Testing the .177 Pelletgage: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Pelletgage
The Pelletgage comes in .177 caliber at present. The holes are in a steel plate. A plastic plate above the gage plate helps guide the pellet head to the gage hole.

This report covers:

  • Introduction to the Pelletgage
  • How it works
  • How can the Pelletgage be used?
  • How accurate is the Pelletgage?
  • There is a technique to measuring
  • Is the Pelletgage necessary?
  • What comes next?
  • Where to get a Pelletgage

Introduction to the Pelletgage

The Pelletgage is a precision tool that lets you measure the pellet head sizes. The device is a metal plate with graduated holes that accept or reject pellet heads. If a hole accepts a head, the pellet falls through and will usually be caught on the skirt that’s wider than the head. The holes range in size from 4.47mm to 4.56mm.

The Pelletgage does not change the size of the pellet. That is not its function. It measures the pellet head size so you can be sure they’re consistent.

Pellet rejected
This pellet’s head is larger than 4.49mm. Photo provided by Pelletgage.

Pellet accepted
This pellet’s head (same pellet as above) is 4.50mm. Photo provided by Pelletgage.

How it works

You drop the pellet head-first into the hole you wish to use. The instrument has a plastic plate above the precision steel gage plate to help guide the pellet head. If the head drops through the hole in the steel gage plate, you know that the pellet head has got to be smaller than that hole. I start with a small hole and work up. For instance, if I’m measuring a pellet that’s supposed to have a 4.51mm head, I’ll start with the 4.50mm hole. If the head doesn’t drop through, I move up to larger holes until it does. The first hole it drops through is the head size.

If I don’t know the head size of my pellet, I start small and gradually increase until I find it. For example, I discovered that .177 RWS Superdome pellets have 4.51mm heads, according to my gauge. And I also found they’re very uniform. I measured 10 pellets for this report, and all 10 failed to pass through the 4.50mm hole but did pass through the 4.51mm hole.

You might think that will happen with every pellet, so I also tested H&N Baracuda Match pellets that are supposed to have 4.52mm heads. They were also very uniform, but the gage measured their heads at 4.54mm instead of 4.52mm. More on that in a moment.

Superdomes gaged
I gaged 10 RWS Superdome pellets and they all had 4.51mm heads. That’s uniformity.

I then measured 10 .177-caliber Beeman Devastator pellets. Three of them measured 4.51mm, four measured 4.53mm and the last three measured 4.54mm. None measured 4.52mm. From 4.51mm to 4.54mm is a wide variation! We need to give that that some thought. More on this in a bit.

Beeman Devastators
When I gaged 10 Beeman Devastator pellets, they had 3 different-sized heads. None of them had a 4.52mm head. This variation is much larger than I would have suspected before using the Pelletgage.

How can the Pelletgage be used?

1. Sorting pellets by head size. We know that pellet head sizes affect accuracy, so sort them with the Pelletgage to find pellets with the same size head. Yes, some tins say the pellets inside have heads that are all one size, but with the Pelletgage you’ll know for sure. Combine this with sorting each pellet by weight. Think this is going too far? I can tell you with certainty that this is exactly what the champions will do. Those who don’t do things like this are usually the also-rans.

2. Finding the head sizes of pellets whose sizes are not marked on their containers. I have already done this with RWS Superdomes mentioned above, and now know they have heads that measure 4.51mm — according to my gage. If you have an airgun that prefers pellets with certain-sized heads, the gage is a way to discover potental candidates without shooting every pellet in your inventory.

3. Verifying the head size that’s marked on the tin. I’ve already told you I have H&N Baracuda Match pellets whose heads are supposed to be 4.52mm. The gage says they’re 4.54mm. It also says their heads are very uniform. Okay, I know that my gage doesn’t agree with the head size measurements from H&N. That really doesn’t matter to me, but it’s nice to know. Is the gage off a bit? Maybe so, but is it off as much as 0.02mm? Probably not, as you’ll shortly discover. The equipment that was used to make the gage is far more precise than that. I will just tuck that piece of information in my head for now and see if it ever becomes important.

4. Comparing one tin of pellets to another tin of the same pellets. As pellets are made, the dies that swage them wear. Eventually, the die cavities open up and the dimensions of the pellets change. Do the pellets in the tin you just bought have the same size heads as the pellets you bought a year ago? The Pelletgage will tell you.

How accurate is the Pelletgage?

Accuracy in a precision measuring tool is always a concern. First of all, let me address those who believe they can measure pellet heads with a micrometer or a caliper. No, you can’t. Those tools do not have the ability to find the exact chord (the diameter of a circle — its widest point) of the small pellet head each and every time. The pellets can tip in their jaws and the jaws can also hit the rims of the pellet heads off the mark of the true chord by a few degrees, measuring something less than the full diameter.

These measuring instruments also close their jaws with some force that can too easily flatten thin diameters of soft lead pellet heads. I admit the latter is not a great concern for a machinist who measures things with precision all the time, but it’s a concern for the amateur who isn’t that familiar with measuring things.

The former — finding the exact chord of a small thin circle of soft lead — is hard no matter who you are or what you do for a living. The Pelletgage eliminates the need for finding the chord.

I can tell you that the Pelletgage is manufactured with a diode-pumped fiber laser using oxygen process gas to produce cuts that are very smooth. This laser cuts to an accuracy of better than 10 microns (one micron is one-millionth of a meter and one-thousandth of a millimeter) with repeatability. Still, the Pelletgage maker, Jerry Cupples, is concerned with the accuracy of the finished gages.

I’m not concerned with the Pelletgage’s accuracy. If I were a pellet manufacturer who was using a Pelletgage to put the head sizes on my tins of pellets, then I would be concerned if the gage measured exactly 4.51mm. But as a user of the gage, I’m more concerned with the consistency of the pellets I measure.

Now I’ll address those things I mentioned earlier, but postponed discussing. Am I concerned that my gage’s measurement of a 4.54mm head for the H&N Baracuda Match pellet disagrees with the H&N labeling of 4.52mm? Not to me, it isn’t. What would concern me is if I got pellets with 3 different head sizes from that tin. The fact that my gage doesn’t agree with H&N’s size labeling is of no concern to me.

So, my results with measuring the H&N Baracuda Match pellets doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the fact that Beeman Devastator pellets came from one tin with 3 different head sizes that spanned 0.04 millimeters.

There is a technique to measuring

We’re talking about such small tolerances that the pellets do not automatically fall into the gage holes — even with the clear plastic guide holes. A technique has to be employed. I had to wobble the pellet around the gage hole lightly to get it to line up. I worried about wearing the edge of the pellets’ heads by doing this, but I used an extremely soft touch. I don’t know if I caused any wear, but I was able to take a pellet of a known size back to the gage repeatedly, and it never measured any smaller from wear to the edge of its head. So, I think I’m doing it right. Time will tell.

Is the Pelletgage necessary?

You’ve lived this long without one. How necessary is the Pelletgage? If you’re a plinker who’s content to reach into a tin of pellets and pull out the next one for your gun — kinda like me — then you don’t need a Pelletgage. If you’re a field target competitor who hopes to win a match, this might be something to consider. If you’re a 10-meter competitor who shoots in national competition like I used to, then you almost have to check out this instrument.

We’re just starting to know this tool, so its importance cannot be accurately estimated at this time. I can make a case for this being the most important advancement in airgunning in the past decade, and I can also make the case that this tool is not required. Until I have a chance to test it thoroughly and learn what its benefits are, I won’t know anything.

I can see vast potential for precision with this gage. I almost hope it doesn’t turn out that way, though, because it would muddle so much of the testing work I’ve done to this point in time. My guess is the Pelletgage will end up being somewhere in the middle. It will make a difference for some kinds of shooting, but not for all of them. There will be some folks who will swear by it and other folks who won’t give it a second thought. I plan to test the Pelltgage to find out who those folks should be.

What comes next?

I need to find ways of testing this gage. While that might sound straightforward, I assure you it isn’t. I’m working on a test plan at this time and welcome your thoughts and input.

Where to get a Pellegage

You can get a Pelletgage at Pelletgage.com. There will be a .22-caliber Pelletgage coming soon.

124 thoughts on “Testing the .177 Pelletgage: Part 1

  1. Hmm.. Take the tin of pellets that had the wide variation in sizes.
    If you have a gun that you KNOW shoots them accurately, shoot a few groups using un sorted pellets.
    Then shoot groups with each size of pellet after sorting..
    See if that tightens up the groups over the random selection.

    Yes I can see where a tool of this accuracy, could bring into question a lot of data from groups you have shot over the years from known gun/pellet combinations.
    And answer the question of those uncalled fliers..




    • Bob,

      I did sort 3 types of pellets by (head) and (weight). Sample size was 30 for each.

      I can say that there does not seem to be consistent/linear data that would suggest that.

      I think other factors play into the data such as density, skirt thickness or other dimensional anomalies. What you will find with head and weight sorting is the you will end up with a large group of pellets at one size OR weight,…and you will have lesser and lesser #’s that can be + or -. Again, the 2 do not correlate as you would think.

      Chris


  2. B.B.,
    I wonder if through the use of this tool you can take a mediocre accuracy pellet and gun combination and turn into a very good combination by sorting head sizes.
    I also wonder if through the use of this tool you can take a very good accuracy pellet and gun combination and make it noticeably better, consistently by sorting head sizes.

    All, have a good weekend.


  3. I purchased one of the gauges from Jerry at the Malvern show, have been using it at the shop since…I found you can’t believe all that is written on the tins…as Tom found even the “higher” end pellets aren’t correct in some tins…if you have a pellet that shoots well in your rifle but you want it to be even more accurate then this is the tool to use, measure the pellets you have that work well then measure other brands and types to find some with the same head size and see what they do. It can also be used to see what actual head size works best..I will be getting the.22 model soon…Jerry, any chance for other calibers???


    • Hello, Mike and all –

      I am working on .25 and .30 (6.35 and 7.62 mm). Hope to have in a week or so.

      Initial sizing would be ten apertures 6.32 to 6.41, and 7.59 to 7.68 – three below nominal, and six above.

      For the plastic guide, can someone suggest the openings that would clear any skirt for both (to cut the plastic guides)?

      Appreciate your interest!


      • Hi Jerry,

        It would be great to be able to measure the size of the pellets to determine variance in the tin and maybe to correlate different products to a gun’s preferred pellet diameter.

        Have you considered making/marketing a sizing die to adjust oversize pellets?

        A multi-cavity sizer would be very useful. I have a H&N Finale Match Pellet Box [PY-A-1183] that has a built-in guide-plate that loads pellets into the cavities, might be something to look at.

        Vana2


      • JerryC
        Use a tapered pin reamer to ream the plastic hole for the gauge. or a center drill, do -all used to make them with a radius instead of a 60 degree angle. It might be worth a shot.

        Bugbuster


  4. B.B.,

    Interesting product, I remember your mentioning it from one of the recent shows along with a blog promise.

    Just a couple thoughts (and that’s plenty for me in one day, pre-coffee).

    You were concerned about possibly mis-shaping the pellets as you measured them. That was my very first thought as you began describing this product. Would it be better to start from the largest head size and go smaller? That would minimize the number of times the head contacts the Pelletgage cavity sides, before you find the correct head size. That also means the pellet drops through the cavity to the surface below more times, but placing the Pelletgage over a towel or other soft surface should eliminate possible damage.

    Also, I do think that finding that pellets from a labeled tin aren’t the labeled size is important. My accuracy testing has found a choked barrel that seems to like smaller head sizes, and if I buy pellets of a specific head size to match (like H&N FTTs) then I do expect that head size. Accuracy will suffer, otherwise.

    Thanks for yet another thought-provoking blog. If I were a field target competitor, one of these would already be on order.


    • HiveSeeker,

      The pellets don’t drop through the gage. You push them back out with a finger. All you are measuring is the head, not the skirt.

      It really takes no time to measure good pellets. They are very i=uniform. Only when I found the irregular pellets did it take a while to find the right size, and once I did, the range remained consistent. I think starting small is best, from what I’ve seen.

      B.B.


    • Hiveseeker,

      Not just field target. Benchrest as well. I ordered both .177 and .22 today cause I agree with you. I really want to get rid of uncalled fliers. They drive me nuts, it’s bad enough having a called flyer.

      G&G


  5. B.B.,

    I guess I see human error,(in shooting), being the biggest variable in any test that could be done.

    With that said, I would seek to eliminate as many variables as possible. If it were me…

    1) Choose a PCP that has a well regulated pulse of air
    2) I would lean toward the use of a repeater to avoid picking the rifle up and down
    3) Use a rest that supports the rifle both front and rear

    I would also suggest that instead of using a “random” batch,..I would use pellets that you have (verified are different) from your control/same/sorted batch. Make the random batch as far from your controlled batch as possible.

    Besides doing 2 different groups, you could also insert a pellet of (known) under/over size in the middle of a string of the control pellets. In theory, it should “jump out”.

    And last, a chrony only test would be another way to reduce human error. The goal here would be to see a reduction of fps (spread). You could even compare the individual shots to the head size and chrony #.

    It would be interesting to hear from competition shooters that do head sort and maybe even weigh. My guess will be,.. that some days are better, and other days less than great. (despite all things being the same). Which leads back to human error.

    Chris


  6. It would be interesting to see an accuracy test with a control group. For example, buy two tins of pellets at the same time, sort one but not the other. Shoot groups of the pellets sorted by size and get average accuracies per size. You could even average overall, weighted for the percentage of total for each size. Then shoot the other tin and average the accuracy results of all the groups. finally, compare! Would there have been any significant difference in accuracy by shooting a particular size? The answer will either lead you to buying a specific pellet size…or just go out and shoot.



      • You really make things too simple! Seriously though, I suppose just splitting the contents of one tin in half for the control group and sorted tests would work fine. That’s still a pretty good number of test points.


  7. This is something I would buy when I am buying a new air rifle and wanted to find the best pellet for that gun. I have just started a new tin of Crosman Premiers and can tell when I am loading them that the head sizes are not the same dimension.

    Pete



  8. Ah then there’s circularity of the pellet head, circularity of the bore’s lead-in, and concentric its of the two. The Pelletgauge is a very good step in the right direction.

    But, doubtless, the squirrels and rabbits have no need to fear me further. 😉
    As someone wrote earlier- human error.


  9. The pellet gauge will be a good tool to help you determine what head size works the best in your guns bore.

    Like BB said it doesn’t matter what the tin of pellets say or don’t say the head size is. Its that now you DO know what head size is coming from that tin of your favorite pellets that have been working the best.

    And if you think about it above BB said he had 3 different head sizes come from a tin of pellets. 4.51 to 4.54. That’s .03 mm difference. Think about this .025 mm is close enough to round off to say it equals .001″. So those pellets BB measured are just a hair over a thousandth of a inch different.

    So if .001″ in head size makes a difference in the way a pellet fits the bore of your gun then the gauge will be a most valuable tool.

    And on that note that is some pretty precise manufacturing equipment to make a hole that precise and repeat the process.

    I think I will get one of the gauges myself. Its just one more way to know what you have in front of you. Then you will at least know what tin to tin consistancy is when your ready to start a new tin.


  10. By Chance? How about pellets that are “optoelektronisch kontrolliert” tested R 10 – Dynamit Nobel -High tech Quality? Might also be in question? Semper fi!



  11. Is that supposed to be pronounced like pellet gauge? I thought it was a typo, but you used that odd spelling several times and even the device says gage instead of gauge.



      • As usual, Edith knows all. In engineering documents, gage is typical, although I see the Brit spelling used for reference to an indicating instrument such as a “pressure gauge”. You never see that spelling used to describe metal thickness or gages. So there. 🙂

        Thanks everyone – I am busy at the post office this afternoon.


      • Interestingly, I think the origin of “gauge” in firearms referred to the number of lead balls of a particular diameter that would equal a pound. So twelve lead balls of .72″ diameter (the “12 gauge”) weigh a pound.

        Bringing it back to airguns, a .177 would be an 853 gauge!!!


      • BB is using the term “true chord” to describe “diameter”, which is a perfectly precise term in mathematics and the only correct term to use in describing the head size of a pellet. A “chord” in trigonometry or plane geometry is simply a measurement of a line that intersects any two points on a circle. He is correct that it is difficult to measure the true diameter of a circle as small as a pellet head with a caliper or micrometer, but every measurement taken is of a chord, but the only chord that counts is the one that passes precisely thru the center of the circle: hence, the diameter. There are no “true chords” except in music. I offer this information purely for the advantage of precise language when discussing something as precise a the measurement of a pellet head.


  12. B.B.,

    Excellent report on what I think will turn out to be an excellent product.

    Do you see any reason why this might not be effective for lead round balls (not BB gauge, obviously).

    Michael


  13. The pelletgage is a well thought out and apparently well made tool.

    For airgunners chasing ultimate accuracy I think, for most, their time would be better spent honing their shooting skills rather than sorting pellets. Too many golfers think they can buy a set of new clubs and improve their scores.

    For airgunners that are consistently good shooters sorting pellets is usually in their future. The pelletgage appears to be a good tool to aid in one step of pellet sorting. Once upon a time I sorted by weight, checked for flashing, resized skirts, rolled pellets on glass, tried different lubes, etc. etc. Pellet sorting can improve accuracy.

    At this point in time I don’t have time for pellet sorting since I’d rather be shooting and I’m more interested in buying a new device that allows me to eliminate the wind on the range before I start shooting.

    (Excerpt taken from the unwritten book, “Evolution of an Airgunner”)

    kevin


  14. Good morning all,

    Sorry for being way off topic but I guess I am looking for some feed-back from a community of people that I know to be pretty level-headed…

    This morning I was admiring the vibrant yellow dandelions on the fresh green grass – a nice contrast especially after months of snow and weeks of blah tan and grey.

    A co-worker told me I was “weird” for liking dandelions – thats not a problem because I often have an unusual perspective and am used to that handle.

    So I am thinking about that… Here is a plant that is chemical, drought and disease resistant; is self-seeding and grows well in almost any soil without any maintenance; provides a valuable nectar source for bees and other pollinators; can be harvested to make salads, wines and jellies and adds a bright splash of color to an otherwise boring/sterile lawn for FREE.

    So what is so weird about liking dandelions? What is there not to like?

    Guess that “weird” is OK by me, I do wonder about “normal” sometimes.

    Have a great day.

    Vana2



    • Vana2,

      Weeds are whatever someone says they are. To me, dandelions are just flowers. Appreciate it regardless of what anyone else thinks. If you had a lawn of beautiful yellow dandelions, wouldn’t that be pretty? Imagine how much time you’d save by not weeding, fertilizing, mowing, etc.!

      Edith


      • I never try to get rid of dandelions, that would be way too much like work! The flower is only around for a time then they are gone. I always said that if they were hard to grow, everyone would want them!

        Mike


      • Amen! Edith,
        The dandelion is a perfect example of how regenerative agriculture would work. Imagine a world where wheat and corn is harvested without having to plant the seeds each year. I read somewhere that the USDA is working on a variety of wheat with very deep roots that will regenerate year after year. As the sun will rise tomorrow, you can bet that Dow & Monsanto will do their very best to to kill that project.
        Pete


    • Vana2
      Its those people that cannot stop and admire all that mother nature and god has created and placed right in front of us to be observed and take a few moment out of their day to truly enjoy and realize the simple thing that make huge differences in our world everyday and without them it would not be anywhere as livable or capable of providing the required food we require to survive
      .
      Those are the “weird people” not us as we talked yesterday yes we are both crazy in our own right but by no means “weird”

      BD


    • Vana2,

      When I was a kid in the 1950s my father would stop the car and get out to dig up dandelions from a soil bank on the side of the road. We had them for dinner at least once a week. I didn’t care for the taste, but at the time I only really liked PB&J sandwiches and Cheerios.

      B.B.


    • Vana2,

      If it’s green, (or yellow), it’s all good ! 🙂 More money to spend on pellets and air guns as opposed to killing weeds. No keeping up with the “Jone’s” in the country.

      As a side, PCP is on hold for the moment. Still want to do better than 3/4″ at 25 yds. with what I got first. GF is assisting with some “solutions”.

      Take care,….Chris



        • G&G,

          The TX200 in.22 that I have had. Tried 7 pellets, all weights, all domes. Checked all the ususal suspects ( screws, scope, clean barrel, etc. ) Tried different rest and holds. Tried diff. mag. levels, 3~12. Keeping cross-hairs 100%, or near 100%, seems to be the biggest factor. Breathing, position, relaxed, etc…..

          At 41′, pellets almost always touch and even stack a few. All 25 yd. test are 10 shot groups. Over 1600 shots fired, so I got some practice.

          Give it your best shot. Thanks.

          Chris



      • Hi Dutchjozef,

        I have not ordered a HW30 for myself, I have two new PCPs that I will be shooting extensively this summer and need to focus on them.

        My friend ordered his HW30 a week a go so I am sure that it will not be too long before I get to try one out.

        Cheers,

        Vana2



  15. I would really like to have one of these as well but with the current US/Canadian exchange rate I really would have to think about it.

    Might just buy a micrometer instead.


  16. I have a tin of pellets that just won’t group in any of my guns, maybe there several head sizes in that tin. Now the question is to I want to spend $52 on the pelletgage to find this out or just order 4 tins of pellets from Pyramyd Air that do shoot well in the guns I use regularly? Voting is now open. 🙂

    David


    • I finally found a pellets my 392 seems to like and aside from them being too big for my buddy’s new Kodiak’s breech and the 392 having a brass barrel in I only have guesses as to why . At least until the.22 model becomes available.


      • Reb,

        After 2 years I am still looking for a pellet that will shoot 1/2″ groups, or smaller in my Walther Lever Action CO2 rifle. Right now it’s still Meisterkugeln.

        G&G


        • Got my Hipac today and I’m almost scared to touch it.No instructions whatsoever and yes I know about the website but trying to use it on this phone ain’t gonna cut it! I tried to call GF1 earlier hoping I get somexperienced insight.I’d like to get into the office tomorrow morning to use their desktop but it’s never open on Saturday’s



            • I talked to GF1 yesterday and got pretty well lined out as well as a pump on the way. I can understand why it doesn’t come completely assembled but it threw me off when I just saw a bag of loose parts and absolutely no instructions.I guess he’s really proud of his website,which is still under construction and could really use a maintenance/installation video.


              • Reb
                Yea there is much to be desired with his site as well with his products.

                I hope you got a good set and do not have issues like me but if you do not fill over 2000 psi you should not. Just be sure to be aware of the o ring trying to squeeze out of the section joints and the o ring on the foster fill pin being cut by the very rough machined surface inside the front tube where the o ring seals. if these are better on yours then you should be ok but before you install the o rings on the male tube sections thread the complete setup together and look to see if there are any gaps in the sections where they meet as mine did not thread together squarely and had small gaps at the joints that allowed the o rings to squeeze out and the front tube inside was such a rough machined surface it cut the foster sealing o ring in two after 5 or so fills above 2200 psi.

                BD


  17. Minor quibble, but in the “How it works” paragraph, the sentence: “If the head drops through the hole in the steel gage plate, you know that the pellet head is at least as large as that hole.” Shouldn’t that be “At most as large as that hole”?

    Great article, thanks!


  18. In the (always) search for personal perfection, one must try to eliminate (or at least reveal) the apparent variables.
    Dang those opposed thumbs we have and the troublesome attendant understanding that we need gauges/measures/scales/pyrometers/etc./etc…to figure out what happens when we push the button.
    This is why I read the blog.
    Thanks, B. B.


  19. B.B.
    This is an interesting tool; however, at this moment in time, I kind of fall into this category:

    “If you’re a plinker who’s content to reach into a tin of pellets and pull out the next one for your gun — kinda like me — ”

    Have a blessed day!
    dave


  20. Vana– If you visit the Thomas Edison factory and laboratory ( now a museum) in New Jersey, you will see that one of Edison,s last projects was trying to make rubber from the sap of dandelions and similar “weeds”. The results were not cost effective. The development of synthetic rubber ended this research . It would have been nice to grow our own tires and erasers in our backyards. Ed




  21. I’m gonna the “Boner” of the group today. I don’t see. the use of a sorter except for competition shooters. Will going through the hassle of sorting the pellets by head size have much effect on accuracy for those of use who shoot average airguns ( RWS 34, Benjamin 392 Talon SS)?

    To me it seems like a big waste of time for 90% of the shooters. That said, it is interesting to know that such devises exist if one needs the accuracy.



    • Spidey,

      I think one would have to be a VERY steady and good shooter for the evidence to show it self. It will be interesting to see B.B.’s testing. No doubt, this has generated a lot of interest for testing ideas and methods.

      Power plant consistancy I think would be a factor as well. After all, why does the fps vary in chrony test? Lot’s of things to consider when you think about that and it’s end affect on the pellet’s final point of impact.

      This tool does eliminate one variable, and I am (always in support of that).


    • Spidey,

      One million youth shooters compete in the country every year in 10 meter air rifle. They belong to 74,000 different organizations around the nation. Then there are 50,000 adults competing in NRA sanctioned target matches.

      The other airgun competitions have only a few thousand competitors, combined, but they do add up.

      Together shooters who compete outnumber general shooters 10-1 in the U.S. That’s why this instrument might be so important.

      B.B.


  22. BB and all.

    Thanks for the education. That’s why I read the Blog because I don’t know anything about airgunning other than the results I get from my 3 airguns. What I do know is my pcp is the most accurate of my 3 airguns and the accuracy is limited by my shooting skills, and not the pellets or the airgun.

    I think that airguns are way less forgiving than shooting my M-16 in the military and my other firearms. My guess is this is the result of the high velocity of a firearm vs the airgun. Any wobble or shake is more amplified at lower velocities.

    As I stated and was put in my place, this is all new to me. What I need to do is go to a shooting competition and see just how accurate competition shooters are. For me personally, sorting pellets would be a waste of time. I just grab the pellet tin that contains the most accurate pellets that shoot in my airguns.

    Thank you to everyone for the education and I hope nobody was offended by my comments. BB politely educated me that I’m in the minority of shooters and not the norm.


    • Spidey,

      My remarks were not meant to chastise you. I made them for all the readers. I doubt very many of our readers are aware of what I told you. I only know it because the NRA used to have an Airgun Breakfast at the SHOT Show every year and they briefed us about the number of junior competitors. So the numbers I gave were from 2008 — the last year that breakfast was held.

      The 100,000 readers of this blog (registered and unregistered) are the active airgunners. They think about airgunning and consider themselves to be airgunners. Those million plus children who shoot in 10-meter rifle competition do not think much about airguns. They are members of shooting clubs (4H, Boy Scouts, JROTC, church, Izaak Walton League and other affiliations) where they compete from 1 to 5 years and then go on to the rest of their lives. Most never pick up a gun again.

      I just wanted to put this into perspective, because most blog readers never think about shooting competition, when it is far more active with airguns than they are — if only as a passing interest.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        I consider myself “schooled” as well. I was not aware that the #’s were that huge. Growing up, I never even heard of airgun competition. Wished I had.

        “I doubt very many readers are aware of what I told you”,…..

        Sounds like a long overdue topic for an article. Think of the grandparents and parents that read this blog and do not know it either. Maybe a way to open their eyes to possibilities for their kids and grand kids.


  23. I had a nice round trip today. The circle was about 350 miles. I bought a new Arsenal 7.62X39 SAM 7R AK. It is made with Bulgarian parts except for the required number of US origin to keep it legal. Two big pluses are the milled steel receiver and chrome lined barrel. Of course the quality is about as good as it gets for AK’s. On the way home I stopped at a large outdoor store and picked up a few things there. The AK was expensive, but there are airguns that cost a lot more. So, a very good day. I think I will finish it by shooting the FWB 124!

    Mike


  24. Hi guys…

    I just noticed that the plastic round clip that came with my Hämmerli S26 (same system as CP88 and most other Umarex CO² repeaters) is marked “load (S) only”.

    I wonder what (S) is supposed to be.

    It is a pellet pistol with a rifled barrel and isn’t supposed to shoot BBs. All other limitations (no long pellets) apply to the metal clips as well but those are not marked that way.

    I do noticed that the metal clips are a little easier to load because the plastic one is very tight. I have no idea why Umarex ships the guns with one plastic and one metal clip. Different pellet sizes, maybe? But then, I have never seen the plastic ones for sale.

    Any ideas?

    Stephan


    • Stephen,

      Look up PY-A-3573 on the P.A. site. I believe this is what you have. It says its for bb’s. It also says the bb’s should be loaded from the front side,.. and not the rear,..as you would do with pellets on the metal mags.

      Why they would send a bb mag. with your gun, I do not know. One gun that comes with both is the Walther PPQ/P99Q Co2 pistol which states it shoots both bb’s and pellets.

      I have a Beretta 92FS which takes the metal ones. Very nice and fun to shoot.


      • Chris,

        thanks for the info. That looks exactly like what I have. The pistol’s specs mention pellets only. Maybe they customarily include the plastic clip as well. I know other people have it, too.

        I don’t think the S26 is available anymore. It was priced similarly to the regular CP88 (around € 170) and also has an all-metal construction except for the grips. Maybe Umarex doesn’t want you to ruin the barrel with BBs.

        Maybe it would shoot BBs just fine… Not sure I want to try.

        Stephan


        • The Beretta looks very cool as well. Here in Germany, it seems to be in the same price range as well. I’m sure it’s fun to shoot.

          I like the Hämmerli a lot. It’s well-made, looks and feels great and has a nice trigger. I think it would be quite accurate if I didn’t suck so bad with pistols.

          I generally shoot better groups with the HW45 even though it recoils. I think it’s because it’s longer and has micrometer sights.


  25. Update: BBs fit the clip perfectly. The pistol also shoots them just fine (I figured a few shots would hardly damage the barrel).

    So we have a contradiction here. There is a clip that is “(S)teel BB only” (even though pellets work in it). The manual states that unsuitable ammo such as darts or BBs must not be shot. This probably happens when one branch of the company doesn’t know what another is doing 🙂



      • Some guns have rifled barrels and shoot both. They’re probably plinkers and not built for accuracy. I guess long time use with BBs *will* wear down the rifling…

        I think I would rather shoot BBs from something that has a 20 shot mag or something, if at all.

        I normally use Umarex Mosquitos or RWS Gecos in the Hämmerli. They are cheap and work well enough.


      • Some airguns like the 880 and Crosman2100 come with a “compromise” rifling designed for both bb’s & pellets and can be quite accurate with both, still others like the 760 have no rifling at all anymore.


  26. If I think about it logically, I see very little reason to use BBs anyway…

    They are dangerous and messy (because they like to bounce around) and less accurate.

    The only advantages I can see are:

    -slightly cheaper than pellets (who cares when one shot costs less than a cent)
    -easier to build large capacity magazines for

    So the only reason to use them at all seems to be the desire to fire many shots in rapid succession.

    I wonder why there’s a BB gun championship and a dedicated gun for that event when they could just as easily switch to pellets and have more accuracy, more safety *and* more convenience. Is it tradition because the “BB gun” is such a big part of American tradition?

    Maybe the H&K USP CO² with its 22 shot magazine would be fun… But apart from that, I think I prefer being a Pelletier 🙂


    • Stephan,

      The BB gun championship started to get youngsters into shooting. At first it was mostly a way to get them involved and to learn the proper gun handling techniques.

      But as time passed, some coaches discovered how to make their club’s guns more accurate. That started the great accuracy race.

      The Daisy 499 has ended that race for the most part. Just as the Soap Box Derby has a single competition car, the International BB Gun Championships has a single competiton gin. Only in this case, anyone can own one.

      Have you seen how accurate the 499 can be? Read these reports:

      /blog/2009/11/the-daisy-499b-versus-the-haenel-310-a-shoot-off/

      /blog/2008/05/daisy-avanti-499-champion-part-2-the-worlds-most-accurate-bb-gun/


  27. BB,

    yes I read that report which is why I know the 499 in the first place 🙂

    I admit I don’t understand what is so exciting about that group. Didn’t you shoot a similar group with the Diana 34 – at *35 yards*?

    I would guess that there are many affordable pellet rifles that can do better at 10 meters than the 499 did at 5 meters. I guess the Baikal IJ61, Diana 21 and many others could do it… And they don’t have an annoying muzzle-loading mechanism 🙂
    An HW40 could probably even do it… And that’s not even a rifle.

    Am I getting something wrong here? I guess the 499 is a very very good BB gun, but I still can’t think of a reason for its existence other than tradition 🙂


    • Stephan,

      What is exciting about that group is it can be shot by a 10-year-old girl, who can then win the World BB Gun Championships with a gun she is able to hold. She does it offhand and her groups are smaller than mine.

      Millions of children have competed in BB-gun competition over the years because of this gun. There are no pellet guns that can touch the 499 for weight, size, cost and accuracy. That is what is so exciting.

      When our National Rifle Association tried to copy Daisy’s competition with pellet guns, they started an equipment race that had to be capped at $500 per gun. And the manufactures found it hard to build the guns, though some did it, to their credit.

      But none of those pellet guns costs $130, weighs 3 pounds and can put 10 pellets into an aspirin at 5 meters.

      That is the attraction.

      B.B.


    • Stephan,

      Speaking for me, a bb gun, rifle to be specific, will always hold a special place in my memories. It was my first “gun” and was a 1894 Lever Action.

      When BB did the article awhile back on the 1894, a lot of people recalled their first bb guns. Many types, but a lot of 1894 style and a lot of lever actions.

      While no historian of any kind, I would be surprised if bb guns were only popular in the U.S.. Not so in Germany?

      Toss in growing up with no shortage of cowboy action movies,… and I guess you could say that a bb gun IS a bit of an American “tradition”.


  28. Thanks for educating me, guys 🙂

    Here in Germany, people are less interested in and more suspicious of guns. Maybe it has to do with the wars that “we” started.

    There are hunters and target shooters. Those ars the people who have fireamrs other than the police and military.

    Some people shoot airguns in the basement or the attic like I do. But they generally buy pellet rifles. Kids don’t have BB guns and wouldn’t be allowed to anyway. You can buy 0.5 joule Airsoft guns at 14 but that’s it. Everything more powerful is for adults only.

    So… there are BB guns but they ars not really part of our heritage.



    • Stephan,

      I want you to do something. Look around and see if you can locate a Diana model 30 galley BB gun.

      There are 2 different model 30s. One is a taploading pellet rifle that resembles a Mauser rifle. The other gun is a bolt action that’s made for shooting galleries. It has 2 different shot counters. One is to charge the person doing the shooting and gets reset after each session. The other is for the gun’s maintenance and never resets.

      This gun is a smoothbore that shoots a precision round steel ball (Rundkugel) sold by RWS. It is said to be as accurate as a Daisy 499, though more expensive.

      If you can find one you will have found the ultimate German BB gun. A BB gun made the German way — with precision and quality.

      Over here this Diana fetches as much as $1,000 when complete and in the original box with all the paperwork. A good working specimen would probably bring $500.

      I think they will not be easy to find, but if you look, you may get lucky. Then you could own a German 499. 😉

      B.B.


      • BB,

        I have seen pictures of the Diana 30. I think many of them were and still are used for shooting galleries on funfairs/carnivals. I also think there’s a Haenel equivalent to that one that was used for the same purposes.

        I believe those guns are now sought after by collectors *and* carnival operators…

        Anyway, I wouldn’t say that’s quite the same thing as the ubiquitous BB guns in the USA 🙂

        As for me finding cool airguns… Fat chance 🙂

        The prices on eGun are usually less than great for well-known and sought after stuff such as Dianas, Weihrauchs, etc.

        Sometimes a reasonably-priced Diana 27 shows up. Considering how much you like that gun, maybe I should get one if I have some money to spare…

        Some weeks ago, a friend and went on a little bike ride to Wesel and I noticed there was a little gun shop there. They had plenty of used guns, but the owner fairly harshly told me that they were all rimfires that I am not allowed to buy anyway. Maybe with my full beard, sports clothes and sunglasses I didn’t look like the kind of customer they like…

        We also entered a thrift store because we like old computers and video games and they had a cheap airsoft AEG rifle. That was not was *I* was looking for (and the electronics stuff was also overpriced 🙂



          • I just don’t think they’re that common. The carnival ones are still in use and may even need to be replaced and home users probably rather bought a pellet rifle.

            I kind of have my eye on a FWB 65 or 80 because I like the 300S so much.

            They rarely seem to show up for less than € 200,-

            Maybe I would have better luck asking around in clubs if they want to part with their old spring pistols.


            • Stephan,

              That’s the ticket!

              When I lived in Germany in the 1970s I hunted. I met a lot of German hunters and we saw each other’s guns all the time. As a resulkt, we did a lot of trading back and forth.

              You need to connect with a club that shoots. That’s where the firearms and airguns are.

              I don’t remember where you live. I lived in Erlangen near Nuremberg. There was a gun store in Rothenberg ob der Tauber that stocked lots of airguns. Of course BSF had their factory in Erlangen, but I didn’t find that out until I had been back in the States for a couple years.

              B.B.


              • BB,

                I live in Dorsten which is at the very top of the Ruhr Area. Erlangen is about 360 km from here.

                BTW, I just read your article “First class on a budget”.

                I think I should really try a Diana 27 some day…

                I like to plink with the FWB300 as well, but I don’t like the diopter sights for that. I don’t know… It just feels too “formal” and it’s hard to see the stuff you want to blast 🙂

                I’ve just ordered a Nikko 3-9×42 Mildot scope. I guess that’ll be more fun for plinking and I might even try Field Target some day…

                I did service the rifle myself btw. There’s a very good guide on the German co2air discussion board. It took me a while but I succeeded 🙂


  29. PS.: People in the GDR commonly used Haenel guns. To my knowledge, they shoot 4.4mm lead balls. Closer in shape to a BB, but not really the same thing.

    Those guns are no longer made, but they are still treasured by people and you can buy new ammo.

    I’ve never shot (or touched) one, but it would probably be interesting 🙂


    • Stephan,

      I own a Haenel 310. In fact, I have owned a couple of them, because when the wall came down, one thing that was done is all the Stasi offices were closed and they sold most of the equipment. The air rifles that were used as trainers and for sporting events came to the U.S., and we now have quite a few of them.

      I also own a pair of East German 7X40 NVA binoculars that were made by Zeiss. They are my best binoculars.

      B.B.


  30. Someone please refresh my memory,….

    I shot 4 ten shot groups at 25 yards today with 4 pellet types.

    The 1st. group’s holes had a distinct pellet {side} profile, (for each pellet), all oriented the same way, (pellets “layed” over side-ways).

    The weights shot , in order, were,..15.89/18.13/14.66 and 16.00. The odd group was 15.89.

    However,…. the backer cardboard showed round holes. The other 3 groups showed round holes in the paper, as well as the backer.

    Sooooo,…. what would cause a pellet to “lay over” on impact? Or,…at least appear to.



    • Chris,
      it sounds like your first group with the 15.89(guessing JSB’ didn’t get stabilized for some reason.
      It’s weird that you also ran heavier pellets during the same session with better results because stabilization seems to be so linked to velocity but length of the projectile also plays a big role and as much as I like the JSB’s they do look much longer than most others in their weightclass.
      That said, How did they fit the breech?


      • BB and Reb,

        Yes,…quite odd. I save all my targets and went back to look at all the JSB’s 15.89’s. None ever did that. ( “Spot on” on getting the JSB brand right there Reb! )

        Wind was 0 or near. Really, the 15.89’s have been one of my best performers. 2 targets per paper, so maybe an odd variation in the paper. As for fit, “nice” I would say. Not too loose or too tight.

        As Gunfun said once, expect the unexpected, or,..expect to be surprised,.or something to that effect.

        Thanks for the ideas guys,…Chris


        • Happy to still be of service!
          Been steadily breaking in the rough threads on my Hipac before I get ready to fully assembled &install it when my pump shows up.
          one dead and one in ICU about 30 miles from here in Cisco most of the thunderstorms around here especially in the warmer months have the potential for breeding tornados


  31. Interesting. Maybe I missed something, but it seems possible that a pellet will fall into any hole that is too large for it. So the hole doesn’t really measure the pellet’s size. It just establishes an upper limit to the size that could be much smaller. Getting the exact size would require repeating this procedure. Sounds painstaking.

    On the subject of exact measurements, I’m wondering in the case of my M1 whether the strength of a type of powder can differ significantly from one lot to the next. Maybe that’s why the recipe that worked for my gunsmith is not working for me.

    Yesterday, I actually succeeded in disassembling and reassembling my Saiga! The only problem was in reassembling the gas tube. I could not get the lever to close to lock it in place. Based on the stiffness of some of the other controls, I tried maximum force on the lever to no effect. Finally, I realized that the gas tube was not exactly in place. It finally settled a few millimeters down and then the lever locked with no problem. Good thing that rifle is idiot-proof. I was sort of afraid that the little lever would shear off, but it looks to be completely unharmed. I’m keeping up with the Russian peasant soldiers but just barely. One account says that recruits in the Soviet Army were routinely beaten and mistreated, and I shudder to think of the consequences of the way I was treating that locking lever.

    Reading more about the history of the AK 47, I am astounded at the screw-ups of our army with its small arms, right back to the glory days of WWII. Apparently, the victorious U.S. army was highly dismissive of the German assault rifle concept and ignored both their arms factories and the famous German designer Hugo Schmeisser, both of which were turned over to the Soviets. No one knows what Schmeisser transmitted to the the Soviets but with the AK 47 getting perfected in precisely that period along the lines of the German model, it’s not hard to imagine. When Schmeisser was finally returned to NATO, and the Allies had wised up, he was close to death and never did say what he did for Russia. Meanwhile, the United States ignored the whole assault rifle concept for 20 years, spending a ridiculous amount of money to produce a battle rifle only marginally different from what they had in WWII, and then misapplied. They also tweaked their tests to disadvantage the AR-15 which they subsequently adopted, then managed to mess up. Then they persisted with it, ignoring the piston modification of the AR-18 which influenced an entire subsequent generation of NATO weapons. Argh.

    Matt61


    • Don’t use slow burning powders like IMR-4950 in the M-1. The port pressure is too high and that can damage the operating rod. Something along the line of IMR-4895 is ideal.

      You may already know that but I thought I would bring it up just in case.

      Mike



  32. On the subject of PELLETS, I’m now tearing my hair out, trying to get my 2007 Remington Summit break-barrel 17 cal to shoot ACCURATELY. I’ve tried most EVERY aspect posted in the blog here through the years (yes, the bbl is clean, yes the scope is FIRM, quality, yes all rifle screws are tight, yes I’m using artillery hold, yes I’ve tried other holds too!), but this beast keeps pumping out 2-4″ 5-groups at 50 ft! ALL my other 17s do MUCH better than that, including my CHEAP B-3 Chinese rifles! One guy has suggested using only “pure lead” pellets, to better seal in the barrel: he named RWS & JSBs. Question: Are ALL RWS & JSB pellets pure/soft, to perform this skirt-seal? Is there a quick & easy scratch-test of any kind to verify this on the rest of my hoard of various pellets? Thanks!!


    • Barrika,

      One thing you did not address is how high the elevation if adjusted on your scope. If it is 3/4 high or more, that will cause poor grouping.

      Yes the pellets you mentioned have pure lead and the skirts are relatively thin.

      B.B.


  33. I spent a lot of time tuning my .177 Marauder, and fiddling with pellets, eventually ending up with the H+N Barracuda Match pellets. From my notes, pellet weight variations for any pellet, and head sizes, had little effect on velocities, at least within the normal shot-to-shot variation. I think the skirt sealing has more to do with velocity variation, at least for the Marauder (the thinner skirts of JSB and RWS pellets I believe get bent by the flat-nosed bolt probe, causing these to show much greater velocity variation and loss of downrange accuracy). Head sizing did seem to give me a consistent 1/8″ lower group size (10 shot groups at 30 yards) with the Barracudas, i.e. shooting .01mm larger or smaller from the “best” size would open the group that much on average.

    As far as the H+N sized 4.52mm pellets (surprisingly, the size that works best for my Mrod) not falling into the similar marked hole on the gage plate…well, as an engineer who has to measure small stuff all the time, you can measure that head size with about a dozen different devices (from optical comparators, to air gages, to lasers, to mechanical methods with two jaws, to simple sizing jigs like the one described here) and every method will give a different result at these extreme levels of precision – presumably H+N uses something other than the slip-fit gage described here. So what do you do? You correlate one gage result to another if you can, and hopefully see consistency, or you test the result against the physical parameter you are trying to control (in this case accuracy) and hope to find a good correlation. If it works, you are onto something.

    I would love to see some tests done on the “economy” target pellets, using a known good gun (of which BB has several I think). I’d think shooting 5-10 pellets of sorted head sizes from a tin of that gun’s known “best pellet” would be enough to see if head size variations affect that pellet/gun combo’s accuracy. I.e. could that gun’s best pellet shoot improved groups if you were to sort its best pellet and pick out the ones in the sweet spot. Based on my experience, the answer should be yes.


  34. Here’s a measurement question. Did you measure the pellets with the gauge, then weigh the pellets in a very accurate scale?

    I’m curious if there’s a relationship between pellet size and pellet weight. Could you reasonably assume that pellets of a given weight are also a given size?

    I have a diamond scale on order, but $49 for the scale is a bit stiff. However, if there’s no relationship, I’ll buy the gauge and then weigh the pellets to find the best combination in the rifle.

    Any thoughts on that one?



      • Thanks for the response. Tracing these blogs on this forum has certain challenges when moving forward. I can easily go from blog entry 4 backwards, but when trying to move from #1 forward just aren’t friendly at best.

        I’ll check out the link and look at the data.

        Thanks again
        Brad



  35. I received my Pelletgage this morning, and it sure cleared up one concern I had. I recently bought a Gamo Compact pistol, which came with a tin of Gamo pellets. Loading the gun, the pellets went in everywhere from super-tight to fell-in. I put 24 through the gage, and they spanned every measurement from 4.46 to 4.54. In fact, most of them (6) fit into the super-tight (for this gun) catagory. They were all fairly consistant through the wide range (2-3 pellets in each measurement). I came to the conclusion to trash the can.
    I followed up testing 24 RWS Meisterkugeln that I happened to have. These only ranged from 4.48 to 4.50, with the majority at 4.49 (15 out of 25).
    I’m not a good enough shot to be “splitting hairs”, but at least I can avoid lousy quality control, as well as having some clue as to what size seems to work best.


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