by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• A big question
• Discount stores sell the most pellets
• Are bargain pellets any good?
• The premium brands
• The test
• The new test
• The first test
• Bottom line
A big question
Today I’ll begin a test I’ve wanted to do for many years. I’ve been putting it off for various reasons, but no longer. When I was at the Pyramyd Air Cup a couple weeks ago, I spoke to a man by the name of William Schooley, and we got on the subject of pellets. Specifically — are the pellets sold at discount stores and sporting goods chain stores as good as the premium pellets that I use in all my testing? I also use these same premium pellets for my general shooting.
But I don’t really do much general shooting. I haven’t for over a decade. I shoot airguns 7 days a week, and the only time I’m not using premium pellets is when I just want to feel how a certain gun shoots. So, for that purpose, alone, I load something I would never shoot at a target or a game animal, and shoot it into a pellet trap that’s about one foot away. That happens several times a day, almost every day of the week.
The rest of the time I have to get results that can be reported — results I can depend on. For that, I use pellets with a pedigree. But, is that necessary?
In truth, don’t most people buy their pellets at the big box (discount) store? And don’t those pellets work well? That is what this test will explore.
Discount stores sell the most pellets
Undoubtedly, the answer is yes to people buying pellets at discount and sporting goods stores. That’s where they buy ammunition for their firearms, too. If something isn’t there, they don’t buy it. This is easily proven by examining the amount of pellets shipped to these sources. I’ve been told by both Crosman and Daisy employees that these are the places where most of their pellets are shipped.
Pyramyd Air is a large airgun retailer that sells a lot of pellets, but compared to the big chain sporting goods and discount stores that exist in the tens of thousands around the country, the volume of pellets Pyramyd sells is small. Without question most people buy their pellets at discount stores and sporting goods chains.
Are bargain pellets any good?
Then, the question becomes: Are those bargain pellets any good? We know that Pyramyd Air carries many times more brands and types of pellets than any of these large sources. The biggest of them only stocks a handful of pellet types from three or four manufacturers, while Pyramyd Air carries hundreds of types of pellets in all 4 smallbore calibers from 17 different manufacturers.
The premium brands
I can name the manufacturers whose pellets are premium: JSB, Crosman (includes certain pellets branded Benjamin), H&N, Beeman, RWS, Air Arms and Predator International are the only manufacturers of what I would call premium pellets sold by Pyramyd Air. The discount stores and sporting goods chains carry only Crosman pellets, as a rule, and none of the types of pellets they carry are the ones I’m calling premium.
The choice is clear — shop online to get premium pellets, and shop at discount stores and sporting goods stores to get bargain pellets. Brick-and-mortar gun stores lie in between, because they can stock whatever the owners decide will sell.
My original idea was to use one moderately powered spring gun for this test and shoot both bargain pellets and premium pellets in that gun to see which ones did the best. And, is the difference in accuracy, if there is one, worth spending the additional money and effort to get the better pellets? Premium pellets can cost 3-4 times as much as bargain pellets.
I thought I would use my Beeman R8 Tyrolean for this test. I do that because the R8 is a proven lower-power gun that has delivered spectacular results in past tests, and also because I want another excuse to shoot it again!
My Beeman R8 Tyrolean has proven itself as an accurate, lower-power spring rifle over the past few years.
Next, I planned to conduct the same test with a powerful spring rifle. I could have selected a TX200 Mark III for this test; but since many people don’t spend that much on a gun, I decided to use the RWS Diana 34P, instead. That’s why I started a series with it a couple weeks ago.
The Diana 34P is everyman’s breakbarrel spring rifle. Past testing has shown it to be accurate.
You can argue that my test is slanted or imperfect because of my choice of airguns; and I can’t really defend my choices, but I do believe that I have selected 2 air rifles that represent low and high power very well. Both are accurate, because life is too short to fool around with inaccurate guns.
There’s always something else that can be done. To those who would suggest doing it, I say — join me in this test and do it your way. I’ll publish your results, as long as you adhere to our guest blogger guidelines and the test structure I disclose.
The new test
This is where William Schooley comes in; because after I explained my idea to him, he asked me if I could include 10-meter target rifles in my test. He’s involved with junior shooters who cannot or will not purchase premium pellets for target shooting. The reasons for this are simple. Both Crosman and Daisy contribute a lot of support to junior marksmanship programs, to include providing lots of pellets for free. When I was associated with some juniors in Maryland, all our pellets were donated by these 2 companies. Our young shooters shot the Daisy 853 rifle almost exclusively until the last year I was there, when a couple specialty rifles such as the Daisy 887 and 888 and the Crosman Challenger (the original Challenger that used only CO2) crept in.
Since those days, the number of junior target rifles has exploded! Crosman brought out their Challenger PCP, and AirForce has given us the Edge. Both of these rifles are modern in design and features and are very accurate. The NRA was behind these new airguns, because they used to host an annual Airgun Breakfast at the SHOT Show, where they briefed all who attended on the number of junior shooters competing each year. I remember hearing the number 750,000 shooters per year from 72,000 shooting clubs back in the late 1990s! Those numbers caught everyone’s attention and got the ball rolling for the future of youth target rifles in the U.S.A.
William wanted me to add youth 10-meter rifles to my test, and I agreed that it made sense. Why not? If there are more shooters shooting airguns this way than any other, why wouldn’t I also look at this sport and the guns and pellets?
The first test
Therefore, the first test will be shot at 10 meters. I’ll use a Crosman Challenger PCP and a Diana 72. I don’t own a Daisy 853, but I’ve noticed that the Diana 72 accuracy is equivalent to the 853 when I tested the rifle. I’ve already tested the Crosman Challenger PCP, so I know it’s a contender, as well.
Diana 72 is a vintage 10-meter target rifle with accuracy roughly equivalent to the Daisy Avanti 853.
Crosman’s Challenger PCP is one of two modern target air rifles being used by youth shooters today. The Edge by AirForce is the other.
I’ll shoot this test with 10 pellets per group — a departure from my norm of only 5 shots for a 10-meter target rifle test. I do that to cut down on the luck factor. One 10-shot group tells me more than three 5-shot groups, because it represents a gun’s true accuracy potential so much better. I’ll use the target sights that come standard on both rifles. At 10 meters, there isn’t much difference between a target peep sight and a scope.
And, I’ll shoot from a rested position because we’re testing the pellets in this endeavor — not the shooter. I have no idea how the first test will turn out, because I’ve never done this before. But, like I said in the beginning, this test is one I’ve wanted to do for many years.
What I want to know is whether or not it’s worth it to spend $9-14 for a tin of pellets, or can I do just as well (or nearly so) with a $4 tin? A brick (normally 500 rounds, but these days it can vary from 333-525 rounds) of .22 long rifle cartridges costs $50 on the street. That may come down once the hoarders stop buying everything, but don’t look for realistic prices much below $30 in the future. So a tin of 500 pellets at $14 is still a bargain. But, do you even need to spend that much? That’s what I want to find out.
91 thoughts on “The great pellet comparison test: Part 1”
Thanks for the experiment sir. I have heard that the rws barrels love cheap ammo. Especially the pointed crosman hunting pellet. I’m just happy to watch you be methodical in the name empiricism once more. Thanks for the blog!
“But, do you even need to spend that much?”
I’m going to go out on a limb, just barely mind you, and say it depends on what you hope to achieve. If all you aim to do is knock over a soda can at 50 feet, probably not. If you want to shoot tiny groups at 50 yards…
That’s why I will start with 10-meter guns. Their purpose is clear and precise. It defines accuracy so well.
So, do the kids save a buck and lose the match, or do they have a chance with the cheap pellets?
I think that is a great thing to know!
The only difference I can see would be quality control. The price of lead is pretty much standard.
Maybe its like the same wine in two different branded bottles: one expensive and the other cheap.
Some people are just guided by price, if its dearer it has got to be the best.
Some dry dog foods are dearer than fillet steak per lb/kg!
I think this is another great thing to know. Does the manufacturing tolerance matter that much?
Thank you for making this test. Considering that a tin of JSB Exacts are being sold locally for the equivalent of $22 (compared to $10 at PyramydAir) I am hoping to see how much of a difference the premiums make. I hope you can provide pictures if not references to the pellets you will be using.
You get it! This is why I am doing this test!
I have been thinking about the first etst for a day and I’m overwhelmed by how much shooting I’m going to have to do! But I think it will be worth it — and so do you!
Yes, I will provide pictures of the pellets I test in their packages, plus every group will have one pellet that was used to shoot it.
I just left a comment Sir but it didn’t appear. Wonder what went wrong?
I can’t say, but it wasn’t in the spam folder. I just got rid of 98 spams and restored one comment from Reb. You were not in there.
I found it! It wasn’t in spam and it didn’t get posted, either.
This is a timely post Sir. Looking forward to it. I was dying to try out the JSB Exact pellets 8.4gr. .177 & got a good deal on E Bay. Tin of 500 4.52 head size for $ 14.80 including shipping to Sri Lanka from Poland. It arrived in exactly 2 weeks.I am amazed by the accuracy & knock down power. You can’t beat premium pellets for accuracy really. I will be buying from here again. I would buy from PA if not for the huge shipping cost.Stores like PA, Amazon & Air Gun Depot (they are a bit better), loose out on this factor mostly I’m sure. In my case the cost of shipping would be the price of about 3 tins of 500. The only pellets available locally is Gamo but most like the Pro Magnum & Rocket are good too. Too bad we don’t have a choice here.
Should you really even begin these tests you described?
I got two more questions.
How come some guns will shoot any pellet you put through it?
And how come some guns your lucky to get any pellet to work?
I’m sure you have shot a lot of pellets over the years. I think I’m tired of the pellet trying game. I actually gave a bunch of different pellets away over the last couple of years. And some were quality higher cost pellets and some weren’t.
You know why I didn’t care to keep them all. Because they didn’t work in the guns I have. And then I settled on the ones that seemed to do the best in all the guns I tryed them in.
The only thing that I see happening with the test your doing will show what expensive or lesser cost pellet will do in the guns you listed you will try.
And the box premier’s verses the tins. Well again one of my guns liked the box premier’s better than the tins. And my other gun liked just the opposite.
But I do know one thing. Today’s blog is sure to bring some interesting conversation about what pellet should be used. Oh and are you going to get into weight or head size variation of pellets or any of that stuff.
You have thought of one reason I waited so long to do this test. What gun to use?
Well, I’m sorry, but I will only shoot an accurate airgun. All the hype can go out the window — the gun either performs or it doesn’t.
I know my R8 and Diana 34 can shoot, and the 2 target rifles have also been proven.
The fact that a lot of pellet rifles can’t group has nothing to do with what I’m testing. I am testing whether pellets really matter in those guns that can shoot.
Head sizes are a problem for me, I admit, but cheap pellets usually don’t give you any options. So it’s the cheapies against the best pellets I can put in the guns. And fortunately, I have past records of all 4 rifles that tell me what works. I guess I will report the head sizes of those pellets that have that information, and for the rest we will never know. But that will probably just be the bargain brands.
In your case, do the same. Use the pellets that you know perform in your airguns and test them against whatever the big box store is selling that day.
I already did all that testing of the premium verses the big box store. I did the weighing, the measuring, the sorting, the cleaning and even tried oiling them. Hmm I didn’t try heating them up though. maybe that’s the secret I have been missing.
I will tell you the truth right now. I don’t care were I get my pellets from. If so and so posted today that they make the magic wonder pellet that works in all situations I would probably give them a try.
What matters to me is if they work in the gun I have for the type of shooting I’m doing. And yes I really do like a accurate gun. So if I can get a tin of 500 pellets for $2.00 and they shoot as accurate as I want for what I’m doing then I will buy that $2.00 tin. Why wouldn’t I.
Some guns like cheap pellets, but they will only shoot well if the pellets are reasonably consistent.
My disco shoots maybe a 4″ group at 50 yards with crosman wadcutters in the carton, fine for plinking but if I were to shoot it in field target I’d use nothing but Meisterkulgen’s or R10.
As to head size……my FWB 700 alu shoots R10’s with 4.49 and 4.50 pellets almost exactly the same, maybe the 50’s edge out the 49’s by a tad. My challenger likes the 49’s just a hair more then the 50’s. So head size DOES matter!
Yes it does.
BB and Gunfun
I am looking forward to this test because I shoot both wally world CPs in the tin and benjis in the tins from there also, but I have also bought some H&Ns and JSB to try but have not had enough shooting time on them to see any real differences in accuracy.
So I am counting on you to dispel the fact or myth of which pellets are better if in fact there is any measurable difference between discount and premium pellets.
I am especially interested because I started my first FT match this past weekend and am eagerly waiting in anticipation as to what pellets will improve my odds of hitting the kill zones rather than just wounding the feral field animals we shoot at in the match.I believe at this point in my level of FT match shooting the pellet is the least of my concern for better accuracy until I can get my guns to shoot better than I am capable of the pellets are not going to make a great deal of difference.
So don’t keep us waiting to long between reports.
To see real differences between pellets, shoot 10-shot groups and shoot at least 25 yards. Then you will see a difference, if there is one.
I will only test the 10-meter guns at 10 meters, because that is where they are designed to be used. Competitors don’t care what happens at 25 yards if they are winning matches!
I’m almost tempted to ask that the 10m test be done on 10m target paper (the forms with 10 scoring targets and 2 sighting targets) with 1 shot per target… Normally you tend to set your sights to avoid punching out the actual bull — but if one is talking competition results, having the sights set for the actual bull and seeing 10 single shot results on a page may be interesting. Difficult to calculate group size though.
Will you also be shooting velocity groups? And if so, might you consider including standard deviation besides mean and extreme spread?
When I try out a “new” airgun, I usually run about 10+ different pellets through it, shooting ten shot groups of each, unless they are really bad. This is done at 10 meters. I will then take the top five or so most promising and shoot them again with the goal of obtaining the top three.
Once I have the top three at ten meters, I will move on to 25 yards where I will usually alternate and shoot three or more ten shot groups of these pellets.
It is not unusual for me to repeat the entire process on a different day to help ensure that I was not just having a bad day the last time I tried a particular pellet in that particular airgun.
My wife is amazed by how I can spend two to three hours shooting one of my airguns, especially since it is difficult for me to focus on anything else for more than a few seconds.
It has been my experience that “cheap” pellets do not perform as well as the “premium” pellets, however there are always exceptions to the rule and you should on occasion try the Wally World pellets as sometimes they might just be “the” pellet for that airgun.
I take my plinking seriously.
Like I said to Buldawg, get out to at least 25 yards with those groups. That’s where things start to come apart for pellets.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for some time. When I tested the Winchester MP4, I was intrigued to find that literally the cheapest pellet I tried, Beeman Hollowpoint Coated, gave me my tightest groups. This is also one of the two guns I own that group better with H&N Match pellets than they do with the higher grade H&N Match Finale. This was after lots of testing–3, 10-shot groups per pellet. I think that as long as manufacturing consistency is in place, you might find a gun that will shoot any pellet very well, and I’m glad you’ll be testing a variety of rifles for a valid comparison. However, I have to believe that on average the more consistent a pellet is in manufacturing the more likely it will group tightly with a variety of guns. Looking forward to what you find–should be instructive, as always.
I don’t think I have the time to shoot three 10-shot groups with each pellet with each rifle. So I am shooting one 5-shot group and one 10-shot group in the first test. Like I said to others above, a target shooter only cares how his gun shoots at 10 meters. If the bargain pellets shoot good enough, there is no reason to pay 4 times as much for the premium pellets.
We shall see! 😉
“My wife is amazed by how I can spend two to three hours shooting one of my airguns, especially since it is difficult for me to focus on anything else for more than a few seconds.”
I know it’s early, but that is my vote for quote of the day.
I also like B.B.’s: “Life is too short to fool around with inaccurate guns.” I’m fortunate enough to have a shootin’ wife, but I’m curious how well this quote would work on a non-shooting spouse who sees you browsing the Pyramyd Air site again!
Hey, I don’t have ADH – Look, a squirrel!
The results will be interesting.
I think the Diana 34 is a great choice. Its an accurate rifle that bridges the gap between occasional backyard plinkers and readers of this blog, and its one of Pyramyd’s “2013: Top Selling Products.” Perfect choice.
I wonder if multi-pump, CO2, and PCP rifles would handle inexpensive pellets better or worse than a springer?
That sounds like another test to me. 😉
I imagine a lot would depend on the gun in question. With something that is a plinker, especially if it is a smooth-bore like the Daisy 35 or Crosman 760, you might not see any difference between premium pellets and cheapos. With something like a Benjamin 392/397 there might be some difference. When you get into PCPs, especially if you’re shooting at 50 meters, there will probably be a difference. The question becomes how much difference is there in the better guns and does it matter for the application you’re using the gun for.
Are you going to include lead free options? I know you have not been a huge fan of them in the past, but the Beeman/HN options have done well in your previous testing and it might be interesting to see how they fair against their lead versions.
I do not plan on using lead-free pellets in this test. I think you just suggested another different test — what are the best lead-free pellets? 😉
None of the above.
Actually the answer is most likely H&N Greens in their various versions. They shoot well enough through my 603 and HW-77 that the difference between them and the premium lead pellets I’ve tried (H&N, JSB and RWS) seems to be less than my own day-to-day variation in accuracy. I only use them when shooting indoors in my house because when the area I use isn’t closed off for shooting it does get frequented my children and dogs so I don’t want to chance leaving any lead around.
So far the only time the Greens haven’t worked well is in the old Walther Lever action (2 x 12gm CO2 cartridge version). It really doesn’t like them – or JSB and RWS pellets for that matter! On the other hand H&N FTT’s, Barracudas and wadcutters work fine.
I have a tin of Baracuda Greens and a tin of FTT Greens. I have tried them in a FWB601, Edge, Izzy 46M, Webley Tempest, Ruger Airhawk, 1906 BSA… The results have been mediocre at best. If it gets to the point that all I can get are “green” pellets, I will give up airguns altogether.
I will just say it straight up. I’m not a fan of the green pellets.
But if I happened to try them and they did by chance group good. How could I not shoot them if needed.
Its not about what a pellet is or if its cheap or if its expensive. Its about if it works or not to my type of shooting I do. I wouldn’t care if the pellet was made out of mud as long as it worked.
I think this to be a great test idea but needs a sense of proportion as to what, exactly, is being tested. As has been repeatedly pointed out, a particular rifle/pistol needs be matched to a particular pellet for best accuracy. Most likely the key component will be consistency. And that will mean not only how consistant a particular box/tin of pellets is, but how consistant that box/tin that’s tested today is with the one bought three years ago and then the one three years from now.
Not to make more work for you, B. B., but I can see at least some micro-scale time in your future weighing pellets. 🙂
This test may boil down to more a test of methodology than pellet/rifle combinations. This is not to say I don’t appreciate you, rather than me, doing it. :):):)
Coming from the firearm reloader crowd, I find the other aspect is component cost and it’s always well to retain the sense of proportion by comparing what even expensive pellets cost vs what even cheap (say .38 Special) reloads cost.
And you have just suggested yet another variation of this test! I won’t do it on this run-through, but this is stacking up to become my life’s work! 😉
I suspect that there is a large number of shooters, mostly youngsters, who do not have a credit card for buying premium pellets online. And those with very limited budgets or those who never evaluate their gun’s performance with a chronograph or by shooting groups will probably never bother to seek something better than what’s on the shelves of the local store.
Those who have not discovered online forums such as this one may be surprised to know just how much this hobby has grown over the years and that what they see in stores is just the tip (or ‘kiddies portion’) of a wonderful giant iceberg of possibilities and shooting joy.
I have spent much time rediscovering this hobby after discovering this blog and others, and have experienced the joy of airgunning with higher quality guns and pellets to a degree that I never even dreamed possible.
I have personally experienced the joy of discovering the magic pellet for guns after trying many types and head sizes that are not available in local stores.
And it goes even farther than just that. What kind of pellets are being bought by the parents for their kids who are the shooters? Kind of like a thrifty person who is unwilling to buy 100-octane AVGAS for a racing airplane — or at least it is if we find that premium pellets really matter. 😉
“I suspect that there is a large number of shooters, mostly youngsters, who do not have a credit card for buying premium pellets online.”
There is at least one work around that I know of to that issue, pre-paid debit cards. That said there are limitations to using them as well
Why not look through the hundreds of air rifles you’ve shot over the years and select old pellet data from the more accurate rifles that have already been tested? Your blogs must already include thousands of shots.
That is what I have done — more or less. For the sporter rifles that will be tested in the future I wanted one lower-powered one and one higher-powered one. I chose the R8 mostly for how much fun it is to shoot. I could have chosen the TX200 for the higher-powered rifle, but I felt the Diana 34 was more like what most airgunners might own.
For the youth target rifles I wanted to test guns that are like what kids shoot today.
We may be saying the same thing. Here’s an example: In your report on the TX200 MkIII, you got a 10 shot group of Crosman Premier Lite of 0.333″ at 25 yard. In your test of the Marauder, you shot three 10 shot groups of Crosman Premier Lite at 25 yards and averaged 0.378″ group. So I’d say that a representative group size for the Crosman Premier Lite at 25 yards is probably about 0.367. There must be lots of such test data in your blog reports – including more data on the Crosman Premier Lite in other rifles that could be included in the representative average group.
You could even use data from only the “best” pellets for a particular rifle. Another variation would be to report on how many (and which) rifles like a particular pellet.
… and all this without firing a shot!
I have the impression that both non-springers and rifles with tapered barrels are much less pellet sensitive. Do you know, which of your testing guns are equipped with a tapered barrel?
I don’t think any of them are tapered.
I believe you have mentioned before that Crosman guns tend to like Crosman pellets.
This may be a chance to see if that holds true for the less expensive fodder.
Instead of putting the 72 in the lineup, I would have rather you borrowed a 853, just to be indicative of what a lot of the junior shooters and JROTC units are still shooting.
Keep up the good work.
You said at one point you would discuss choosing a pellet based on its diameter–or at least more about how pellet diameter effects shooting. How does a loose pellet take the rifling? What about a pellet that has to be inserted forcefully? Anyway to choose a pellet based on its diameter without having fired that pellet before?
Anyway, maybe this would be a good series to address that subject.
I like pellet testing. It’s one of my favorite excuses to shoot airguns. I’ve had lots of fun with my experiences in pellet testing on many fronts.
Cheap vs. Expensive pellets is a great topic and the outline of this test seems thorough and extensive. Guess I need to find a comfortable chair.
Here’s one of the “fronts” that has been fun with pellet testing.
I own a second home in the country. It’s situated on a private fishing club with 150 members on 2100 acres. We have 146 houses on the property. With that density it’s unsafe therefor not allowed to discharge a firearm on the club property. We have lots of pests in a variety of sizes and shapes. For these reasons many members have an airgun.
Over the years word has gotten out that I shoot airguns and have an airgun range out to 100 yards next to my home. Many, many members have showed up at my place with their airgun in hand because they’re having problems with it or would just like to shoot on my range. Most of these members have a firearm background. Some of them have an extensive firearm background.
A few CO2 guns have showed up but mostly springers. Two things almost always happen when we sit down together at a shooting bench on my range. First, they don’t know about the artillery hold. Second, they didn’t realize that different pellets perform differently.
The tin of pellets they bring along to shoot in their airgun are almost always those that they purchased from a local sporting goods store. Why not? All pellets are the same aren’t they?
These folks have usually restricted their shooting to very short distances because beyond 10-15 yards “pellet guns just aren’t accurate.” In a short time they usually learn that with the right hold and right pellet they have a gun that is more accurate than they ever realized. They walk away with a new respect for their airgun. For firearm guys, the analogy that not all rimfire ammo is created equal helps them understand the need to test multiple brands and types of pellets in their airguns.
Back on topic. As someone said earlier, if you only shoot tin cans at 15 yards any pellet will do. If you want longer range accuracy you have to test multiple pellets. Not unusual that two models of the same airgun prefer different pellets. I’ve rarely seen the cheap pellets perform best in any airgun (mine or theirs). It has happened though. Pellet Samplers are the best gift for new airgunnners. Ignoring prejudices about cheap pellets being inaccurate is a good practice for veteran airgunners. Airguns can surprise you when it comes to their favorite pellet.
Our local discount stores carry several different Crosman pellets and also Gamo. Does Crosman make their own pellets? Gamo?
Crosman makes all their own pellets. And Gamo started out as a pellet maker before getting into airguns, I believe. So they make their own, too.
Do head sizes matter very much for optimum accuracy? Only the top makers like JSB specify them. They list from 4.50 – 4.53 m.m. in .177. You mentioned that 4.50 worked well but also 4.52 in an earlier post, which did in the Norica & Hatsan Striker. Should I try the 4.50 head size also when I order JSBs again?
The answer is sometimes yes and other times no. Target guns are especially sensitive to head sizes, where sporting guns sometimes are not sensitive at all. But probably more guns are sensitive than not.
Yes, head sizes matter in terms of reduced velocity spread (seen with a chronograph) and smaller group sizes. H&N Field Target Trophy is another excellent performer that is available in various head sizes. It’s worth buying one tin of each size for testing. I’ve never seen a blog specifically about testing head sizes but I have done it with good results and read comments from others who recognized a certain head size as best for their gun.
Use a scope and shoot groups at a distance of at least 20 yards. When you narrow the choices down, shoot groups at 30 yards to pick the winner.
Sorry for the late reply! Thanks for all the info, its much appreciated. Will do.
BB I detest sending away for JSB’s so I was lucky that my AT 44 and disco both in 22 shoot the CPUM into tiny groups. the AT at 85 yds shot 1 1/2 with the UM’s. at 50 yds both the disco and AT shoot into 3/4. both actually fire the JSB’s worse and that is with 2 different weight JSB’s. in fact if a rifle does not shoot wal mart crosman pellets I sell it
“What I want to know is whether or not it’s worth it to spend $9-14 for a tin of pellets, or can I do just as well (or nearly so) with a $4 tin?”….
I wish I could make my brain accept this but I can’t 🙂
I’ve tried the inexpensive pellets (and b.b.’s and bulk .22LR) and as long as I see even a small difference in the ‘quality brands’ that’s what we use.
At 25yds my Slavia 630 will shoot into a Twoonie (the Canadian $2 coin) with JSB Exact. I’ve tried the cheap Daisy and such and get 3″ groups.
Same thing…my boys can get 1.5″ groups at 100m with RWS Target .22LR as opposed to 3-4” with bulk Blazer.
I just don’t see the point of spending good money on a rifle/scope/accessories and then saying ‘well I’ll save a couple bucks on ammo because my groups are only 2-3x as big’.
In my mind it even holds true where accuracy isn’t as critical. I mentioned how I am part of a group who has a ‘sorta’ IPSC group scaled down for pellet pistols. Even though the targets are from 3-8m and speed is just as (or even more) important than pinpoint accuracy…I still end up feeding the ‘good stuff’ though the guns..in this case RWS Meister Pistol in a Umarex 1911).
I partly blame you b.b….you’ve taught me to expect nothing less than the best in myself and the airguns that are available to us 😉
Thanks for weighing in on this! I agree that poor performance is no reason to save money on pellets, just as bad food doesn’t justify low prices at a restaurant.
But if the cheaper pellets perform just as well as the expensive ones, or nearly so, what do you think, then?
I am writing tomorrow’s report right now and I already shot part of the first test. People are going to be surprised!
I hope the surprise is not what it’s sounding like.
‘Cause it sounds like I might have been able to save a lot of money over the past few years 😉
I guess it boils down to how close is close…and for what purpose.
Example…we recently stepped up from CCI Greentag at $9/100 to RWS Target at $8/50 to shrink our groups size average (5 shot groups at 100m) by .25″. The boys are really trying to get their Marlins down to a true 1moa.
But if our tests showed that I could consistently (key word for me is consistently) get close for 1/2 the price I might be tempted.
Consistency is a lot of the issue. I have tried some pellets and .22LR that is close to the accuracy of the premium brands…but they have tended to have more fliers. There’s nothing I hate more than four shots into a dime a quarter at 20yds with the Slavia and then the 5th shot goes an inch and a half to the left even though I’m pretty sure I did everything right.
I find that the premium stuff just has few of these ‘dud’ rounds.
I have to agree with gun fun that this will be a hard test to get validity out of. The question your posing seems to require MANY guns to perform a test that will count for anything. I just found that my blaze likethe gamo bonecollector dome from the box store over 8 different brand/types with 5 of those being premium. Before chambering the breech, it liked a premium. The 1377 liked cphp from the box store, with the longer barrel (thanks Gunfun!) It will shoot all 8 of these pellet types at a satisfactory level. This is not an undertaking that only 3 or four guns cam fulfill, you need to take an airgunning census through your pyramyd air emails.
No problem glad the barrels working out.
This will be an interesting test. I buy most of my pellets from Pyramyd, mostly JSB and RWS. But, I found that the Crosman Premier HP’s I can get at Walmart (Tin) shoot really well in my RWS 52 .22 cal.
My Diana 34P loves CPHPs! They seem at least as consistent from can to can as some of the European pellets I’ve tried and liked only to find that the next batch weren’t nearly as good! I also like the crosman copperhead wadcutters, which seem to shoot decently in pretty much anything and are virtually free in the blister packs, something like 2.99/500 last time I bought any… I think the daisy precision max’s worked OK, too. For some reason my Walmart doesn’t carry the wadcutters consistently, and I usually buy safer choices from Pyramyd Air, though some of the “premium” brands have betrayed my confidence with to me excessive variation from lot to lot.
I have a Question about the Bullseye Bucks we all received not long ago.
I remember that they expire and will be reabsorbed if not used by a certain date and was just trying to find this info again but can’t, anywhere.
Could anyone please tell me this date? And if I turn them into a gift-card can I still keep them? Just don’t have any money to put with them yet and it’s only enough to cover shipping right now.
I’m looking at the email promotions Pyramyd Air sent out, and the most recent one I see for free Bullseye Bucks is from October. The fine print says you have to use the Bullseye Bucks by October 18 or lose them.
It’s possible there was a more recent offering of free Bullseye Bucks that I’ve overlooked or that got lost in the ethernet.
Thanks Edith! Sounds like I got caught slippin’ 🙁
I used mine for a gift card, if that helps. But it was an offer valid for only a week or so, if I recall.
I guess if I do get anymore I’ll put them on a giftcard right then. Would that work?
I’ve asked the Pyramyd Air marketing department if converting free Bullseye Bucks to a gift card is a possibility. I’ll let you know what they say.
Yes, you can convert it to a gift card so you don’t lose it.
Thank you Edith!
Can you really list Beeman and Predator International as manufacturers of pellets? Both are having their pellets made by the other manufacturers listed. I know this causing confusion in many parts of the retail world. Look at how many brands of .17 HMR ammo that exist, and yet by all accounts, it is coming from the same manufacturer…
You’ll have to add Daisy to that group, too. They buy their pellets from China, and by extension, so does Winchester.
I like the Winchester roundnose!
Caveat: I haven’t actually researched…
But while the /bullets/ may all be coming from one manufacturer (so far, I know of three bullets — 17gr hollow point, 17gr “ballistic tip”, and 20gr soft point), the loading of the rounds could still be multiple makers… after all, what does it take to neck down a .22WMR to take a .17 bullet — and I doubt anyone is going to claim all the .22WMR rounds are produced by one company. That means powder and primer could still have variations
So far CCI is the only manufacturer of the .17 HMR, and they put the other companies logos and labels on the ammo. Winchester at one point claimed they were going to make their own version, but that got sidetracked when the .17 WSM came about. As far as .22 Magnum, I can only think of two manufacturers making .22 Magnum ammo outside of CCI, I think, and that is RWS and Winchester and Winchester may have gone the CCI route. As far as the .17 HMR bullets, there were two manufacturers apparently at the beginning. Hornady and Speer. Speer was making the TNT HP .17gr bullet, but a few years ago Hornady announced they were making that bullet. That gives them a firm grip on the bullets. The .17 HMR has become an industry phenomenon, that we may never see again…
I’m excited about this. I’m fairly confident there will be minimal differences at 10m, but I want to know if your methodology with the pellets, especially the cheap ones, will include inspection of the pellets and skirts, and discarding of visibly substandard pellets. If so, please include the number of discards with your other info.
Also, I would love another article on Air Shotguns, it seems to have been quite awhile since you touched on the subject.
No sorting or weighing. Straight from the tin.
Ouch! That could really throw some flyers into the mix. I understand the reasoning, just not sure I agree with it. Then again, I never throw away a bent skirt, I just straighten it out and use it for plinking at a can instead of a dime. 😉
Excuse me if you already answered the following question, but I’ll ask it anyway because I didn’t see it answered. Are you going to focus exclusively on .177 pellets? Or will you also look at .22 pellets?
I’m guessing he’s is focusing on .177 caliber for now from the comments above the test will be exhausting as it is. I would probably think that if a particular cheap pellet shows promise he might include it in his regular testing.
I’m only doing .177 caliber at this time. I think the lessons apply across the board.
How about cheap premium? My son and I have been shooting H&N Excite econ pellets from PA exclusively in our 853s,747 and HW40. Other than less than perfect holes from the rounded edge, These wadcutters perform really well. They would make a great addition to your 10M testing.
That falls under the category of a pellet test. I see it as separate from this test, but perhaps one I should do.
I don’t have any of them on hand, so I will order some today.
Hi BB,In your blog you seem to be questioning if the big box stores are selling an inferior product or is it just less expensive to buy.Then as you procede,the question seems to shift to;do the more expensive brands really give better results than the less expensive brands?BB,don’t you realize that either question can get you fired?Or the object of corporate assins?
Last night, as a result of reviewing your syn.benjamin marauder in .22cal.tests,I wanted to ask you a question but I didn’t want to get you in trouble.The .22cal. Crosman premier pellets in the 625 count boxes seem to still be availavle from P.A. and I wondered if ,when they are gone ,we could get about the same accuracy from the tin packs of pellets if we weight sorted them?I realize that just because two pellets of a design weigh the same they could still have a very different distribution of let within them.Also the lead from one tin may be of a little different lead alloy than another tin.But what do you think?I mean since you are already living on the edge anyway?-Tin Can Man-
I’m not disparaging the pellets sold by the box stores — other than saying that they are the cheaper pellets. I already owned several of them, but I bought them just the same, to keep my promise of doing it exactly as advertised.
Crosman Ultra Magnum heavy 10.5 gr. are bigger diameter than other .177 pellets. They won’t fit in a Crosman 1077 clip unless you force them which I don’t want to do and enlarge the holes in the clip.
The 10.5 gr shoot fine in my pump ups.
I would love to see a comparison of downrange energies, my own testing is that with compensation for grain weight, it can vary by as much as 20% for instance I find H&N FTT retain 12% more energy at 40 yards than JSB exact, despite giving 4% more energy at the muzzle of my HW77
For some reason I came up as anonymous above?
I’ve been giving some serious thought to doing a longer range pellet test, after all, in hunting terms, muzzle energy is as irrelevent as accuracy at 10 yards, you really want to know what the energy and accuracy is at 40 yards, and, surprisingly, the energy at the muzzle and at 40 yards is not as closely related as you may think.
My findings, thus far is that (grain for grain) shorter tailed pellets retain significantly more downrange velocity than longer tailed versions, though at a cost of accuracy……in the UK this is rather more vital as our muzzle energies are capped to 12ft/lb unless we want to go through the gun licencing process (most of us don’t) so providing maximum impact energy at the 50 yard maximum range that that power allows (and for that matter the ability to hit a rabbit or pigeon brain) is vital.
I was an avid “Airgun Letter” and “Airgun Review” reader many years ago, and believe it or not, still have every single issue that was sent to me. Every couple years I get them out and read through them again. Anyways, I recently discovered your blog and once again I am enjoying reading you articles. Keep up the good work.
State College PA