it’s range, it becomes more unstable, and exponentially so. Heavier more aerodynamic pellets perform better in this trans sonic range fired from fast guns it helps with velocity and energy down range.

              Back 30 years ago, the springers, well, you had a choice of calibers. Springers usually have the same power output regardless of caliber. What sold was speed, and I bought into it. Would I do it again, heck no…..

              PcP’s changed what an airgun can do, and this is really old tech reincarnated. The larger the caliber, the more power while almost maintaining the same speed of smaller calibers. It changed things…..

              Back to projectiles, while a diablo has stability in the short distance, the solid bullet holds stability wayyyy further. Why? It has more mass, it is more streamlined and aerodynamic. It carries velocity and energy wayyyy downrange. It does NOT slow down a lot, it keeps it’s spin and keeps going. I have a new motto it’s called “KISS”, keep it subsonic. All transonic rounds are below the speed of sound, even in firearms.

              If you break the sound barrier, stick to real short distances as the shockwave will catch up to the pellet and throw it a bit. The last thing you want is a diablo pellet coming out of supersonic.

              Diablo pellets are safer, they have limited downrange power especially in lighter pellets at distance. The choice is yours……………

                • B.B.

                  I can’t compare in experience with you, I think you have one of the best jobs there is. I did take the time to read all 11 chapters out of respect and maybe to learn something as well.

                  It seems that any airgun, even if it may be the same gun, has a magic combo. It would have been interesting to re do this test. Springers as I know it, are fussy, I believe more so than pcp. I guess in today’s tech, I would put it up against a talon and make it 100 yds. I never had luck with diabolo’s at 100 yds.

                  I believe a talon could spend more time in the tras-sonic range, and especially when cranked, as well as coming off of supersonic at range. While 25 yds is normal shooting, what do they do at 100? My experience with my career is I wouldn’t even think of putting my chrony down at that range with a diabolo. When I first did it people thought I was nuts, but the solids with a flat base fired out of my .25 at around 1050/1070 fps gave me confidence. I am really not sure how much distance a 1200 fps .177 would stay supersonic, I believe maybe a few feet?

                  I think 100 yds is a fair distance to use for long range accuracy. The heavies fired fasssst would spend more time in their “sweet zone” and the light ones would just fly off. It’s just a guess…

                  I guess if I were at the range and someone had a .22 airgun that could shoot sub .5 moa in 5 shots (as in your test) I would drool….. I can come close to it, I could best most any firearm in the 3-5 shot range at that distance off the reservoir. I just know what works for “my” gun. Not only do I have superb accuracy at that range I still have over 800 fps left with over 50 ft/lbs. I think that’s impressive!

                  • Rob,

                    I realize a lot of your comment was stream of consciousness (thinking out loud), but you ask/posit some interesting questions. I did always wonder how a PCP would do under thew same circumstances.

                    As for 100 yards, the groups will get bigger. I haven’t had much luck at that distance, either.

                    Another question is whether a PCP vibrates enough to affect accuracy and should that be accounted for?

                    May I live long enough to find out!


  2. Hi B.B.

    I have some suggestion (if you want to try), besides usual loading, can you try loading the bullet backward, and shooting in the test? Years ago i’m doing experiment shooting .223 cast bullet (Lyman 225438, 45grain) with custom build air rifle, when i try to load the bullet normally, the bullet make a keyholing in the target paper, maybe not enough twist in the barrel (distance about 30m). but when i load it backward, the grouping was better, and there is no keyholing. Maybe you want to try it 🙂

    Thank you

  3. I recently found a tin of .22 Norica pellets in a yellow tin which where shaped like a bullet though they’re not solid, they haven’t been weighed yet but i reckon they’re nearly as heavy as two Crosman Premiers and are 10 mm long. The ‘bullet’ fits the bore fine and the tip of the skirt flares slightly to take up the rifling, i bought them because they piqued my interest and where cheap (as they had been on the shelf for years). I have tested a few groups at 30 yards in a Sharp Innova and found them to be pretty naff, with 2 1/2 inch groups when i can usually get 1/2 inch groups with RWS Superdomes at the same distance.

    Testing ended there, though like Jp i have also been curious as to how a bullet or bullet shaped pellet would perform in an air rifle, and have been planning to resight and test them over different distances. So news of a part two for this blog is very welcome and i will be looking forward to see what results are achieved, and in the mean time i will have fun testing these little destructive monsters i have discovered.


    Best Wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe.

    • The Norica BAN pellet – they remind me of the old Sheridan conical pellet. The Noricas weigh 20.6 grains and are now out of production.

      My HW77 does okay with them (around an inch at 25 yards), but from my pcp they would not even hit the bullet trap.

      Paul in Liberty County

    • Sir Nigel,

      You have reminded me that I need to show and explain the differences between cylindrical pellets that are hollow and real solid bullets. That’s a good thing to do in the next part of this report.



  4. G’day BB,
    I don’t think you can design a solid for “all” air rifles. Perhaps you can design a barrel for a particular solid with maybe a forcing cone to let the base of the bullet be level with base of the barrel.
    I guess it would be like reaming a cartridge chamber but how much air would get in front of bullet till it sealed?
    Probably been done before and trash canned.
    Cheers Bob

  5. In the past I said I was a machinist…But I didn’t say what I machined.In the first 15 to 18 yrs.that I worked at the shop we made projectiles and other things.25mm,30mm projectiles and the M430 grenade projectile for the grenade launchers.That is what I was involved with.All I can say is that the sealing surface of the projectile to the bore and rifling makes all the difference.We had to hold +/-.001 on the sealing surfaces.And they were a softer material than the projectile.The 430s were big and heavy and I don’t know if the barrels or tubes that they shot out of was rifled.But if that thing didn’t seal right and verily made it out of the barrel that would probably turn into a very dangerous situation for the shooter.Maybe not but don’t think I would want to find out.So that being said.Here is what always intrigued me about pellet design was the shape and balance of the skirt,waist diameter and location.And also the depth of the hole inside the pellet that seals the barrel and catches the air for propulsion. This is one of the .177 cal. pellets I use in my modified .177cal. PCP gun that hits pretty hard.The Air Arms Field Heavy pellets.I know there are more pellets out there with this design but this is what I use.To me that is about as close to a bullet as you can get and still be able to create the air seal needed for the pellet gun and keep the pellet balanced in flight.Like cmz128 said there would have to be some kind of grooves made to seal the chamber if you had a solid bullet.But I wonder if when you do get the bullet loaded and it does make it out of the barrel would there be enough spin and velocity for it to maintain accuracy at longer ranges.And can the pellet manufacturers maintain the type of tolerances needed to keep the air seal and accuracy there.This has always been interesting to me.And one of the reasons that I want my pellet gun to be a pellet gun.Not a bullet pellet gun.I know there is some big cal. heavy hitting air guns out there shooting if you will bullets.But I wonder if the same guns used a well designed pellet if the performance of the gun would increase.And B.B.that must of been a wonderful job to look forward to go to everyday.I would of loved it.

    • Gunfun1,

      If the M430 cartridge (or projectile) is for the M203 grenade launcher or the M79 grenade launcher, I can tell you that both of them are rifled with a slow twist. The projectile is armed by spinning , so the rifling is not for accuracy but for arming the grenade. The projectile they use has a brass borrelet (sp) band that engaged the rifling.


  6. B.B.

    I had to read the start of this blog several times to figure out just what the deal is…

    I know what a Mini ball is.. and it’s not the same as a conventional bullet. Jp seems to be asking about shooting something like a Mini in an airgun because they work in muzzle loaders with their low operating pressure compared to smokeless.
    Mini balls are intended to be undersize to the bore for ease of loading, then expanded by pressure to fit when fired. Muzzle loaders may be low pressure compared to smokeless, but are high pressure compared to airguns. I doubt that they would expand a Mini shaped pellet.
    This would not be much different than trying to shoot loose fitting pellets in the hope that they would obturate.


    • TT,

      I know that a Minie ball is different than the solid lead pellet I have talked about here. It’s more like the cylindrical pellet I didn’t mention, but will in the future.

      I am not aware of a true Minie pellet that’s being made, nor do I know if one would obturate properly in anything other than a magnum springer.


  7. Driving bands seems to be the short answer, but a heavier solid will also exit the barrel slower, so the twist might still be too slow at 1:16. Depending on the length of the bullet… I think I’ll stick with diabolo pellets and when I need something more, I’ll get a bigger gun.


  8. Years ago we made copper bullets for the little .25ACP to improve penetration over that standard cartridge . There was a article in “Handloader ” magazine which the idea came from if I remember correctly.The idea was to gain velocity and have bullet that wouldn’t deform at all, and still provide more penetration than the standard hardball lead slug. A 3.5″ unimat lathe was used to make the bullets out of pure copper rod. I just happen to have one of those. Anyway,I suppose that if you made a bullet that fit YOUR barrel and used a similar style bullet as the Sheridan original design, maybe you could get something that would work. How’s that for a crazy story . BTW, the .25 ACP bullets worked as intended so it wasn’t that crazy.

    • Robert…

      Be careful there…
      You might give a certain manufacturer the idea to start making Sheridan looking bullets/ammo/pellets out of PBA and advertise them for pig hunting.


      • Too late — I seen on the interweb! I actually had a really old guy tell me that certain air rifles were powerful enough to hunt hogs. I wonder where he got that :)?

          • TT,
            At first I thought he was knowledgeable about big bores (though I still have my doubts about those), but then I realized he was talking about .177 caliber Gamos from Wally World!

            • BG_F…

              Yup….same manufacturer.

              One of the guys in the neighborhood told me he was thinking about going down to Texas for a hog hunt with some friends. He said that you could use anything from a .177 to a 45-70. I had a little talk with him. I told him that his .270 would probably be a good choice.


              • About all your friend will do with a gamo .177 even their most powerful one is going to make that hog angry. I wouldn’t want to be your friend if he tries it since his day is going to get very exciting very fast. I wouldn’t normally use anything lower than a high powered .25 like the condor, but that is only if I plan on an exciting day of running for my life with an angry hog deciding to take my lunch money. More likely since I am no fool I’d take my Mossberg 100 ATR for something like hog hunting. I want to hit that hog good and hard with everything I have.

        • I saw that ad video about the hog hunting. Personally, I don’t buy it, but I could probably admit it’s possible. At the least, it’s an extremely bad idea: everyone I know that hog hunts says to pack a repeater, or if using black powder, pack a backup pistol and have a tree to climb up, because if the first shot doesn’t kill it, that things going to be raging mad to say the least.

          • Jp…

            I think one of the preferred methods used to be double rifles for bigger game. You can hit them twice very quickly if you have too.


            • If you want to hit it more than once I suggest a semi-auto. Back in the 80’s when I was stationed in Germany we did a bit of illegal hog hunting with a bit of ammo that somebody lifted off one of the ranges. We got a nice size hog in a cross fire, dressed it out and had ourselves a pig roast down in our motor pool. We were out in the Graff training area in the southern part of what used to be West Germany. We never found out how many shots it takes of 5.56 to drop a hog but we do know how many we were planning on using. Nowadays I’d stick a 5 round mag in my AK47 just to be legal and use that since I can put out 5 shots in a second or two if I need to and hit it hard enough to drop it.

                • Indeed Graf was the training grounds for the Nazi war machine. When I was in Germany it was a training area for all allied forces. I’ve trained there with French, British, and West German troops. The chalet where Hitler used to go to watch the troops train is still there even though nobody is allowed in it. It’s considered unsafe as it sits in a large concrete pedestal I’d guess around 30 feet in the air so Hitler had a good view of the area. It was quite an odd sight to my then 19 year old eyes. Something I’ll never forget. I don’t know if they still use the training grounds since there is no cold war and no East Germany and 3rd armor division which I was a part of has been deactivated and as far as I know allied units have left Germany. But I always found Graf to be fun. I enjoyed going to the ranges, gunning a tank, getting to fire my M-16, and watch the other heavy equipment fire. My favorite range to observe was the A-10 range. One of my favorite planes. It’s basically a cannon with wings filled with more ordnance than 30 terrorists can dream about in 30 days. It was impressive watching one come in for an attack run on some old raggedy tanks along with his wing man and seeing that tank go away in one hit.

          • As a side note, the PBA “Raptor” pellets by Gamo are magnetic. Think about that next time you shoot some through your delicate air rifle barrels.

            • There’s a big difference between something being possible and something being a good idea and regularly repeatable. Klaus Ohlmann has managed a 2,250 KM. free distance flight in a sailplane. Does this mean that a sailplane is a good, viable option for flying from Florida to Puerto Rico on business or vacation? 🙂

              As for the whole solid pellet issue (being strictly a paper puncher it’s not something I’m ever going to have to worry about), might making these things work properly require a special airgun? I was thinking of a gun with a mechanism to perform the function of the shot starter which would allow enough mechanical advantage to properly engage the pellet with the rifling. I can’t imagine any nice elegant mechanism which could do the job all of a piece with closing the breech but I know the blog is frequented by a number of talented machinists and mechanics. Maybe they can tell me if this idea has some merit or is way off base.

              • I’m pretty good mechanically and I do not think that could really be done effectively without plugging the hole the air needs to go through to fire the gun. You’d need something a lot sturdier than a hollow probe to make it happen. A hollow probe on something like a side lever springer could bend and destroy the gun with all the pressure you’d need. What I’d do is one of two things that would work better. I’d make the bullet so it is a perfect fit without engraving the entire bullet but I’d leave two thin bands one at the front and one at the rear to engrave it. That would give it the seal it needs to get out the barrel without excessive friction and keep the bullet centered in the barrel. I might also make a cone like depression in the rear of the bullet to help catch the air and provide a little more seal by deforming it tiny bit. I’d go more with pellet design than redesigning the gun since you are talking about an extrordinary anount of time, machining, and testing when a pellet is far simpler and cheaper to try and design.

                • That’s kind of what I figured. The only thing I could envision was something as big and ugly as an old crossbow cocking windlass attached to the gun!

          • Mais oui!

            [Have you seen the TV ad where the pretty blond tells her neighbor that and then says that she is dating a French male model she met on the internet? A dumpy, fat guy with a fanny pack walks up and says “Bonjour”. ]

            • BG, yep, saw that one , In fact I interviewed a young lady like the one in the TV commercial the other day for one of my rentals, who had a boyfriend with her who could have been that guy. Glasses even matched.We are not alone, they really exist…

          • <shudder>

            Can we avoid that miscegenation of “interweb”?

            There is the “internet” (a means of linking many independent networks) supporting many protocols, and there is the “world wide web” (which is only the HTTP protocol carrying HTML data)..

  9. I was mostly curious about different ammunition used in air rifles over the years. I began this in my head a few years back when I first read Robinson Crusoe. During one passage, he describes loading his [smoothbore black powder] gun with “2 ball and 5 pistol bullets”, or some combination similar that just sounds like a bad idea. That sounds like a pretty heavy load for a gun, so it got me thinking how heavy a round a rifle can fire, and what would that look like, etc. I’ll stick to pellets at any rate. Jp

    • Jp…

      A hazzard of being able to just stuff a bunch of stuff down the barrel… a lot of people have done things like this over the years. Some have probably blown themselves up.
      Otherwise, the results may be devastating up close, but not too effective at any distance.


      • There was the muzzle loader bullet that used the Mini -ball type bullet and the wooden plug in the base. The plug expanded the base so the bullet fit the bore . Maybe another idea, and I haven’t had even two cups of coffee yet…

        • Robert…

          I could see the plugs falling out, then digging through the ammo pouch for a round that was still intact. Or maybe having the plug fall down the bore before the bullet gets pushed in.

          At any rate, a Mini expands from the back to the front. A light load expands the skirt some . Then more powder expands it more, and a bit farther into the bearing surface. When you get up to the right load, the entire bearing surface has expanded to form fit the barrel. Too much powder causes the scraping grooves to close up, and leaves rifling marks on the head….too much obturation.

          I mostly shot .36 and .50. Did not much care for the big bores because of lead and powder usage. Besides , .577 Mini balls seemed a bit extreme for squirrel hunting (even though I tried it once).


          • TT, Put the smallest kid on the bus ,had more coffee… Maybe if they glued the plugs in somehow, or made them so they snapped together. The Lego pellet!? On Mini ball.Have an old H&R Huntsman in .58 and have used the Mini’s some in mine. Turned down the plug for the mould so the skirt is thicker. Run about 90 grs of FF Black for a load. Problem in that gun was they loaded too easy and you had to have fouled the barrel with one shot ,otherwise the ball would slip down the barrel for a couple inches if you carried it around with the muzzle down. So, the first shot is a waste ,the second and third are golden , and the forth and fifth , open the group up to 5″ or so at 100yards. Good deer gun ,but I agree with you .45 is as big a gun I’ve shot squirrel with, and that IS WAY too big.

            • Robert…

              With .36, I used round ball and 30 gr. FFF. With .50 I used 50 gr. FF with round ball, and 60 gr. FF with sabots.
              For both caliber, shots have to be taken broadside to the head, or into the ribs behind the shoulder.
              An end to end is very messy and hard to deal with. And a shot into solid meat will cost you half the squirrel.
              Another thing is the B.C. of round balls. They drop velocity fast, so there is a distinct difference in damage over a fairly short difference in distance.

              Was a lot of fun, but I got lazy over time. Cleaning up after a hunt got to be old.


              • TT: I know the cleaning sucks, but then I got a TC Cherokee, and that is one awesome squirrel gun. Have a .45 cal barrel for it that I’ve never even stuck on the gun. Still in the box. I use 20grs of FFF black behind the Hornady .310 swaged ball, and TC patches lubed with bore butter. I have a Lee mould for the ball just in case the Hornady ball becomes as hard to find as .22RF is now. that BC for RB is an advantage at times over the RF’s.I’m not as worried about shooting up the .32. Have a flinter in .36 and .32 as well.

                • Robert..

                  That’s a pretty good stash of squirrel rifles there.
                  I have a big box of moulds for my selection. Finding a place that has powder has always been a problem. Have tried quite a few kinds of the substitute stuff, but never got anywhere with it for shooting patched ball. The good old black stuff has always worked best for ball.

                  Finding soft lead is getting harder too. I have gone so far as to go to ACE Hardware and buying 5 lb. bricks of plumbing lead.


                  • TT, I am like some fishermen when it comes to squirrel hunting, can’t have to many rods/tools. I ‘m lucky on the lead acquisition part as I fix old houses. I get mine from things like old lead flashing around chimneys, as well as from my pellet trap.

                    • Robert…

                      I used to scrounge junk yards for the good stuff, but it’s getting scarce.
                      A combination of other guys doing the same thing, and not much of it coming in anymore.


      • We actually started using rocks in our guns before some bright bulb got the idea to start making lead balls. Some people that wanted to go for the grand effect would use glass, nails, and whatever else they could cram down the barrel in the early days of fire arms. The bores were much larger and they were far from accurate but up close they were formidable.

  10. Maybe a slightly undersized Minnie ball bullet with an extra deep and thin skirt would be the answer.
    Let the skirt expand like on a regular pellet.

    If you want to shoot a bullet, why use an airgun? To make a bullet work in an airgun, it will take a specialized design of bullet. An undersized bullet with extra-soft driving bands would probably work.

    A person could disassemble .22 cal. rounds and try using the bullets in a .22 air rifle, but it wouldn’t be cost-effective to substitute .22 rimfire for .22 pellets.

    Airguns are what they are. They have their own advantages/disadvantages vs. powder burners. If we try to blur the distinctions between them, we risk inviting the restrictions that apply to firearms to apply to airguns, too.

    It is my understanding (I may be wrong) that in the USA, although firearms are protected by the Second Amendment, airguns are not. This is a two-edged sword. Although neither firearms nor airguns are mentioned specifically in the Second Amendment, it is generally interpreted to apply to firearms. So while we have a right to possess firearms, we do not have a right to possess airguns. On the other hand, restrictions on firearms generally do not apply to airguns. This despite specific wording that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. It is probably the most infringed upon right of all.


    • In California there is a law to require BB guns and air rifles to be painted orange or pink being fought over now. Here in NY, the DEC (department of environmental conservation,ie: the state agency who writes hunting regs) determined recently that airguns were valid hunting arms for small game. That is if you do anything with them besides just let them hang on the wall and collect dust they are considered the same as firearms. So you are right , airguns are not off the radar of the gun grabbers and in fact would be astonishingly easy to ban or regulate heavily. Those who smugly say that their state is immune from such legislation are sadly mistaken.

  11. B.B.,

    I’ve never heard, or read, anyone say that bullets are accurate out of an airgun. I personally wouldn’t consider a bullet versus a pellet for an airgun, but I am a bit surprised than real accuracy hasn’t been achieved with a bullet. However, I do wonder whether barrel rifling, or bullet length, are the more critical factor? I guess what I’m thinking is, if airgun rifling is less than optimal for bullets, then maybe the length of bullets needs to be experimented with more.


  12. Last year I noticed Nosler was working with Crosman to bring some bullets to the .22 ans .177 caliber market. I actually wanted to try them but for some reason they kind of vanished and were never spoken about again. I have to assume this is why. They likely would not properly fit in the airgun barrels and likely got stuck or if they did get through the barrel they likely came out so slow and unstable it just wasn’t worth soiling the Crosman or Nosler name But no matter. I found several pellets that give me identical results in my condor to what my Marlin 60 gives me. I like Crosman premier domed, Predator Polymags, and H&N hunter extremes with that unique hollowpoint that looks like it was formed with a philipps head screwdriver tip. So I don’t really see what the big draw would be with a solid bullet. But it will be interesting to see what happens in your tests.

  13. The other day I was looking at a pellet. It’s the Gamo lethal. Gamo claims that these non lead plastic pellets will penetrate sheet metal. Naturally I’m thinking this is all a marketing lie to try and sell an overly expensive pellet that won’t work as well as they say it will. Any chance anybody has tried these things and seen any results?

    • Well… Consider that almost all “armor piercing” stuff relies on a base that in not soft lead.

      A hard non-lead (but light) pellet may carry enough energy to punch through sheet steel (a good knife — with a decent guard so your hand doesn’t slide over the blade — can be used to punch holes in a car fender)

      • True. But in the pellets I have tried that were plastic with metal insert I had found them all incapable of doing what the manufacturers said they can do. They simply did noy have the mass to carry the kinetic energy needed for a kill shot on a rat much less a squirrel or bigger. I as hoping someone might have tried these things to see if they are worth the money. I’ve gotten burned on quite a few gamo products so I’m a bit suspicious of their metal piercing claims. I keep my condor chambered in .22 so they wouldn’t be used in that but I have a Hatsan 125th that I don’t much care for that I could sacrafice for a test of these. But it’s cheaper to ask if anybody tried them.

  14. B.B. the M430s do have the copper sealing band.On the other hand though the 25mm and 30mm were made from steel with a lead sealing band at the back of the projectile.So I wonder if a pellet manufacturer used a softer material band in the right location on the bullet if that would work in a pellet gun.I’m pretty picky though about how accurate my pellet rifles shoot.And I believe the development that went into making pellets was not by accident.If somebody did come up with a good pellet/bullet design I would defiantly give it a try.Always interested in something new.

    • I saw that talon tunes has some pellets called “Black Mamba” They are a bit pricy and only in .25 cal but those might be worth a look if you have something that can kick out a pellet that heavy. The things are supposed to be heavy enough to take out a feral hog with a condor. But I doubt I;d use an airgun for those even though I have seen it done before.

  15. Are the crosman gold flight penetraters solid like bullets? They look like it and I have seen good reviews. I know it could be hollow but the picture on P.A. website looks solid

    • I have some of these made under the Skenco label. No. they are not solid bullets and they are definitely not any kind of way accurate. I wouldn’t recommend those to someone I did not like using a gun I hated. I found out my experience that if you want accuracy instead of just the ability to break the sound barrier to steer clear of the lead free pellets. They aren’t any good. All they are good for is bragging rights on how fast you can fire a pellet, nothing more.

      • I’ve actually had really good results with the H&N Greens in an HW-77 and FWB-602. They give me nice tight groupings at least at the 6 and 10 meter ranges I shoot indoors. H&N makes no claims whatsoever about high velocity for these pellets, just that they’re not lead. That’s actually what led me to try them – no ridiculous marketing B.S. around the product. The only pellets I’ve found to shoot better in these particular rifles are H&N Finale Match and (at least in my hands) those are only perhaps a tiny bit more accurate. For some reason when I’ve tried various JSB and RWS pellets, which so many people get great accuracy with, the groups open up to the size of a nickle.

        • I tried them in a number of guns. I eventually threw them in a drawer where they corroded and finally I threw them out. The good news is I at least got the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t dump a bunch of lead in my local landfill.

  16. It seems to me that an air rifle pellet perportionatly identical to a civil war .58 cal. minnie ball slightly undersize only with a longer hollow skirt would work fine & be superior to any current pellet in terms of external & terminal ballistics,ballistic coefficient,heavier without being too long for caliber. I invite feedback

  17. A minnie ball only left the muzzle at 950 fps very much the same as some of the higher powered air rifles with NON ALLOY lead pellets,that not withstanding would not the pellet I described resolve the afformentioned loading dificulties via the longer hollow skirt since the solid forward portion of the projectile would be slightly undersize not unlike the minnie ball ? I invite feedback

    • Twerry,

      Where do you get 950 f.p.s.? A Minie ball leave the muzzle at over 1,300 f.p.s.

      Also, lead pellets do not obturate when fired. Only very think skirts get blown out into the walls of the barrel. It might be possible to design a pellet with a solid head and a thin skirt, but I have never seen one. The skirt would have to be as thin as the skirt on an RWS Superpoint pellet.


  18. A minnie ball left the muzzle at only 950 fps. much the same as some of the higher powered air riffles with NON ALLOY lead pellets,that not withtanding would not the pellet I discribe resolve the aformentioned loading dificulties via the longer hollow skirt since the solid forward portion of the projectile would be slightly undersize , not unlike the minnie ball ? gain I invite feedback

  19. My information shows that a 480 gr. minnie ahead of 60grains of blk. powder attained a muzzle vel. of 900-1000 fps.,but anyway even a pellet like you describe (much the same) with the absence of the odd and seemingly unnecesary “wasp waist” would be ballistcally far superior,I would like to find some & I seem to remember sheridan making 5mm pellets in this configuration when i was a kid…but that was a long time ago!

  20. THANK YOU B.B. , by the way what rifle & caliber do you shoot & what comercial pellets do you recomend for small game & accurate plinking, energy + accuracy at distance ?

    • Terry,

      You have asked several questions. What pellet and caliber do I recommend for plinking? The RWS Hobby in .177. What pellets do I recommend for shooting at distance? So far that would be the JSB 15.89 grain Exact in the Talon SS, and the .177 Baracuda in the TX 200.

      I don’t ever look at pellets fort energy, because it’s meaningless unless you hit what you are shooting at. So I generally select domed pellets, because they are usually the best. But Beeman Devastators and Predator Polymags are also quite accurate in many airguns, so they would be a good energy pellet.


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