Testing the .177 Pelletgage: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Before we start today’s blog, I wanted to remind you that we changed how to post a comment or reply to a comment on the blog. This was done mid-morning yesterday. If you’re having issues logging in or don’t know how to create an account, please email Edith (edith@pyramydair.com) for assistance.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Pelletgage
The .177-caliber Pelletgage. 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:

  • The test
  • Pellet 1
  • Pellet 2
  • Pellet 3
  • Conclusions
  • Last comment

Today I’m taking the suggestion of blog reader Alan in Mich., who wondered if an air rifle with less of a pedigree than my TX200 Mark III would also benefit from the Pelletgage. I wondered the same thing, so I tested the Pelletgage using a Chinese B3-1 underlever rifle. Of all the air rifles around, this is the one without a pedigree.

I’ve tested this rifle in the past, so I have a baseline on at lest 3 pellets. Of them, 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets did the best. The full report is here.

Premier lite target
This is the best target (about 1.50″) obtained in the test of the B3-1 in 2010. This target is the same size as the targets below, but the image was smaller.

The test

I sorted 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite into groups with head sizes 4.53mm, 4.54mm and 4.55mm. I gave them to Edith in batches, and she remarked the bags so I wouldn’t know which pellet was which.

I shot from a rest at 10 meters. I used a 10-meter pistol target, the same as was used in the report about the rifle. The B3-1’s open sights are very clear, so aiming wasn’t a problem. And the artillery hold was used throughout the test because the rifle does kick and vibrate.

Pellet 1

The first pellet I used went into the bull on the first shot, so the rifle was still sighted-in. Ten shots went into 1.19 inches at 10 meters. The group is very open. All shots released perfectly, so this group is what the rifle does with this pellet.

Crosman Premier lite target B
The first pellets, labeled “B” went into 1.19 inches at 10 meters. The head size is 4.53mm.

Pellet 2

The second pellet I tested put 10 into a group measuring 1.273 inches between centers. Again, every release (break of the trigger) was perfect.

Crosman Premier lite target 5
The second pellets, labeled “5” went into 1.273 inches at 10 meters. The head size of these pellets is is 4.54mm.

Pellet 3

Ten of the third and final pellets I tested went into a group measuring 1.431 inches between centers. This is the largest group of the test. As with all the other shots, every release was perfect.

Crosman Premier lite target X
The third pellets, labeled “X” went into 1.431 inches at 10 meters. The head size of these pellets is is 4.55mm.

Conclusions

These groups are pretty much what I got back in 2010, give or take a little. I have to conclude that there are cheap pellet guns for which the Pelletgage will not make a significant improvement. Of course, this is just one test, and more testing might reveal things not seen here.

I guess the bottom line is that if you’re shooting a gun that’s not so good, don’t waste money and time trying to make it shoot better. Shoot the cheapest pellets you can find and be satisfied with the results. But that doesn’t mean the Pelletgage can’t help you with low-priced airguns, too. There are plenty of budget airguns around that can probably benefit from its use, and I plan on testing some of them next.

Last comment

Before I finish, perhaps some of you are wondering if today’s large groups are partly my fault. I know I did! After shooting the three 10-shot targets you see above, I shot another 10 shots from a different .177 breakbarrel air rifle that isn’t on the market yet. This one is also a budget airgun, though not quite the $20-$30 that the B3-1 was. It has open sights similar to those on the B3-1.

The details of this rifle are secret for now, and this was the first time I’ve ever shot it, so I had absolutely no idea which pellet to use. I just grabbed a tin of Air Arms Falcon pellets and started shooting.

I also shot this rifle from the same rest at 10 meters using the artillery hold. The group I got measures 0.508 inches between centers — so apparently old B.B. can still shoot. I hope this rifle comes to fruition. If it does, it’ll be a best buy that I’ll strongly recommend.

mystery rifle target
Ten pellets in 0.508 inches at 10 meters proves that B.B. can still shoot an airgun! Had the B3-1 done something like this, I would have been dancing in the street!

76 thoughts on “Testing the .177 Pelletgage: Part 5


    • Reb,

      Small correction for your comment.

      Vortek is the gas spring developed and sold by Tom Gore. Vortex is the gas spring sold in Hatsan rifles. There is no relationship between them other than very similar names.

      I don’t know if Tom Gore and Hatsan know about each other’s gas springs and that their names are confusingly similar. Of course, Gore’s Vortek has been around much longer than Hatsan’s Vortex.

      Edith


      • Edith
        Tom Gore’s Vortek kits are coil springs not gas spring kits and you are right that Hatsan calls their gas rammed gun Vortek springs just as they do for their line of pellets but most definitely no relationship whatsoever between the two so that can be confusing and Tom has been around longer like you say as well.

        But just wanted to clarify that Tom’s kits are all coil spring not gas springs.

        BD


        • BD,

          Gore also makes gas springs. In fact, he is the number one American manufacturer of gas springs. Pyramyd Air used to install them in airguns and Crosman’s Nitro Pistons were originally made by Vortek. And you can look for Vortek to come out with a new gas spring soon.

          B.B.



          • BB and Edith
            I am not doubting your statement that his claim to fame is the gas spring but why are there no gas springs for sale on his site right now or is it two different sites.

            If I go to http://vortekproducts.com/ourstore/index.php?route=common/home right now there are no gas spring listed for sale. So is this the same Tom Gore or are there two different people with the same name and companies selling springs for air guns under the same name and if he still sells gas springs then how do you buy one.

            BD


            • BD,

              He sold his former Vortek gas spring to Crosman, which became the Nitro Piston. When you sell something like that to a company, you normally sign a non-compete agreement that lasts for x number of years. Since Tom says Tom Gore’s coming out with another gas spring, maybe there was such an agreement and the end of that term is coming around so he can be back in production, again. These are guesses and suppositions on my part

              Edith


              • Edith
                I am very familiar with non compete clauses and that makes sense now as I was not aware that the crosman NP was his design and will look forward to him hopefully coming out with a new gas spring line in the future.

                Sorry for thinking you had made a mistake as once again I learned something new today.

                Keep up the excellent work that you both do every day.

                BD



                  • BB
                    I don’t think I will make the Texas show this year unfortunately but I would most definitely appreciate knowing what his future plan are and the possibility of him coming back out with a gas spring for new side latch guns.

                    BD


                • BD,

                  News to me as well…..something learned. Interesting…..more tune options for the TX forthcoming? Time well tell. Just not sure about the gas springs yet. There is only one part to break in a springer power plant,……the spring.

                  Chris



                    • Chris,USA
                      A gas spring is not a possibility for a center latch gun unfortunately and it would be nice if they could design one that would accommodate the center rod latch system in the spring guns.

                      BD


      • I just tried to reply here about an hour ago and also to Tom below within minutes ago b it both were lost to a FORBIDDEN duplicate comment , you already said that, neither have shown.


  1. BB thank you for calibrating yourself at the end. My small quibble is that we need to know expected results of the calibrating combination to be certain there is no fatigue induced accuracy deterioration.


  2. B.B.
    From your comments I sure hope the mystery rife comes to market too!
    If not, please tell us what went wrong in corporate planning, production costs, etc. I’m sure that there are a million things that could prevent it from happening. Similarly, if it does make it to market, please let us know the background story. Thanks,
    -Y


  3. .508″@10m. Ok BB I believe you that you can shoot. But what about the new gun your testing that’s not released yet.

    I just don’t know if I can get excited about a break barrel air rifle that shoots a 1/2″ group at 10m.

    Sorry just say’n.

    I was shooting some of those Aguilla 400 fps rimfire bullets with the 20 grn pointed nose bullets at 10m and I could put them in the same hole. Seriously. Then you don’t even want to know what happened out at 25 yards. Let’s just say I could hit a breaverage can twice out of 5 shots. That’s pretty bad if you ask me. And I gaurentee you Ole Gunfun1 can still shoot.


  4. BB,

    You are sooo mean! I am in the market for a decent sproinger and you tease me with one, but give me no info.

    OK. Is this air rifle a prototype that an individual has designed and built and is looking for a manufacturer or was it built by a company that is considering going to mass production if the prototype is well received by a select group?



  5. Those groups look more like “Patterns” than groups. As I recall, the old TS-45 rifles I sold would do 1/2 to 1/4 inch groups at 10 yards. But, it did sell for more money.

    Mike



  6. i had to move to PCP… I have 3 springers and can’t shoot them very well
    I did however purchase the pelletgage in 22 and 17 in mixed results..
    marauders benefited but my BSA R10 seems not to care… but maybe just maybe it prefers 5.52
    Still plan to test in other pcp rifles i own…
    Thanks for the review….. after reading part 4.. I went out and purchased them…Had no idea they existed.


  7. My scoped B3-1 would shoot quarter inch groups at 10 yards even with a horrible trigger. The only way I found to improve the trigger is to slather on the moly lithium grease on the contact points like you’re putting peanut butter on bread.


  8. B.B., has the LASSO group decided on criteria for minimum caliber?

    I know the Pelletgage you used is for .177 but I do wonder about the .22 B-3, and whether it shoots any better. If he is at the flea market this weekend I think I’ll offer $40.00 for one (just for the fun of it).

    ~ken


  9. Is there any way to change my password? I got assigned a hideous long one that I cannot remember.

    Anyway, stands to reason that pellets are not the whole story with shooting. And even pellets alone depend on more than just uniformity of size. But it’s nice to see that there is a great rifle under development. That is nice shooting.

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      Yes, you can change your password. You should be able to do it yourself. If not, you can ask me to do it for you. If you will temporarily trust me with your PW, you may send it to me at edith@pyramydair.com. I will change it to what you send me. You may be asked to log-in, again, before you can comment/reply since the PW was changed. I can assure you that I will promptly forget your password after changing it because, well, I’m almost 67 🙂

      Edith


  10. B.B.,

    In part 3 of your PelletGage evaluation you posted this;

    “Before I get into the test, I received a message from the Pelletgage maker, Jerry Cupples, telling me that he has measured a large sample of the gages he has made – they’re all measuring 0.01mm smaller than what’s marked on the gage. In other words, a gage hole that’s marked 4.52mm actually measures 4.51mm, and so on. This holds true for all the gage holes in a gage plate.”

    Do you know if / when that was corrected, or if it still holds true?

    Thank you.

    Jim M.


  11. B.B.,

    Thought I’d share some sorting data. I got the .22 Pelletgage not quite two weeks ago and keep it on my desk, sorting a few pellets when I have a spare minute or two. I’m really interested in narrowing down what works best in my HW 90. One of the few pellets that gives good accuracy so far is the Beeman Crow Magnum 18.21 gr., so I started with that. It is not marked for head size.

    I started off sorting one open tin, and ended up combining two open tins I had. Out of the first tin, which had 196 pellets, I got a distribution of 3% at 5.50mm, 36.7% at 5.56mm, and 60.2% at 5.57mm When I combined the tins, out of a total of 354 pellets I got a distribution of 4.2% at 5.50mm, 41.8% at 5.56mm, and 53.9% at 5.57mm.

    I haven’t had time yet to see which head size works best, but thought this was interesting. I would say that’s pretty consistent quality, but wondered what your take on this is?

    Jim M.



      • B.B.,

        Yes, I had read Part 4, and understand the head size makes a difference in accuracy. I was asking what your take is on the distribution percentage of those three head sizes within the two tins — does that sound “normal”? Would you say the the distribution or split between the 5.56 and 5.57 mm, with a minimal number of 5.55mm, indicates consistent quality control?

        Thanks!

        Jim M.


  12. B.B.,

    I have .177 and .22 on my list of things to budget for in the future. I actually decided I had to get them after Part 3.

    Regarding the B3-1, is that rifle built such that the barrel could be swapped out for a Crosman one? I know of a simple mod to make it safe to load, and its rough shooting can be tamed with a lot of tuning methods you’ve described in this blog.

    Michael




  13. Wow. I forgot my username, which e-mail and my password when I originally registered how many years ago? What a royal pain in the patootie but I’m back. BB, I have a request on the secret air rifle you’ve been testing. Can you tell us if it’s European, Asian or a product of the Americas? I think these three options are wide enough that you wouldn’t easily give the manufacturer away.

    Fred DPRoNJ


  14. I have a new TX200 & all the pellets I have tried are tight. I got a sample H&N pack today & the silver point would not go in period. The Match 10.65 group the best (1 1/2 @ 35yd.) so I shoved one back out of the chamber & the head has insert marks on it. My groups are never consistent…could this be the problem??? any thoughts…


  15. I’m 67. I weigh 153 lbs. I own a 1250 hunter an a hunter extreme. I have no trouble cocking either 1. I sighted in a red dot the other day with Elwood. ( Elwood is Jake’s younger bro.) It took me 10 shots cause of the walk up. Speed goes 1267( beeman laziers) No test with raptors.(weren’t available) Elwood did 1676 (w/raptors) chronoed. U have 2 learn the guns. Grt 111 triggers. Bob’s a nice guy. Jake was a monster, (quote from him) Accuracy, after learning the gun, isn’t as close as my air king, r-11 or rx 2. but If I control wobble, is ok. Nobody makes a scope these 2 can’t break. Gamo recommended the Reddot. Tighten all screws every where often. It’s not luck. Just do it. Both mine r .177’s I shoot pile drivers n Elwood n Hn N Jsb’s n Kodiaks. heavy’s.


  16. BB,
    The B3-1 may be a little more finicky than the TX, perhaps it is demanding much smaller head sizes than you have fed it so far? How about testing it with pellets ranging from 4.49 upwards?


    • Trick Cyclist,

      Welcome to the blog.

      The goal of this test was not to get the B3-1 shooting more accurately, but rather to see if the rifle that I know to be mediocre from past testing, would respond differently to one of the 3 head sizes that are available with this pellet — a pellet the B3-1 does well with. Or, as well as it ever does.

      In short I wanted to find out if sorting pellet head made any difference to a gun that shot poorly. In this test, it didn’t.

      Yes, the B3-1 might perform differently with other pellets and other head sizes, but to pursue it for accuracy is akin to buying a standard car and trying to race it in NASCAR races, because the words Stock Car are in the title. It is a waste of time. The best a B3-1 can do will still be mediocre, compared to a quality pellet rifle.

      B.B.



        • They seem to OK so long As you keep them under 20 yards or so. I just shot a 10 shot group with my QB-36 yesterday at 10 yards offhand. The first time in over a year I’ve been able to keep10 under 1″ but it’ll never compete with a “good” gun.



  17. O.K., so I’m eight months behind the rest of you on this Pellet Gage subject. I kinda fell out of the pellet gun thing about 10 or 15 years ago and just restored my interest last December. Have had a GREAT time reading TONS of BB’s blogs plus a lot of good comments from others on the website. Way better than waiting for “The Airgun Letter” or “U.S. Airgun” to arrive once per month like I used to!

    So, I’m posting here because this is the Pellet Gage thread and it seems like all this info ought be to kept in one place.

    After reading all the blogs from last summer, I bought a .177 Pellet Gage which arrived today. I immediately dove into the mind-numbing world of gaging 100 pellets from a recently-purchased tin of RWS R 10 Match. These are some of my favorite air pistol pellets…work great in the P1, HW 75, HW 70. Not so bad in the RWS R5G, either. I figured that 100 pellets was a sufficiently statistically representative quantity of the original 500 in the tin. I just couldn’t BEAR the notion of testing the whole flippin’ tin!

    A word about the method. I NEVER touched a pellet from above the gage while it was being gaged. I wiggled them around with my finger from the bottom, but put NO pressure on any pellets to entice them thru the gage. If a pellet fell thru the 4,51 hole, but did not go thru the 4.50, I consider it a 4.50.

    This is what I found: There were (4) 4.49’s, (94) 4.50’s, and (2) 4.51′,. Not bad considering the volume of production and the minute dimensional differences we’re dealing with here. A 6% deviance is pretty acceptable this side of brain surgery for me.

    The tin was labeled “2315014 / 4,50” (batch #82846). BB, is there any way of tracing a batch back to see what the date of manufacture was? It might be significant if it were pre-July 2015 or sufficiently post-July 2015 for the manufacturer to have adjusted their manufacturing / quality methods? Anyway

    I’m not accuracy testing these pellets like BB did. He’s a far better shot than I and my 67-year-old quivering hands would just introduce too much variability into my testing. The point of the exercise is this; after all the brew-ha-ha of last summer’s pellet industry dimensional expose, have manufacturers responded by improving the accuracy of their products? I don’t have a pre-July 2015 baseline for these pellets, but I am satisfied that this particular batch is pretty much what the manufacturer has represented.

    I don’t know if anyone else is interested, but next I’m going to test (100) pellets from a tin of .177 H&N Match and see how they compare dimensionally. I think it’s reasonable to suppose that dimensionally near-identical pellets are going to provide nominally better results, so, as they say, “inquiring minds want to know”!

    Would it be worth testing a range of today’s popular pellets to see just how good each manufacturer’s dimensional claims are?

    Motorman


  18. I spent some time this afternoon gaging (100) pellets from a tin of (300) .177 H&N Match. The front says “4.5”, but it doesn’t say anything more specific on the back other that a serial number (42123) and “CN 150218 90300 1”. While I didn’t do a detailed examination, I did notice that more of them seemed to have small dings or scratches in them than the RWS R 10 Match that I gaged yesterday.

    In any event, here’s what I found: (1) 4.47’s, (3) 4.48’s, (42) 4.49’s, and (54) 4.50’s.

    So, based on this sampling, it would appear that the RWS pellets are substantially more consistently dimensioned. It’s difficult to tell if these results are consistent from batch-to-batch of R 10 Matches and H&N Matches. Anyone have a recently-purchased tin of either of these and the patience to gage a sampling of (100) pellets?

    I think I’ll try gaging (100) JSB Exact RS Diablos (7.22 gr.) and make this a “shoot-out” (pun intended) versus (100) Crosman Premier 7.9 grain domed pellets (cardboard box). Any guesses as to which is likely to be more consistent?

    Motorman


  19. Today I ran JSB Match Diabolo Exact RS Diabolo pellets (that’s exactly what it says on the can…short, catchy, good marketing, huh?) thru the pellet gage from a recently-purchased tin. This is a tin of (500) pieces from which I randomly selected a statistically representative sampling of (100) pellets. They are the 7.33 grain .177 caliber pellets. There was no indication of any special sizing by the manufacturer…just 4.5 mm printed in paint (as opposed to a paper sticker as with some brands).

    Here’s what I found:

    (2) 4.48 mm
    (33) 4.49 mm
    (65 4.50 mm

    So, they seem to be more consistent than the ..177 H&M Match that I gaged last week. The H&N pellets were spread over four sizes and almost equally split between two of those sizes. These are about 1/3 of one size and 2/3 of another. The consistency champ so far continues to be the RWS R 10 Match pellets.

    Next I’m going to get to the .177 7.9 grain Crosman Premiers. They’re very popular. I have high hopes that they’ll be more consistent than the H&N Match or JSB Exacts have been.

    Motorman


    • Motorman,

      Thank you for this report. I would have guessed that JSB would do something like this.

      I will also guess that the Crosman Premiers will be grouped in 5 sizes, with 2 of them containing most of the pellets.

      B.B.


  20. Been out of town for a few days…that’s the best excuse I could come up with for not having sorted some more pellets. I keep telling myself its therapeutic or something. Anyway, here’s what I found with the 7.9 grain Crosman Premiers that come in the cardboard box:

    (3) 4.54 mm
    (12) 4.53 mm
    (33) 4.52 mm
    (51) 4.51 mm
    (1) 4.50 mm

    Given the fairly sterling reputation of these pellets, I’m not close to being impressed. So far, I’m thinking of stocking up on RWS R 10 Match pellets! They have by far been the most consistently dimensioned pellets I’ve found!

    Date on the bottom of the box of Premiers is 28 February 2014, so they’re a couple years old despite having just been purchased in the last couple months. I guess the local firearm store doesn’t have a lot of turn over in their pellet inventory?

    BTW, did I understand that Crosman was discontinuing the cardboard box Premiers? If so, it might be interesting to run (100) of the Ya’ll Mart “Competition Pellets” in the waxed paper “milk carton” containers and see how they compare. Heavens, they don’t even specify what the pellet weight is on the box! The only thing I see is a part number 71250. Any idea what weight these are supposed to be, BB?

    Alternatively, I have recently purchased the following .177 pellets from which I could take a gaging sample:

    RWS Meisterkugeln 7.0 grain,
    RWS Meisterkugeln 8.2 grain,
    H&N (Beeman) FTS 8.64 grain
    and H&N Match Pistol 7.56 grain.

    Any particular interest in which I gage next?

    Motorman
    St. Louis, MO (still looking for someone in the area to shoot with!)


  21. Picky, picky 😉

    BB, reading the articles about the pellet gage (Thank you!), I find myself with a question;

    I am curious about the use of the term “chord” (straight line connecting ANY two points on the circumference of a circle) as a substitute for the commonly used and understood word “diameter” (straight line connecting the 2 farthest-apart points on the circumference of a circle. A “chord” MAY (or may not) be the one of interest to pellet measurers, but the “diameter” is CERTAINLY the chord of interest, since it is the only chord which will determine go/no-go of the pellet head through the gage hole.

    If the word “maximum” is added, as in “maximum chord”, then the reference is clear, but it is a work-around, so to speak, when there is a more concise way to go.

    Seems “diameter” is a more specific and appropriate term with no ambiguity, and, as a matter of fact, I have never before come across the term chord used when the diameter is meant. (But I am` willing to learn.)

    I have some knowledge of aero/hydrodynamics, where the term chord is used to indicate the measure between the leading and trailing edges of a foil(wing), …but other than that, …?

    (I am awaiting a response to my application to join the word-police! 🙂


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