Gary Wain is tasked by the Editor to re­verse his pel­let-test­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions

Airgun World - - Gary Wain -

It ap­pears that our Editor, or as we writ­ers are con­trac­tu­ally bound to call him, ‘honourable leader, valiant dic­ta­tor and de­fender of the shoot­ing faith’, might have had a bit of a long pa­per round when he was younger. In­deed, if the ev­i­dence is any­thing to go by, said pa­per round might well be on­go­ing. You see, al­though I have no real idea of old Terry is, I have to say I never had him down as be­ing in his late 20s to early 30s. The rea­son I say this is that I re­ceived this rather in­trigu­ing mes­sage from him a few days ago.

‘Here’s an odd one. When I were a nip­per, al­most 20 years ago, now, I used to shoot rats with pel­lets loaded back­wards, i.e. skirt first. Yes, re­ally. It was a thing back then. I’m still con­vinced these ‘back­ward’ pel­lets made a big­ger hole in the mud and sludge around the pig farm where I shot most of my rats, and that they flew fairly straight out to 10 me­tres or so. I used Cros­man Premier in .22, mainly, but H &

N FT Tro­phy worked as well.

Could you do a fea­ture on this, please? I imag­ine the pel­lets would have to be loaded man­u­ally, rather than via the mag’, but it would be re­ally in­ter­est­ing to see what hap­pens when a proper sci­en­tif­i­cal tester got to grips with it. I used a Theoben Sirocco, break-bar­rel, mainly, but my HW80 did the same job on those rats, and I shot HUN­DREDS of them’.

I should add that the above mes­sage has been highly redacted and that I am more than de­lighted to com­ply with the re­quest, es­pe­cially as all threats of me hav­ing to spend an eter­nity in hell, shoot­ing a PCP that holds just enough air for two shots be­fore re­quir­ing 300 strokes from a pump to re­fill it; a springer with worn-out seals; and a CO2 pis­tol with a se­ri­ous leak, have been re­moved. It also helps to know that the re­quest comes as a re­sult of a let­ter from one of our val­ued read­ers, a cer­tain Mr An­drew Ed­wards, who de­scribed a sim­i­larly weird bal­lis­tic phe­nom­e­non when ac­ci­den­tally load­ing both first a .177 and then a .22 into his .22 We­b­ley Long­bow, only to have them land with the .22 dead cen­tre, and the .177 slightly above.


So, with Terry’s pel­let-test­ing gaunt­let thrown down into the ‘mud and sludge’ of the pig farm, I can only as­sume that it’s my job to de­ter­mine how best to recre­ate and if pos­si­ble sci­en­tif­i­cally record the re­sults. Any­way, as much as I want to use .177 for this, the pel­lets Terry used were .22, so .22 it is. At first view, this might seem a purely ar­bi­trary ca­pit­u­la­tion, but it makes sense to ex­am­ine .22 be­cause ow­ing to its greater size, the vari­ances in its com­par­a­tive di­men­sions will be more pro­nounced. If you’re not sure what I’m bang­ing on about here, don’t worry – all will be ex­plained. Re­mem­ber, like the Win­nie the Pooh, I am also a ‘bear of very lit­tle brain’, so I tend to keep things sim­ple.

“first de­ci­sion I had to make was how to test the the­ory. In my mind, I could go one of two ways”


The first de­ci­sion I had to make was how to test the the­ory. In my mind, I could go one of two ways; the first is to se­lect a hand­ful of domed pel­lets from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers and shoot them back­wards and see which did the best; the sec­ond was to se­lect pel­lets of vary­ing head shapes, and shoot them both for­wards and back­wards to see which fared best in re­gard to the vari­a­tion in ac­cu­racy and de­posited en­ergy. As the first method was by far the eas­i­est op­tion, I de­cided to opt for the lat­ter. To my eye, there are four main types of pel­let; domed, wad­cut­ter, pointed and hol­low point, so if you haven’t al­ready guessed I’m go­ing to be test­ing one from each of these groups.

As with all test­ing, when look­ing for a set of com­par­a­tive re­sults, it’s im­por­tant to mit­i­gate as many vari­ables as pos­si­ble, so ap­pre­ci­at­ing that I have cho­sen pel­lets with differing head de­signs, the only way I could re­ally aim for some sort of par­ity in the rest of the test was to se­lect pel­lets with, as close as could be achieved, min­i­mal vari­ance in over­all pel­let weight. As al­ways, it was my good friend Tim, at Pel­let Per­fect, who came to my res­cue, with a se­lec­tion of .22s weigh­ing in as near as can be, around the 16gr mark. Even with Tim’s help, it was still hard to de­cide which pel­lets to choose, but in the end I opted for the fol­low­ing se­lec­tion.

DOMED PEL­LET: Air Arms Field Di­abolo

The AA Field is a clas­sic waisted, domed pel­let and one of the most pop­u­lar on the mar­ket to­day. The Di­abolo is 7.3mm long and weighs bang on the tar­get weight of 16gr.

WAD­CUT­TER: Power-Force Sport

Ser­bian Man­u­fac­tur­ers Power-Force were rel­a­tively un­heard of un­til a few years back, when they started to make a bit of a name for them­selves. I’ve cho­sen the 6.4mm-long Sport as the wad­cut­ter for this test for two main rea­sons; firstly, it’s a pretty de­cent pel­let in its own right, and se­condly, at 15.4gr., it’s the clos­est I had avail­able to the 16gr tar­get.


By all that is holy, I love this pel­let, and can’t wait to see how it per­forms when fired ‘Bot­tom first’ at the tar­get. Al­though it’s 10.3mm long, it ex­tremely con­ve­nient that it weighs bang on 16gr.


If you’ve been read­ing my ar­ti­cles, you’ll al­ready know that I’m a big fan of the Hades, but the ques­tion is, how well will the 15.89gr., 7mm long pel­let per­form when faced with the above com­pe­ti­tion?

“I also dis­cov­ered that it’s no easy task to get the pel­lets into the breech man­u­ally”



AA Field Di­abolo

Power-force Sport

JSB Poly­mag

JSB Hades


Con­ven­tional load group size 8.4mm 14.3mm 12.2mm 12.4mm

The clear win­ner here is the JSB Poly­mag; not only does it have the sec­ond-best group size when fired con­ven­tion­ally, but it also loses very

For this month’s bal­lis­tic test­ing, I’ve short­ened the range to about 10m be­cause that’s the dis­tance at which Terry pur­ported to have been dec­i­mat­ing rats back in the late 1800s. I will fire groups of five pel­lets both con­ven­tion­ally and then back­wards into tar­gets, and record the group size. I will then fire each of the pel­lets back­wards into blocks of ter­ra­cotta wax, tak­ing plas­ter moulds of the cav­i­ties. In this in­stance I won’t be un­der­tak­ing the usual chrono­graph tests on ev­ery pel­let, in­stead I will favour the good old ‘how big is the hole’ met­ric as de­lin­eated by Terry. I will un­der­take a chrono­graph test on the domed pel­let and which­ever other pel­let I think is wor­thy of fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, though. Wish me luck.

Tech­ni­cally, with the ex­cep­tion of the

Re­versed load group size 22mm 27.4mm 14.8mm 21.3mm

lit­tle when loaded and fired in re­verse, and comes out head and shoul­ders above the rest.

Poly­mag, all these pel­lets can fit into the mag­a­zine that comes with the Daystate Pul­sar I use for test­ing, but it’s not an easy job, and there’s a good chance of split­ting the rub­ber, and what­ever the cir­cum­stance, that’s never a wel­come out­come.

I also dis­cov­ered that it’s no easy task to get the pel­lets into the breech man­u­ally, so if this is a tech­nique you’re se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing for ver­min con­trol, you need to be aware that with a fum­bling reload time of some 30 sec­onds or so, fol­low-up shots are go­ing to be far from in­stant.


Hav­ing un­der­taken nearly five years of pel­let test­ing, I’m start­ing to get my head around which fac­tors in­flu­ence both ac­cu­racy and bal­lis­tic ef­fi­ciency. Be­ing asked to carry out a

set of tests in which the the­o­ries aren’t so much turned on their heads as pre­sented back to front has re­quired me to re­wire the old nog­gin some­what, and that’s even af­ter I’ve dealt with the num­ber of ‘does not com­pute’ sig­nals that my hands and eyes have sent my brain as I try to shove a pel­let in the wrong way round. In the­ory at least, the same prin­ci­ples should ap­ply, but might need to be looked at from a dif­fer­ent stand­point.


As all of these pel­lets are fired back­wards, they can all be con­sid­ered hol­low points, and so we need to look at skirt thick­ness and depth be­cause that will help us to un­der­stand the de­gree to which a pel­let ex­pands. Usu­ally, of course, the skirt is also the part of the pel­let that ex­pands slightly as the pel­let is fired, and in do­ing so es­tab­lishes a grip on the lands of the ri­fling, en­sur­ing a bet­ter or worse de­gree of ac­cu­racy. These pel­lets are be­ing fired back­wards, so the air from be­hind will not

The heads aren’t as im­por­tant as the tails this month.

This is no easy job.

How much of an ef­fect will the dif­fer­ent skirt de­signs have?

The Pul­sar can cope with just about any­thing.

Which pel­let is the most ac­cu­rate when fired back­wards?

Well they cer­tainly ex­pand when fired back­wards.

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