Russ Douglas tests JSB Hades pellet expansion, coming away impressed, with a proviso
I’ve used JSB Exact pellets for some time, always happy with their quality and consistent downrange performance. Recently, I noticed t’interweb going daft over the new
JSB Hades, especially for pest control, so I thought I’d see for myself what the fuss was about. The Hades do that seemingly impossible job; stay intact to fly true, right to their target, then somehow expand significantly upon impact to impart maximum energy and give a humane kill. Any over-penetration at all obviously means energy wasted, so you don’t want the perfect pest control pellets to penetrate too far.
EXPANSION, OR NOT?
The essential feature is accuracy, and a well-placed pellet of any design means a humane kill, providing it arrives with sufficient energy. There are umpteen schools of thought out there on what makes the perfect pestcontrol pellet, including some brands bringing out hollow-point pellets for ‘maximum
“this was now a question of protecting and not sacrificing our lone household bucket”
expansion’. The truth is that a pellet’s lead material and design is to withstand first being bashed about in the tin, then loaded – they’re not exactly delicate items. In my experience, this then translates into most being too sturdy actually to expand upon impact with our prey, at least at sub-12 ft.lbs. power levels, anyway.
I was very kindly given a tin of .22 JSB Hades at this year’s British Shooting Show by Air Arms MD, Claire West. Since then, I’d heard Hades were proving quite scarce due to popular demand, plus due to the national lockdown my local shops were closed. I paused my plans until I saw fellow YouTuber AirRiflePestControl (ARPC) mention J.S Ramsbottom stocked them. One email later, Edward there sold me a few tins, which arrived very promptly – result!
CLEVER DESIGN – I HOPE
Upon inspection, the Hades are outwardly similar in silhouette to the classic diablo shape of JSB Exacts, suggesting JSB have capitalised on what’s already an excellent design. There’s one significant difference with the Hades, the domed head has three recessed radial ‘cavities’ or cut-outs. The theory is, these allow the head to split open three ways like a blossoming flower, to maximise the impact. One thing we’re not after is actual fragmentation, although that shouldn’t matter if humane head-shots are used. Yep, it already sounds an impossible job for yonder Hades.
RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
I wanted to test both common calibres at different velocities, but whereas my .177 Wildcat Mk.1 is perfect for most pest control needs, it’s non-FAC. All it’s ‘missing’ for these tests is the FAC adjustability of the new Mk.3 – maybe one day. On the other hand, my .22
.177/11.4fpe/N/A .22/13.8fpe/#2 .22/21.5fpe/#3 .22/27.3fpe/#4 .22/28.9fpe/#5 4.50mm 5.5mm 5.5mm 5.5mm 5.5mm
DIAMETER BEFORE 704/8 380/1 626/1 780/4 880/3 905/2
4.9 & 5.1mm 6.5 & 6.8mm 7.4 & 8.1mm 7.8 & 7.5mm 7.8 & 7.6mm 11.4fpe 5.1fpe 13.8fpe 21.5fpe 27.3fpe 28.9fpe
Air Arms S510XS is FAC, plus thanks to having a power adjuster it’s the perfect test-bench to launch Hades at different velocities.
I first weighed a random sample of ten pellets of each calibre; the .22 averaged 15.90 grains (design = 15.89) and the .177 averaged 10.36 grains (design = 10.34). Having just sold my S510XS to a friend @Lev Levvin from the Airgun Forum a day or two before (thanks again, that man), this testing went on literally the same morning I packaged it up and took it to my nearest open gun shop, for the necessary RFD-RFD transfer. Together with lockdown travel limitations, this meant I couldn’t see how the Hades shot at 50m compared to the rifle’s existing zero – yep I’m gutted about that, too.
Before recording my own pellet testing, I’d watched some from other channels, noting some testing was more thorough than others, some was fun and some surprising. It all left me wanting more information, so I had a go myself. I don’t have an enclosed back garden, so kept things simple and fired pellets into a bucket of water indoors, on camera of course. The rifles were held vertically, to avoid angled water impact deforming the head of the pellets at an angle, which would skew the pellet deformation results - literally! Either way, I expected mess, so laid a sheet of doubled cardboard over the bucket with a central hole through which to shoot, to reduce splash-back.
DIAMETER AFTER (MAX)
I’d missed velocity information from some of those video reviews, so after weighing the pellets, I test-fired one mag’s-worth (eight shots) from the Wildcat across the chrono’. I repeated this with the .22 S510, only with just two shots this time on each of the five power levels. Chrono results above:
SAFETY FIRST, OR NOT
I once saw a fascinating episode of awesome geek-heaven, US series ‘Mythbusters’, totally dispelling the urban myth that bullets travelled far in water, because it’s just too dense – hence deciding water testing was the way ahead. Sadly, with no tall, clear perspex tube to hand, to film the pellet progress and anticipated expansion in slo-mo, a regular bucket would have to do. Safety-wise this was now a question of protecting and not sacrificing our lone household bucket. So, I devised a protector for the bucket’s base, should any pellets hit it with force after penetrating 10 inches of water.
I found a hardwood off-cut, weighed it down with some metal, then waterproofed it with cling film. Problem was, after my first two ‘shots’, I removed it to help find the pellets, only to realise the mag’ I’d used had two empty chambers. I had wondered why so little water had splashed-back (facepalm).
Take 2 … except in my haste I forgot to replace the bucket protector and after firing
WEIGHT BEFORE 10.36gr 15.90gr 15.90gr 15.90gr 15.90g
WEIGHT AFTER 10.4 & 10.3 gr 16.0 & 15.9 gr 16.2 & 16.1 gr 16.0 & 15.5 gr 15.4 & 16.1 gr
Hades on board.