by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Five-shot groups
- Crosman Challenger PCP
- The final test
- Not done yet
- The results
You may recall that a few weeks ago I tried the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy target pellets in the Morini 162MI target pistol and they came out winners. I said at the time that I planned on conducting an exhaustive test to see if these lead-free pellets are really capable of competing at the world-class level. If they are, I promised to be their principal cheerleader.
Today will be the first test of these pellets. I will pit them against other world-class target pellets in airguns of pedigreed accuracy to gauge their relative performance. I don’t expect them to win every time, because no target pellet can do that, no matter how good it is. Different airguns will prefer one pellet over all others regardless of the quality of the respective pellets. We see that in every accuracy test I run, so why should this be any different?
What I do hope to discover is whether the Sig pellets can hold their own. Whether they are worth investigating for competitive shooters. At $35/500 they certainly aren’t for shooters on a budget. But when you find the most accurate pellet for a given target gun, the price is irrelevant. You’re in the game to win — not to save money.
I’m also not interested in what they can do at 50 yards or how big a hole they will blow in a rat if shot backwards. This pellet has one specific purpose and is too costly to play games with. It’s for 10-meter target shooting — period!
Today I will pit the Sig pellets against several world-class target pellets of known quality in three 10-meter rifles. We are looking for groups from the Sig pellets that are of similar size to the groups the premium lead pellets give in each of these rifles. They may not always be better, but are they close?
When I shoot 10-meter target guns I don’t shoot 10-shot groups. Five shots are all it takes to demonstrate the potential of a particular pellet in a certain airgun. I think you will see that in this report.
Crosman Challenger PCP
The first rifle I tested was the Crosman Challenger PCP. While this is an inexpensive youth 10-meter rifle, it is plenty accurate and I have used it in several comparison tests in the past. The Lothar Walther barrel is quite good and the trigger is acceptible — though far from the level of triggers found in today’s top 10-meter rifles. But the Challenger doesn’t cost $3000, either!
The first pellet I shot was the one I know is the best for this rifle — the H&N Finale Match Rifle with a 4.50mm head. Five pellets made a group that measures 0.24-inches between centers. This is a larger group than I expected, but as you can see it’s still nice and tight.
Now came the moment of truth. Could the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet keep pace? I fired 5 pellets into the target without looking through the spotting scope. When I went down to examine the target, I found 5 pellets had made a group that measures 0.167-inches! Wow! I was dancing in the street! Finally there is a lead-free target pellet that can be used in competition and give nothing away.
Are these pellets more accurate than the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets? We can’t tell from just these 2 targets. I have shot other groupss with the Challenger and this pellet that were smaller than the group the Sig pellets gave today. But that can also mean that we haven’t seen the best the Sig can do, either! The point is — Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets give nothing away to these world-class premium target pellets from H&N.
Now it was time for the big guns — literally and figuratively. Though I don’t own a modern world-class PCP 10 meter target rifle, the FWB 300S is every bit as accurate. They were delivered with 0.04-0.06-inch five-shot test groups.
My FWB 300S is most accurate with RWS R10 Heavy pellets, but I seem to be out of them at present, so I substituted a JSB Match pellet that Pyramyd Air doesn’t currently carry. If it hadn’t done well I would have tried the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet that is almost as accurate as the R10. But I didn’t need to worry, because the JSB pellets did fine. Five of them went into 0.153-inches at 10 meters. That’s not the best I’ve ever done with this rifle, but it’s pretty darn good!
Next I tried the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet. Five of them went into 0.19-inches at 10 meters. That’s larger than the previous group, but still in the ballpark.
The final test
Okay — we have one case of the Sig pellets being the most accurate and one case where they were a close second. To broaden the test a little I brought out a veteran target rifle from the 1970s — the Walther LGV Olympia. This is not the same Walther LGV rifle that’s being sold today. Walther reused that model name a few years ago for a line of upscale sporting air rifles. The LGV Olympia was the last recoiling breakbarrel target rifle Walther made — just before they brought out the recoilless single-stroke LGR. And, I think you are about to see what everyone has said for decades about breakbarrel target rifles that recoil — in the right hands they can be just as accurate as recoilless rifles.
I shot the LGV off a sandbag rest just like the first two rifles. It fires so smooth that direct contact with the bag doesn’t hurt. When you see the results I think you’ll agree.
The first 5 shots were with the JSB Match pellets with which I was confident. But when I went downrange to change the target I saw a horrible 2-hole group! Three pellets grouped tight to the left and 2 went into another hole far to the right. The “group” measures 0.459-inches between centers and is more like what I expect to see from a Turkish or Chinese breakbarrel at this distance.
Wow! It doesn’t get much worse than this for a 10-meter rifle! Five shots made a huge 0.459-inch group!
Okay, I could not leave it at that, so after trying the Sig pellets I resolved to try the LGV with the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets. Surely the LGV can do better than this! And, incidentally, I did not attempt to adjust the sights of the rifle to the center of the bull. That would need to be done if you plan to compete with the rifle, though.
The Sig pellets were up next. I’ll let the target speak for itself.
OMG!!! Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 0.098-inches at 10 meters, when shot from a vintage Walther LGV Olympia! I think this is the smallest 5-shot group I have ever reported in the 11 years I have been writing this blog.
This blog turned 11 years old on March 3rd. And this is the smallest 5-shot group I think I have ever reported. I wish Edith could have seen it! She knew how much I wanted to find a lead-free pellet to recommend to the thousands of coaches and shooters who ask me what’s out there.
Do I think I could do this again? Probably not — but who knows? The point is, I did it this time and I did it with a lead-free pellet in a recoiling breakbarrel target rifle. That addresses so many fundamental questions about airgun accuracy (Can a breakbarrel air rifle be accurate? Can a recoiling airgun be as accurate as a recoilless airgun? Can a lead-free pellet compete with world class target pellets?) that it belongs on a coffee cup! If I were Sig, that’s what I would do.
I promised if this Sig pellet turned out to be competitive with world-class target pellets I would become its principal cheerleader. I apologize to every reader who now needs to wash that image from their mind, but that’s what I intend to do. I’m looking for my pom-poms as you read this!
Not done yet
This test isn’t over just yet. I said I would try the LGV with the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets to get the bad taste of the JSB Match pellet group out of our mouths. So that came next. Five Finale Match Rifle pellets went into a group that measures 0.161-inches between centers. That is satisfactory, and it completes today’s test for me.
Thus far the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet appears to be fantastic. But I am not finished testing it. I plan to return and conduct a second similar test using 10-meter pistols. After that I may do a third test with sporting rifles. We’ll see how things go.
Yes, these pellets are expensive. Only buy them if you want to win.