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Ammo Doing the wrong thing

Doing the wrong thing

This report covers:

  • Heavy pellets
  • Example
  • Another one
  • Supersonic velocities destroy pellet accuracy — NOT!
  • Beeman Devastators
  • How about you?

Today we look at what common sense tells us not to do, and why we should do it anyway. It sorta sounds like the way I grew up!

Heavy pellets

We shoot heavy pellets in powerful airguns — right? I mean that’s what we are supposed to do. But why, then, do heavy pellets work well in weaker airguns?


For example, I have a Hy Score model 807 pellet rifle that’s actually Diana model 27. It’s a lower-powered .22-caliber pellet rifle that should work best with the lighter .22 pellets. And it does. But it also works well with H&N Baracuda pellets that are on the heavier side.

At one time, perhaps 20 years ago, Baracudas were some of the heaviest pellets you could get in that caliber, but there has been an explosion of heavy pellets in all calibers in recent times, and today the Baracudas are now probably on the heavy side of what is considered medium weight. They shouldn’t work well in a lower-powered air rifle but they do. And that’s not all. They also shoot quite well in a Walther LGV Champion I own. That rifle is modern but not much more powerful than the Diana 27.

Walther LGV Champion
Walther’s LGV Champion is obsolete but was made in this century. It’s surprisingly accurate.

Walther LGV Baracuda 25
This 10-shot group was shot by the LGV Champion at 25 yards. Beeman Kodiak pellets were shot, but they are H&N Baracudas under another name.

At 10 meters the same rifle put 5 JTS Dead Center domes into 0.30-inches.

Walther LGV JTS 10
At 10 meters the LGU Challenger put five JTS Dead Center pellets into 0.30-inches — WITH OPEN SIGHTS!

And there’s more. The Crosman Mark I pistol put five JTS Dead Center pellets into 0.321-inches at ten meters.

Mark JTS 10
At 10 meters the Crosman Mark 1 pistol put five JTS Dead Center pellets into 0.321-inches between centers.

The Mark I pistol is not a magnum air pistol. As I look back on it I can’t find any test where I have shot Baracudas or Kodiaks in it for velocity tests, but that’s my fault. I assumed because of the lower power level that those pellets would be too heavy for the pistol. But of course I shot that target you see above, so at least a part of me knows better!

Another one

Let me give you another example — and this time it is a life-changing one — at least for me. Darts!

I thought my Webley Junior smoothbore was a useless pistol until I discovered darts, and more specifically, bolts! Now I own a shooter!

Webley Junior
With darts and more specifically, bolts, my Webley Junior pistol has a new lease on life!

In fact, the impact of the darts is much larger than just the Webley Junior. Darts have revitalized my Tyrolean Bugelspanner, and caused me to purchase an airgun I would never have considered previously — a Diana 16!  I’ve owned Diana 16s in the past and found them to be rotten pellet guns. But for darts they are superb!

Diana 16
The Diana 16 isn’t much with pellets but with darts and specifically bolts, it’s a terror!

Airgun bolts.

Supersonic velocities destroy pellet accuracy — NOT!

I used to believe that shooting a pellet at supersonic velocities was a sure way to ruin its accuracy. Then I tested it and discovered I had been wrong for decades!

Back in December of 2011 I ran a test to DEMONSTRATE that higher velocity makes pellets less accurate. I was shooting my Whiscombe JW 75 — a rifle I could tune to many different velocities while using the same barrel. Here is what happened with a Beeman Devastator — a lightweight pellet I wouldn’t have recommended before seeing the results of this test.

Build a Custom Airgun

Beeman Devastators

In this test, the 7.1-grain Beeman Devastator was the “little pellet that could.” From the start, when it was averaging 1,216 f.p.s., this lightweight hunting pellet produced 10-shot groups under three-quarters of an inch at 25 yards. That went against the popular belief that supersonic velocities are harmful to accuracy.

The Devastator turned in the following performance at 25 yards.

Velocity (f.p.s.)….Group size

How about you?

Okay — I have opened my vault of mistakes for you; how about telling us some of yours? 

63 thoughts on “Doing the wrong thing”

  1. “…caused me to purchase an airgun I would never have considered previously — a Diana 16! I’ve owned Diana 16s in the past and found them to be rotten pellet guns. But for darts they are superb!”

    My “mistake” was to not figure this out before you wrote about it, LOL!
    I had a Diana 16, and it had terrible accuracy with pellets.
    But now you’ve got me seeing the error of my ways.
    Hence, you’ll likely “enable” me to get another one. 🙂
    Blessings to you,

  2. Heavy pellets and powerful springers; hmmm
    Yesterday I was trying some 13.4 JSBs during the break in procedure of the Vortek kit I put in the HW 35E. It’s strange but they were noticeably louder than lighter pellets. I used to think that heavier pellets make less noise.
    Any comments on this?

  3. “Doing the wrong thing”???

    Think B.B. is being a little hard on himself today. My thought is that a better title to todays blog would be, “Preconceived Notions”. We all have them whether it pertains to airguns or less important things 😉

    Personally, I’m always battling self limiting assumptions.

  4. i won’t know if it’s a mistake until it’s warm enough to shoot co2 outside here in the northeast, so, 4/5 months. but i was messing around the other day, i have 3 co2 (bb only) pistols, the legends non blowback makarov with movable slide being my favorite as it’s pretty accurate and the trigger is decent, as well as a crosman pfm16 and a legends p08 non blowback, the two latter being not as pleasant to shoot. i tore into the two latter and found them to be somewhat similar. i shortened the springs around their barrels and found the triggers much more pleasant to pull (luckily it was as simple as this and i didn’t need to tear into them further because who knows if i’d be able to get any trigger mechanisms back together!). now from what i’ve seen online the velocity may be affected (lowered) by this but i just shoot paper targets in my foam/wood bb trap (which can be seen on an earlier blog comment [sorry i forget which one]) so lower velocity shouldn’t be much of a problem, but if it is- i can always shim the springs with a washer or few if necessary.

  5. B.B.

    10 Meters is like swimming in the kiddie pool.
    25 yards is like swimming in the pool that is chest high.(often just the sight in distance)
    55 yards is like swimming in the deep ocean! (maximum range of FT)

    So unless you shoot heavy pellets in a lightly sprung gun at 55 yards, none of this matters.
    So shoot your heavy pellets at 55 yards if you want me to believe your conclusion of this blog!

    What you are saying is that a FIAT is just as fast as a Ferrari on the highway at legal speeds.

    Plus: Shoot a 1000 heavy pellets a month through your lightly sprung springers and see how long the spring lasts….


    • Yogi,

      I agree!

      Overly heavy and overly light projectiles out of coil spring powerplants are to be avoided according to Jim Maccari.

      “Due to ” build quality issues” with many economy minded foreign airguns (Chinese, Spanish, Turkish etc.) the parts listed here as well as other universal parts from any maker, may have a reduced lifespan. Reason being poor quality over-sized barrels and receiver tubes and no barrel choke. (Gun basically dry fires every round) Often the wrong parts are selected and installed by the inexperienced end user making a bad situation even worse. Installing a spring on a smaller guide than the ID. of the spring will reduce it’s life and cause vibration and canting. Over-lubing and using the wrong type or size of seal will reduce life as well as shooting undersized pellets. Overly heavy or light weight pellets are bad in spring guns as well. When we do not offer kits for guns, it’s often because the gun itself is prone to parts destruction and it’s not wise to invest time into those types of guns. The clue that your gun is one of these is pretty simple. When the factory provided OEM parts have little longevity, that’s a clear sign of more of the same to come. Look under the TX 200 Survival kit for pellet weights that are acceptable to use in spring guns.

      We have several domestic and foreign dealers selling Maccari-ARH spring kits. Please ask who is making all the components as many just buy springs and then list them as Maccari-ARH kits.”

      But then i also owned a FIAT 131 Abarth back in the late ’70s in Europe that on the Right Course beat Ferrari’s at legal speeds. I also swam in Marathon swims so you really need to get out to at least 100 if you want to avoid… doing the wrong thing…!

      But FUNdamentally i totally agree.


      • shootski,

        You know if heavy pellets were “all that”, don’t you think Olympic 10M shooter would use pellets greater than 9 grains?


        FWIW-My brother used to race an Abarth 850.

        • Yogi,

          I think much (if not all) of the limitations on Olympic 10M air rifles is manufacturer driven. The official rules don’t limit MV but the current crop of PCPs being built are optimized for 5.5ft/lb (7.5Joules) and with most of the barrels optimized for certain weight pellets (8 or so grains) which results in MV in the 560 to 590f/s (170–180m/s) range.
          Heavier pellets would remain in the barrel a ms or so longer and might lead to less accuracy.

          So it makes sense in such a rule and equipment limited part of the shooting sports.

          I drove a few of the “little” Abarth FIATS they were lots of fun…then i switched to SAABs to rally with and never looked back. Never could get the ABBA out of my head ;^)


      • Back 25 years ago when I got into the hobby everyone said to avoid lightweight, powerful springers. But, I myself learned that that was not the case.

        Most people tell us not to shoot springers off of a firm rest but I have gotten good results that way.

        Most airgunners will tell you that an RWS 54 is not hold sensitive but I learned that I was able to cut my group size in half by carefully resting the rifle at it’s balance point and using a very light grip.

        David Enoch

        • DavidEnoch,

          I have gathered that you are one of the observant shooters; most are not. I think you will find this quote interesting if not useful.

          “All truth passes through three stages.
          First, it is ridiculed.
          Second, it is violently opposed.
          Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

          Arthur Schopenhauer


          • Shootski

            He’s the guy that expounded that the goal of life is to die,, or as close to that as I was able to discern. That being the case,, I would have to be in the first stage as to most of his work.


            • edlee,

              “Das Ziel alles Lebens ist der Tod”
              (The aim {of} all living {things} is death)
              a dictum by Sigmund Freud

              Ed, Schopenhauer was certainly a dark philosopher but not that dark.


              • Actually,, he is the “poster child” for “Dark” philosophers. I admit that my education in that field is quite limited, but that is consensus from my own reading.

                He makes other nihilists seem downright jovial.


                • edlee,

                  I think it is a case of the translation being botched. Happens often especially from the German. Somehow the translators miss some of the devilish tongue-in-cheek nature of Germans; especially the Academics.


                  • Shootski

                    Because I am “language challenged” I have not read anything in other than English and so am condemned to the mercies of the translators.

                    I have no doubt that I miss any of the nuances of the originals as there are many in every version of English that is spoken or written.

                    I therefore am forced to accept whatever consensus is presented. You don’t seem to see at his work as darkly as most, but I will take your opinion into consideration if or when I read him in future.


                    • edlee,

                      To add to my earlier: the World of German speakers is not monolithic. When the dialect changes there are a broad range of cultural and philosophical variations that can be surprisingly large.
                      I had a great time living in the south of Germany and being considered an American who just happened to function at a near native level (if i let them know at all) especially when dealing with the East Germans.
                      Cultural and language (especially dialect) skills are something our (US) State Department as well as other agencies are stunningly weak at.


  6. Much like “Professor” Irwin Corey I have been frequently wrong but never in doubt. Do not know where to begin. I grew up around Vietnam Veterans who had their M-14’s taken away and had M-16’s thrust upon them with bad ammo and little good training, to a man they all hated the M-16. I based my bias on the opinions of men I respected and revered. While I was still shooting in DCM Service rifle matches I gave in and bought a A2 National match AR-15 and the rest is history now I am a fan. In the past I made statements like “I will never own a 9mm handgun”, “I will never own a AR-15″, I will never own a PCP air rifle” . These days I try to never say never and be more open to new ideas but it ain’t easy 😉

  7. My fortuitous mistake was to try to shoot a wrong, smaller calibre pellet in a larger calibre air rifle:

    I saw an Air Arms TX200 Mark 3 for sale:

    On my ipad I tapped on
    “Add to cart” for the
    “Air Arms TX200 MKIII Walmut” in
    “4.5 (.177)” because that was
    “in stock”.

    Emails confirmed my order had gone through and all was good. 🙂

    I think it was just over a week later, a van pulled up and I signed for a large oblong box. Yes, and as per shipping notice, of course it was my 4,5 mm TX200. 🙂

    Into the breech pops a little 4,5 mm pellet, aim, and …

    B A N G !


    “Argh, NO !”

    What an awful and loud sound, followed by the scope hitting the concrete…

    Knowing that some airguns can be picky, I tried a different 4,5 mm pellet with exactly the same result!! 🙁

    Because I coudn’t see the calibre anywhere on my Air Arms TX200 Mark 3 itself, I searched my emails: yes, I did indeed order and get a “4.5 (.177)”. Hmm…

    So, I tried other 4,5 mm shapes, weights, and sizes, though it was obvious that pellet diameter was what really mattered. You see, they all loaded too easily.
    But, my 4,5 mm TX200, told me it hated every one! 🙁

    Anyway, the final straw was when a pellet tumbled out of the muzzle before I had even raised the airgun to shoot… 🙁

    I thought, “fork it!”, now I’m gonna go and get me a tin of 5,5 mm. And then I’m gonna ram a pellet into that breech, even if I have to hammer it in !

    What a REVELATION ! 🙂

    I had been, effectively, dry firing my ‘Precious’ because it’s a 5,5 mm calibre TX200, doh !! 🙁 🙂

      • 3hi,

        Back up just a bit. Your first sentence says “My fortuitous mistake was to try to shoot a wrong, larger calibre pellet in a smaller calibre air rifle:”

        What you say after that is you thought you had ordered a 4.5mm, but ended up with a 5.5mm.

        P.S. I ain’t never seen that before! It must be an “across the pond” thing.

    • In 2010 I ordered a .177 B-3 deluxe(hard to type that with a straight face) from South Summit tools. The rifle came in and it took two shots for me to figure out it weren’t a .177 , they shipped me a .22 B-3 DELUXE. It was indeed fortuitous as after a bunch of rubbing and modifying that light little .22 is one of my favorite springers.

  8. .177 is enough for me. Now I am up to .457.

    Sproingers are enough for me. Now I own 3 PCPs, 2 CO2, 1 multi-pump and 1 SSP. That is in addition to a geegob of sproingers. Oh, by the way I am only going to own about 5 airguns. SSSHHH. Don’t tell Mrs. RR. Yeah right. She bought me a nice Webley for Christmas one year.

    Speaking of CO2, it is too cold around here for CO2. I now have two of them.

    Darts? Why? Now I own a Webley Junior and a gentleman is trying to send me a couple more dart shooters. I should probably get some bolts also.

    .25? Why? Now I have one. Time to order some more pellets.

    I have no use for a compressor or one of those large carbon fiber tanks. Hah. I have both.

    I learned a long time ago to never say never, most especially with these contraptions. 😉

      • Brent,

        I almost forgot that I had indeed sold my FWB601 many years ago. I still have my Izzy, my Baikal 46M. It was my first pistol and will likely be with me to the last. It was also my second airgun.

    • RidgeRunner,

      “I have no use for a compressor or one of those large carbon fiber tanks. Hah. I have both.”

      Okay on the compressor (i don’t have one use a nearby great Dive Shop) but you REALLY do need at least another big CF tank and a CASCADE fill system; so much quicker and more efficient too.
      It will make your New Year even Happier!


  9. The older I get, the more I realize that assumptions can be risky. I had a somewhat similar experience to hihihi’s. But the problem was that I thought I had a tin of .22 caliber pellets but they turned out to be .177. I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that accidental discharges can happen to anyone. Please don’t assume that they cannot happen to you. We have a friend, who is a gunsmith and firearms safety instructor, accidentally shoot a .45 caliber hole in our dining room table, chair and hardwood floor. Yes, he was embarrassed. And he later indicated that he inadvertently had his finger on the trigger of the pistol while opening it. Thankfully no one was injured.

    • E. Fudd-
      Definitely not an accident. Having his finger on the trigger while manipulating the gun is the quintessential essence of negligent discharge. Hopefully chalk it up to a brain fart, but I have witnessed far too many ‘safety instructors’ who can’t or don’t ‘walk the walk’. Skeers me, an’ I’m fearless.

      • He made a living for many years as a hunting guide out in Colorado. There is no doubt in my mind that he is competent. The point I want to make is that no one should assume that they are immune to unintended discharges. Please everyone be careful.

  10. Heavy Pellets.

    Interested sub topic in the blog today. We are living in the Golden Age of airguns IMHO.

    The new airgun offerings in spring guns and pcp’s is mind blowing. Trying to keep up with all the new introductions is like trying to drink from a fire hose.

    To compliment these new guns, pellet and slug manufacturers are constantly giving us new options. JTS and Zan have kept other projectile manufacturers on their toes.

    JSB is introducing new products and re-designed products soon. For example:

    546188-350 Exact Jumbo Monster .22 cal Redesigned Deep Skirt

    • 22cal 25.39g 350tin 30case Exact Jumbo Monster Redesigned DEEP skirt
    • 5.52 diameter

    546488-150 Exact Jumbo Monster GRAND .22 cal

    • 22cal 28.55g 150/tin 50/case Exact Jumbo Monster Heavy
    • 5.52 diameter

    546324-500 KnockOut .177 MK3 4.51 dia. deeper HP, skirt flare

    • 177cal 10.03gr 500/tin 50/case KO Slugs MK3 4.51 dia. deeper nose, skirt flare
    • 4.51 diameter

    546390-150 Hades Monster .22 cal

    • 22cal 25.39gr 150tin 50/case Hades Monster
    • 5.5 diameter

    Although the current JSB offering of the 34.0g Beast is a heavy .22 cal pellet, it’s interesting to note the focus of more offerings/options for us of heavy pellets by JSB soon.

  11. B.B.

    As this Voltaire guy once said- “all of general statements are wrong, including the one i just made” 😉

    Regarding to heavy pellets in weak airguns- i once took a tin of jsb heavies instead of RS to the range by mistake. I was shooting my hw 30s that day, and the spring was very weak by the time- circa 550 fps on exact RS(.177). She was still extremally accurate, yet it was like throwing stones- not the best thing when you plan to shoot spinners between 15 and 35 meters with irons. But they surely take way more punch downrange.

    Also darts…. great, now i must buy a smoothbore. If my beloved wife see another gun in home i will sleep in balcony- Thank you B.B. 😉

    I got slavia 618 i was talking about before christmas. She is missing some screws, metal is painted not blued, so she looks like new but stock is cracked, and she was repaired by Bubba… Yeah, maybe gunsmithing is not for everyone.

    BUT you wouldn’t believe what a man with a file can do. I will bring her back to live, albait some blacksmithing and welding is necessery. (It sounds way worse than it is).

  12. I paid too much attention to the heavy pellets break springs folklore and avoided heavy pellets in my Diana 54. I finally tried heavy pellets, accuracy improved, and no broken spring. Is there any foundation in fact for that or was it more of the power/velocity wars and poor quality springs?

    • slevane,

      As far as I know this is an old wive’s tale started in the 1980s or ’90s. I have never seen evidence of its happening. But that is only what I have observed.


      • B.B.,

        If you didn’t read my reply to Yogi above a brief synopsis:
        “Overly heavy or light weight pellets are bad in spring guns as well.” Jim Maccari,
        of ARH…often described as the Spring Guy by many.
        That sentence I quoted is part of a rant on his ARH web page to this day!


        PS: No wonder these MYTHS live on, and on, and on.

      • When I got started with adult air guns, I purchased my RWS Model 36 and Charles Trepes, of the long defunct Precision Air Gun Sales and Service of Cleveland taught the necessity of shooting high quality pellets (i.e., with good and complete skirts and uniform specs), AND to shoot heavy pellets.

        I’ve usually shot pellets that are heavier to keep the rounds subsonic, or at least try so to do. My RWS 250 carbine is a challenge in that regard as it insists on its beastly manners. It broke an UTG Leapers Scope, and that takes some doing. However, it does shoot better with the heaviest rounds. Maybe because it has a seeming surplus of power?

        My Beeman P-1 shoots the RWS Magnum wadcutters extremely well (the REAL ones at 9.5 gr!) but they have to re-sized in my venerable pellet sizer so that the back pressure doesn’t blow out the tiny O Ring breech seal. It has always like an heavier pellet, and of late the JSB Ultrashock H/Ps.

        The one air arm I have that prefers a lighter pellet is my old Gamo P45 single-pump pneumatic. In that one, a lighter pellet IS the way to go.

        The longer I shoot, the more I tend to the heaviest pellet that maintains accuracy. We are never going to get into the anti-tank cannon velocities or that of a Barret .50 sniper rifle in velocity or range. Ours is a quieter, slower, but more accurate breed and I’m at peace with that. None of my paper targets downstairs in the range have reactive armor nor do any garden pests. My accurate shots don’t have to bring down a goat on the next peak, but only a marauding rabbit inside my suburban property line – and they do because my property lines are about the same distance as my basement range from shooting table to Champion trap.

        In the end, I agree with BB that the heavy pellet in a spring gun wearing it out is an “old wives’ tale.” My springs break because I wear them out by tens of thousands of rounds.

    • Vana2,

      I have a 7 Step program guaranteed to HELP you!

      Step one: get a number of long double boxes (wood construction preferably) for most used rifles.

      Step two: carefully pack selected rifles.

      Step three: call me to get shipping lable information (i will pay the freight) least i can do to help you out of this!

      Step four: repeat above steps with all your air pistols.


      Your Wife will be flabbergasted!


  13. BB,
    You said in your test with lighter supersonic pellets:
    Beeman Devastators
    In this test, the 7.1-grain Beeman Devastator was the “little pellet that could.” From the start, when it was averaging 1,216 f.p.s., this lightweight hunting pellet produced 10-shot groups under three-quarters of an inch at 25 yards. That went against the popular belief that supersonic velocities are harmful to accuracy.
    The Devastator turned in the following performance at 25 yards.
    Velocity (f.p.s.)….Group size

    I believe you may have come to a conclusion that is applicable ONLY if the range is short and the pellet has not dropped below supersonic speed when it reaches the target. In my own testing, I have seen similar performance to yours with supersonic pellets at shorter ranges, but when extending the range out to 50 or 100 yards, the accuracy has dropped off drastically. Based on what I remember from school about supersonic flow, and what I’ve read about supersonic projectiles, I conclude that my experience shooting at longer distances shows the pellets performing at supersonic AND subsonic (or transonic) speeds and the effects of that transition on their trajectory (making them unstable due to the change in the force of air drag). I also found that by slowing the same pellets below the supersonic threshold with some margin (950-1000fps), gave me SMALLER groups at the longer distances, but roughly the same groups at the closer distances. This result aligns with what I know about supersonic speeds and drag on projectiles, but I do not have a Labradar to prove it, but I know someone who does. 😉 Perhaps we could put the theory to the test for our particular, specific use-case?

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