POWER TO PER­FORM?

Can we make bet­ter use of our FAC gun’s power? – the ed­i­tor asks

Air Gunner - - CONTENTS -

Hol­low points or round heads for high­power ac­cu­racy? The ed­i­tor de­bates the ques­tion

Many of our read­ers have gone down the high- power ( FAC) route with their hunt­ing air­guns, and I count my­self in that num­ber. When I bought my first 30 ft.lbs., .22 cal­i­bre, precharged pneu­matic, I set about find­ing the most ac­cu­rate pel­let for it and set­tled with the 16 grain Air Arms Di­ablo Field that I’ve used ever since. Not only was it the most ac­cu­rate, but it also has one of the high­est bal­lis­tic co­ef­fi­cients avail­able, so it re­tains its ve­loc­ity very well in flight. This means the flat­test tra­jec­tory, the least wind de­flec­tion, and the high­est strik­ing en­ergy. How­ever, I’ve al­ways won­dered if we could im­prove ter­mi­nal per­for­mance by us­ing a hol­low- point pel­let. At 12 ft.lbs. they sel­dom work any bet­ter than a wad­cut­ter be­cause there isn’t enough en­ergy on con­tact with our quarry to de­form the lead and cause the pel­let to ex­pand. With close to three times the en­ergy on of­fer, I won­dered if we could see proper ex­pan­sion in field con­di­tions.

UP TO THE JOB

As we all know, only ac­cu­rate shots kill cleanly, so my first job was to dig into my col­lec­tion and see what .22 hol­low- point pel­lets I could find to test for ac­cu­racy. I had seven dif­fer­ent types with some weird and won­der­ful de­signs in the mix. Ex­pe­ri­ence tells me that sim­ple pel­lets work best, but hey, you have to try them all or you’d never know! In past test­ing I’ve seen that at 12 ft.lbs., ac­cu­racy is sel­dom as good as a round head and falls off rad­i­cally be­yond 25 yards. Fur­ther, hol­low points have some of the low­est bal­lis­tic co­ef­fi­cients you’ll find, so a flat tra­jec­tory isn’t all that likely.

Job one was to clean the bar­rel

and then shoot sev­eral three- shot groups at 30 yards with each type, to elim­i­nate any shock­ers. This usu­ally points to­ward a few likely can­di­dates, af­ter which I’ll clean the bar­rel again and shoot more groups and do more clean­ing, un­til a win­ner be­comes clear. For me to con­sider a pel­let to be suit­able for hunt­ing, it needs to place three shots in a group I could cover with a pound coin (1”) at the dis­tance at which I want to hunt. With my high- power ri­fle, that would be at a max­i­mum of 50 yards, which is a stern test of any air­gun/pel­let com­bi­na­tion in re­al­world con­di­tions, but the Air Arms Field Di­ablo is up to the job.

COM­PLETE CON­FI­DENCE

When try­ing some of the highly un­usual de­signs like the Poly­mag Preda­tor and H& N Hor­net you need to be aware that they can be too long to be used in a mag­a­zine. If you pre­fer a sin­gle- shot tray it’s not an is­sue, but the stan­dard length Preda­tor won’t fit into my Daystate mag­a­zines, nor will the Hor­net. Poly­mag has un­der­stood this is­sue and now of­fers a short­ened ver­sion for just that rea­son.

I have a the­ory that you can­not fire air­gun pel­lets much faster then 900fps and still get good ac­cu­racy, so the weight of the pel­lets would be a fac­tor. The RWS Su­per- H- Point at 14.2 grains looked like they would be too fast, and the chrono­graph backed that up show­ing an av­er­age of 932fps. The BSA In­ter­cep­tor at 15.43 grains looked mar­ginal as well, but at just 907fps I felt the ve­loc­ity would be okay. The rest of the pel­lets were be­tween 16 and 19 grains which looked ideal.

For the test, I used the Daystate’s sin­gle-shot tray to elim­i­nate any mag­a­zine-type com­pli­ca­tions. I was de­lighted to see that a good num­ber of the pel­lets could de­liver the re­quired ac­cu­racy re­quired at 30 yards and I’d have com­plete con­fi­dence us­ing them at that dis­tance. I felt that they were re­spond­ing to the ex­tra power, which made me won­der if that’s what they’d been de­signed for from the start.

KING OF THE HILL

How­ever, when the tar­get card was moved to 50 yards, ev­ery­thing changed. I sys­tem­at­i­cally tried each of the pel­lets in turn and none could match my go-to pel­let, the Air Arms Di­ablo Field for pure ac­cu­racy, and I’d never take a shot when I wasn’t com­pletely con­fi­dent. It seemed that the ex­tra dis­tance was just too much for their un­usual profiles, and groups from 1½ to 2½” showed that I’d taken these pel­lets too far for them to de­liver the nec­es­sary per­for­mance.

I’m al­ways left with mixed feel­ings af­ter a test like this. I love the op­ti­mism of hop­ing to dis­cover some­thing new, and de­flated to have ar­rived at the same an­swer yet again. The bor­ing truth is that I’ve never been able to beat the per­for­mance of a well- made round head when it comes to de­liv­er­ing con­sis­tent ac­cu­racy. Sure, the hol­low points would do a bet­ter job on con­tact with our quarry, but only ac­cu­rate shots kill cleanly, so un­less some­thing changes, round heads re­main the king of the hill for hunters like me.

“I’ve al­ways won­dered if we could im­prove ter­mi­nal per­for­mance by us­ing a hol­low-point pel­let”

BELOW: To get mean­ing­ful re­sults I needed a steady shoot­ing po­si­tion

BELOW: Could any of the hol­low- points match the round head for ac­cu­racy at 50 yards?

ABOVE: There are some novel de­signs around but they proved no more ac­cu­rate then con­ven­tional hol­low­points

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