Gary Wain

In his hunt for the per­fect pel­let, Gary tries out some un­usual ex­am­ples

Airgun World - - Contents -

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.


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!


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.


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?

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