Back on pellet-testing duty, Gary’s mission this month is the hollow point
Last month we looked at the ballistic efficiency of spire point pellets. The consensus was that they might all look and be priced similarly, but by ‘eck there were massive, and we mean massive, differences in the way they performed. This variance was felt not only in their ballistic deformation characteristics, but also in their accuracy. We did achieve some worthwhile data, though, and mentioned in closing that we were keen to see how spire points would compare with hollow points. Well, fellow shooters, I’m not the sort to make idle promises (unless it relates to how much of the housework I’m willing to do), so true to form, and much to Mrs. Wain’s annoyance, I am following through on this particular promise.
Having established that not all spire point pellets are created equal, what will we make of hollow points? The first thing I had to come to terms with was the sheer number of hollow point varieties that are available. I thought this would be a relatively simple task, I mean, how many types of hollow point pellet can there be? I’ll tell you how many, thousands of them! Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but on this occasion I had to take a little guidance from the team at Pellet Perfect to enable me to hone my shortlist.
WORKING AT IT
If you’re a regular reader of these articles, by now you’ll know the format. What you don’t perhaps appreciate is the amount of work that goes into the preparation necessary to shoot the ballistic material and then take plaster casts of it. Now don’t go getting your violins out; at the end of the day, it’s great fun. That said, up to now I’ve usually shot four, or, six pellets per test. For this test though I would need to be shooting nine pellets. The other thing you don’t perhaps realise is that when you heat the terracotta wax material in the oven, you invariably get a certain amount of wastage. As it happens, the wastage looks something akin to a baking-tray-related faecal accident. Regardless of that, I had to face facts and order some more terracotta wax. Now, this stuff isn’t cheap. If you want to make two blocks, you’re looking at about £30. At the end of the day though, it’s worth it because when heated to 20 degrees, it becomes the perfect representation of tissue.
So armed with a double dose of terracotta wax I set about testing.
THE CONTESTANTS ASSEMBLE
For this month’s article, we’d be shooting eight, .177 calibre hollow points, and as you’ll see, a ninth, but more of that later. Having eagerly awaited my parcel from Pellet Perfect I finally took delivery of this month’s test batch.
As usual, moving from the lightest to the heaviest we have: The RWS Super H-Point. This 6.9 grain pellet looks like it started life as a domed pellet, which has then had a hollow put into it. The hollow is quite small so it will be interesting to see if it deforms. Next up, it’s the turn of the Norica Killer. This subtly-named, 7.3 grain, barrel-shaped pellet has a cross head with a hollow point relieved into it. The third pellet in the test is the 7.87 grain BSA Interceptor. This pellet is quite similar to the Super H-Ppoint, save that its hollow is a bit bigger; in theory at least, this should create better deformation and cavitation. The SMK Victory Implode tips the scales at 8.2 grains, and represents the classic hollow-point shape, with an even bigger hollow than the others. The Bisley Superfield comes in at 8.5 grains and really does resemble a domed pellet, with the smallest of hollows. Moving up to the heavy hitters we then tested the 8.8 grain Beeman Crow Mag. This pellet has a deep hollow with a very thin lip, which should deform well and cause a great deal of damage.
If we were the suspicious type, we’d say that the 8.8 grain Bisley Pest Control came from the same factory as the Beeman. The two pellets weigh exactly the same, and look identical. Last of the hollow points is the 9.26 grain H&N Hunter Extreme. This pellet has a hollow point that, for want of better words, looks exactly like the top of a Phillips screw.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that we mentioned a ninth pellet, but have been a bit elusive as to its identity. To put you out of your collective misery, and to negate any legal claims for stress compensation, it’s best I inform you that it is, in fact, an Air Arms Diabolo Field, with the exception that on this occasion I’ve loaded it backwards into the breech of my Daystate Pulsar. We’ve done this, because a few of my shooting buddies and I have long wondered what the effect would be of firing a pellet backwards. Would the ultimate hollow point ‘tail first’ configuration leave a big cavity? Would the pellet turn around in flight? Would it even hit the target? Well, you’re about to find out; but first, best we look at the rest of the results to see if we have a winner.
It has to be said that on the whole we were impressed with the results. At the bottom end of the scale, though, we have the 7.9 grain Norica Killer, and the Bisley Superfield. If you remember, I was a little concerned that the Superfield didn’t have enough of a hollow point to permit expansion, and indeed I was proved correct. The Superfield was the only pellet in the test group to pass all the way through the test material and only managed a maximum expansion cavity of 24mm. The Norica Killer didn’t pass through the material, but did penetrate 83mm, and gave a similar cavity of just 23mm.
We then come to the identically shaped and weighted Bisley Pest Control, and Beeman Crow Mag. These pellets left cavities of 26mm and 26.5mm respectively, with both pellets also exhibiting a
near-identical curve to their ballistic trace inside the terracotta wax. Now this might seem obvious to you, but it’s also quite reassuring to me as the chap testing these pellets because they were each fired into different batches of wax from the oven, and in fact, on two different days. Let’s just say I was confident that my testing was as scientific as it could be, but having these two pellets confirm the uniformity of the test media made me feel somewhat assured of the data’s validity.
Moving on up the scale we come to RWS Super H-Point. As the lightest pellet in the test you’d maybe expect it to make the biggest cavity. It does though appear that what we have learned so far with regard to domed pellets doesn’t necessarily hold true when it comes to hollow points because this 6.9 grain pellet only came 4th in the test, with a cavity of 28mm. So, to the top three: In third place we have the 7.87 grain BSA Interceptor, with a maximum cavity of 31mm. In second place there’s the heaviest pellet in the test, the 9.26 grain H&N Hunter Extreme with a cavity of 32mm, and in first place we have the SMK Victory Implode which at 8.2 grains managed a maximum cavity of 36mm.
Finally though, we come to the Diabolos fired backwards. Accepting that this is a questionable thing to do to your beloved rifle, let alone a £1500 Daystate Pulsar, we thought we’d answer the question once and for all, and the verdict is basically, don’t bother. If you’re thinking that loading your pellets backwards as the ‘ultimate hollow point’ is a good idea then you can forget it. Not only are they wildly inaccurate, but the results are also unimpressive, with a maximum cavity of just 21mm. The only interesting bit of data we garnered is that the pellets seem to retain their reverse flight and neither tumble nor twist around to the correct orientation during downrange travel. We’d put their poor performance down to the lack of a good seal minimising their muzzle velocity and resultant kinetic energy on impact.
So what do we make of these results? Well, first of all, we have a clear winner in the form of the SMK Victory Implode. Underpinning this result we have to say that none of the hollow points were particularly impressive with regard to accuracy, the Norica Killers being particularly disastrous because it took me a good three goes to get a pellet to impact correctly on the wax. All being well, next month I hope to look at some of the more unusual and ‘lead-free’ alternatives on the market, as well as perhaps a few blasts from the past. As always. If you’d like me to look at a particular aspect of testing, do please write in and let us know.
Above: Yep, you read that right.
Above: More wax means I can shoot four samples at a time.
Above: Loving the Daystate. The least pellet-picky rifle I’ve ever had.
Above: All hollow points, but which will come out on top?
Above: Cream-filled chocolate fudge anyone….
Above: You have no idea how hard it was to narrow down the selection.
Above: Be prepared for a little wastage.
Above: Having lost a fair bit of wax, it was time to replenish the stocks.
Above: Did they all deform?
Above: Cracking open the last four test samples.
Above: Every block tells a story.