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Ammo “It’ll hit like a .22!”

“It’ll hit like a .22!”

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Tough!
  • Sheridan Blue Streak
  • Flattening a ball
  • Splatology
  • Discussion
  • Universal law
  • So what?
  • Oh, fudge!

When I was a boy in the mid-1950s, that was the catch phrase of the day, “Pump it up 20 or 30 times and it will hit like a .22!” The people who said such things were all older than me and many of them were adults, so of course I knew it was true. Pump that Benjamin rifle 20 or 30 times and it will hit like a .22. It had to —right? I mean, if you pumped it just 5 times it would go through both sides of a tin can, which in my day was made of steel plate. The title tin was a holdover from the early 1800s when tin-plated steel was used for the can’s body and a lead and tin solder was used to seal the seam of the can.

When I made cans at National Can in Sunnyvale, California in the 1960s, there was no tin anywhere in the can. The steel was sheet steel and the seams were soldered with lead — I know because I cut the steel and kept the solder baths that sealed them filled and fluxed. If the contents of the can were going to be acidic, such as tomatoes or soda pop, we sprayed the inside of the can’s body with a lacquer coating to keep the contents separated from the steel.


The point is, those cans back then were tough! They were nothing like the thin aluminum cans we see today. They served us well as makeshift chronographs. A powerful BB gun could shoot through one side of a can. Benjamin’s 30/30 (1962-1976) advertised that it could shoot through both sides of a 5-gallon steel pail!

Benjamin 30-30
Benjamin’s 30-30 was a powerful CO2 BB gun.

Benjamin 30-30 pail
Benjamin touted it as being able to shoot through both sides of a 5 gallon steel pail. That was the criteria for power in those days.

Sheridan Blue Streak

Sheridan said it in a different way. They showed “controlled penetration” in wood. One-inch, to be exact. They did mention the wood was soft pine, and indeed a Supergrade or Blue/Silver Streak will penetrate that far if the wood is truly soft. Hard pine is a different story, and we discovered that to our chagrin!

Sheridan wood
Sheridan ran this ad for many years. This one is taken from the 1956 edition of Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World. by gun writer W.H.B. Smith.

The point is — we didn’t have chronographs in those days. Chronographs were only owned by big laboratories and took several people to operate. So we did the best we could to determine power, and that turned out to be penetration.

Flattening a ball

A century and more earlier, the criterion for determining airgun power was how flat the ball would become when shot against a hard steel surface.

flattening a ball
This drawing appeared in the November 6, 1824 edition of the London Mechanics Register. It is a drawing of the lead ball fired from a Perkins Steam Gun against an iron plate. It was the way to show power almost 200 years ago — a time before chronographs and cameras existed. From Gas, Air and Spring Guns  of the  World.

Roughly 60 years later an airgun manufacturer used the same method to show how the power regulation screw on their guns that controlled the hammer spring tension affected power in a Giffard-type rifle.

flattening balls
This photo is from a CO2 gun’s advertisement. It shows how the power of the gun can be controlled. From Gas, Air and Spring Guns  of the  World.


If you are a long-time reader of this blog you may remember that we also talked about this method of determining airgun velocity. It is a practice that airgun maker, Gary Barnes, called Splatology.

Splatology refers to the observation of pure lead balls that are fired against a rigid plate — producing what Barnes referred to as “splats.” He rediscovered what the airgun makers from history had known — that lead balls deform along rigid parameters as their impact velocity increases. But Barnes had access to something the ancients never did — a chronograph. He could also know the velocity of the splat to within a very precise amount. And he did something amazing with that information.


Barnes created a physical splat graph of lead balls that had deformed at precise velocities. It was two boards that charted the deformation of balls impacting at incremental velocities from very low speed to as fast as the splats held together. Any higher and the ball was reduced to lead dust and particles too small to be of any value.

splatology board 1
This first board takes balls from 0 f.p.s. to 452 f.p.s.

splatology board 2
This second board takes balls from 429 f.p.s. to almost 700 f.p.s. At that velocity the balls break into small fragments and this process can’t be used any more.


This report began as an informal statement, “Pump it up 20 or 30 times and it will hit like a .22!” That was completely untrue, but in the day when it was said nobody ever challenged it. So it became accepted as fact.

In truth it is nearly impossible for a pellet gun that shoots a diabolo pellet to ever come close to the power of a .22 rimfire cartridge. A standard speed .22 long rifle cartridge can launch a 40-grain lead bullet at between 1,050 and 1,100 f.p.s. That generates a muzzle energy of between 98 and 108 foot-pounds. What do we know about smallbore airgun energy? We know that the AirForce Condor in .25 caliber can produce about 105 foot-pounds at the muzzle when it shoots the heaviest diabolo pellets currently available. And that level of energy has only been possible in the last 5-10 years. Before then, no smallbore air rifle produced anything like that kind of energy.

The Benjamin pump guns people were talking about in the 1950s never got above 20 foot-pounds and even that was a real stretch. Fourteen foot pounds was more like it.

Universal law

Barnes also discovered that the size of the lead ball made no difference in determining how it deformed. The form of the splat was a constant regardless of the size of the ball that created it. That turns out to be as important to determining velocity as astronomers’ “standard candle” is for determining distance.

So what?

If you have to ask you aren’t getting it. The reason this is important is because people are unreliable sources for accurate information, and you can include me in that statement. That’s why I show you the targets I shoot. It’s also why I often shoot 10-shot groups instead of 5. And I still make a lot of mistakes. What I try not to do is promulgate beliefs because they sound good or, “That’s just the way it’s always been.” It’s why in 2011 I tested Velocity versus accuracy and determined that supersonic flight does not affect a pellet’s accuracy adversely. I still hear people saying that it does and I don’t bother correcting them because the 11-part report has been online for 8-1/2 years. You don’t have to believe it, but I did tell you what I did to test it. None of the good old boys who said overpumping a Benjamin will make it shoot like a .22 did that.

Oh, fudge!

In reading Part 11 of the velocity report mentioned above I discovered that I was planning to do even more with it. Well, no time like the present!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

111 thoughts on ““It’ll hit like a .22!””

    • B.B.,

      Nice history lesson especially for those in marketing. Sooner or later people will find out if you are saying the truth or not. Had to read the 11th part to see what you were supposed to do and I agree it is worth doing.

      I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t know about splatology way back when I didn’t have a chronograph before. Then again you did answer that one cannot use it for diabolo pellets.


      • Siraniko,

        Yes, Splatology is strictly limited to lead ball. Too bad!

        I have discovered though that there is a rough association. I can tell by the appearance of a pellet that has hit a steel trap what general velocity it’s going. But again, it ends around 700 f.p.s. or a little higher because of total destruction.


    • Hi B.B.,
      After reading this article I did some tests this week to estimate the muzzle velocity of my Benjamin 397. The test consists of comparing the penetration depth of the pellet with that of a nail with a certain weight dropped onto it.

      First I fired five shots onto a redwood block using a JSB .177, 8.44 grain domed pellet. The penetration I measured are 11, 11, 13, 9, and 10 mm averaging 10.8 mm. I fired two more shots on another block and sawed the block to retrieve the spent pellets. The lengths were compressed to 4 mm. The actual penetration then is 10.8 + 4 = 14.8 mm. I pumped the 397 six times for this test.

      Next I got a 3 inch nail with diameter of 4 mm (.158 inch) quite close to .177 inch. I filed the tip of the nail to shape it like a dome. Using an 8-pound dumbbell I dropped it on the nail from a height of 1 ft. The kinetic energy (KE) of the dumbbell is 8 ft-lb when it hits the nail. I made five drops and measured the penetration on the redwood. The results are 12, 14, 14, 14, 12 mm averaging 13.3 mm. The pellet penetration is 12.1 % more than that of the nail. Assuming that the pellet energy is also 12.1% more than that of the dumbbell, the pellet energy will be 8.96 ft-lb. Knowing this and the weight of the pellet, we can calculate the velocity from the equation

      KE = 1/2 mv(square)

      To get a faster result I used the Pyramyd AIR interactive pellet calculator and I got a velocity of 691 FPS.

      I would like to thank you for your outstanding articles. I marvel at your dedication and energy in serving the air gun community.

      Warmest regards,

        • Thanks B.B. !
          Also this week I retrieve from the garage the Blue Book of Airguns 11th edition which I bought in 2014. I saw your picture and read your article on the state of the airgun industry. Much water have passed under the bridge since you wrote that article . As impressive as the new airguns are I still cling to my 317, Sheridan, and Crosman 140. I’m not after extreme power. I value the things of the past that’s why I also collect and sell slide rules in eBay. I also buy the old physics and math books.

          During this lockdown I have time to go over your past blogs. Keep up the good work !


          • Renato,

            The next Blue Book is being edited right now and I wrote updates for 2016, 17, 18 and 19. They are supposed to ask me for a 2020 update before it goes to press, but I’m waiting for them to lay out what they have, so I know how much to write.


  1. Most interesting article always something new to learn.
    I have never heard of the “Splat Test” before.
    We used the wood baffle setup used by Dan Cotterman
    to test penetration.

  2. BB
    Good topic about alternate ways to test a guns power it’s making. I have used soft pine before I got a chrony and even after I got a chrony to put some velocity numbers with the penetration. Done the same with splat testing and putting chrony numbers with the splatted projectile.

    So can we call it a old wife’s tale when they said the pellet gun would hit like a .22? But on the other hand they didn’t say it hit like a .22 rimfire they just said .22. So maybe there is some truth to their statement. 😉

      • BB
        I’m sure they meant .22 rimfire. Wasn’t that like the most versatile round back throughout time and everyone new about it. And I just wanted to put a different perspective on the statement hit like a .22. Oh and I do like they used the word hit. That one word makes me think energy not velocity. And not even accuracy. But what that round would do when it made contact with something. Just like the different examples you gave to try to get a guide line of the power a gun was making.

        I myself like the soft pine better than splatology. Maybe a little more consistent way of measuring the energy and probably easier to check even more powerful firearms. Of course if you got enough 2×4’s stacked in a row. 🙂

        • I have no chronograph and have pondered gifting myself one at Christmas for years. Maybe this year?

          Anyway, my favorite coarse energy comparison is a modeling clay block that I have had since my wife retired as an elementary school teacher. She was clearing out her supplies and I glommed onto the several sticks of modeling clay and swedged them together.

          The approximately 3″ by 3″ by 6″ block is my favorite test block. I can get a relative fix on energy by the depth of penetration and the size of the entry “cone” with the shot.

          Maybe this “shooting season” when the snow flies and I am off the bicycles in the basement shooting my 5600 rounds, I’ll finally purchase that chronograph and try and compare the block penetration to the graph. Might be an interesting project to amuse and occupy me.

          BTW, I heard the myths about over-pumping the Benjamin Comp, and believe the engineers and only pump my BC to the 8 max. Usually shoot at 4 for accuracy on my 10M range.

          • LFranke
            I found the same that my 392 liked 4 pumps.

            And talking about the clay. That reminds me of when we was kids on the farm. We use to shoot into the mud on the banks of the creek. We would check how deep and big the diameter of the hole was in the mud. It was fun with the multi-pump air guns to watch how much it changed with different pumps. And we would also do the same with the .22 rimfire rifle. We had the CB caps and shorts and long rifles even some longs which I don’t think I have seen in a while. Oh and the high velocity CCI Stingers. They did some mud splattering for sure.

            As it goes we made do with what we had. And had fun doing it at that. 🙂

            • GunFun1: Great minds think alike? LOL Your are correct, we tend to make do with what we have until we can afford or acquire a better option.

              The modeling clay has been good for looking at expansion, and that, of course is related (at least crudely) to the velocity of the round at impact and the hardness of the round. I have observed, for example, that the Crosman Premier Hollow Points are but domes with a dimple and don’t expand much whereas the H&N Crow Magnums are enthusiastic (with appropriate velocity) in turning themselves into donuts.

              The problem with the modeling clay is consistency, of course. It is a mixture and not a compound and can vary with a number of factors (moisture consistency and content, for example). But, it does give a general indication of performance.

              Maybe Santa will bring me a chronograph this year? Maybe it is time to actually do some precise measures of performance? Of course, all the errant blathering, at least on my part, would have to come to an end – to the delight of others? Hmmm…..

              • LFranke
                Yep fun stuff.

                And I would like to make a suggestion. Here is a cheap but clean uniform pellet I use for plinking. I have recovered some interesting pellets using these. The head thickness is real thin. In other words the hole in the skirt end is very deep into the pellet. I have recovered the pellets and they have a hole straight through the middle of the pellet. In other words upon impact it turns the dome pellet into a true hollow point with the hole going all the way through.

                I have hit pest starlings and black birds with these and they make a nice pop when hitting around 50 yards and in and the back side has a big exit hole compared to the front.

                But it would be nice to see these pellets tested in clay. If you do please let me know your results.

                Let’s see if this will post with our new picture size limit. Here is a picture of one of these pellets recovered.

                • I may just have to try that.

                  I have honed my pellet choices over time to gun-specific rounds, largely based on accuracy in my 10M indoor range shooting paper and the Champion Trap.

                  I have had to make some substitutions over time as well due to manufacturer changes. The RWS SuperMags that fed my beloved Beeman P-1 were changed from 9.5 to 9.2 gr (if I remember correctly), and I have switched the pistol to the JSB Hypershock HPs. The P-1 lacks the velocity to open the HPs, but they are exceedingly consistent for target shooting so I use them for that purpose. I also don’t have to swedge the Hypershocks like I had to with the Supermags. BTW, I did learn that the Hypershocks wouldn’t open up by using the clay block.

                  The Hypershocks will open when shot through my RWS M-36 or 350 Furerkraft Pro Compact but not the P-1. Of course, they pump the rounds down range closer to twice as fast as the P-1. Velocity and foot/pounds are everything for hollow points.

                  I will tryand remember to order an odd tin of the Winchesters when I do my end of summer/end of cycling season audit and stock up for the winter in the basement range.

                  I have always found the Crow Magnums to be the donut makers. I have the last of a tin of the now discontinued Vortek Lampreys that were my go-to pest pellet; they would destroy a marauding rabbit instantly and at distance. They did the donut completely. Interestingly, the Lampreys and the current Hypershocks are very similar with the latter being a bit longer pellet.

                  I have shot the Baracuda Hunters with the “Philips Head” and they would open slightly with a star pattern. I haven’t been overly impressed with them for my airguns, but others’ results, of course, can be very different.

                  I suspect that hollow points in most airguns are more for show than reality because the speeds just aren’t there (at least as I chose pellets). I’m becoming more a dome shooter for pest elimination and a wad cutter downstairs.

                  • LFranke
                    That’s the thing that is kind of a bummer with shooting pellet guns.

                    We don’t have that shock velocity that the big case centerfire firearms have. We need some velocity but we got to watch and walk a fine line to maintain accuracy. So all we can do is change or distance to the target. It’s more critical with pellet guns than firearms I just mentioned.

                    So saying that. Us air gunners can make the hollow point type pellets work. We just need more shooting time to dail in that distance average we need to fall in. Which is fun too. But I found that it takes alot of time to get a air gun figured out.

                    That’s actually the stuff I enjoy doing. Get a nice smooth shooting accurate gun then throw in the other shooting variables and find out what gives maximum expansion for your gun. I’m a pest shooter. I very much get into that part of my air gun shooting.

                    Anyway enough rambling on my part. Time to get back to shoot’n. Good talk’n with ya. 🙂

  3. BB,

    Woohoo! Once again Mr. Wizard is going to pull the curtain aside and give us a glimpse of reality!

    I do so enjoy these experiments and your writing about them. You have the ability to impart onto us the data without becoming too technical in your explanations so that even I can understand it.

    The only problem now is I am going to have to do a considerable amount of reading to refresh my memory so I will be up to speed. 😉

    I remember Gary doing his Splatology experiments. It can be done with pellets, but it would only apply to one particular pellet of a particular caliber. Not really worth doing considering the variety.

    Sit down and shut up! Class is in session.

  4. WOW – memory lane time!!!

    What timing, I am just working on my old Crosman 101 (now a 100) and suffering all kinds of flash-backs to my youth. And now you feature our “power tests” on the blog.

    The steel-can test, (dent; split; one-side; two-sides) was a standard as cans were a common target for us.

    A more “formal” test was the splatology test (shoot a pellet against a railway track and check the deformation) which worked reliably (consistently) because our Slavia airguns were low power and Milboro (sp?) were to only pellets available.

    We never trusted penetration tests into wood as there was just too much variation in the wood density – even in a single 2×4.

    We finally settled on timing (with a stop-watch) the pellet flight as our official power test. We’d stand on the bank of the river and fire a pellet just off vertical and time how long it took to splash down. An average of 10 shots was your “score” and the longest time belonged to the most powerful (best tuned) rifle.

    Chores to do but I plan on making a new bolt for the 100 (don’t think that the .22 101 bolt is optimum for the .177 barrel) today and might get to do some Chrony work later. May time-test a couple of pellets just for old times’ sake.

    Thanks for posting this report B.B.!!!

    Happy Friday all!

  5. B.B.,

    The mythical power of an overpumped Benjamin or Sheridan is persistent with my generation. Any time my air gun hobby comes up in conversation with my brother-in-law, he reminisces about when he was a boy with a modest Daisy BB gun, but what he really coveted was a Benjamin that fully pumped could put a pellet through a 2×4. Each time he says that, I inform him that spring powered pellet rifles have long eclipsed multipumps in power. But sure enough at the next backyard cookout, the myth of the multipump is retold.

    I think a lot of that myth, at least among guys I know, had its beginnings in the Benjamin and Sheridan advertisements in the back pages of Boy’s Life magazine. When I was a Boy Scout and a Boy’s Life subscriber, I salivated looking at those ads. The genuine wood stocks were particularly desirable to a boy whose Daisy had a plastic stock warped from being leaned against a steam radiator in the winter. I didn’t have any friends who actually had a multipump air rifle, so the myth of their power was never challenged in my neighborhood.


    • Michael
      I can tell you this for sure.my Benji 392 when I was kid could not shoot as hard as my old Winchester 90 semi-auto .22 rimfire I had back then. Even when I shot some short’s in it single loading them because they wouldn’t cycle in semi-auto.

      But I can say this the .22 caliber 392 put the 760’s and 880’s in their place. There was no way they (hit) as hard as the .22 caliber Benji.

      So don’t give your brother in law to much flack. He’s probably remembering the difference between the Daisy and Crosman multi-pumps of the day. He’s just adding a little sugar to the tea if you know what I mean. 🙂

      You know how it goes. Kind of reminds me of our bench racing session with the muscle cars growing up. One thing would happen with the street race (yes I said street race) and by time you got back to the hang out at the local Dairy Queen or such you would have 5 different story’s about the race. You wouldn’t know the truth till the two driver’s got back to tell the story. Heck that was better than the race itself. Remember bragg’n rights was involved. You know. Kind of like your brother in law’s old Benji. 😉

  6. Not a big fan of a steel b.b.’s moving at 700fps or so. They will bounce right back at you, or other things. Lead
    is far superior for plinking and target shooting. A b.b. is a ballistically inferior jacketed bullet in some ways. Shoot it fast enough, it will penetrate steel, lead becomes plastic at much lower velocities, and looses its shape more easily. How fast does a steel bb need to travel to penetrate mild steel, say 3/16’s “? I would bet that 300 grain lead bullet cannot penetrate such a plate, dent the heck out it maybe? Put a copper jacket on that bullet, make it high velocity,different story. The first time I went to a range in Va. in the 80’s with a buddy to try out his SKS, I had no concept of the power in that little bullet. After a few stripper clips, and the all clear, I remember asking steve if he thought the bullets went through the 2×4 wood frame. I dont think any were on the paper, his response was, “what do you think?’, the target at 25 yds. Obviously, everyone knows that little bulllet will go through many 2×4’s at much longer ranges. That was my ‘tin can’ experience, and it showed me why lower powered airguns are good thing, and fill a usefull gap in the in the shooting sports. And you dont have to clean ’em every time..
    Best, Rob

    • 1stblue,

      Rob I can’t answer your first question: “How fast does a steel bb need to travel to penetrate mild steel, say 3/16’s “?”
      As far as your second question/statement…”I would bet that 300 grain lead bullet cannot penetrate such a plate, dent the heck out it maybe?” I would recommend not placing that bet! Although I haven’t shot at 3/16 mild steel I have at 3/16 aluminum and with .575cal 350gn SLUG (dead soft lead) punched a very clean group of holes through it at 650FPS. I guess the next time I find a piece of mild steel I’ll need to see if the mild steel is stronger than street sign aluminium. No! I was not shooting up functional street signs. I bought some scrapped signs to experiment with for a tertiary backstop for my yard.


      • Shootski
        Watch some videos about the .17 hmr round punching through BBQ grill propane tanks at 50 yards. The projectile is .17 caliber and around 20 grain. It shoots at a average of 2500 fps depending on the brand and such.

        There has been shoot outs between it and the infamous 30-06 round.

        I’m afraid your thin steel plate or aluminum plate don’t stand a chance against that distance. And now saying that. It seems we are forgetting to factor in distance in our penetration conversations.

        • Gunfun1,

          I thought we were talking about 25 yards (see 1stblues OP) onliest range discussed.
          I would still get on the .575 punching through sooner at almost any range given the energy it retains over distance.
          The .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) is a flat shooting potent vermin round for sure!
          I just can’t bring myself to compare it to a 30-06 Springfield center-fire round. I have however heard all the debate (don’t need to hear that one anymore) about the 30-06 to .270 Winchester comparison. I think if you want to compare the .17 HMR it should be to say, the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR) since both the 17 grn @ 2,500FPS and the 33grn @ 1,800FPS , or a 50grn at 1,460FPS result in about 237FPE at the muzzle. So I guess it all depends on what the thing is at the point we begin talking about Terminal Balistics. I only shoot at paper or steel to learn my rifle and round performance so I can get ethical harvests or effectively STOP the threat. Well I guess I do get some grins from paper and steel ;^) That counts to…right!


          • Shootski
            I have shot .17 hmr as well as 30-06.
            I can say they both pack a punch. But it’s obvious the 30-06 round is a bigger case and a bigger projectile. It should be more potent than the .17hmr.

            I was just giving a example of what was on the internet. The .17hmr propane tank video was on the internet some years back as well as the video comparison between the .17hmr and 30-06. I think in that video if I remember right they was shooting at a cinder block and fruit if I remember right. So you know what happened with both rounds when they shot at fruit. The cinder block showed the difference between the two rounds.

        • GF1,

          Shoot outs? At what range? At what? It sounds like someone is trying to justify their purchase of a .17 HMR. That is like the old wives’ tale of the 5.56 NATO being more effective as an assault weapon round than the 7.62 NATO.

          • RR
            Me? I don’t need no shoot out. I know what a 30-06 and a .17hmr does.

            Now the two rounds you mentioned I have no idea about them. Never shot either of them to personally know. Have you? Or just going by what you heard.

            • GF1,

              Oh yes, I have fired many of these rounds. The 5.56 is for the Mattelomatic (AR-15, M-16, M-4) and the 7.62 is for the M-14/M1A. A .223 versus a .308. I have owned and shot rifles with all of these rounds except for the .17HMR. I just never saw a need for one. It is an expensive rimfire round that you cannot reload. The humble .22LR works fine and is a lot cheaper to feed. Above that reloadable centerfires take over.

              I do not even fool with those anymore. I can do everything I want with my airguns. This is an expensive enough hobby. 😉

              • RR
                You know it’s funny I don’t shoot my powder burners very much at all anymore. And I can very easily where I’m at now.

                Like you said. I can do pretty much what I need to with my air guns. The way I see it is low key. My air guns are quiet. So I can shoot without disturbing anyone. No need to put any coal to the fire ya know what I mean.

                • GF1,

                  Perzactly. Even though around here it is a very rare day that you do not hear gunfire, my patch and the neighbors around me is kind of a quiet haven. It is much more pleasant to watch several does raise their young ones around here than run them off. The Boss does not allow me to hunt on my own land, although I think she has decided that if I want to thin out the squirrels a bit, she will not object.

                  • I agree with you. I hunted deer for many years starting when I was 14, and until I got married at 23. After that, I just didn’t have the time. Now, at 72, I wouldn’t think of shooting a deer. I put a little corn out back and enjoy watching them come in with their little ones. They are beautiful animals. I do like venison chili though, but not from any of my deer. 😉

                    • Geo,

                      For many, many years I hunted almost all of the time. I was a sustenance hunter. It was rare to have store bought meat. After my time in the service, I lost my desire to kill. Also, I have not had to hunt to survive. If I get hungry I will not hesitate to hunt again. I am not against hunting, but it is not a sport. Now I satisfy the urge by killing feral soda cans. 😉

                  • Yes, when I was a teen living at home, I would take my beagle out with our springer spaniel and hunt for rabbits and partridges. Never cared for squirrel. I would shoot them and field dress them and mom would finish cleaning them and cook them. We ate more rabbit than chicken, and the occasional partridge was a treat.
                    When I married and moved away from home, my wife was not into eating wild game. I would not shoot anything that we couldn’t eat, so that pretty much ended my hunting.
                    I agree…hunting is NOT a sport, it’s for putting food on the table.

      • Yup, I totally agree. Need some slope and hope! Amend to hardened steel ?
        at some point one side wins.
        Anyway, I hope they push the frangible bb concept more, improve the quality.
        Maybe hollow, sintered 6mm airsoft would be intersting. No mess to clean up.

        • 1stblue,

          Rob you are making it harder! But I bet the .575cal 350gn slug will make the hardened steel plate ring louder if not fall over ;^) Of course I can always bring out my .458cal and a 405gn lead Spitzer slug and send it toward that hardened steel at near 970FPS and see if that would do more hole punching.

          Maybe a round cast from depleted uranium!!!!!


            • Gunfun1,

              I did some looking on UTube for something that looked at least half way competent ly done and didn’t find anything. I know that penetrator rounds on big guns (Cannon) use tungsten cores to get through some really tough stuff but just comparing Brinell penetration charts Lead actually isn’t that soft compared to steel when kinetic energy levels are that high. The depleted Uranium that is used in some smaller bore cannon is not much harder than Lead and goes through personnel/aircraft/ship light armor plate. It seems that the kinetic energy per unit of frontal area is more important than hardness; think of those stories about straw being shoved through trees by hurricanes. Nothing conclusive so far but I’ll let it percolate in the back of my mind to see if I have anything in the armory that could make a reasonably fair test of Lead, Copper plated, Copper Jacketed, and maybe a Copper solid round. I’ll let you know if I do anything with it.


              • Shootski
                I would have to say the smaller diameter bullet would have more chance of punching through than the larger diameter bullet. But also there is a lot to consider. I’m sure the right velocity will make a difference too.

                But sure if you do any testing post the results. Always interested in that kind of stuff.

  7. Good nostalgic report, brings back memories of the ads from the past. I think Herter’s catalogs were the most over the top with their product descriptions.

    I had a Benjamin 3100 multi-pump BB gun. It would shoot through both sides of a 5 gallon oil can, if you could hit it. I don’t know what the velocity was. The velocity was much higher than my 312 pellet gun.

    As a kid we all were trying to shoot through a 2×4 with our airguns. I don’t remember it ever happening.


  8. B.B.,
    I love this report; it brings back lots of memories!
    When I got my first ever air rifle, my .20 caliber Sheridan C-model (with the rocker safety), for Christmas, my Dad has wrapped the rifle but FORGOT where he put the pellets! And I had to fly out to visit my uncle in Texas the day after Christmas. How in the world could I leave for week in Texas without even shooting my new air rifle?!?
    For some odd reason, I had ONE .22 Crosman pellet that a friend had given me to show me what he shot in his gun. So, at my Dad’s workbench, using his razor-blade utility knife, I was able to carefully trim down the diameter of the pellet till it could just fit in the muzzle of the Sheridan. I pumped up the rifle to full power, and shot that home-made pellet at an “X” I had drawn on a small piece of drywall. From 15 feet away, the makeshift pellet hit a little high and to the right, but it blasted through the drywall and buried itself in one of the basement walls. Woohoo! I was so happy, as I knew my new gun had some power.
    When I got home, my Dad had found the pellets, the old Sheridan cylindrical yellow box pellets. I took a piece of light pine, nominally 1″ thick (actually 3/4″ as we all know), and did the penetration trick; at 8 pumps, the pellet blew right through the wood, leaving a .20″ entry hole with a much larger exit hole on the back. Man, was I impressed! Luckily for me, even though I had heard many people talk about over-pumping a multi-pump to get it to “hit like a .22!,” my Dad advised me to follow the manual, and keep it under 8 pumps. I was young and not that strong, so 6 pumps was OK, but the last two pumps were a bit hard on me; hence, 6 pumps became what I used all the time. And I always used 6, instead of 4 or 5, since, even back then, I knew enough to experiment with accuracy using different numbers of pumps; and sure enough, my gun changes the point of impact with differing numbers of pumps. In the end, as previously mentioned, my Dad got our machinist neighbor to mount a Williams peep sight on it, which greatly increased the accuracy. So, I have a nice, light-weight, accurate, fun-to-shoot air rifle…yes, I still have it, thank God! And I still have the original plastic hand guard that you can wrap your hand around as you carry it through the woods…very convenient. =>
    B.B., thanks again for this report and the great memories it conjured up!
    take care & God bless,

      • Gunfun1, I used a piece of soft pine shelving that was nominally an inch thick, so it was actually three-fourths of an inch thick; and I shot it from just a few inches away; as a teen, to have a gun that would shoot through an “inch” of pine was big stuff! =>

        • Dave
          Cool. And I use soft pine 2×4’s in my pellet stop and with some metal plate and phone book and duct tape. It’s a very effective stop. And it will stop a .high velocity .22 long rifle round also.

          Isn’t it amazing how we use things to get the results we want. I do have to say if someone asked me what a chrony was when I was 15 years old I would of thought they was from outer space. Like whaco or something. What can I say I grew up on a farm and made due with what we had.

    • Thedavemyster,

      Just think of all the Sheridan C-model that got junked because people believed the “It’ll hit like a .22!” crowd!
      Treat them like a lady and they will eventually end up family Heirlooms or in RRHFWAG!


  9. Hi BB,
    I recall a “ballistic pendulum” that you reported on in connection with a late 90s big bore competition, back in your Airgun Newsletter days. It seemed to serve both as a tool and as a steampunk art piece.

  10. B.B.
    Oh the memories. Our Chronograph was Dad’s steel barn out back. None of our “bb” guns (Red Ryder, Daisy 95, Daisy Pal, Daisy 99 and so on) would go through the side. But the great and might Crosman 760 would (with BBs). The power was decided by how far back you could shoot (ft/yards) and still go through. The Daisy 880 was even more powerful (with BBs). It was then I decided (very young) that BBs were more “powerful” then pellets, because they would go through and the pellets would not. Funny now. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I bought a new Benjamin 397 22 cap pump. Now it had a lot more power than the rest. Even with pellets LOL


  11. B.B.,

    Gary used those boards to make it clear to a bunch of folks who were clueless about how powerful his creations were at Airgun shows. It worked, when FPS/FPE numbers went right over his potential customers heads.

    “Universal law
    Barnes also discovered that the size of the lead ball made no difference in determining how it deformed. The ball was a constant regardless of its size. That turns out to be as important to determining velocity as astronomers’ “standard candle” is for determining distance.”

    Should you change that to: The SPLAT Form Factor* was a constant regardless of the balls size?

    * form fac·tor
    a mathematical factor that compensates for irregularity in the shape of an object, usually the ratio between its volume and that of a regular object of the same breadth and height.


  12. BB
    And about this statement.

    “The point is, those cans back then were tough! They were nothing like the thin aluminum cans we see today”

    Have you tryed some green been or corn or sweet potato and such cans? They are way tougher than the aluminum cans now days. Matter of fact that is what I prefer to plink at. When you hit them they go flying. Perfect with a semi-auto gun to keep them tumbling. The aluminum cans for the most part just sit in one place and just bump when you hit them. Basically the round passes right through.

    So what I’m getting at is have you shot at any of the cans I mentioned lately. You might just be surprised how tuff they are.

    And that brings me to this question. Do you ever just have fun anymore plinking at stuff rather than doing your reports all the time? With friends and family and such. It’s like it’s all biusness with your work and no fun enjoyment shooting.

    • GF1,

      I have saved a few of the modern tough cans for just that reason.

      Do I ever get to just plink or shoot? Not so much. I take my fun where I can find it, because this blog keeps me going 16 hours each day, 6 days a week.


      • BB
        I know your serious about the blog. And I would be too if I was in your place.

        But you need to get your brother in law and church group and your buddies together and have a fun plinking day at some different home made targets and so on.

        I would very much enjoy a blog about BB’s plinking day. And don’t be offended. I totally enjoy your blog. But sometimes no matter what you got to get back to the basics. In other words where it all started at that got the fire burning. All I can say is I’m very grateful I have the place I have. Not only for me but what me and my family have exsperianced. I know my kids will remember and tell their grandkids and so on what they got to exsperiance. I just hope they get to do the same.

          • BB
            Good, very glad that’s in your mind.

            Whatever you do come up with will be interesting to hear about. Unless of course it’s a personal thing you don’t want to share. And that’s ok too. Just think’n about you being happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway. 🙂

          • B.B.,

            I think a job can be made to be a drudge or great fun. Some work makes that easier if we let it. Is the bb tin half empty?

            Could be called research for how the average Joe reacts to various powerplants, calibers, sights and targets! Just make sure you get to have some fun too!



          • B.B.,

            You need to be able to take a whole week off once in a while. Please set things up so that is possible. Even though you have a fantastic job you need to be able to recharge.

            When you go to a show you are still on the job. That is too much for anyone.

            I may sound a bit rough but that is because you deserve some time for yourself. I am grateful for all you do for my enjoyment and learning every day.

            Thank you,

            • Don,

              I fully agree. I know I need downtime. That said,… throughout life and even today,.. I know people who could not stop or even slow down if their life depended on it. They are doing 100 mph in a 55 zone from wake till sleep. ADHD, hyperactive,.. who knows? If that is a 10 and a couch slug is a 1,…. I think I fall in the 5-7 range.

              A blog report on a B.B. fun day/week would be a treat. I had to laugh out loud at B.B.’s comment on not being the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have used that line in the past with the adage,…. “…… but I sure as heck ain’t the dullest either”. Always learning and re-learning as required.


              • Chris U,

                There are some folks that just don’t stop for a break. I was helping a friend work on his tractor. He has a ranch up by my cabin. He was in his middle 80’s at the time. I ask him if he had ever had a vacation. It took him a moment to understand what I was asking. Then another little bit to think about it. Then he said nope I have never had a vacation.

                Publishing a report 5 days a week is very hard work. There are so many things you don’t have control over that can go wrong. There is no way I could do it.


  13. Interesting report today. I had never heard of splat ology. When I was a kid in the 50s, we only had cheap BB guns. No one I knew had a multi-pump. We only shot at tin cans and went “bird hunting” for sparrows. As I recall, we had to be pretty close to the sparrows in order to hit them.
    When I got back into airguns in 2012 my first purchase was a Crosman Nitro Venom gas spring breakbarrel in .22. I made a backstop to shoot it in the basement out of 1/2″ OSB but the pellets blew right through it. Then I doubled it to 1″ OSB and still pellets were penetrating my backstop. I finally build a backstop with 1″ of OSB and 3″ of duct seal. That worked pretty well until I purchased my Urban PCP in 2018. Pellets were again penetrating on through and I had to refab a new backstop.
    Bugbuster was kind enough to send me some 3/8″ uncured rubber sheets. My brother-in-law brought me a 1″ thick piece of aluminum plate which I used for the back. I started out hanging one, then two, then three, and finally a fourth sheet stopped the pellet. So, the Urban was shooting through 1 1/4″ of hard rubber sheets. When I shot using just one sheet of rubber, the pellet penetrated into the aluminum plate the depth of the pellet.
    I decided to just use two of the rubber sheets in front of the aluminum plate to stop any bounce back. When those become too damaged, I can just replace them. This backstop does a good job keeping things quiet and not allowing any debris to come back out. The Urban is only a moderately powered PCP, and I could adjust the hammer spring to increase the power, but why should I? It has proven to be powerful enough to take a big woodchuck at 20 yards as well as a good-sized pest raccoon. My Winchester .22 semi-auto may be more powerful, but the Urban is much more accurate at 30 yards. The power of these new airguns is no joke.

  14. Is anyone else having an issue with posting a photo today? When I attempt to post an image, I am blocked. The first time it happened, I lost my whole comment and had to start all over again. Then I just posted the comment by itself and tried to make a new comment with an image. The image post was blocked again.

  15. According to Lesley Wesley writing in his classic ‘Air-Guns and Air-Pistols’, penetration was actually the criteria by which airguns were considered ‘specially dangerous’ at one time in the UK.

    The Bodkin Committee of the 1930s studied firearms legislation in general, and decided on a penetration test in regard to airguns. Initially a number of strawboards 3/64″ thick packed together were used as a target, but that was then replaced by ‘selected white deal boards of even grain, free from knots and planed on both sides.’At a range of five feet, pistols were tested with a half-inch thick board, rifles with one inch thick, ‘and if pellets passed through the boards or the pellets could be seen from the back of the boards the weapons should be considered to exceed the standards laid down’.

    That standard presumably remained in place until the late 1960s, which saw the introduction of the 6 and 12 ft.lb muzzle energy limits that remain in place today.

    On a more informal note, he also suggests firing at a flat steel plate, such as the bottom of an iron, as a test when buying a second hand air rifle. In .177″ the pellet should completely shatter into small pieces, and in .22″ shatter the edge of the pellet leaving only the centre part as a small cone.


    • Iain
      I can go out right now and pick up some flattened lead from the different .177 caliber and .22 and .25 air guns I have. I have some steel spinners as well as field target steel knock down paddle targets too at various distances out to 50 yards.

      I can pick those pellets up and pretty well tell what gun shot them by how the pellet looks.

      I myself though still like the soft pine penetration test. When I’m tuning a gun and changing things in a gun I can tell real quick if the power went up or down by shooting into the wood. I will do that before I even think about getting chrony numbers. Plus you get a better idea of how the pellet mushrooms in the wood. Kind of hard to do with a steel plate without getting a distance figured out to shoot at that doesn’t flatten and destroy the pellet basically.

      • Gunfun1,

        B.B. said, “So what?
        If you have to ask you aren’t getting it. The reason this is important is because people are unreliable sources for accurate information, and you can include me in that statement. That’s why I show you the targets I shoot. It’s also why I often shoot 10-shot groups instead of 5. And I still make a lot of mistakes.”
        I was doing a little more research on the Lead vs Jacketed discussion and ran into a UTube of a guy doing just that…sort of. He didn’t say if the Lead was aloyed or pure dead soft and didn’t give much information on the Jacketed round. He did shoot through a soft wood board baffle system. He started with both rounds going clear through 14 boards so he added 4 more. He shot again but this time the lead round didn’t make it through the last two boards. So he declared the test over and that a jacket made the difference.
        EXCEPT! If you paid close attention while he was counting boards from over top of the baffles you could clearly see he had shot through the thick wood spacer(s) with the Lead round but not with the Jacketed round. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose but it just showed that B.B. is spot on with this blog….
        I guess we need to go back to 20-30 pumps and ours will, “Hit-like-a-22!” ;^)


  16. B.B.
    Not sure what is going on with my images being blocked. I receive this message on the block info. I tried changing the name of the image but it was still blocked. The file size is only 130k so that should not be the problem either.
    “What can I do to resolve this?
    You can email the site owner to let them know you were blocked. Please include what you were doing when this page came up and the Cloudflare Ray ID found at the bottom of this page.”
    Cloudflare Ray ID: 50c08f748843e1d2 • Your IP: • Performance & security by Cloudflare

          • Okay, thanks but I have found the problem. Apparently, something has changed regarding image posting. As I recall, the limit used to be 1MB and not sure what it is now. The image I was attempting to post was only 130K. I reduced the file size to 35K and it posted normally. So I guess we need to know what the max file size is for an image to post correctly.

      • My browser window changes to another window with this verbage:
        [Sorry, you have been blocked]
        [You are unable to access pyramydair.com]
        [Why have I been blocked?]
        This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. The action you just performed triggered the security solution. There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data.
        What can I do to resolve this?
        You can email the site owner to let them know you were blocked. Please include what you were doing when this page came up and the Cloudflare Ray ID found at the bottom of this page.
        Cloudflare Ray ID: 50c9c1555ec5562f • Your IP: • Performance & security by Cloudflare

  17. Benjamin .22 vs Sheridan 5mm is not really so much about energy,,,,and it’s really not a whole lot about caliber (energy applied per square inch)….but it is about the pellets they had “way back when”.

    Lets say either the Benjamin .22 or the Sheridan made 11.5-12 foot pounds.

    The pellet choices all those years ago were: either the dead soft (and rather poorly made) .22 Crosmans in the “pepper can” or the greasy dead soft Benajmin HC’s in the green tin in .22,or the harder lead 5mm Sheridan “Bantam”slugs.

    Back then…the only real test kids had was “what will it shoot though”…might be that old-school pain can for the co2 BB 30-30 (and steel BB’s are actually quite good a hard metal penetration) or random bits of home construction wood left overs.

    Back then….with those pellets,,,,the Sheridan would actually shoot thought thicker thicker thicknesses of wood (or deeper into thicknesses too thick to shoot through)…which every 1950’s early 1960’s kid “knew” made it more powerful.

    In today’s world of chronographs (ask me in 1965 what chronograph was and I’dnot have a clue), can prove it’s really not enough more powerful to make much difference….but those old orginal pellets still favore the 5mm Bantams in penetration because they (1) don’t deformnearly as much and (2) they apply that energy over a slightly smaller area.

    BAck then, thought the Sheridan was (1) a rick kids rifle (they did cost more to buy, and a lot more to feed) and (2) much nicer looking than the Benjamin 312 I had. I’ve grown fonder of the 312’s retro-esthetics.


    • Ribbonstone
      Reminds me what I have mentioned in the past about using a .177 caliber air gun to pest with verses a .22 air gun.

      The .177 caliber will pass through a squirrel at a given distance if the velocity is right. Take a .22 caliber with the same velocity and distance and shoot the squirrel and it may not pass through. Either way on the one caliber verses the other. Pass through or not if the shot was placed right it would still be fatal.

      Alot involved there with the different variables. But yep from what I have seen the smaller caliber usually will penatrate farther than the bigger diameter caliber. But then again the bigger diameter will usually transfer more energy where the shot is placed.

  18. No disagreement. The only common test for kids of the time frame was “shooting though stuff” and the only pellets were what you could find in the local hardware store. Today, we’d know the weight and use a chronograph. Would have a more information today, but not real sure that makes for a more practical application.

    • Ribbonstone
      And that’s true too. Guess we are kind of spoiled nowdays with all the pellets available and air guns at that.

      Kind of makes you wonder how we was able to shoot as good as we did back then. Guess we never had the better ammo and such so we never knew any better. And for the most part didn’t have multiple guns. So we got to know our guns real well. And yep you learned real quick what was working or not. As it goes by shooting.

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