Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30-caliber pellet rifle: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The test
- JSB Exact 44.75 grain
- JSB Exact 50.15-grain
- Predator Polymag
- JSB domes at 25 yards
- Predator Polymags
- Polymags with the tips removed
- What’s next?
Time for me to bend the bow of Ulysses and see what it can do. Today I have a slightly different accuracy test for you.
I tested the rifle at both 10 meters and 25 yards. I shot 5-shot groups today because this rifle is just too hard for me to cock. A tired BB is a sloppy BB. All shooting was off a sandbag rest in the normal fashion and I used the artillery hold, both because I knew the rifle would be twitchy, something several readers confirmed.
Sight-in took five shots. As it came from the package the rifle was shooting high and right. The open sights have scales to tell you where they are and I found the windage scale most helpful, getting on target.
JSB Exact 44.75 grain
First to be tested for no special reason was the JSB Exact 44.75-grain dome. I checked through the spotting scope to see that the first pellet landed in the black and then didn’t look again. I held the rifle very loose, concentrating on not pulling it into my shoulder. A twitchy rifle needs to be allowed to twitch all it wants to, because it will probably do so the same way every time.
The group looks quite large, but you must remember that these are .30 caliber pellets. Thirty caliber can be anything from 0.30-inches to 0.312-inches. It depends on the country that controls the round. I needed to know the exact size to calculate the groups, so I measured this first pellet. It came out at 0.308, so that is what I will subtract from all the group sizes to find the center-to-center dimensions.
This first group measures 0.439-inches between centers. It looks larger but that’s just due to the size of the pellets. This is not bad for a 10-meter group shot with open sights! This pellet bears watching.
JSB Exact 50.15-grain
Next I tried the JSB Exact dome that weighs 50.15 grains. It probably looks similar to the last pellet, but it landed lower on the target and also made a larger group. I did not adjust the sights from the last group. Five of these pellets went into 0.754-inches at 10 meters.
The last pellet I tried was the Predator Polymag. They weigh 44.75 grains, the same as the first JSB dome, which means JSB, who makes Polymags, probably uses the same lead preform for both pellets. The Polymag is a hollowpoint with a red polymer tip in the hollow. I have found this pellet in other calibers to deliver superior accuracy, so today we will see what it can do in .30 caliber.
Once again I did not change the sights from the first group. Polymags landed a little lower than the first JSBs and a little higher than the second ones. They also went a little to the right. Five of them made a group that measures 0.536-inches between centers. That’s almost as good as the first pellet and quite a bit better than the second one. I tell you that for a reason.
Okay, with 10 meters out of the way and with the rifle sighted in, we can back up to 25 yards. I will only shoot the two best pellets at this distance, but one reader asked me to try something special, as well.
JSB domes at 25 yards
I did not adjust the sights for this session. The first group was shot with the 44.75-grain JSB Exact domes. They made a group that measures 0.973-inches between centers, but 4 of the pellets are in 0.33-inches. That’s smaller than the first group at 10 meters! Of course it’s just 4 of the 5 shots, but it hints at a level of accuracy I hadn’t expected to see from this rifle.
Next up were the Predator Polymags that did almost as well at 10 meters as the JSBs. At 25 yards the 135 put 5 of them in 1.231-inches between centers. Once again, 4 pellets were even tighter, at 0.572-inches. Notice these pellets landed lower on the target, and also to the right, which is the same thing they did at 10 meters. What I’m saying is this big Hatsan rifle is proving to be very consistent.
Polymags with the tips removed
Reader Kevin asked me this after Part 2 was published.
“Speaking of limited pellet choices for your accuracy testing portion of this series, please consider removing the plastic tip from the predator pellets and testing them as a 4th pellet when you move beyond 10 meters. Two reasons for this:
1-Many of the plastic tips in predator pellets become offset and at distance this affects accuracy.
2-I’d like you to have at least one arm that looks like Popeye’s”
Well, Kevin, I tried doing that to several of the Polymag pellets and I could not get a tip to come off or even to move. I noticed that I was starting to damage (bend) the pellets I was working on, so I gave up. You may have seen batches of Polymags whose tips were loose, but these .30-caliber pellets aren’t like that. I looked at every pellet in the tin (that’s only 100) and none of the tips had fallen off.
As for Popeye’s arm, I started this series off more like Olive Oyl. But today I shot the rifle many times and cocking was getting smoother. Maybe it’s because I eats me spinach! Kidding aside, the test 135 is getting smoother to cock. Not easier, just smoother.
I went to 25 yards today because you guys are starting to pester me to test this rifle at 50 yards. Before I do that I need to get a scope mounted and zeroed. I will test the scoped gun at 25 yards before moving out to 50. So that’s next.
I was surprised by the performance of the rifle today. That said, the high cost of .30 caliber pellets forces me to say that I think .25 caliber is the better way to go. Until now I have not thought of .25 caliber as a plinking caliber, but comparing nickel pellets to 10- to 12-cent pellets, it certainly is! If you want to take full advantage of this big breakbarrel, go with the largest caliber you can comfortably afford to feed.