One of the most common questions asked by people new to the hobby, (or returning to it), is 'what type of pellet should I use?'
What follows is based on 35 years of shooting airguns, I don’t claim to know any more than any one else on this forum, but I do hope I can give some general guidelines with which most would agree.
In order to save a lot of repetition, I've asked the admin. guys to make this a 'sticky' so that it stays up near the top of the advice forum, for easy reference.
I’ll assume you’ve already decided which caliber suits you best, you’ve taken advice, parted with your money, and bought your airgun. Now to the nitty-gritty.
- What are you going to use the pellets for? – not as daft as it sounds, what I really mean is are you plinking at Coke tins in your garden, shooting paper targets, shooting FT or Hunter FT, or hunting live quarry? This will likely be the most decisive factor in your eventual choice. Plinking can be dealt with most easily – pretty much anything will do, there’s no great science involved in choosing a pellet that will knock over a coke tin at ten paces – my advice here is ‘cheap and cheerful’
- For shooting at paper / card targets. The traditional choice, especially at closer ranges, is often referred to as a ‘wadcutter’, that is to say a blunt-nosed, or flat-headed pellet. This type of pellet will have the advantage of leaving a clean hole in the target, thus making scoring easier. They will usually be of a medium weight, as they don’t need to carry a great deal of down-range energy to go through thin card, but their stability can be called into question at longer ranges, and for this reason they are sometimes looked over in favour of the ‘dome head’, the nearest there is to a universal pellet. Its shape, as the name implies, is the conventional waisted or diabolo body with a rounded head, a very stable aerodynamic combination.
- For hunting. This is where the most variety of shapes exists. The dome head we’ve just mentioned is once again the most widely used for its combination of great accuracy, a shape that gives a fair combination of penetration and energy transfer for efficient dispatch of your quarry, and cost, as it is the biggest volume seller. The point, or pointed head, is designed for maximum penetration of the quarry, even though over-penetration is more likely to maim than to kill humanely, a high transfer of energy is generally the more efficient method of dispatch. The hollow-point is designed with this high transfer of energy in mind, the shape of the head intended to deform massively. In general, neither points nor hollow points are as accurate as dome heads. Hunters sometimes favour a heavier pellet so as to maximize the down range energy, but the pronounced ‘arc’ of the trajectory can make accuracy difficult at the longer ranges, and with quarry like the Rabbit, the kill zone is only perhaps 25-30 mm in diameter.
- Field Target, and Hunter Field Target (FT and HFT) shooters tend to favour the high accuracy of the dome head, it still having enough energy transfer for all their needs.
- Every airgun barrel is different, so you need to try as many pellets as possible to see which one suits your barrel. Just because one persons gun of the same make as yours likes a certain pellet does not mean yours will like the same.
In general, try as many types as you can afford to, there’s no need to buy a tin of 500 of every type. Scrounge or exchange pellets with other shooters you know, perhaps at your club, or consider buying a selection of the type marketed by the online company, Pellpax, which contains over 30 types for well under £20, this will probably enable you to narrow your choice down to 3 or 4 types you will want to try more extensively.
Hope this advice helps, and happy shooting.
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