In his hunt for the perfect pellet, Gary tries out some unusual examples
If you’ve been a regular reader of my ballistic bumblings you’ll know that I’ve been steadily making my way through the whole gamut of pellets that the air rifle industry has to offer. Having looked at domed head, hollowpoint, spire-tipped and wadcutters, it’s now time to look at a few of the more unusual pellets on the market. Basically, the sort you might look at in the gun shop or on line and think, ‘I wonder if they’re any good’. Well, like some bearded and waxed-moustachioed superhero, I’m here to save the day – or at least answer the question posed.
As with my previous testing, I’ve availed myself of the services offered by Tim over at Pellet Perfect, but rather than wade through the thousands of pellets he has to offer, I chose to chat with him and pick his brain to tease out the extensive knowledge he has about the more unusual pellets in his inventory. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Well, I was a bit, but it wasn’t Tim’s fault and I’ll come to why in a moment.
A few days after our chat, I opened up a well-packaged selection of five pellets. First up, was the 3.4gr Skenco Poly Rhino. Yes, you read that correctly, 3.4gr! How have
Skenco achieved this ridiculously light pellet? Well, as the name suggests, the Poly Rhino is a polymer pellet; it does have a metal core, but exactly what this metal is remains unclear. First impression of the Poly Rhino, aside from its insanely light weight, is that it’s about twice as long as your average pellet of the same calibre. This additional length makes it unsuitable for modern magazines, but is still fine for airguns that have a single-load mechanism. It’s perhaps a little unfair to include the Rhino in this test because it’s primarily intended for use in low-power air pistols, and some low-power air rifles, but hey, as we’ve got it, it’d be rude not to see how it gets on in our tests.
Next up, we took a look at the Gamo Raptor. Now, if you cast your minds back, you’ll remember that we touched on this particular pellet, and the necessary security arrangements, way back when we were comparing the ballistic characteristics of differentially weighted, domed-head pellets. Tim and I did though think it was worth a revisit. At a mere 5gr, it is very probably the lightest domed pellet that money can buy, and it’s gold plated so – grain for grain – it’s likely the most expensive.
DYNAMIC TRIPLE P1
Moving on up, we now have the lead-free DYNAMIC triple P1.Please excuse the capitalisation, this how the company describes it in its promotional material. This relatively long, hollow-pointed chap weighs in at 6.9gr, which is a few grains down on the average 8gr for a .177 pellet, but is perhaps heavy for a lead-free. Although ‘lead-free’, the DYNAMIC is most definitely metallic, although it remains unclear which metallic elements from the periodic table are used, and if it shoots well, who cares!
H&N RABBIT MAGNUM
The next pellet in the test group is the H&N Rabbit Magnum. As the name implies, at nearly twice the weight of your average lead pellet, this 16.05gr coated pellet is intended for hunting. Visually, the Rabbit Magnum is very similar to a .22LR copper-coated bullet, having a semi-pointed nose, an almost imperceptible waist, and a shallow depression as the skirt.
I mentioned earlier that I was a little disappointed when the pellets arrived. The reason for this is simple; I was really looking forward to testing the Sussex Sabo round. Now, take a look at the image showing the five bags of pellets on test, and then remember that I’ve only detailed four that I will be testing – you’ll see that the Sussex Sabos are actually in .22 calibre. I remember Tim saying that he had some and that they were in .22 as opposed to .177, but in my excitement I didn’t think about not being able to use them in this test, so they will live to fight another day.
It was time to test, and as the sun warmed the terracotta wax, I moved outside to set up the test range. Unfortunately, aside from being warm it was also very windy, which made it difficult to get even some of the heavier pellets on target. As usual, I started with the lightest first – the feather-like 3.4gr of the Skenko Poly Rhino, and I was keen to see if its ultra-light weight would cause deep cavitation. I have to say that the results were quite startling.
So far, we’ve seen that the lighter pellets tend to give up their ballistic energy more readily when they hit the target. They leave wider and more devastating wound tracks
than the heavier pellets, which have a tendency to pass straight through owing to their greater kinetic energy and higher ballistic coefficient. The Skenco only made it about 22mm into the test material before coming to a complete halt because it is simply too light; it has a low BC and so little energy left to surrender when it hits the target.
So how would the 5gr Gamo Raptor perform? Would it also be too light? The answer was ‘no’, but like the Skenco it was massively affected by the wind. The Gamo pellet moves very fast because it’s so light, and although it’s not soft like lead pellets, which tend to deform on impact, the non-lead, gold-coated Gamo does not produce the wide wound tracks that we’ve seen from lightweight lead pellets. That said, we did see a 22mm wide version that tapered only in the last 25mm of the whole track.
The 6.9gr Dynamic Triple P1 also produced an interesting result. This is a non-lead pellet, and again, it’s harder than lead. Although the packet describes it as a ‘dome head’, it is very much a hollow-point, so much so that I had to examine it closely to work out which way to load it. It did produce a 20mm-wide wound track, which isn’t bad, but not as good as some lead hollow-points we’ve seen. I wonder if the hardness of the non-lead material stops it deforming as much as it could – still, not bad.
Lastly, we have the H&N Rabbit Magnum. At 16.05gr this is the heaviest pellet in the test, and one of the heaviest .177 pellets we’ve seen. Thankfully, the results garnered from the ballistic material on this occasion were pretty close to what I expected, although with the wind speed picking up, it did prove hard to get one on target first time, as the hole in my bread board shows. When I did get one straight into the clay, I found that the entry hole was very small at just 9mm, the wound track expanding only slightly to 16mm as the pellet made its way through and out the other side, which is what I expected of this heavy-pointed pellet.
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
So aside from having fun, what have we learned? It would appear that at least some of the more obscure or lead-free pellets are worth looking at. I’m nearing the end of my .177 pellet testing now, so if there’s anything you think I haven’t tested, or would like to see examined in more detail do let me know. I’ve got some ideas on what sort of pellet is going to come out on top. What are your thoughts?
Not bad for a morning’s hunting.
Conditions could be better, but at least it was nice and warm.
Can you spot the ‘not so deliberate’ mistake?
Just the right consistency.
The wind played mischievously across the garden range.
Which of the four performed the best?
Both the Dynamic Triple P1 and the H&N Rab’ Mag’ went all the way through the wax.
The wind made it hard to land the pellets in the wax.
The Gamo Raptor shows minimal deformation, and nearly makes it through the wax.
The results varied greatly.
Which would you choose?