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The great pellet comparison test: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Test structure
• Crosman Competition wadcutter pellets
• H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
• Daisy Precision Max pellets
• RWS R10 Heavy Match pellets
• The results
• Final comment

This is the rest of the 10-meter pellet comparison test, and today the differences are greater than they were in the first half of the test. Today, I am shooting a Diana model 72 recoilless target rifle that’s made on the Diana model 6 target pistol action. It shouldn’t be quite as accurate as the Crosman Challenger PCP I used in the first part of the test, but it’s roughly equivalent to a Daisy 853.

Diana 72
The obsolete Diana 72 is a recoilless breakbarrel target rifle designed for youth. It’s based on the model 6 target pistol.

I shot the exact same pellets in this test as I shot in the first part. I shot them in the same order, keeping as much of the test the same as possible.

These are the pellets used in tests for today and yesterday.

Test structure
There are 2 different budget wadcutter pellets and 2 premium pellets to test today. That means a total of 4 pellets will be shot, so I decided to shoot one 5-shot group followed by one 10-shot group with the same pellet at 10 meters. The rifle was rested.

A reader asked what kind of front sight element I used yesterday with the Crosman Challenger. It was an aperture (post with a hole in the top that you center the bull in), and I’m using the same kind of front sight element today.

Crosman Challenger PCP air rifle
The front sight element of the Crosman Challenger I tested yesterday.

Let’s get started. I sighted-in the rifle with Crosman Competition wadcutters, because that was the first pellet I would shoot.

Crosman Competition wadcutter pellets
Five Crosman Competition pellets went into 0.433 inches at 10 meters. The group is strung out vertically. Ten pellets made a 0.360-inch group. That’s right — it was smaller than the 5-shot group! No explanation for why — it just was.

Crosman Competition
Five Crosman Competition wadcutters went into a vertical 0.433-inch group (left). Then, 10 of the same pellets made a 0.360-inch group. Stuff happens. The 5-shot group is probably not representative of this pellet’s accuracy in this rifle.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
Next up was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. Of the 4 pellets tested in the Challenger, it did the best yesterday. In the Diana 72, 5 Finale Match pellets made a 0.148-inch group. Ten Finale Match pellets went into a nice round group measuring 0.221 inches. Once again, this pellet did very well.

H&N Finale Match Pistol
Five H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made a tight 0.148-inch group (left). Ten went into 0.221 inches. Both groups are nice and round.

Daisy Precision Max pellets
Next up was the Daisy Precision Max wadcutter pellet that surprised us in the first test. There’s a surprise today, as well, but it’s not the good kind. This pellet fit the Diana 72 breech very loosely, and it also sounded different when fired.

Five Precision Max pellets went into 0.327 inches at 10 meters. Ten went into a very vertical 0.662-inch group. With such results, I would have to say that this is not the right pellet for this rifle — just from the loading and the different firing behavior. And those groups underscore it!

Daisy Precision Max
Daisy Precision Max pellets didn’t do well in the Diana 72. Five made a 0.327-inch group (left) and 10 strung out vertically in a 0.662-inch group.

RWS R10 Heavy Match pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS R10 Heavy Match wadcutter. Actually, I’m using a 7.70-grain R10 pellet that’s no longer made, but the R10 Heavy is as close as you can get. It was very good in the Diana 72, putting 5 into 0.175 inches and 10 in exactly a quarter-inch (0.250 inches).

RWS R10 Heavy Match
Five RWS R10 Heavy pellets made a 0.175-inch group (left), and 10 went into 0.250 inches.

The results
Today’s results are more dramatic than those of the first test. By that I mean there are clearer choices among the pellets today. And that tells me that you have to conduct this kind of test for each rifle you intend shooting. Can you imagine how many points a shooter would give away if they shot this rifle and the Daisy pellets?

We had an anomaly today when the 10-shot Crosman pellet group was smaller than the 5-shot group with the same pellet. If I was really testing this rifle for possible use as a target rifle, I would do more testing of that pellet.

In all the other cases, though, 10 shots made a larger group than 5, just as they did in the first test.

There’s something else to note today. The 2 premium pellets not only grouped better than the 2 bargain pellets — they also hit in pretty much the same place. The 2 bargain pellets did not.

That said, I think that shooting coaches now have enough information to conduct a similar test on their own guns with the pellets their teams shoot. Think about those shooters whose scores are high enough to justify shooting the best pellets they can find.

I’ll also say this — many of you are interested in the sport of field target. The exact same thing happens there as in this test. We shoot the gun we will compete with to find the one best pellet, and then lay in a large supply of them. Once we have that supply we do special things, such as sorting the pellets by weight and scanning for imperfections.

I’m now going to give this test a rest for a while so we can look at other airgun things, because not everyone is interested in this subject. When I come back to it, we’ll be looking at the accuracy of a lower-powered spring gun at 25 yards — both with the premium pellets I know it likes best and also with bargain store pellets.

Final comment
I have to make this last comment. We had a reader comment yesterday that I selected the best of the premium pellets — the ones I knew the rifles liked, but used any bargain pellet that came from either a discount store or a large sporting goods chain store. That is correct. I did it that way because that’s what I’m testing.

Some people feel that any pellet will work in a gun, and others feel you have to test them to know which ones work the best. The “any pellet will work” folks buy bargain pellets at discount stores without regard to how well they preform. I’m trying to see if there’s any reason not to do it that way. In other words — are premium pellets worth the expense and effort?

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

105 thoughts on “The great pellet comparison test: Part 3”

  1. I wonder why the difference in performance between the pellets was greater with a springer than with a PCP? Mainly just curiosity, but I’ll toss the question out in case anyone has any thoughts.

    Thing that strikes me about the test here is that again the cheapos, OK one of the cheapos, looks like it would perform good enough for target practice at least. If I were using a springer for a match rifle I think I would likely switch to better pellets during matches.

    Also out of curiosity do you have any plans of testing wadcutter pellets beyond 10 meters?

    • J, a springer is more hold sensitive than a PCP. Even though the recoilless Diana reduces this effect significantly, it can and does still play a part in the accuracy of the pellet due to barrel vibration. Grab the rifle a bit tighter and you get a slightly different poi. Pcp’s don’t have this problem for the most part which is why that’s pretty much all that’s used at top competitions. Notice how round the group made with the pcp are compared with the springer? That’s one of the benefits of the pcp’s immunity to grip differences.

      Fred DPRoNJ

    • Keep in mind when using a cheapo for target practice that POI (point of impact) will likely be different from that of another pellet, whether it is a cheapo or not. You really do not want to keep changing your sight settings on your airgun if you can help it, most especially if a measurement of .001″ will mean the difference between whether you are a winner or a loser.

    • J.,

      No plans to test wadcutters past 10 meters. On the first years of American Airgunner I had Paul Capello do a test of wadcutters at 35 yards. The ones that gave quarter-inch groups at 10 meters opened to about three inches at 35 yards.


  2. Thanks again for doing this test, Im always intrigued by pellet testing. These groups are just about predictable, the better pellets are better, the good pellets are good, and fast and cheap is fast and cheap. Plink with a kid to mass-a-cree some cans, buy what’s appropriate, that kid starts wanting to shoot paper, test what’s best from the big box. After that, they’ll let you know when its time to order pellets, lol, Im sure. I can propose that the first five phenomena was the barrel warming up, but your testing bargain pellets so theres always that… On a different note of pellet performance, I had a wild thought while reading about ballistic coefficients… could pellet behavior in gel or wetpack indicate something about it coefficient? Water is a fluid material that the pellet us moving through like air, just thicker with more resistance. So the way the pellet persists through the ballistic medium could show how its cutting through air and resisting, its, huh, resistance… right?

      • H hopefully soon, did you see the link to the pendulum calculator? Take three measurements and punch em in and it does all the math. I built one before and it wasn’t hard but the math was, but 3 days of math actually gave me results that seemed correct. Bout to build it again because with the calculator it’ll take 3 seconds.!

        • No I didn’t see a link to a pendulum calculator but I know how they work and they can be fairly accurate but the margin of error is too great when a chrony costs less than 1 gun, for me anyway. Just don’t let it get wet.


  3. The H&N Pistol Match pellets are a winner. I’ve tested many kinds of pellets and used several different rifles and the H&N Pistol match always come out on top. My FWB-300S will shoot those through the same hole every time if I do my part. I shot them through a Theoben Scirroco at over a 1000fps and they still delivered a very small one hole group. They also deliver the best standard of deviation I ever got from an airgun and pellet combination. Everyone should give them a try, you maybe suprised…

    • Now here is a prime example of which pellet is best for each individual airgun. I bought these same pellets for my Izzy 46M. I also bought RWS R10 Match Pistol for it. My Izzy prefers the R10.

  4. BB
    I was looking thru the 177 H&N finale match rifle pellets on the PA site and see where they come in head sizes from 4.49mm to 4.52mm in .01mm differences.My question is how do you go about determining which head size is best for the gun you will be using. I am starting shooting on my local clubs FT matches and have seen and heard about the different head sizes, but never knew how to go about selecting the right head size. is it trial and error or can the barrel be measured in some way to narrow the choices.


    • It is mostly trial and error. When I had my Gamo CFX, within the first few months I determined that it preferred H&N FTTs. The next time I ordered some, it just would not shoot as well. What had happened is PA had started stocking different head sizes and the new tin was .451″. I then ordered .452″ and the groups tightened right back up.

      You can measure the barrel and it just might work for you. Generally, you are going to want a snug fit. The head should fit the land measurement.

      Just keep in mind that head diameter is just part of the equation. The skirt size, thickness, length, yadayadayadayada… I think you know.

      • RR
        That’s what I figured it would be I was just wanting it to be confirmed. If I can measure the barrel it may help narrow it down a little but that is such a estimate still at best as it is very difficult to get anything other than a set of dial indicators in the barrel to measure with and even then there is no guarantee that it will be correct.


        • Take a pellet you know is really tight in your bore and push it through with a rod, when it pops out you can measure the railing marks but a micrometer in the least will be needed.

          • RDNA
            That is a good idea and much easier than trying to measure the bore of the barrel. But I did not understand your last statement as to measure the highest points or down in the grooves left by the rifling to get a close measurement for the best head size.

            I should go by the largest OD measured or the smallest OD measured


                • That’s a little on the rough side for an airgun barrel, pouring molten lead is a little on the dangerous side though for both the pourer and the gun but that’s the original process. I liked how he showed where to measure.

                • Be careful! I kept trying to think of a better medium to cast with rather than molten lead but I think wax would be too soft and plastic would leave a residue that would be hard to get clean.
                  Good luck with it!
                  You’re welcome,

              • Reb
                I must have watched the wrong video as the one I watched was about the guy hammering a round lead ball into a 45 cal bore the measure the bore diameter. It had no melting of lead and pouring it in a barrel.

                So where did you post the video your were talking about.


                • That’s the one I posted because it showed exactly how and where to measure but if you research bore slugging it’s usually done by pouring molten lead down the barrel while some material is used to stop the lead from going all the way through.

                  • Reb
                    Ok I am glad it was the right one them and it was very informative, but I don’t think I will use a plastic hammer to push the pellets thru the bore like he did in the video.


            • Which measurement to pick may depend on what you want the pellet to do…

              If you want the head to ride centered on the lands, but not engrave the rifling (making for an easier to load pellet and leaving that function to the skirt when it blows out) you’d be using the diameter of the valleys in the pellet. Conversely, if you want the head to fully engrave the rifling (which could make for hard loading if the rifling at the breach hasn’t been relieved or throated), you want the full outer diameter.

              A size between the two would give partial engraving during loading.

              • Baron Wulfraed
                I understand the loose fit and sealing only of the skirt to the bore and the tight fit as well as the middle fit, but which is the best for performance and accuracy and all around middle of the two parameters or is it one fit for performance, one fit for accuracy and I would assume the middle fit would give a middle ground to performance and accuracy.


                • I’m going to go out on a limb and say: It probably depends on the pellet…

                  Where one pellet/design may prefer to ride the lands for best accuracy, another may need to fill the grooves. A really heavy nose pellet riding the lands might have enough mass that the skirt strips off rather than spin-up the pellet — such a pellet may need to have the nose engrave on the rifling; and a longer pressure curve to accelerate (PCP rather than spring).

                  Measuring the “slug” would give you the limits of usability. A pellet head smaller than the lands is going to rest cocked, or wobble about the skirt. A pellet head larger than the grooves is going to be very hard to start — as you have to shave off the excess diameter just to get it into the bore.

                  Between those extremes you probably just have to shoot samples, and stock up on the one with the best precision.

                  If you change to a different brand or design, you have to repeat the shooting of samples as it may want a different fit.

                  • Baron wulfraed
                    It is getting to be that the easiest way is just as BB says is trial and error because with everything we have discussed here on measuring and fitting it has not really gained any ground on narrowing down the range of pellets to be tested any faster than the plain old trial and error method.

                    So instead of fry my few brain cells I have left with all the fitting and measuring I believe it would be much more fun and just as fast to shoot several different pellets to find the ones that work best.

                    I have had enough brain exercising in the span of my career in the motor vehicle repair and testing world so that if it is not absolutely necessary now to accomplish what I want to do I would rather take the fun route than the non fun route.

                    I thank you for your time and through explanation of the scientific process of selecting the correct pellet diameters but it has become more involved than I want to get right now. I have several projects of gun build going on right now and just cannot deal with all the tedious measuring and fitting right now but will keep it in my records for use in the future when I have caught up on the projects and can give it the time and concentration it will require to achieve the goal correctly.


        • Slugging the bore might be a route, though if the muzzle is choked you may have to work both ways…

          Use a soft pellet, and a pair of proper sized cleaning rods… Insert pellet, push a few inches into the barrel with rod1, hold position, use rod2 from (ugh) muzzle end to tap on the pellet (helping to form it to the bore). Remove rod1, and carefully push the pellet back out the breach end.

          When done, you should have something easier to measure (calipers or micrometer should be usable).

          • Baron Wulfraed
            I just watched the video Reb put a link to and your explanation has given me dome more work and thing to learn that should help narrow down the number of pellets to test with as I know it is still trial and error but I was just wanting to narrow the field down some what and I think that will help accomplish that very nicely.

            Thanks Buldawg

        • I almost didn’t share the link due to me getting spammed so much and the scolding I got the other day. Glad I could be of service at this hour. Be careful not to mix them up!

      • Reb
        I have seen those sample packs and thought about getting a pack for just that purpose and it will most likely be what I do once my scores in the FT matches start to improve above a 2 out of 48. I will admit that I did not get my gun sighted in correctly before the first match and was planning to do the morning of the matches but it was way to windy to even have any chance of being close to zero.


    • Buldawg,

      For rough tests like this I don’t bother with head sizes. If I plan to compete with an airgun, I do what anyone does — test them all and pick the best.

      The one thing I refuse doing is clamping any airgun in a vise. I have outshot vise-clamped guns so many times that I know it is a futile drill.


  5. It seems that since you knew what pellets you were firing confirmation bias could be an issue. Not saying you would do that on purpose, just that it happens unintentionally all the time. This is why we have things like double blind drug trials. Have you ever considered having another person load the rifle to eliminate this factor?

    • This test already has a great many factors. Consistently loading a pellet the same way should be sufficient. Having another person do so could introduce another factor. This test is onerous enough as it is.

      • I can’t imagine air rifle shooting ever being onerous. I was trying new pellets last night and it was a great form of relaxation to me. I had not considered it before, but in the future I will have my wife place a number of each pellet to be tested into an envelope so I can eliminate at least try be unaware of the brand or cost of each pellet. A particularly large one is the fact that people value more expensive or things they built more than cheap items, even if the only difference is the label. See what is happening in the world of rye whiskey with cheap and expensive brands selling the same MGP whiskey.

        Loading the pellets in a similar manner is nothing like controlling for placebo and confirmation bias. Both of those could have a great deal of impact on the outcome without any malice on the part of the writer.

        • Yes you could do that. In fact that seems to be a very good way, but if you are already familiar with the pellets you are regularly using then you could possibly identify the brand upon opening the envelope. It would be a good method though especially if you are testing only one type of pellet, as in this case wadcutters.

          My problem was asking somebody else to load the pellets for you might not enjoy partaking in the test by just acting as the loader is one, the other problem is that if you ask somebody else to load for you and you get good results could you possibly get the same results if you were the one loading?

          Loading the pellets in a consistent manner would be the equivalent of requiring all test subjects to take the medication the same way because it is part of the methodology. Placing the pellets in unbranded containers marked only by a number is equivalent to not telling who has a drug and who has a placebo.

          • I was more thinking make it a fun activity with friends or family. You shoot 10 they loaded,then they shoot 10 you loaded. All blind as to which pellets are which, or at least as much as they can be. Using a loading tool might be a way to ensure the loading stays the same.

            Those are indeed great ways to describe both of these phenomena. I think both of these are important if you really want truly unbiased results.

            • Ahh…but doesn’t that introduce another factor into the mix? Each shooter has their own level of competency and accuracy. Which brings us back to this test.

              I look as this test as setting up the methodology one might use in evaluating pellets for use. The objective of this test that I see is to determine if budget pellets are good enough to use in practice to stretch the budget allowing the shooter to spend more time on the firing line. This is in comparison to known accurate pellets (an unavoidable bias, think of it as comparison against a gold standard).

              In any event everybody will enjoy another reason for shooting their airgun more.

              • We are not testing the shooter, only the pellets. So ideally we would have a great many shooters. Some very good, others not very good at all.

                I could see that as a way of looking at it, but I still think the bias could be minimized in a great many ways we have already discussed. I sure would hate to be buying expensive pellets just because my own bias makes me shoot them better. For the record, I do buy expensive pellets. I bought a single pack of crosman cheapies to compare and while they are fine for man eating tin cans I do not shoot them for target work. I will say my testing was not blind, nor am I as good a shooter as BB, nor was I careful to load them the same way each time.

                Looks like I will have to test those again, I guess that means more shooting for me.

        • Steven I agree with your statement in regards to “perceived” superiority. We had many owners of Toyota Avalons that would bring their cars in making sure that we understood it was more like a Mercedes than a Camry and wanting Avalon parts NOT Camry parts. Simple truth is they’re the same car, the Avalon may have more bells & whistles & SOMETIMES larger engine sizes but for the most part it’s just a glorified Camry. Same goes for Lexus.


          • Cars are indeed a great example of this. Rye whisky and bourbon are another, same MGP/LDI juice being sold in different bottles. Vodka is another one, almost all those new brands you see in your liquor store are ADM product code 020001 watered down to 80 proof. The price is only based on how fancy the bottle and label are. Archer Daniels Midland sells 95% alcohol as product code 02001 in tanker trucks, tanker rail car and by the liquid tote, then those folks just bottle it with tap water.

            Before you think I am insulting them, I love ADM 02001, they make by far the purest drinking alcohol one can buy. I just won’t pay more for the same stuff in a fancier bottle.

            WhistlePig takes Alberta Premium whiskey and sells it for far more. People constantly rate WhistlePig higher, even though it is the same exact product.

            We as humans are really susceptible to this since so much of how we experience something is based on our emotions about the product.

            • I went to a tasting at a local liquor store a while back and they had a bunch of these new brands free for the sampling in an attempt to sell their new higher end products. Most of which were vodkas, not being a vodka drinker(kills my throat before I can even catch a buzz!)I stuck with the whiskeys.I tried a Jim Beam Devil’s cut(bottom o’ the barrel) which in my opinion was far superior to the Angel’s cut(top o’ the barrel). I can’t stand Jim Beam but the smoky flavor was right up my alley or straight down my throat.

      • Sorry that I was unclear, that is not what I meant.
        To clarify, because you know at the time you are shooting cheap daisy pellets that you are shooting cheap daisy pellets there may well be a conscious or not reduction in effort or some other subtle change in your shooting or scoring. When you know you are shooting the best or worst pellet or rifle that can and will have subtle impacts on how you perform. I don’t think the human that is exempt from that has yet been born.

        I mention double blind drug trials because they deal with this issue, telling someone they are taking a drug can have much the same effects as actually giving them the drug. That is called the placebo effect.

        The other issue here is humans have a tendency to value more expensive or harder to acquire items more even if their functional value is less. I am sure you have seen someone defend something they bought, even though they knew it was a poor purchase.

        Again, I am not accusing you of anything, I am pointing out shortcomings of this kind of testing involving any human. So the generally accepted method of avoiding that is to limit the human factor. Don’t let the human know what kind of pellet he is shooting, for example. Don’t let him know which target he is scoring, etc.

        This is quite likely overkill, but it would be interesting to at least eliminate another variable.

        • SteveG,

          Ahh! Gotcha!

          Yes, it is possible that I relax my hold when shooting the cheaper pellets. Of course I try not to, but that kind of bias is impossible for the shooter to control. And, as you say, it’s way down in the details. I am looking for larger differences, such as the ones the Daisy pellets gave me in today’s test.


          • The report shows that you get what you pay for,It’s not hard to see that
            the higher end pellets are worth the extra cost,I have tons of lead pellets
            that I have bought over the years.I do not think in my lifetime I will ever use them up.
            I have some molds I purchased years ago from the UK I was thinking that I
            could melt down those excess pells to get rid of them and I will have a supply of custom
            made hunting pells that are comparable to the Rabbit Magnum. I learned there isn’t
            one size fits all in the pellet field. I have narrowed down which pellets I will stick with
            and only if a new and improved version comes around I will give it a hard look.

          • I’m afraid that I don’t see it. Perhaps an unschooled shooter, might subtly change something that might affect the scoring, but even there,, I doubt it would be much of a change. But with an experienced shooter,, I simply donot believe that there would be enough difference cause by unconscious bias to be measurable.
            There are too many parts to an acceptable shot ( one that BB would find acceptable) to believe that it would even occur to the shooter, which pellet he is shooting at that time. When I am “in the zone”, once loaded, the pellet is no longer a part of the process. Someone who has shot the hundreds of thousands of pellets that BB has, would be far less likely to be affected than an occasional shooter.
            While “name bias” might have an affect on the perceived, or subjective analysis,, I don’t see that happening in any objective ( direct measurement) analysis, like this one,,, particularly this one.

          • BB,Every time you do a test on anything you have to deal with your own bias or prejudice.I’m sure that sometimes it is harder than others.But why should we feel that this time is any different?Curious isn’t it?-Tin Can Man-

    • I think that with so much experience shooting guns–doing exactly the same thing, shot after shot–comes consistency, so I’ve got to have confidence in B.B.’s results. I, too, have actually had my wife randomize ammo lots for me for certain testing, but for most testing I know exactly what I’m shooting and like to believe my results are unbiased. I’ve been disappointed by enough premium pellets–and very pleasantly surprised by some “cheapies”–to believe that my expectations are not affecting my results. (Though ask me again in a year or two!)

      Any experiment tries to minimize the number of variables, and the amount of variation within the remaining variables. Scientifically, the most consistently-manufactured pellet should give the most repeatable results (=smallest groups), but in real-life experience it just doesn’t always work that way. There are so, so many variables. I’m sure B.B. is compensating for ambient air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, barrel length, trigger pull weight, and shooting shirt color!

  6. Dear BB,
    Thank you for your lightning fast response on my question (yesterday) and thanks again for the picture of the front element you uploaded today. As i can imagine, this kind of front sight is perfectly useful for 10m targets where the bullseye fills the whole hole and makes shooting much easier. I usually shoot long to extreme range (50+ – 100+ yards with .177, 50+ – 200+ with .22) with airguns so, even a magpie will look small inside this at a distance of 75 yards for example. I have two elements with smaller diameter holes than the one depicted in your photo. These are going to be perfect for the yardage i shoot, i think. I now use a 1.5mm wide front post and a thoroughly modified RWS 100 rear diopter sight (taken away from a Diana 100 rifle), which matches perfectly with my .177 HW77 Venom, on the .22 i use 4-16x50mm or 6-24×50 optics. The HW77 shoots CP Lites at 970 fps and last Saturday, among others at closer distances, i took a magpie cleanly (penetrated her throughout both wings) at 87 yards. Using anything wider than the 1.5mm post at that distance would make the shot a little bit tricky i suppose, because it would cover the whole image of the bird’s body. The only real pain in the a.. with the peep sight is shooting at a steep angle of 25+ degrees where, for example, to hit a 50 yard target i have to adjust the sights at 30-35 yards and even then, i have quite a few missed shots. I think it’s gonna be interesting, to say the least, to aim the target through a pair of different diameter holes (back-forth) as i’ll be able to see the whole of it, especially at longer distances.

    Thanks again in advance, all my best wishes for you and your beloved and the warmest of greetings from always-sunny-despite-depression, summer-like Athens.

    • Digannis” I hope I got close to the correct spelling, I am glad you are into air guns and shooting
      you sound like you have it all together and enjoying the sport.I am not into using peep sights
      with my old tired eyes,It’s scopes from now on I took my new Benjamin .22 NP Trail hunting on
      Monday and I was right on,Two crows and an armidillo,I had my regular firearm with me and
      and was shooting the air gun so I wouldn’t disturb the other game I was hunting for, It gave me
      a chance in the field to try out two hunting pells and break in the gun at the same time.
      I live near Tarpon Springs,FL and we have a large Greek population that founded the sponge
      industry and now is one of the top tourist attractions in FL,87 yards,That’s pretty good with an
      open sight.Good luck and have fun.

      • Hi Mike,
        i hope i got it right, according to your username. I know my name sounds…Greek (LOL) to you just because, i’m native Greek. The right pronunciation is Gi-a-nnis except you put “Y” instead of “G” and you say it like saying yeast, changing -east to -iannis. “I” sounds like your “E” in Greek. No matter how you spell it, a name is just a name, character is what really counts and i think you’re all kind and welcoming here in the blog.
        Well, i’m really happy for what you’ve achieved while hunting and i wish you luck, health and wealth to keep going strong for many many years, enjoying your life to the maximum, any moment, anywhere, surrounded by them you love most.
        As for myself, being 40, an ex-special forces sharpshooter and keen airgun and small bore shooting athlete, i feel very comfortable shooting guns at extreme ranges, all the time, with minimal effort. What makes me feel bored is, shooting paper targets at an indoor range (although i have to, every time we have an indoor shooting event). Anyway, shooting at long to extreme ranges with a powerful yet mild, finely tuned airgun, is my most relaxing and beloved outdoor activity, apart from diving, mountain hiking, swimming and … gardening (!!!).
        What is extremely recreational is, being an owner of twenty acres of land by the sea, in the center of an iconic remote, peaceful small gulf, where me and my wife have a cottage, and are the sole residents for a range of 3.5 miles, i get my zodiac early in the morning when the atmosphere is dead calm and quite warm (like most time in Greece) and “plant” targets on the surface of the lake-like small gulf out to a range of 400 yards, measured by precise laser meter, and use my 17ft/lb HW77 Venom .177 out to 250 yards and my 24ft/lb HW80 Venom .22 to the very end of the yardage, to practice. I use CP Lites, H&N FTT and JSB Exacts for the .177 and H&N FTT 5.53 (ONLY these, nothing else) for the .22. Looking through peep sight or glass, the impact of the pellet on the dead calm surface of the water is amazingly amusing and extremely educational at the same time. It takes me 1-4 pellets to hit even the furthest of the targets (even with mild to moderate wind). The .177 has a maximum range of 450+ yards with the pellets i use so, 250 yards is a piece of cake to reach and the .22 reaches out to 550 yards with the FTTs so, no problem for 450, it just takes 4+ seconds for the pellet to get there. If you ever have the opportunity, try doing so, you’ll remember my words. Shooting on still water, with “heavy”, high humidity, warm atmosphere, is even better learning shooting class than shooting in the desert! Different (but very even) pellet drop, different mid-air friction, different ballistics but, much more linear.
        87 yards is a 95% possibility with peep sights on the HW77 Venom on a dead-calm day (let aside the scoped HW80), if you’ve spent more than half your life shooting extreme range targets so, trust me, no matter how old you are, if you can calculate range and estimate atmosphere conditions right and your arm tends to shoot where your eyes look, then you’re a hell of a shooter! And everyone can except, physical/medical conditions prevent somebody from being so.
        That’s all for now dear friend, thank you all for being tolerant to me and my book-long paragraphs, have a nice evening out there and all the best to you and your beloved ones.

        Yours sincerely

      • Yes sir,
        you’re 100% there!!! Take the Italian name Gianni (which is practically the same name in Italian, John in English, Juan in Spanish), cut “G” and add “Y” at the beginning and “S” at the end. So yes, it’s pronounced Yee-ahh-niss!!!

        Have a nice evening, all my best wishes to you and your beloved ones.

    • Hi, Yiannis. Your lake shooting setup sounds like way too much fun!

      When you shoot your hw77 at those long ranges, do you click the peep sights for different ranges?


      • Hi Jan,
        On the HW77, my modified RWS100 rear peep sight is paired with the HW80’s front sight (i forgot to mention in my first post that I replaced the 77’s front sight with the out-of-use one of my scoped 80). The initial combination, given the fact that rear peep has a range of 240 clicks from bottom to top, translated to a range of about 25 to 85 yards with a 40 yard zero (to shoot closer than 25 yards i had to raise the rear peep accordingly, to compensate the fact that from the center of the bore to the top of the post’s blade the height is about 1.25″ or 30mm approximately). I then used a very fine file to reduce the front post’s blade height by 2mm and this gave me a range from 20 to about 130 yards, given the fact that my gun is still zeroed in 40 at yards. The front post blade, not being up to the center of the cylindrical front sight, will not affect your point of aim when you shoot at targets +/- 15 degrees from your eye’s height but, this is what makes things tricky when you shoot at a target that’s more than +/- 20 to 25 degrees (from ground level towards a magpie on a near tree top for example) because, physics dictate that when peeping through holes, the center of the hole is where our eye focuses so, shifting or lowering this point of view affects ballistics accordingly. After some practice, it becomes less impacting though; some low rate of missed shots will always be present i suppose.
        So, after all this technical stuff, my answer to your question is “Yes”! For shooting at these distances, i move the rear sight up and down from the 40 yard zero point (almost always upwards, due to long range shooting) but, to be able to do this efficiently, i spent almost two weekends, trying to determine the MOA value i had to use in Hawke’s ChairGun Pro software, which i always use for shooting. Well, on my android device i use version 1.2.5 of the software and the MOA is set to an awkward 6.0085 value. For example, when i shot the magpie at 87 yards last Saturday, ChairGun showed me that i had to raise the rear peep by 82 clicks to go from 40 yards zero to 87 yards target. I gave it 85 clicks (i know, from experience, that i slightly pull the gun a hair downwards when shooting, to eliminate the recoil) and “POP” the maggie fell like a stone, pierced throughout, struck exactly in the middle of her right wing. I had a very clear background because the bird was sitting on a fence post with nothing but sea behind her, absolutely zero wind blow and the gun resting on my arm, on a veranda (porch you call it i think) table.
        BE CAREFULL though, this ONLY works for my peep sight configuration! I don’t know what kind of MOA data, each and every single peep sight out there should be fed with, to work correctly!
        And last but not least, to reach out to 250 yards, I put the rear sight all the way up, which gives me the maximum range of about 130, as I mentioned before, and then raise the whole aimpoint by shifting the gun, so the whole front post gets over the target, exactly up to the base of the blade. After a brief warm-up session, on a dead-calm day, every experienced shooter with right eye vision (wearing glasses doesn’t affect peep sights negatively, not at all, as my fellow co-shooters who wear a pair tell me), will be able to put at least 8 out of 10 pellets, inside a 5 inch circle at any distance out to 250 yards (given the fact that background and surrounding contrast, let someone acquire the target properly).
        That’s it Jan, I hope I covered you. Feel free to ask me whatever you like about extreme range shooting, airgun or not, I’ll be more than happy to answer. Just remember, I use page-long paragraphs that might be boring but, everyone has pros a cons and I’m just a human being with lots of…the latter…;-)

        Best wishes to all, it’s 02:33 in Athens and the night is still young…

  7. I have found that the more expensive pellets have better consistency because of less deviation of weight from pellet to pellet.
    The R10 pellets were the best in this regard.
    I have weight sorted pellets a few times. Not for competition, but to justifythe price of good pellets.
    The cheap pellets vary as much as .50 grain +/- from pellet to pellet.
    The primo pellets only varied .05-.10 grain.
    When trying to measure fps/standard deviation, .50 grain makes a huge difference to POI. Dealing with pellets that are only 7-8 grains, its a huge difference. Does 10 fps matter for accuracy? Yes.
    I would be curious of the weight consistency of the pellets you tested here. Might shed more light on what makes a good pellet, good.
    I enjoy your posts, keep up the good work.

  8. OK, time to admit I’m a nit and am easily offended when someone disparages a fine gun like the Diana 72.

    I know the word “obsolete” has many meanings but my knee jerk reaction is that it means “outdated” and “no longer of any use”.

    Since the Diana 72 is “timeless” and “still a very useful” tool for putting small holes in paper, I’d describe it as “vintage” rather than obsolete.

    Now I feel better. Carry on.


  9. What is the point of doing target practice with a less-than-optimal pellet? Even in practice, the object should be to get the highest score possible.

    Now, plinking could be another matter, but it is still more fun if you can hit the target consistently. To me, plinking is shooting at non-scorable targets (ping-pong balls, cans, etc.).

    The price difference between high-quality and cheap pellets is not enough to justify shooting low-quality pellets on price advantage alone. Pellet availability in a rural area may be another matter. I like to use PA’s better pellets and order several tins at a time.

    .22lr ammunition is a challenge to find out here. Locally, the price is 8.5 cents a round. Compare that to pellet prices, and even high priced pellets are pretty cheap.


  10. B.B.

    This has been an interesting series but I for one am glad you are taking a break for now. You have a bit of a backlog accuracy testing like the, Ruger Air Hawk, Umarex NGX APX, Webley Rebel and Umarex Fuel. Your 2014 Christmas gift list is also due I always seem to find one or two things of interest to get my self each year from the list.


    • Wow! Did you just have an epiphany!? Oh, wait, that was me! Since bb is backed up on accuracy tests for the guns you mentioned, and a good few readers may want more on this pellet comparison…. see where Im going? Throw one bargain pellet group into the mix and see how they stand with your normal scrupulous accuracy tests!

        • RDNA

          True with the exception of the Webley I have seen these guns for sale at one or more of the local box stores in my area. But what B.B. has done with the series is just a starting point for most of the blog readers. We will still need to break in a new gun and then test multiple pellets to see what works best for our own guns. Example my 460 Magnum won’t group 10.34gr Air Arms Field Heavy pellets much under 1″ yet my Ruger Air Hawk shoots the same pellets .5″ with ease. So is the 460 Magnum defective or junk, no it just doesn’t seem to like the Air Arms pellet. I have plenty of other pellets in my bag that work well in the 460 Magnum including the JSB Diabolo Exact Heavy which is also a 10.34gr pellet with the same 4.52mm head size. Go figure that one out.


        • I’m waiting for the Sport gun tests.

          I set targets out in the yard at marked distances. 15,25,35 and 50 yards. So I cant wait to see BB’s 25 yard tests. You think the tests he just did was interesting. Watch what happens at 25 yards. Although I would rather see the Sport gun tests done at 35 yards. Anyway it will still be interesting at 25 yards.

          • Yes things will change at 25yds. Just look back at the test of the Daisy 880. Ten meter with open sights this gun was looking like the deal of the century the move back to 25yds showed that wasn’t the case.


  11. Hello B.B.,guys
    Long time listener, first time caller. I was reading through some previous blogs that I missed lately and I was intrigued by Ray Apelles D54 with electronic trigger. My question is how does the electronic trigger work? I researched the topic and all I could find were solenoids to actuate the hammer on PCPs like the morini and fwb90 to reduce hammer bounce. So would the benefit on a springer just be a lighter trigger pull? I would also like to thank you for doing this blog, I have shot firearms my whole life but airguns for only the past year and a half. We may not always comment but I’m certain there are many others like myself who have been saved a lot of grief (especially with scopes) from reading these blogs and comments.

    • Caleb,

      welcome to the blog!

      A solenoid is just an electronic switch that can be made to do anything. Even push a sear off. Ray’s trigger is extremely light (1.6 oz.) and crisp. It does work.

      I shot it at the Pyramyd AIR Cip.


  12. Hello BB,

    The BSA PCP rifles I bought each included a packet of molykote grease for the fill probe o-rings. When these run out, can I use Kleen-bore TWB-25B grease as a substitute?

    • Ron,

      Stacey from Pyramyd Air’s tech department supplied this answer:

      We have always been told only pure silicone grease/oil should be recommended on seals in high pressure situations. (we have used some others with no combustion but…)

      Molykote makes different greases and this little pack is surely silicone (looks like it, not like moly like you could be thinking)

      From what I see, this oil in question is synthetic but I can not find an msds for it and from what I can see is recommended for metal lube but saw somewhere that it typically does not harm wood, leather and rubber etc…

      So… it does not seem like something that would necessarily be ideal for conditioning o-rings, let alone in high pressure zone.

      Could work fine after all but not in the position to say that.


  13. Can’t help but smile when reading the comments containing observations that call into question esoteric factors in this simple test like head sizes, weighing pellets, rolling pellets, factoring in a possible mental bias of the shooter for cheap pellets vs. more expensive pellets, etc., etc.

    Makes me wonder if these are real shooters or internet shooters.

    No matter what ammo is loaded in my gun I hope for supreme accuracy before I pull the trigger. If I find a load or a pellet that gives me a glimmer of Hope for accuracy I’m then and only then chasing refinement of the load or in the case of pellets weighing, sorting, trying different head sizes, etc. it’s not the other way around.

    Cheap pellet accuracy vs. more expensive pellet accuracy is the test. If there is a bias wouldn’t it be to show that cheap pellets perform best or at least as well to grow this hobby and increase sales at PA? This question is, of course, directed at those that consistently doubt the validity and motive of these well intentioned experiments.


  14. What are the most critical variables that affect pellet accuracy? I can think of several. Uniformity, mass, shape, skirt softness, hardness, head diameter, etc. In general premium pellets work better, but there are surprises. My Benjamin Discovery loves Crossman premiers, or H&N Barracudas, but will barely stay on paper with the Barracuda magnum. I guess the magnum pellet is too heavy for the twist rate. My Benjamin 397 likes soft skirted RWS super domes best at only four pumps. The Kodiak match is a waste of money in my 397, but is a fine pellet for the Discovery. My old Daisy 880 likes Daisy wadcutters just fine and is not a good fifty yard rifle with anything. An approach to choosing a pellet might be as follows: 1. Choose a range. Less than 15 yards pick wadcutters, more than fifteen pick domes. 2. Try various mass pellets using a sampler pack such as the ones Pyramid sells. 3. Experiment with different head diameters of the same pellet if possible. 4. Try softer and harder pellets at what seems to be the mass your rifle likes. More powerful rifles with deeper rifling seem to like harder pellet skirts. Softer shooting rifles with scratch rifling can still be very accurate with soft skirted pellets. 5. Now that you have narrowed done a mass, shape, and softness, pick the most uniform pellets you can find. JSB makes uniformity their claim to fame, but others can also be rather good. What am I leaving out?

  15. Mr. Gaylord:
    On behalf of the young men and women in Venture Crew 357 and all the junior shooters in 10 Meter shooting, thank you for the extensive work you’ve done on these three pellet accuracy articles. I will definitely incorporate your efforts into my coaching and share your pellet testing results with all the junior members of the crew.
    William Schooley
    Venture Crew 357
    Chelsea, MI

    • William,

      You asked about 10m meter youth guns and I wondered what would happen, as well. I have to say I was surprised by how well the bargain pellets did in this test. The only real problem that I see is the Daisy pellets in the Diana 72, but that is just one specific case. In the Crosman Challenger, the Daisy pellets did fine.

      Thanks for your idea. You got me started on a test I’ve wanted to for a long time.


  16. I have to make one comment back that I think you aimed at me.

    “I have to make this last comment. We had a reader comment yesterday that I selected the best of the premium pellets — the ones I knew the rifles liked, but used any bargain pellet that came from either a discount store or a large sporting goods chain store. That is correct. I did it that way because that’s what I’m testing.”

    You asked two questions in your opening of this article.
    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?


    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 would say yes to both of your questions, because from tin to tin on your premium pellets you have higher standard of quality with those pellets….that does not mean you will not get groups that can equal or better out of the “cheap” pellets, you just don’t have that same level of quality on getting a “good” batch or not.

    I did the same kind of testing with one of those dial a pellets from daisy, I was shooting 20oz pop bottles and shooting the tops off. Finding that I was hitting them with the “cheap” pellets I put out some targets and found that that specific “tin” of daisy shot better then the most loved pellet out of that given rifle. I bought 2 more “tins” of those same red daisy pellets, at 10 yards I could not keep the next set on the same half of an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. With they kind of WORK you are doing you can’t have that. You need a pellet that you KNOW is going to be as close to the same from tin to tin.

    CAN they shoot as well if not better then the best pellet you rifle has ever seen….sure…..will it do it time and time again, NO, and that is not something you can have if you are reviewing air guns or shooting tree rats.

    • Greg,

      I understand what you are saying, and I agree. I have to use pellets I can rely on all the time. Sometimes the bargain pellet will shine and infrequently the premium pellets will tank. You are really going to smile when you read Wednesday’s report! 😉


    • Greg, I think I recall your cap unscrewing session! Those were Daisy wad-cutters? I checked at Wally’s for them when I went in for my prescriptions, still only Dial a pellets. I’ll be swinging through Tractor Supply some time this week but told them “If you got ’em I’ll buy ’em here!”
      Nice shooting!


  17. Muzzle energy, of any given pellet, is about as pointless a measure of ballistic efficiency as muzzle accuracy would be, why, as a matter of course we don’t measure it at both the muzzle and 40 yards as a comparative I’ll never know, in pest control terms the current method tells me almost nothing.
    It’s like testing anything other than match wadcutters and cheapo plinkers for accuracy at 10m, the correct response to a test of a field target target or hunting pellet at that sort of range is “who cares?”….. But everyone does it.

    • Muzzle energy, however, is
      1) easy to obtain (muzzle velocity & pellet weight — and it is much easier to reliably trigger the screens on a chronograph when you aren’t trying to lob a pellet through a 6x6x18″ tube from half a football field away)
      2) given a fairly good value for ballistic coefficient, the above can be used with ballistic programs to compute retained energy at distance, along with velocity, wind drift effects, etc.

  18. Yes, the problem is with the drag co-efficiencies is it varies at different velocities and any figure you may acheive downrange will be encumbant on knowing the figure at as many of the reducing velocities as you can feed into the program, snipers have to know these figures, or more commonly have them in a handheld device for their given load and projectile, they are normally supplied by the weapons system manufacturer, however it is still only range estimation as the number of coefficiency figures given are obviously finite. I haven’t yet seen a pellet manufacturer give these figures, H&N do publish the coefficiency figure at a given (and unknown) velocity, and a secondary downrange energy for their pellets based on an initial muzzle energy which is, at least, partially helpful. In fact, they seem to be the only manufacturer who design with the principles of downrange energy VS accuracy in mind, their FTT pellets for example have a little less accuracy at 30m than the higher drag, more shuttlecock designs of JSB etc but do retain over 10% more energy at the quarry. If the accuracy is still acceptable at the ranges you shoot at, then this would be the pellet to use for hunting, a JSB might shrink the grouping by 1/16 but may deliver a less lethal wallop.
    If you can’t put the pellet utterly consistently through a 6″ hole at 40 yards, there’s quite a chance you should be perhaps thinking of a different sport……I know it’s a greater effort on behalf of the tester, but it’s, along with the accuracy at those sort of ranges, the ONLY figure the hunters amongst us really need to know.

  19. I’ll give you a better example, I can almost guarantee that an RWS Hobby will give you great muzzle energy in your springer, allied to perhaps, very decent accuracy at 25 yards, maybe even better than your JSB exacts, or Air Arms, or Falcons
    Now take that target out to 50 yards, and the chrono out to 40 yards, and a completely, and far more relevant to the hunter, picture emerges.

  20. We have been using the H&N Finale Match Pistol for a couple years now and have found them to shoot the tightest groups. We have been shooting 3PAR with mostly Challenger 2009 and a few Air Force Edge. I noticed today that there is also a H&N Match Pistol (no Finale) with all of the same specifications but about $3 a tin less. What is the difference in the two pellets?


  21. As stated above: “Once we have that supply we do special things, such as sorting the pellets by weight and scanning for imperfections.”

    I do hope we will see a list of actions to be taken to help turn even the junky pellets into something a little more usable. For example, weighing pellets, inspection for bent skirts, removing the layer of crud (swarf?) they might have on them, that sort of thing.

    I am also wondering about depth of seating, re-checking zero, cleaning the barrel, etc.

    So many blog entries, and it can be a LOT of work to check the indexing! 😀

    Thanks for everything you do, BB.

  22. Hey BB,
    Good point you want to highlight in this series. Would be a little scientific if you design the pellet used randomized and anonymously. Sure you put your best efforts on every shot you taken, but someone will think suggestion factor matter.

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