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Ammo What’s wrong with solid “pellets”?

What’s wrong with solid “pellets”?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Diabolo pellet
  • The couch coach solution
  • Tradeoffs
  • Summary

Today’s report was engendered by yesterday’s report about the AirForce Texan big bore air rifle. Many of you have been discussing the advantages of solid pellets over diabolos

Today I’d like to look at this question a little closer. For starters, let’s call solid pellets what they really are, which is bullets.

pellet bullet
A diabolo pellet on the left and a bullet on the right. Let’s call them what they are!

In the 1880s pellets were either solid lead or they were lead with felt glued onto their bottom. In flight the felt caught the air and slowed the slugs down, keeping their nose pointed  forward. Just after the turn of the 20th century the invention of the diabolo pellet changed pellets forever.

felted slugs
A felted slug has a small piece of felt glued to the bottom to provide air drag in flight.

Diabolo pellet

The diabolo pellet was named after the diabolo — a European juggling device.

A diabolo is an object jugglers use. The pellet takes its name from them.

diabolo pellet
The diabolo pellet is far better ammunition for a pellet gun.

The wasp waist and flared hollow tail of the pellet create drag and push the weight forward — all to increase stability in flight. Bullets don’t do that. To stabilize a bullet you have to spin it on its long axis. The longer the bullet is, relative to its width (caliber), the faster it must be spun.This can be done in one of two ways. Either push the bullet faster or increase the rate of the rifling twist.

A .223 bullet weighing 55 grains and fired at 3,000 f.p.s. through a barrel with a 1 twist in twelve inches leaves the muzzle spinning 180,000 rpm. (that’s 3,000 times 60 seconds)That turns out to stabilize the bullet good enough for a couple seconds of flight to perhaps 300-yards. Now, to drive a bullet of that caliber and weight that fast takes a cartridge that produces about 55,000 psi of pressure. 

But a longer bullet of the same caliber that weighs 69 grains will need a twist rate of one turn in 8 inches. That’s one and one-half revolutions for every foot it travels. There is no way you can drive a bullet of that caliber and weight to 3,000f.p.s., so the twist rate needs to be increased to compensate for the loss of velocity. Pushing it out the spout at 2,700 f.p.s. gets a spin rate of 243,000 rpm, which stabilizes the bullet long enough to fly for almost 6 seconds. The heavier bullet goes slower but remains stable longer and is thus accurate even farther.

These are the games you play with bullets. And you want them to work in airguns?

The couch coach solution

Okay, someone says. If that’s that case I want a .357 big bore with a twist rate of one turn in one inch! A 700 f.p.s. rifle will get the bullet spinning 700 times 60, or 42,000 rpm.

No — it won’t. If an air rifle operating at 3,000 psi can push a 158-grain lead bullet out the muzzle at 700 f.p.s., it does it through a barrel that has a 1:16″ twist. Go to a 1:1″ twist and the exit velocity drops to 250 f.p.s. — if the gun even works at all! To go out at 700 f.p.s. you need 11,000 psi behind the bullet. Try to find that!


This is where a knowledge of black powder shooting really pays off. You soon learn there are limits you can’t get past and you have to learn to operate within those limits. Want to take bigger game? It may not be with higher velocity but with a heavier bullet of larger caliber. Well — isn’t that a lot like airgunning? Sure you can shoot a pellet at 1,300 f.p.s., but it gets you nothing because you can’t hit what you shoot at! But if you shoot at 850 f.p.s. and learn to hit everything, then you have the world on a string!


It’s easy to design the perfect universe where the $300 air rifle puts 10 pellets into 0.15-inches at 25 yards and therefore 0.30-inches at 50 yards and 0.60-inches at 100 yards and so on… But that ain’t the real world.

Said another way, leave the solid pellets to the big bore airguns and firearms.

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.

115 thoughts on “What’s wrong with solid “pellets”?”

  1. B.B.,

    Just yesterday I stumbled upon someone selling small bore (.22 I think) diabolo lead air gun pellets that were solid. They were just roughly finished enough that I believe they were hand-cast. I just tried to find them again, but to no avail.

    In a mega magnum .22 PCP (AirForce Condor, perhaps), might such a pellet retain the stabilizing benefits of the skirt but have the punch of a 40 grain pellet?


          • B.B.,

            To me RPM (Rotations Per Minute) is familiar nomenclature. I doubt I have ever read RPS (Rotations Per Second) anywhere. Please stick with RPM.

            And FWIW you did not have a typo. You simply chose a different unit: minute.


            P.S. Like everyone older than 50 I grew up knowing what 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM where, and because my dad was an aficionado of old jazz, I also was familiar with 78 RPM.

            • Michael
              I remember the 78 rpm records.

              My dad played alot of Italian,Greek and Croation music and played the guitars he made to the records. And he use to tape the Croatian hour every Sunday on the radio with his reel to reel tape player. I have boxes full of those reel to reel tape he recorded somewhere. Don’t know if they are still any good. They are probably around 45 years old now.

              But one thing I remember is he had that song that they use to smash plates to at usually Greek weddings. It was a red kind of transparent record. Do you remember those records?

                • Michael
                  Yep Zorba the Greek. This is what I grew up listening to on the weekends out on the farm when I was a kid with my dad playing the guitars he made to the music. He would BBQ every Saturday and be playing while he wasn’t tending to the BBQ.

                  Here’s a 3 minute video from flash mob. They do some pretty cool videos. They are like people mixed in a crowd and start forming out of the crowd dancing and playing music.

                  I have watched the video before with my daughters after I searched my you tube history.

                  Oh and what about the red transparent vinyl records.

                    • GF1,

                      When 8-Track and prerecorded cassette started to become popular, vinyl pressers were nervous and tried to attract buyers with special editions with colored discs and even picture discs. These were of a different type of plastic than the black vinyl, and the common belief was that they did not sound quite as good or last quite as long. I never really heard a difference (had a few but never did listening tests), and I wore out a lot of records, so I don’t have an opinion.

                      What matters is that you have fond memories of your dad playing the record.


              • Gunfun 1,
                It’s likely your old reel-to-reel audiotapes are still good.

                Our linguistics department (University of British Columbia) occasionally gets old reel-to-real recordings with valuable language data, and with a little fiddling you can usually get a good transfer to digital.

                Contact me directly if it’s relevant to talk about details. (No, I’m not offering to transfer boxes of tapes. One tape, maybe.)

                Guy Carden
                cardenguy at gmail dot com

                • Guy
                  Thanks for the offer of transferring a tape for me and the info about the tapes being good still…(hopefully).

                  But I should still have my dad’s old reel to reel player too. I hope it still works. If I remember right there was the trick of wiping off the player head with some alcohol to get it to play better. But maybe I’m remembering wrong. That was a long time ago when I was a kid.

                  • Gunfun1,
                    Wiping off the heads with alcohol on a Q-tip is right. Rubber conditioner on the rollers and some very delicate cleaning and lubrication may also be relevant.

                    Getting the old reel-to-reel working is certainly the best solution. You may be pleasantly surprised by the audio quality.

                    One thought: The r-to-r player is almost certainly also a recorder. Make sure you understand the controls. I recall a sad incident where a man wanted to make a back-up of an important evidence tape, set it up wrong, and recorded silence over the whole tape. No, we couldn’t get the data back for him.


                    • Guy
                      It is for sure a recorder also because my dad use to record his guitar playing.

                      And what should be used on the rubber rollers? Doesn’t the actual tape contact those rollers if I remember right. Wouldn’t that get on the tape and and make the head not read right.

                      Don’t know what would be best to use that’s why I ask.

                      There’s not a spot to reply here. Just go up a little ways till you find my name with a reply spot. I’ll see it if you reply.

                  • Gunfun1,
                    Reply to your post 28 August at 12:31.

                    (1) Rubber conditioner: This turns out to be trickier than I had remembered. You are right that the “pinch roller” that contacts the tape needs special treatment.

                    Lots of contradictory advice on the web.
                    Rubber rollers can be cleaned with soap and water, rinsing well. But old rubber is likely to be dried and hard and therefore not gripping right even after you clean it. A gentle touch with 220 grit wet or dry sandpaper sometimes helps.
                    — Ordinary silicone spray is said to help somewhat. Should be OK for pinch rollers if you give the propellant time to evaporate.
                    — MG Chemicals 408A-125ML Rubber Renue apparently works well for restoring dried or cracked rubber drive rollers. Some posters report using it successfully on pinch rollers, others say that it contains oil and should not be used on anything that contacts the tape.
                    — American Recorder Technologies S-721H-4 cleaner: The manufacturer says this “promot(es) extended life and healthy texture to pinch rollers”, which is not quite the same thing as claiming that it will restore dried out or cracked rubber. It’s also painfully expensive, $30 on Amazon.
                    — I was surprised to see that new pinch rollers appear to be available for many models.
                    Sorry not to have more explicit advice.

                    (2) Two things I forgot to mention:
                    (a) As well as cleaning the tape heads, it is sometimes useful to demagnetize them: Relevant primarily if you are losing high-frequency response. This needs a special tool, a tape head demagnetizer, claimed to be available for about $15.
                    (b) If the volume controls are noisy, contact cleaner can have a miraculous effect. WD-40 Specialist Contact Cleaner looks like the right stuff.

                    Some possibly useful links:
                    Restoring Reel-to-reel recorders:

                    pinch rollers:

                    Damaged tapes:


                    • Guy
                      Thanks for all the help.

                      Maybe I’ll get lucky and the rollers will still be good.

                      And I do remember my dad doing or saying something about the demagnatizing.

                      I guess I really need to find out where all that stuff is and see what kind of condition it’s in.

                      And thanks again. I’ll post here to you if I get the stuff out and let you know what I find.

                    • Gunfun1,
                      Reply to your post August 29 at 8:37.

                      The rollers may well be fine. Good luck with all this.

                      Best way to make contact is: cardenguy at gmail dot com,


            • Oh wow…you just made me remember my old record player…it could play albums at 33-1/3 RPM but if you popped up the center section to fit a 45 on there, it automatically increased the RPM up to 45…yes, good old memories for sure, Michael; thank you. =>

          • B.B.,

            I’ll bet there are even a handful of youthful recording engineers who don’t know what ips stands for. ;^) I wonder if in other parts of the world everything was mmps. Hey, npss
            — that reminds me. Still have that old Legacy SE? I’ve never forgotten that one. By today’s standards and TIAT, would its smoothness still stand up as impressive?


          • I had to reread that section. I was confused at first as well, I think it would clearer if you stated “Leaves the muzzle spinning 180,000 rpm. (that’s 3,000 rotations per second)”. I think the issue was I didn’t catch that you were using times as multiplication in that instance.


        • bes,

          Not a typo. A typo is a typing error, such as “tyoo” with the finger striking the adjacent o rather than the p.

          B.B. selected a different unit of measure, the minute, than the second. But he typed it correctly.


      • B.B.

        Ah, I misread. I was interpreting the ‘times’ as meaning ‘revolutions’ as opposed to ‘multiplied by’ and somehow read ‘3000 times in 60 seconds’.

        I think I just expected to see “3000 times per second” instead.

        All sorted out after some coffee!


    • Gunfun1,

      You’ve probably seen all of the videos online of folks shooting air gun pellets out of firearms and firearm bullets (and sometimes even cartridges!) out of air guns. Man! Some people are never satisfied, although I do respect curiosity simply for the sake of knowledge.


        • Gunfun1,

          Agreed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or respect the experience of those who have gone down that road before you/me and found that it was not worth the effort.

          I tend to be an experiential learner (Is that paint really wet?) For that reasonI have a number of airguns of various configurations.

          Still learning. However I don’t have to try Everything. I do learn by reading a number of blog posts by those who have covered topics about which I’m curious.


          • Dan
            I like modding but that’s a little different than trying like Michael was saying on those videos.

            Modding your usually trying to upgrade a part on your gun.

            What they are doing could make things go wrong pretty quick. That’s one of those watch and see what happens and let the other person be the guinea pig. That’s what we call common sense.

            Like my boss use to say. “All sense ain’t common.”

            • GF1

              From my late Father-in-Law, “Common sense is surprisingly uncommon.”

              He was a mechanical engineer who held P.E. certifications in PA and NJ. Smart guy. I guess that he ran into a lot of folk who didn’t use common sense.


              • Dan
                Yep. You wouldn’t believe the stuff we would find wrong that someone did on the machines.

                That’s one thing I can say is that it’s been interesting at times working at the machine shop through out the years.

                My neck is always getting tired from shaking my head so much at work. I think I developed a natural no twitch in my neck. Joking of course. But just amazes me some times.

    • Yogi,

      I think that at one time JSB made .50 pellets, but I am not sure. I am certain they made a .45 pellet that was considerably longer than this one.


      There is also someone out there who is selling .177 “slugs”.

      • Yogi,

        I think the H&N also makes the Piledrivers, which are even more slug-like (and heavier) than the Rabbit Magnum II (the .22 version is 30gr which is right in the ballpark for .22 WMR bullets, if a bit on the lighter side for .22 lr)

        Pyramyd AIR seems to be out of the .177 right now.



        • Chanman,

          On other forums,… there is quite a bit of discussion on boat tail slugs. Too much? Not enough? Long and drawn out calculations, testing,…. etc.

          I do not know enough to even have an ignorant opinion on the topic,… but it is being discussed quite a bit with regards to air gun slugs. This pile driver would be a good example.


  2. BB,

    My personal experience has been that pellets are better for airguns than bullets. Having said that, I continue to experiment on occasion, most especially as more companies are attempting to develop the air rifle “slug”.

    As I know you are aware most of them run into two issues, coefficient of friction and twist rate. Most air rifles have a twist rate as you stated of around 1:16. This can actually work well if your “slug” is short enough. My HM1000X .357 has a twist rate of 1:26. I wonder how short that “slug” would have to be.

    As for the question of friction, there are a thousand words expressed in the first picture of this blog.

    With more and more people and companies doing the R&D thing, one day we may end up with a “slug” that will be as accurate as a pellet in an air rifle. Until then…

  3. BB,

    I do hope you intend to test those Hatsan pellets in the Texan. It would also be great if you could find some other .45 pellets to try. I am really curious to see how the pellets do in that thing.

    In looking around I have also seen .45 “slugs” with hollow bases similar to the diabolo. I am certain this will help some, but does it enough? The pellet companies seem to be trying to fool around with the laws of physics with the extreme hollow designs. To an extent it seems to be working.

    What of the Balle Blondeau? In the past I have heard of very good results with this style of “slug”, but I see so few examples of it these days. I do see a lot of designs that look as if they were based on these such as the semi wadcutter you have pictured in your previous blog.

  4. I think we (somebody, not me) should look back 160 years to Whitworth rifling, add a dollop of integrated nano particle lubrication, propelled by a phased array air expulsion turbine with a combination rifled/smooth bore barrel.

  5. BB ,

    How about a Forest Gump Answer ” That’s why they are pellet rifles ” . Keep it simple . Great blog , I hope it helps people understand that the rifle is designed around a certain weight bullet at a certain speed , a slug changes things !

    Gene Salvino

  6. FYI – NSA (Neilsen Speciality Ammunition) sells a 15.5 g .177 slug designed for airguns.

    In the past two years or so there has been a lot of research and development in the area of airgun slugs (bullets) and barrels.

    The major pellet manufacturers (like JSB and H&N) and numerous smaller companies are producing slugs in commercial quantities so there must be something to all the hoopla.

    For decades airguns have been designed specifically to shoot pellets and are not optomized for slugs – they don’t have the power to drive the higher friction slugs nor the twist rate to stabilize them. That has changed with some companies offering airguns that are capable of shooting slugs.

    Currently, shooting slugs from an airgun is anything but “plug & play” and considerable searching and tuning is needed to get satisfactory results.

    For me, pellet guns are (relatively) low power short range guns which are safer to shoot in more populated areas than powder burners – love them for that! Think that they will be around forever for that use.

    Slug guns are moving into a niche in between pellet guns and powder burners as far as range and power goes. Personally I don’t “need ” a slug gun beyond my curiosity about this technology but for those who are in to pesting ground squirrels or pigeons at ranges beyond where pellets are practical (125 yards plus! ) slugs are just the ticket.

    So for all my rambling, I don’t think that solid bullets for airguns can be dismissed based on past experience. I view slug guns as a different disipline with a specific application. Considering the level of interest and the R&D being applied I would bet money that off-the-shelf PCPs designed specifically for slugs will be available in the near future.

    Just my two cents.


    • Hank,

      Like you, too much is going on (advancements) now and some people are getting really good results with slugs. I do not think it is fair to dismiss them just yet. Sure,.. there are many variables,… but some are making a good go of using them. Who doesn’t want better accuracy,.. further out?

      My takeaway is that most times, for most people, for most air guns…. they will (not) work better than a Diabolo profile.


      • Chris
        I was reading yesterdays report and seen you gave the length of your Marauder and Daystate.

        I said wow those guns are long. My Gauntlet is the longest airgun I have right now and it is not as long as your Daystate and Marauder. I got to watch all the time when I handle my Gauntlet so don’t bump the barrel on something. I bet you have to watch on your guns when your moving them around.

        And how did your Marauder get so long? They are about 38 inches from the factory.

        Here6s what you said.
        “Chris USA
        August 25, 2020 at 2:43 pm

        I looked it up. 45″ for the Texan. My M-rod in RAI stock with the 6 position fully extended goes 45″ too. The Red Wolf with the 6 3/4″ Hugget added, comes in at 51″.

        Man those are some long guns.

        • GF1,

          On the M-rod,…. the RAI chassis, with the offset adapter and the the standard mil-spec AR tube with the FAB Defense 6 position fully extended. (no RAI folder) Yea, they are long and only carry them by themselves and not with anything else. Of course the RW Hugget comes on and off, so I can put it on at the bench.


  7. I am all for innovation, and pushing the envelope, and thinking outside the box.
    But (there is always a but..)
    As airgunners, we have enjoyed a freedom from restrictions in the USA, unlike other countries.

    With the plethora of big bore airguns coming to market, and their popularity, AND manufacturers making semi auto, and full-auto airguns, it is only a matter of time before someone does something stupid, and draws attention to this, and we will have serious restrictions imposed on our sport.

    I am all for full auto, I have never seen ANYONE that didn’t have a big smile on their face after firing a few burst on full auto, no matter if it is with an airsoft gun, or a M134 minigun.

    I am friends with a manufacturer in Taiwan, they have a 2 Joule (1.47ftlbs. )limit there for airguns, they do import .25, .357, caliber airguns there, but they are also limited to 2 joules. (per conversations we have had, i personally think many of the people there ignore the limit, but that is my personal opinion.)

    How slow do you think a .35 caliber pellet has to be going to be a sub 2 joule airgun?

    While 100 or 200ftlb airguns sounds like a lot of power, and it is compared to other airguns, in the powder burner realm, they are at the bottom end of the scale.

    100ft lbs, is equivalent to a .22lr cartridge power, 200ftlbs, is .380acp power levels.
    These are both considered by many people to be below the minimum needed for a self defense cartridge, but they are both responsible for many deaths each year.

    As for the hunting aspect, it is our responsibility as hunters to take game as quickly and humanely as possible.
    At the power levels we use in airguns, that equates to precise shot placement.

    In North America there are reasons .22LR, is not legal for deer hunting, power level is one of them, and I don’t know of any deer hunter that would consider taking a deer under normal circumstances with a .380acp.

    Guns are tools, airguns, and powder burners, and like golf clubs, no 1 gun does every job.

    I sometimes get called to do pest control for the company I work for, for legal reasons, they would not even think of letting anyone near one of their buildings in an urban environment with a powder burner of any caliber.

    You choose the power level for your intended target, and surroundings.

    Ok, sorry for my soapbox.

    You can shoot a mouse with an elephant gun, but you should not shoot an elephant with a mouse gun.

  8. Hi folks…

    this seems to be another case where language just doesn’t make much sense.

    Wiktionary has this to say about “pellets”:

    “From Old French pelote (“small ball”)

    1. A small, compressed, hard chunk of matter.
    2. A lead projectile used as ammunition in rifled air guns.
    3. Compressed byproduct of digestion regurgitated by owls. Serves as a waste disposal mechanism for indigestible parts of food, such as fur and bones.[…]”

    So apart from the literal meaning of “airgun ammo”, none of these descriptions fit. Diabolo pellets are neither balls, nor are they compressed nor hard 🙂

    In Germany, we usually just call them “Diabolos” or “Luftgewehrkugeln” (air rifle bullets). “Kugel” means “ball”, but we also use it for projectiles used in guns.

    So, the RWS “Meisterkugeln” that are next to impossible to pronounce for English speakers are “master pellets”, or rather “champion pellets”, which is a better translation. Of course, you can always ask for the R10, which I guess were introduced because it’s easier to say than “Meisterkugeln” 🙂

    Kind regards,

  9. So far the H&N 25 gr. Slugs have been the most accurate ammo I have tried in my .22 cal RAW at 100 yards. Maybe that is a fluke.

    I have not seriously tested slugs in my other pellet guns. I doubt they would do well.


  10. Thats why when I hunting small critters, thin skirted, soft lead can work better
    than heavy, hard pellets, like Barracuda’s. Less chance of a pass thru,
    and the pellet is destroyed in the game.
    I wonder if Minnie balls were soft lead. Mean wounds.

  11. BB,
    Thanks for this topic and discussion.
    I have seen comments previously in this forum about subsonic firearm rounds. Are there some firearms that are specifically designed to be accurate with subsonic bullets? – Don

    • Don
      Thats a good question.

      I want to know too.

      And you made me remember something important that has been left out of today’s report too. The fit of the projectile to the bore.

      You got to have the right fit of the bullet or pellet for the equation to work too.

    • Don425,

      .45 caliber???? Many are subsonic and have been since Browning started the design. The standard is 1:16 for a USM1911A1 and has been for decades; other Twist rates are obviously possible and used.

      The concept of Projectile rotation is way more complex then understood by 99.9% of shooters. If you over rotate a soft metallic round you can actually make it grow in diameter,; not always symmetrically! That growth is but one horrible effect. Nutation and Precession are two more that are vital to understand. Many more things come into play both in the part called Internal Balistics and after projectile completely clears the muzzle the External Ballistics phase…did you notice there is a poorly understood transition in between those.
      I call it Transitional Ballistics with another one right before the Projectile gets to the Terminal Ballistics stage.


      Many papers and books have been written on just a single part of Ballistics…we will never get you up to speed in a number of posts or even a year of Reports by B.B.!


  12. The rifling.. blessing and curse of the gun. Blessing because it is so far the only way to accurately shoot a bullet when from a hand held firearm. Curse because it makes everything less flexible and more difficult. There have been so many attempts to get rid of it. Sabots, fin stabilized projectiles, Paradox rifling, slugs and so on. Tank guns often have smooth bore barrels. This improves velocity, barrel life and is beneficial for hollow charge AT rounds. But the price is high – each projectile must be made to very close tolerances, and needs stabilizers, sabots etc.

    • Mel83,

      Your comment makes me wonder if one could design an air rifle projectile resembling a miniature tank round with sabots and either fin or flare stabilization. I think the main benefit would be the fact that you could throw a mechanical broadhead on the tip. Seeing as how B.B. recently mentioned the fact that big bores kill via blood loss, if sufficiently accurate, such projectiles might have the potential to improve the performance/lethality of the smaller big bore calibers, making them more viable options for a wider range of game, while also making the larger big bore calibers even deadlier. Of course, whether such projectiles can be produced in a cost effective manner is another story entirely. But can you imagine a broadhead going at big bore bullet velocities? Sounds too cool, and maybe a little bit scary.

      Is anybody out there familiar with any such designs?


          • WD,

            I don’t know,… what would that Tannerite stuff do,.. stuffed into a hollow point slug/pellet? It might go off if it hit a steel plate. Probably would not work on soft game (a critter).


            • Chris,

              I agree that tannerite in a hollow point may fail to detonate on impact with soft targets.

              If I were to go down the explode on impact route, I’d probably model the projectile after the exploding bullets the Germans and Russian snipers sometimes used to use on the eastern front during WWII. There’s some info and a good picture or two here about them: https://americanshootingjournal.com/exploding-bullets/

              Here’s a very basic description from the article: “Inside these rounds a projectile within a projectile. A little firing pin is embedded inside of it and would strike the explosive on impact.”

              Although I’m unsure if those would achieve detonation at subsonic velocities.

              Anyways, as cool as that sounds, part of me would also be very worried about the kind of negative attention it could bring to the sport of airgunning. I’m sure there are folks out there who are looking for any possible excuse to regulate airguns; this sort of thing might play directly into their hands.


          • Hank,

            🙂 Got it. On July 4th this year, the neighbor was shooting a high powered rifle. I could see the basic activity from my front yard, maybe 400 yards away through trees. Later, I heard loud booms and big clouds of smoke rise up and drift in the wind. I thought that they were shooting black powder rifles too.

            A few days later I caught up with the neighbor and he said no black powder. They were using the high powered rifle to shoot Tannerite? targets. His son had picked up something? at the local Rural King farm store. He said that they had a whole pallet of whatever it was in the hunting section with a big sign on top saying “get ready for the 4th” or something to that effect.

            I have no idea what it was (other than what I said) or how much was used or how it is to be used,.. but it made one heck of a boom and big smoke clouds.

            Initially, they placed the target out to about 150-200 yards from the shooting area,.. but never connected. They then placed it closer (maybe 50 yards) at which point they managed to get on target.

            While I was not up close to the action, it was interesting to see and hear it in person. That was the first time seeing it live. Good for you for playing around a bit.


            • Chris
              I was thinking tannerite when you were explaining it.

              My neighbor about a 1/4 mile away was shooting some also a little while back. They was nice booms.

              They also have low velocity tannerite that will work with .22 rimfire. I’m thinking that my .25 Condor SS would work on the low velocity stuff. I may try one day. If it don’t work with the Condor SS I could always get out my .22 rimfire guns and give it a go and see what happens. I wish that was out when my dad was still alive. I think he would of liked shooting at it at some longer distances.

      • WolframDiabolo,

        Graphic description!

        How much more lethality do you need than a projectile (two actually) that terminates a 2,000 pound Bison? I doubt that a mechanical broadhead is going to provide a better wound channel than a .458 caliber 510 grain bullet. I used my .58 caliber (.575) 283 grain dead soft ball out of a Quackenbush Shortrifle on boar depradating a friend’s orchard. The ball penetrated to the skin on the other side, just behind the shoulder, of a 380 pounder it took 10 three legged steps and fell over took another 3-4 minutes to bleed out. Broken shoulder and both lungs along with some major blood vessel from the heart to and back from the lungs were punctured or torn. Typically arrows can’t do that much damage; even broadhead well placed in the prey.


        • shootski,

          You are probably right! My thinking was simply that the size of the wound channel can be widened beyond what would otherwise be possible in any given caliber. With the larger big bore calibers, it sounds like the wound channel is already substantial and adequate.


          • WD,

            Do realize the hole made by a powerful Big Bore does not close but remains open and is not blocked by a shaft. The dead soft Lead (Pb) solid bullet with a well proportioned Meplat on entering typical medium to large prey tissue (even a ball) will normally increase in Diameter by 1/3 to as much as double in a hollow point. That size Wound Channel is difficult for anything to survive for long when in the pumphouse lung area. The mythic DRT (Dead Right There) even with firearms is just that. Has it happened probably. I suspect that the animal is actually in full blown Shock (the clinical meaning) and still bleeds out to actually die hopefully within minutes..


            • shootski,

              From what I understand, it’s not uncommon to see complete pass-throughs with modern arrows on game of all sizes, so the wound channel such arrows create do remain open. But whether these are more or less lethal than expanding soft lead projectiles traveling at airgun velocities depends on a lot of factors. I’d wager that there are a lot of similarities in terms of overall lethality if measured in terms of total wound channel surface area, rate of blood loss, and subsequent total time to expiration. I could be completely wrong though!

              I wonder if the reason that the mythic DRT is more often associated with firearms is due to the significant hydro-static shock imparted upon impact, which essentially pulverizes nearby tissue? Because I have to imagine that when an animal is “dead before it hits the ground” as many people often put it, it has to do with disruptions to the nervous tissue in the immediate vicinity of the wound channel. Maybe this is just caused by a larger temporary wound cavity? But like you said, ultimately the animal still has to bleed out before it can be regarded as 100% expired. Anyways, from what I understand, substantial hydro-static shock and massive temporary cavities remain beyond the reach of airguns and arrows, hence the sole reliance on exsanguination and the impossibility of DRT.


  13. BB, you need to do better research. “But a longer bullet of the same caliber that weighs 69 grains will need a twist rate of one turn in 8 inches. That’s one and one-half revolutions for every foot it travels. There is no way you can drive a bullet of that caliber and weight to 3,000f.p.s.” Check out the various .220 Swift loads. Here is one – https://www.longrangehunting.com/threads/looking-for-a-load-220swift-with-69grain-matchkings.20668/
    Reply #10

  14. Please forgive me if I’m a slow learner.
    After all the number crunching an explanation you did on this subject I still don’t understand how the big bore air rifles can be accurate shooting bullets instead of pellets.

    • Pete,

      They are accurate because the barrels were designed for bullets in the first place. This is in contrast to people shooting bullets out of barrels that were designed for pellets in the first place.


  15. Siraniko
    Thanks for the reply. I did pick that up from BB’s blog.
    The next question then would be. In what way are the barrels different? Rate of twist? Tolerance between bullet and Barrel?
    Thanks in advance for helping me to understand.

    • Pete,

      You’re not the only one trying to wrap your head around this concept. To my limited knowledge and what I have read it’s a balance of the fitment of the slug to the bore, twist rate of the barrel, and velocity. They liken it to blackpowder because the velocity of air rifles is similar to the slowest blackpowder loads. I don’t think practical air rifles will ever achieve smokeless powder velocities with large caliber slugs.

      For my purposes pellets do just fine.


  16. Siraniko

    Thanks for taking the time for the explanation. Sometimes I just need someone to draw me a picture.
    I shoot exclusively .177 pellets as I shoot only paper and metal targets spaced out in my backyard. I have absolutely no need for a big bore air rifle. But I find myself extremely fascinated by them.
    Thanks again for your help.

    • Pete,
      Check out shootski’s comments on balistic (ballistic) calculator (bullet stability and twist rate) and article in the current blog. – Don

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