How to test pellets?
This report covers:
- Power level
- LGV Challenger
- Muddy water
- Pistols too
- So what?
- Some help from manufacturers
Today’s report addresses the best way to test a pellet.
This may sound like a non-issue to some of you because you imagine that BB has dozens of airguns to choose from. Well, you’re right, he does. So — what’s the problem?
The problem is, not all of my airguns are equally accurate. Should I test a pellet with a gun of proven good accuracy or should I test it with a gun whose accuracy is mediocre? And it doesn’t end there.
Some of my airguns are lower powered and others are of higher power. Heck, I even have a loaner RAW .22 that has 50-60 foot-pounds. I would love to test it for you if I can figure out a way, but because many of its features have been upgraded and are no longer offered by RAW the manufacturer doesn’t want me featuring a gun they don’t make. I understand their concern, but how do I test an airgun without featuring it? I am working on a solution.
On the other end of the spectrum I have a Hy Score 807 that’s really a Diana 27 in .22 caliber. At 10 meters using open sights it’s pretty accurate. But what about 25 yards? The problem with these lower-powered springers is they fall off the accuracy curve pretty fast when the distance increases.
Then there is my .22-caliber Walther LGV Challenger. It’s a 12 foot-pound breakbarrel spring-piston rifle that showed great accuracy when I first tested in in 2013.
Walther LGV Challenger.
That’s a nice middle ground, but how does it relate to the shooter who wants the best pellet for his .22 caliber AirForce Condor? Do I need to test for the best pellet in a lower-powered air rifle (5 to 10 foot-pounds), a middle-powered air rifle (11 to 18 foot-pounds), a high-powered air rifle (19 to 30 foot-pounds) and a mega-powered air rifle (above 31 foot-pounds)? Before you say yes to that, remember there are 4 smallbore calibers. That’s four power levels times four calibers I have to run and each of them should have at least three pellets, if not more. What do I do?
To muddy the water even further, some pellets come in different head sizes and we have seen enough to know that head size does make a difference where accuracy is concerned.
And that was just about testing pellets in rifles. Don’t forget air pistols. Air Pistols range from low-powered (2-4 foot-pounds), medium-powered (5-8 foot-pounds), high-powered (9-16 foot-pounds) and mega-powered pistols (up to 55 foot-pounds for the .25-caliber TalonP from AirForce. And the same four smallbore calibers come in pistols, too, though .20 caliber is pretty rare.
Why am I asking you about all this? Why don’t I just shut up and write my blogs? Well, there are pellets I want to test for you and I’m looking for a way to do it that makes sense. For example, Pyramyd Air just announced the new Baracuda 18 .22-caliber pellet from H&N and I have a tin coming to test. I already have several tins of the Norma pellets that I started to test. Those I have discovered have smaller head sizes because Norma took the advice of 10-meter shooters who told them smaller head sizes are what shoot best these days. That’s probably true for new target airguns, but in my experience it is not the case for other airguns. How do I deal with something like that without dragging Norma over the coals? It’s easy to poke fun and snipe at manufacturers when their products don’t work out, but I don’t want to do that. This is not a joke or just a fluff piece for me. I really want to know how I should test these things.
I really need to establish a test criteria for pellets. Do I shoot them in airguns that are known to be accurate? Do I shoot them in airguns I know to be picky? And what things should I test?
I think I need to test accuracy, but as I’ve explained, there is a lot behind just that — things like distance, the power of the airgun etc.
What about penetration? Expansion (for hollowpoints)? Do I need to find a “standard candle” — a pellet whose performance we can agree is very good? I think that might be easy for things like accuracy, but not so much for penetration and expansion.
Some help from manufacturers
This issue is a real one and some manufacturers are helping resolve it for example, look at the tin of H&N Baracuda 18s shown about. On the lower left side you will see E (for energy) and the symbol for “greater than or equal to” with the number 16J (for joules) next to it. They are telling shooters that this pellet was designed to be best in airguns that produce 16 joules or more muzzle energy (with an 18-grain pellet). Sixteen joules is 11.8 foot-pounds of energy, and an 18-grain pellet has to fly 543 f.p.s., give or take, to produce it. That tells me to test this pellet in the Air Arms S510XS that would produce 31-32 foot-pounds with the Baracuda 18. The LGV Challenger that makes 11.8 foot-pounds could also good or it might be a little light.
That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ever test that pellet in a rifle or pistol of different power. But it does give me a starting point.
Do you see what I mean? I know writing this blog is my job, but I also know that you readers are a valuable resource for me. I learn as much from all of you as you do from me. Please give this some thought and then write some suggestions for me on how to proceed.
By the way, that LGV Challenger could stand a tuneup, and now that I have done Michael’s rifle it should be easy. I would love to get the trigger on that rifle as nice as the one on Michael’s LGV.
You may be surprised by this report, but I have been thinking about it for almost a year. It’s easy to test airguns. But how do you test pellets? It’s similar to asking someone what is the best-tasting bottled water.