Gary Wain turns his pellet-testing attention to a select group of .177s
Gary Wain chooses four of the most popular .177 pellets to test
Acouple of months ago I looked at a variety of .177 pellets, which, although having differing head designs, all came in at around 8.6gr, give or take. I chose this weight because it represents the average weight of pellets in the .177 class. I tested them at about 20m for both their ballistic characteristics as well as their accuracy, and the wadcutter came out on top in regard to ballistic damage at the shorter range; the Bisleys were not far behind, a fraction ahead of the Diabolos, and the Hornets brought up the rear. At this short range, there was little to split the pellets for accuracy – any one of them is a viable choice for a head shot at 20m, or so. However, this test didn’t offer any data on how the pellets would perform at increased distances, so this month I’ve increased the distance to a good 40m. The pellets I’m using this month are; the very popular 8.4gr Air Arms Diabolo Field, Bisley Superfields, the H&N Hornet and JSB Premium Exacts.
On the face of it, the Superfield 8.5gr pellet looks like a domed pellet, but peer a little closer and you’ll see that it has a small indentation in the front of the dome, along with a pronounced lip as the dome tapers to the skirt. In previous testing, this pellet performed reasonably well, and certainly at 20m it came in not far behind the wadcutters. The metal, pointy-tipped H&N Hornet tended to overpenetrate the ballistic material and leave a fairly inconsequential ballistic core, and the JSB Premium Exact wadcutter pellets, that weigh in at an ‘exact’ 8.26gr produced the largest cavities at 20m, but how would they all deport themselves at this months increased distance?
As usual, I entered into this round trying not to have too many preconceived ideas about how the pellets would perform. That said, we’re all human, and I expected the Air Arms Diablos to be accurate and produce a reasonable cavity; the Hornets to be quite accurate, but produce a narrow cavity; the Bisleys to be widely inaccurate owing to their hollow point configuration, but if I could get them to hit the clay they’d give me a better result than the AA or the Hornets – and the wadcutter JSB Premium Exacts to leave a devastating cavity, but be quite inaccurate at the greater distance.
As before, I’m using a 40mm-thick block of terracotta wax heated to 20ºC. The wax would be mounted between a set of R2a chronographs, kindly loaned to me by Blackpool Air Rifles. The first chronograph measures the velocity and energy of the pellet as it arrived at the target material, and the second unit records the velocity and energy of the pellet after it had passed through the clay. By subtracting the second set of figures from the first I would be able to calculate both the amount of velocity and energy lost within the target. Strange as it might seem, what we’re actually looking for is the pellet that loses more velocity and more energy, because by this variant we can determine that these factors have been surrendered to the clay, or if you’re out hunting, the intended quarry.
The second factor is the accuracy of the pellets at the increased range. To ascertain this, I’d be firing five pellets from each of the
All about the same weight, but which one is best?
I might only be shooting targets, but it’s best to be warm.