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Air Guns Pellets — what size and why?

Pellets — what size and why?

Trapdoor Springfield
Trapdoor Springfield.

This report covers:

  • Trapdoor Springfield
  • Oh, oh!
  • Bullet alloy
  • Bullet base
  • Not done yet
  • Black powder
  • The verdict
  • Pellets
  • Does this matter?
  • Summary

Today I want to talk about pellet sizes — not calibers, just sizes. We have done a lot of pellet testing recently and I’ve commented on how the pellets fit the breeches of the airguns that shot them. Sometimes they slip right in but other times they fit tight. And sometimes they don’t fit at all, but that is usually a mechanical issue, where the sharp edge of the pellet catches the outside edge of the breech and jams.

What about the times when the pellet do enter the breech but the fit is tight? does that tell us anything? To address this I will depart from pellets for a bit and talk about bullets.

Trapdoor Springfield

As I told you I recently acquired a Trapdoor Springfield rifle that I intend shooting. The particular one I have was made in 1888, between October and December, according to the serial number. I have owned two Trapdoors previously and I always loaded a .459 bullet in their cartridges. I thought that was the correct bullet for the Trapdoor because it was the most accurate bullet the Springfield Arsenal found in testing, back in 1873. I read that in the book, Trapdoor Springfield by M.D. “Bud” Waite and B.D. Ernst. After the American Civil War the U.S. government thought they needed a .58-caliber cartridge for their infantry rifle. Later in testing that was revised down to .50-caliber. And when they went to long-range testing at 500-yards, the .45-caliber bullet propelled by 70 grains of gunpowder (black powder) proved most accurate.

Oh, oh!

To make sure of the bullet size I should be using with this latest Trapdoor I read several reloading forums. To my surprise and amazement they all talked about loading 0.461- to .463-inch diameter bullets for best accuracy. They referred to a book written in 1991 by a guy named J.S. Wolf — Loading Cartridges for the Original .45-70 Springfield Rifle and Carbine. So many people talked about this book that I bought it. In it I discovered that, indeed, the Springfield Arsenal did find the 405-grain .459-caliber bullet to be the best in their long-range tests of the Trapdoor. But the bore size of the Trapdoor was held to a uniform 0.461 to 0.463-inches groove diameter.

Huh? That didn’t make any sense. A bullet that’s smaller than the inside of the barrel shouldn’t be accurate.

Bullet alloy

Now we come to the part that is the same for both pellets and bullets — the alloy of the metal. I knew better than to shoot hard cast bullets in my Trapdoor. It has a soft steel barrel that wears quickly with bullets that are too hard. So I used a softer alloy. Ahhh — but was it soft enough? Probably not because it still had some antimony in it. According to Wolf, Springfield Arsenal determined that an alloy shouldn’t have any antimony in it at all. And it should have about 1/20 part tin; mine had perhaps 1/10 part tin. This information alone paid for the Wolf book.

My bullets weren’t soft enough to obturate which means to squish out from the impact of the powder exploding. Wolf’s bullets were the same size as mine but he was getting a 2-1/2-inch group at 100 yards. My groups were closer to 10 inches at the same distance. What was different? Obviously the bullet alloy. And there was more.

Bullet base

I also learned that the base of the Springfield Armory bullet and the one Wolf used was cupped (hollow base) so that the force of the blast would make it expand. Do we know of any other projectiles that have hollow bases that expand into the rifling?  Let’s see — pellets?

Build a Custom Airgun

Not done yet

And that ain’t all, folks. The Trapdoor barrel is rifled with three lands and grooves in a right-hand twist. Those lands are the same width as the grooves. That makes them incredibly wide compared to the lands found in modern rifling.

I tried for two hours to photograph the rifling in my Trapdoor barrel for you to no avail. Photographing rifling is one of the hardest tasks in photography. And none of my Trapdoor books nor any ads online for Trapdoors show the rifled barrel. I couldn’t even find a cross-sectional drawing!

What those wide lands do is squash the soft bullet out into the grooves, sealing the bore. And when the bore is sealed the pressure of the burning gunpowder increases dramatically, pushing the base of the bullet forward into the nose of the bullet, making it even wider. This all happens in microseconds because soft lead is quite plastic when under pressure. When all that happens a 0.459-inch bullet of the correct soft lead alloy will squash out and fill a 0.463-inch bore. The result is greater accuracy.

Springfield designed the barrel this way to allow the rifle to be fired up to 20 times without cleaning the barrel. That sounds skimpy in this day of full-auto weapons but you have to remember that in 1888 black powder was still being used. Most riflemen cleaned their bores after one, two or at the most three shots.

Black powder

One benefit black powder has over smokeless powder is it tends to burn more rapidly when it’s under pressure. It’s more of an explosion than a burning. It whacks the base of the bullet with a real hammer blow!

A drawback black powder has is that less than 50 percent of the powder actually burns when it ignites. It causes a big cloud of blue smoke and leaves a huge amount of soot in your bore. But the worst thing is that the unburnt powder becomes reaction mass which causes greater recoil. Instead of a 405-grain bullet, your rifle kicks like you are shooting a 440-grain bullet!

The verdict

The correct bullet alloy, plus wide rifling lands plus a hollow-base bullet plus black powder all work together to turn the Trapdoor Springfield into a very accurate rifle! And how many of those features was I employing when I shot my previous rifles? None! I was shooting a flat-based bullet made from a lead alloy that was too hard to deform properly, so the wide rifling lands in the barrel couldn’t do their job. I was also loading my cartridges with smokeless powder that burns slower than black powder (but also reduces the recoil).

The reloaders who shoot smokeless powder today use much larger bullets to negate the need for the crush black powder gives. They have learned that there are no real modern bullets for the Trapdoor and smokless powder– at least not as designed by Springfield.


And here is where this report crosses over to airguns. I have just been testing accurate pellets from Benjamin and JTS. I’ve been testing them in different airguns with differing results. We have talked about how the pellets fit in the breech and whether they are made with soft lead or are hardened with antimony.

In the past we have discussed pellet head sizes and how they relate to accuracy in certain airguns. The only thing an airgun does not do as consistently as a black powder rifle is obturate the base of the pellet. Spring-piston guns will sometimes push the pellet skirts out into the rifling a little but CO2 and pneumatic guns won’t at all because their push is too gradual.

Does this matter?

Yes this matters! It’s why certain airguns work best with certain pellets. It’s also why the people who buy their pellets based on price, alone, are often disappointed.

Thanks to Jerry Cupples and his Pelletgage, we can measure the head sizes of our pellets and sort them accordingly. We know that certain of our airguns “like” pellets of a particular head size best. One airgun may only do well with dead soft lead pellets while another one shoots best with Benjamin Bullseyes that are hardened with antimony. Cruising around the sporting goods section of your local discount store, choosing between the three bargain-priced pellets they offer is an almost certain path to failure.


Today’s summary is also today’s lesson. If you want to save money, don’t get into airguns. If you do get into airguns, get in to win. I know I’m called an enabler, but the only things I can enable are the things I think are good — the things I believe in. If it’s not good, why waste your time or money?

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.

83 thoughts on “Pellets — what size and why?”

    • Lots to consider in this report. First question: how do win a gun battle if you have to clean a barrel every 3 shots. Trying to get my mind around that.

      • Roamin,

        Remember that the guys shooting at you had to do the same thing. No wonder the Girardoni was so revolutionary in 1780 — 21 shots in 30 seconds with no cleaning.


        • OK, that makes sense. I’m wondering if after a few blackpowder shots, could you run one or two smokeless powder rounds as a way of clearing out the soot and unburned black powder to restore accuracy without having to stop to clean?

          How do you clean a Trapdoor Springfield compared to a muzzleloader?

          • Roamin,

            You are just full of blog ideas today! I never thought of shooting smokeless rounds to clean out a barrel after firing black powder rounds. I’ll have to think about that. Of course smokeless powder has to exist for you to do that, so Custer’s Last Stand isn’t changed.

            Trapdoors are cleaned from the muzzle in my world. I use a Dewey one-piece rod, because the Trapdoor barrel is 32-5/8-inches long.


        • B.B.,

          The chuckwagon was on occasion the Logistics Tail and troopers carried all of their ammo on them for the complete patrol typically; unlike these days when the “Support Troops” outnumber the Combatants 10:1 or worse.
          Clearly the reason that SOG (Special Operations Group) units surprise the civilian populations with their missions and Kill Ratios.

          Logistics is as bad as IT and Marketing in my opinion.


    • B.B.,

      I read the blog last night (waiting in case the clouds cleared and the Aurora Borealis made a showing) right before turning the lights out for the night. I refrained from making remarks but instead hoped the Readership would run wild…the ran mildly….
      Great series lots of possibilities.


  1. One of the reasons this blog is great is how much we can learn from it. Thanks BB, I learned quite a bit from your report today. Some of the target pellet gun barrels have a slight choke near the muzzle. And these are designed to increase accuracy. But, we have been told that only match grade pellets should be used in these guns. The new Benjamin pellets are labeled as match grade. However, they are made from a harder alloy than most match grade pellets. Do you think the new Benjamin pellets would, in the long term, be detrimental (wear it out sooner) to a choked barrel target rifle? Or perhaps have a tendency to get stuck in the barrel?

    • Elmer,

      Your questions deserve a good answer — better than I can give in a comment. I will address your questions inn tomorrow’s blog.


    • Elmer,

      The following is my own personal opinion and should be taken as such.

      The term “match grade” is used rather loosely these days by the marketeers trying to sell their products. In the referred to case, it is used to emphasize the fact that these particular pellets are supposedly very consistent across the lot.

      Almost all airguns these days have “match grade” triggers. Really? Pull the trigger on a true match rifle or pistol and we will then talk about it.

      Marketeers have learned that “speed” sells. So does “match grade”. They use these terms to sell their products to the “unwashed”.

      I, for one am looking forward to what “the master” has to say in tomorrow’s blog.

  2. It hits home for me, Tom!

    I think airgun pellet alloying vs. firearm pellets is quite different. Casting lead bullets for firearms has much more complexity. For pellets, it’s pure lead with just enough antimony to avoid what is described as “mushiness” in swaging. That’s something like 0.4% Sb. Several years ago, I had samples of H&N, JSB, and Crosman pellets analyzed. The CPHP pellets had somewhat more antimony, which makes them a little harder, but all of them were based on nearly pure lead vs. much higher additions for cast bullets.

    In my estimation, a softer alloy is better for many reasons, as we want those skirts to expand, and airgun barrels are not hardened steel.

    Thanks to you and all of the BBP readers for appreciating my gaging.

  3. So, what you are telling us is to achieve maximum accuracy with any given airgun all you have to do is:
    1. Find a pellet with the right head size for your barrel, and magazine where appropriate.
    2. Find the pellet with the right weight, and design, for the best performance at any given distance.
    3. Find the pellet with the right hardness to best engage the rifling for increased accuracy.
    4. Don’t waste time, or money, on cheap pellets that are mostly intended for lots of plinking fun.
    5. Find the best pellet that complies with numbers 1, 2 and 3 above, for each pellet rifle you own!
    6. Research the internet for all the information you can find on your airgun and what others have found out already. Don’t waste too much time with trial and error. Ask for help on a blog.
    Try all the pellets that you find listed some place as best performers in your airgun to see which works the best in yours for the desired shooting event.

    Nothing to it, unless you own more than 50 airguns. But in reality, you only need a few good accurate airguns. The rest are just for variety and leisure shooting to get to later, after you find your Round Toits.
    And now we have to find the right BB for our BB guns ;(
    Forgot to mention practice and finding that all important shooting hold each prefers.

  4. This may be why I have usually had better results with the JSB pellets. They tend to be of softer lead and have thinner skirts than most pellets. H&N makes a pretty good pellet also, IMMHO.

    I have never had much real accuracy with Crosman/Benjamin pellets in my airguns. I still have a good number of my .177 boxed pellets from Crosman. I have just purchased a tin of those .177 Benji Bullseyes. So far, I am not that impressed. You may rest assured that should I find one of the “old gals” around here likes them, I will sing their praises, but my Diana 34 does not care for them at all. It does like the new .177 H&N Baracuda 8 though. I think the HW30S does also.

    As far as airguns go, I have always stayed away from the harder leads. My accuracy has always been better with pellets such as JSB. I have not knowingly tried any of these “new” Polish pellets, but I am considering them, most especially since I do have a Polish air pistol.

    BB, I wish you well with that Trapdoor and I am looking forward to reading more of your misadventures with it. I wonder if the Pedersoli reproductions of the Trapdoor use the same “style” barrel as the original.

  5. I’m homered. I expected to learn something about the Trapdoor, its bullets, and their development, which I did. The “reaction mass” effect of the unburnt black powder residue was something I’d never encountered in my reading.

    Do you cast your own bullets? If not, surely there’s an online source for bullets with the correct percentage of tin? I’m tempted – but scared – to get to googling or go out to the gunroom to look through some books to see what else I can learn. The reason I’m afraid to do it is this is how I end up with another new-to-me gun. Or air rifle.

    Regarding airgun barrel choke: you must have written a blog post or article about it previously. Can you point me to where I can find it? Thanks. Scott

    • Scott,

      I will address the “choked” airgun barrels tomorrow.

      I expect Ian McKee (45Bravo) will say more about the reaction mass of black powder in his reports, but most shooters who use black powder know about it.



    • Do a Google advanced search (Google “advanced search”) then in the block for all words, insert “choke barrel” without the quotes and limit the search to Pyramydair.com/blog. You will get all articles and all comments using those terms.

        • You’re right, Godfather, but I don’t use the Pyramydair.com/blog search box much anymore because it only seems to search your articles and not the comments, unless that has been changed. So using Google Advanced Search but limiting the search to this website (the blog) allows the search engine to find comments about choked barrels that may be found under the then-most-current blog post that may not have been about choked barrels.

        • BB

          “Just because they are on the internet doesn’t make them true!”

          I would tell you are wrong about that,,, but here it is on the internet,, so it must be true,,,,,,,,,,, or not.

          My head hurts.


  6. BB,
    I have never heard that CO2 and PCP guns won’t push the skirts into the rifling. Thinking about that and your mention of the pelletgage, first I have never used a pelletgage. But all I hear (read actually) people talking about is head size. No mention of skirt size. I had assumed that was because the skirt would be formed to the rifling during firing. If it isn’t, is the head size and skirt size typically the same? Are they bigger and, since the skirts are weaker, they will just “shrink” to fit the rifling? Would it even make a difference if the pressure was sufficient to form the skirt to the rifling?

    After writing all that, how would you even be able to test and know any of that? Maybe these are more theory questions than ones that would have any practical application.


        • FawltyManuel,

          They made me cover my Spit Shined shoes so i couldn’t look up (before all the adventure cameras and cell phones with onboard megapixel cameras) the girl’s skirts and dresses back then too!


    • Captain Bravo,

      “After writing all that, how would you even be able to test and know any of that? Maybe these are more theory questions than ones that would have any practical application.”
      Not theory questions at all!
      Practical solutions to recover un-splatted (deformed post launch) exist. Lower density gel blocks probably work the best for minimally changing the projectile while capturing. Airguns generate far less pressure even compared to Black Powder, BP substitutes, or RimFire. Rim Fire Standard Long Rifle rounds only generate about 15,000psi (7 Tons/square inch) and Center Fire rounds generate 10 times, or so, as much.
      My guess is that Obturation starts at about 7,000psi of chamber pressure with dead soft Pb (Lead) projectiles.


      • Shootski,
        I guess the theory remark was more because I don’t think it matters in any practical sense. Like how do you prove at what point the skirt ‘actually’ forms to the rifling from the air pressure, and if it doesn’t affect accuracy, does anyone care other than as a discussion point.

        Beyond that, I would like to make sure I understand some things. According to BB’s blog, “…obturate which means to squish out from the impact of the powder exploding.” In which case 7,000psi for the Trapdoor Springfield sounds reasonable to someone like me who has only looked into it a little.

        But forming the skirt of air gun pellets has to happen at less than that. I think I remember reading somewhere, probably here, that spring piston guns generated the highest pressure spikes behind the pellet. And they were only about 1,200psi. You aren’t suggesting that an air gun is going to generate a spike anywhere close to 7,000psi, right? That pressure is for the powder burner?

        I know that all of the fired air gun pellets I’ve ever seen, that weren’t smashed, had rifling marks on the skirts. Even the low powered ones.


        • Captain Bravo,

          I’ll bet the Trapdoor generates a great deal more than 7,000psi that was just a wag on my part yet to be proved.

          “…spring piston guns generated the highest pressure spikes behind the pellet.” NOT Factual.

          “And they (spring piston) were only about 1,200psi.” Probably true but i don’t know for a fact that pressure is accurate.

          I am, however, in fact saying that a PCP airgun could generate 7,000psi. Your reference that B.B. stated is accurate best i can recall. My educated suspicion is that on my DAQs when i charge them to 3,600psi that the chamber/back of the projectile initially sees at minimum of 3,000+ psi. They are REAL AIR HOGS.
          If one was to charge a PCP to 7,000 psi with some gas and design and build a very efficient valve and transfer port system it would see all of at least 6,800 psi for at least one shot. I base that on systems i personally witnessed used to test HE (up to Nuclear) Bomb Shelter quick closing ventilation air valves with large volumes of gases pressurized to ridiculous multiples of 10,000psi and released by a full dump burst disk.
          With one of those systems i think we could launch a hypersonic pellet…just no clue where the little molten blob of Lead Alloy would end up.

          The question of course becomes: To what end? I can currently take any game in North America with one of my Quackenbush airguns…i’m pretty certain Dennis could build me an effective Rhino or Elephant valve for at least one of my DAQs!


          • Shootski,
            part of this is my bad, I should have specified that I was thinking of typical, maybe even say mass market, air guns. You seem to be talking about guns in the specialized to hypothetical range. Which would be very interesting to dig into given the spare time and money. I have no doubt that you are correct about the Quackenbush airguns.

            But that is different from where my thoughts were. Take a Marauder or even better an Avenger for example. It charges to 4,500psi, but typical regulator pressures – as I understand it – would be less than 2,000psi, sometimes as low as 1,200psi. I would really be surprised if the max spike you are going to get behind that pellet is more than 900psi.

            I remember reading about this, but I don’t remember if it was here or on GTA about the pressure behind the pellet. Wherever it was from, the author was one of the more technical types. He talked the time versus pressure as the valve opened, air started to flow, moving through the transfer port, and then the pellet starting to move ended up with a much lower pressure spike than was generally thought. It was more of a long push from a PCP, CO2, or pneumatic.

            Compared with a spring piston of whatever type, you get a sharp spike before the pellet starts moving followed by a rapid drop off in pressure. Which is why a long barrel doesn’t help as much with a spring piston as it does with the other types.

            I do want to state emphatically, this is my understanding of the situation. I am not claiming this is actually how it is. That’s why I am asking questions.


            • Captain Bravo,

              Not questioning any of your typical airgun facts.
              Just understand that some of the limits imposed on airguns by the internet technical types are based on assumptions, repetitions of the catechism of how we always have done it, and even some (ignorant in my opinion) ulterior motivations.

              There are any number of formulas that give how much Work can be done by an airgun with a certain air charge pressure, flow velocity, and expansion losses experienced until it pushes the projectile.
              I want to make clear that i’m not including airguns with Step Down regulators.
              ONLY airguns with optimized and balanced valves along with One Shot dump valve airguns.
              My .458 DAQ generates over 500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle for 2 shots only. After those two shots i have dropped to about 2,800 psi (190 BAR) from my initial 3,600 psi (250 BAR) charge; not even close to the regulator output pressure of the airguns you were thinking of as well as a hammer/striker that weigh many times more and a hammer striker spring rate that has some men crying if asked to cock more than once.
              Dennis Quackenbush understands FLOW better than any technical internet airgun type i have ever talked with or read. He also understands PRACTICAL.

              So i’m thinking Quince and you are talking apples; i get that.


              • Shootski,
                I totally agree with you about ‘internet technical types’ as far as being careful about picking your sources. There are a lot of internet ‘experts’ that I wouldn’t trust at all. But there are a few that I think are being as careful to be accurate and technically correct as they can. BB, a few guys on GTA, and you certainly seem to have put in your time.

                So in summary, we have been coming at this from almost opposite ends of the spectrum. And it sounds like you have some really impressive airguns.


            • Decksniper,

              Let me see if i understand you correctly Deck.
              If that charging Cape Buffalo is headed in your direction and my double rifle misfires twice on the 470 Nitro Express rounds and all i have left is my DAQ .458 with a 520 grain dead soft Lead projectile chambered and a full 3,600 psi charge being held by my gun bearer (within arms reach) you DO NOT want me to call for it!


              I presume you have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) bracelet on as well….


  7. “I tried for two hours to photograph the rifling in my Trapdoor barrel for you to no avail.”

    May I suggest you try to recover a bullet with the rifling and photograph that.

  8. “But the worst thing is that the unburnt powder becomes reaction mass which causes greater recoil.”

    Does the reaction mass effect level off or does it keep increasing with every shot? I would think subsequent bullets would clear out the gunk left behind from the prior shot.

    • Roamin,

      No, the unburnt powder does not level off. It gets harder and harder to remove. I’ll stop here because 45Bravo needs to address this in his Black Powder Primer series. But I will say that whenever I shoot black I clean the bore after each shot.


    • Roamin Greco,

      REACTION Mass: “Working mass, also referred to as reaction mass, is a mass against which a system operates in order to produce acceleration. In the case of a chemical rocket, for example, the reaction mass is the product of the burned fuel shot backwards to provide propulsion.”

      In airguns the Mass of air that travels in back of the projectile is Working Mass and the air in front while in the barrel is called Dead Mass.


    • Roamin,
      I always liked round ball with a wet patch (Bore butter) in my 50 cal rifle. That seemed to keep the gunk softened up a bit. Could shoot multiple times that way. My friend would use a lead slug (conical sabot) and usually couldn’t get more than 3 to 4 shots off from his 54 cal. It would just get very hard to load.


  9. Tom,

    Spent a fair amount time thinking about the blog today. With the trend of producing pellets with more antimony or entirely lead free, somebody had better get back to the drawing board of pellet design. Lead free and hard lead alloy pellets with their harder material will probably be ending up with thinner skirts and longer heads to allow higher weights and for the skirt to better accommodate the bore. Producing lead free and hard lead alloy pellets using the current molds will not be conducive to accuracy because they will be too light to retain energy causing them to tumble earlier at shorter ranges and those hard skirts will not help in sealing the pellet to the bore. I know molds are expensive and getting the traditionalists to shift from pure lead pellets to lead free and hard lead alloy pellets is an uphill battle, but I’m afraid the trend seems to be going in that direction. The only alternative I can think of is shifting from .177 to .20 and .22 to .25 caliber to retain the weight of the pellet but that changes a lot of things too.


    • Siraniko, then there is this: Ridgerunner has a vintage Diana 50 underlever springer (reviewed by B.B.) that he generously allowed me to borrow. I shot every pellet in my inventory through it. The best one at 10 yards? HN Match Green 5.25 grain alloy wadcutter pellets. I bought him a fresh tin that was sent back with the rifle with my thanks. Also, the SAR competition uses Umarex Embark Breakbarrel Springers and Predator International Journey (also known as GTO–Get The lead Out) wadcutter pellets, 5.5 grain.

      Go figure.

    • Siraniko,

      We could go to metals similar to firearm barrels or just realize that soft metal airgun barrels will need to be replaced often if we want to maintain accuracy.

      I think the easy machining airgun barrels are a cost savings for the manufacturer and we could have barrel alloys that stand up to NOLead projectiles.
      At least we don’t have the tremendous heat and pressures which might permit different barrel metal choices than firearms are limited to.


      • Shootski,

        Maybe we just need to clean them more rigorously? Honestly if hard alloy non lead pellets are going to wear out rifled barrels I think I’ll settle for a smoothbore and simply stick to the distance I can maintain good accuracy. Barrels over here are a premium since it is considered a restricted item.


  10. BB

    Count me as one who is homered too. I have owned my Trapdoor 45-70 Springfield for 65 years and never read or heard any of the things you wrote about today that affect its accuracy. My dad and his brothers praised their Trapdoor’s accuracy. Around 100 years ago or more they would shoot at a rock hundreds of yards distant in a wide river. They would look for the splash to walk their rounds in using lots of holdover. I wonder if they had correct ammo back then. I doubt I ever had. I hope you are able to find the correct bullet material and let us know how well it performs.

    Great report today and looking forward to tomorrow.


  11. Gathered from Pelletgage customer feedback – if you have a rifle barrel that is choked, it is far more likely to be “pellet picky”. And, if you find that a pellet head is hard to seat into the barrel freebore and leade, it’s probably not going to shoot well, look for a smaller head size.

    • This report has just reminded me yet again, that I should have bought a Pelletgage at the Texas Air Gun Show in 2022. I know they are still available but financial times were much better then than now for me. Someday though, I will correct that mistake and get one for .22 and .177!


  12. BB,
    You did provide a lot of information to educate us on this subject and make it interesting. I just wanted to make sure I fully understood the points you were making by consolidating them for review.

    Part of my job in a Navy Squadron Quality Assurance Section was to review our Maintenance Instructions.
    They basically provide information on how to perform just about everything we do on a regular basis.

    I had to write some and review some for compliance with maintenance instructions issued by higher authorities. We could not contradict them and actually had no reason to issue our own if we did not deviate or add to a higher authorities’ instructions, so I deleted some as well. Everything also had to be in compliance with the Bible of Aviation Maintenance, the OPNAVINST 4790 Manual.
    Precise and to the point but very boring to read. All the excitement of furniture assembly instructions.

    All meant to keep you out of trouble and CYA if you did as instructed and things went bad.

    You, on the other hand, are a professional writer of informative, educational and entertaining literature.

    Far from me to compete with or replace you.
    My big take away was to learn from others and people who write and contribute to blogs are fairly knowledgeable about Air Guns. A great place to gather information on just about everything Air Gun.

        • Siraniko,

          This is one of the Books; there are a few more that are almost as voluminous as well as equally significant depending on your specific job.
          For pilots this one is only significant if you did Post Maintainance Check Flights.
          Most of the times pilots would think of the series called NATOPS Naval Aviation Training Operational Procedures & Standardization; unlike the Maintenance Instruction the NATOPS only pertained to simple single issues if it became say a compound Emergency in the front of the BOOK you found this phrase:

          So you considered all of the book as a nice tool for them to hang you with IF you survived to stand at the end of the long green table. The place loaded with folks that determined if you got to retain your Gold Wings or Not.

          Yes, there were a few BOOKS.


    • Bob M,

      Had to look up the possible meaning of CYA for my benefit and also hihihi. I believe it is Cover Your A__. Am I correct? Keeping it kid friendly.


      • Siraniko,
        Sorry about that. Thought it was a relatively universal acronym and I used it instead of the words because this is a family friendly blog. Hope all is OK ( All Correct ) ( Adequate but Unexceptional ) 😉 ( Winking Happy Face )

  13. My Trick, to look at a rifle bore.
    Insert some white paper into the receiver and shine a powerful LED flashlight on it so it reflects up the barrel.
    A direct flashlight will blind you, but if you try hard and make sure only part of the reflector is visible, you may see better. Only possible with the barrel removed anyway. Or, you have a very small inspection mirror to reflect off. Tricky to say the least.
    Moving a simple magnifier in and out will clear up various sections. To a point anyway.
    Not sure how a camera will react to document it. Never tried it.

  14. I have a Trapdoor I have used for long range cowboy action side matches. I use a 340 grain bullet from a Lee Mold with .458 diameter loaded as cast and lubed with SPG lube. Powder charge is 34 grains of IMR 3031. I also have a light load with 14 grains of Trail Boss. I also use a corn meal filler with the 3031 load to keep the powder back at the primer. I use what ever scrap lead I have. Often wheel weights. It doesn’t match your information but it works for me in my rifle.
    Your milage may vary! Do not use this load unless you know it is safe in your rifle!


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