by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Norma tin
Today we are looking at the S-Target Match pellet from Norma.

This report covers:

  • A new line of pellets
  • Today’s pellet
  • Consistency
  • Weight
  • Cleanliness
  • How to test
  • FWB 300S
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Beeman R8 Tyrolean
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Another test?
  • Summary

Today I’m doing something that I find difficult to do — introducing a new pellet. Actually I’m introducing a new line of pellets branded by Norma, but today we will look at just one of them — the Norma S-Target Match wadcutter.

This is difficult because you readers are all over the board when it comes to the things you shoot. I show a group of ten pellets in three-quarters of an inch at 25 yards and it’s sacrilege for some of you, and others ask me how that would look on a soda can! So today I’m just gonna do what I’m gonna do and you can watch if you want. Today will be a first look at this pellet — not an all-out test.

A new line of pellets

The S-Target Match isn’t the girl you fell in love with in the first grade and loved all through high school. This is a new girl who just moved into the neighborhood a couple months ago with a large family that we will get to know in the days ahead. There are domes, heavy domes, pointed pellets and wadcutters in both .177 and .22 in the family. I plan to run them into my tests in the coming days, but today is an introduction to the new line and I chose the Norma S-Target Match to intro the line. She has a pretty name, but can she cook? That’s what we will start to learn today.

Today’s pellet

The S-Target Match is an 8.2-grain wadcutter that I slipped into yesterday’s blog for the first time. Didja notice? With the words Target and Match in the name this pellet goes up against some pretty stiff competition and that is how it has to be tested. 

There are 300 pellets in a tin in the .177 caliber and 200 in the .22. I don’t know the retail pricing, so I can’t say how expensive this pellet is. Norma claims a 7mm grouping at 10 meters for the pellets I’m testing today, but they measured from the outside of all the holes, rather than the more common center-to-center. But that is easy enough to correct. To get the group size you subtract one pellet diameter — 4.5mm — from 7mm and you get a group size of 2.5mm or 0.098-inches between centers. That would be a remarkable group! Of course I have no idea of what airgun shot it or if the airgun was hand-held or clamped in a vise, but there aren’t too many air pistols or rifles that can do much better.

Consistency

Question number one — does this pellet come in different head sizes? Not that I can see on the packaging. That’s a little odd for a target pellet. So I got out my Pelletgage and measured 10 of them at random. Seven had heads smaller than 4.49mm. One was 4.49mm. One was 4.495mm and one was 4.51mm.

Since the bulk of the ten I measured were smaller than 4.49mm, I believe that is the intended head size for this pellet. Maybe it’s 4.485mm but my Pelletgage doesn’t go down that small because who uses pellets with heads that small? Unfortunately I have no airguns that prefer head sizes that small (that I know of), but I proceeded with the test regardless.

Weight

We are also concerned with how consistent the weight of these pellets is. So I weighed the 10 whose heads I measured and got 1 that weighed 8.1 grains, 6 that weighed 8.2 grains and 3 that weighed 8.3 grains. For 10-meter competition weight means a lot less than head size, and there is no benefit in being anal and going down to the hundredth of a grain. The gram weight is advertised as 0.53 grams. Weight matters a lot more in field target where you shoot out to 50 meters. At 10 meters it almost doesn’t matter.

Cleanliness

One thing that does matter to both 10-meter shooters and field target competitors is the cleanliness of the pellets in the tin. Back when I competed in field target some people washed their pellets to get rid of small lead chips they called swarf. I hand-sorted my pellets by weight and eyeballed each of them but I never bothered washing them. But then I was only an average field target shooter.

Now, in 10-meter competition where I was more competitive I hand-inspected each pellet — though I never weighed them. I will say that the H&N, RWS and Chinese target pellets that I used back in the 1990s were all very clean and free from swarf. These Norma pellet are also clean and absolutely swarf-free. I cannot see a flake of lead swarf in the tin or in the skirts of any of the pellets — and I looked!

How to test

This is a new pellet, so how do I test it? Well for starters I shoot it in the most accurate .177 air rifles I have and see what it does. As I said in the beginning — this is just an introduction, not an all-out test.

FWB 300S

My most accurate 10-meter target rifle is my FWB 300S. I have shot 5-shot groups as small as 0.078-inches with Qiang Yuan Olympic target pellets, but I decided to use another pellet I have in greater supply today. 

I shot off a sandbag rest, resting the rifle directly on the bag. Because the 300S isolates the barreled action from the stock to allow the action to slide back in recoil, a bag rest is the best way to hold the rifle.

JSB Exact RS

The FWB 300S has put five JSB Exact RS pellets into a 0.111-inch group at 10 meters in the past (Feb 24, 2012). I thought the rifle was still sighted for this pellet and it was. Now, on any given day old BB will be a little better or a little worse, so the first thing I did was shoot a group of five RS pellets off a rest at 10 meters. When the first pellet cut the 10-ring I stopped looking and shot the remaining four. Man — can that 300S shoot! The only thing I don’t like is the rear sight coming back into my eye, but I wear glasses to protect myself.

This time I put five RS pellets into 0.137-inches at 10 meters. That’s larger than back in 2012, but in the same ballpark. That would serve as my baseline.

FWB RS group
The FWB 300S put five JSB Exact RS pellets into as 0.137-inch group at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Next I loaded an S-Target Match pellet into the FWB and touched it off. I was pleased to see the pellet was not just a 10, but a pinwheel (the pellet hole was centered almost perfectly inside the 9-ring, obliterating the 10-dot completely)! Then I shot the next 4 rounds without looking. At the end I had 5 shots in a hole that measures 0.172-inches between centers at 10 meters. Given the small head size of this pellet, that is excellent performance. If I had a pellet rifle that liked the smaller head sizes this S-Target-Match might do much better. Perhaps I do have something, but I will get to it later.

FWB Norma Target group
The FWB 300S put five Norma S-Target Match pellets into a 0.172-inch group at 10 meters.

Beeman R8 Tyrolean

The other hyper-accurate .177 rifle I own is my Beeman R8 Tyrolean that was a gift when I got out of the hospital in 2010. That one is so accurate that I don’t ever remove the Burris Timberline 4.5-14X32 scope that’s on it. I just shoot it.

R8 Tyrolean
Beeman R8 Tyrolean.

JSB Exact RS

This rifle likes JSB Exact RS pellet, as well, which is another reason I chose it for today’s test. In the past I have put five shots from this rifle and pellet into 0.22-inches at 25 yards — not 10 meters. Today I shot at 10 meters and five went into 0.21-inches between centers. That’s a very nice group, even though it is only 10 meters.

R8 RS
The R8 put five JSB RS pellets in 0.21-inches at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Now for the Norma S-Target Match pellet. Five went into 0.25-inches exactly. Given the smaller head I think that’s pretty darn good.

R8 Norma
Five Norma S-Target Match pellets went into 0.25-inches at 10 meters.

Another test?

I do own an FWB P44 pistol whose test target group measures 0.018-inches between centers — the smallest test target I have ever seen. I was never able to get groups smaller than 0.242-inches at 10 meters, and that was with Vogel pellets that have 4.50mm heads. So that pistol might be the ideal testbed for this S-Target Match pellet. I’m thinking of testing this pellet again in that pistol, and I would sort my pellet heads for the test.

Summary

That’s a quick look at what promises to be a great new line of lead pellets. Like I mentioned, you will be seeing more of them in the future.