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A Guide to Air Rifle Pellets

Air Rifle Pellets: A Beginner’s Guide

When you are purchasing a pellet gun for the first time, there are few things more important to accompany the gun than the ammunition.

When looking at the shelves, you will see plenty of numbers, metals, and name brands. What may be the best choice for one weapon, may not complement another quite as well. Knowing what makes one option more suited for your task and gun of choice is the first step to enjoying your new purchase.

.177 Caliber Pellets

The .177 caliber is the most commonly seen caliber in pellet guns, both in handgun and rifle varieties. This caliber is the size required for competition shooting in all standard classes by major organizations. This size is the caliber of choice because it is easier to learn on due to its relatively low drop rate.

One issue with the .177 caliber is that because it is small, it is very light, in general. This light weight can cause some accuracy issues in the lighter pellets due to environmental factors such as wind or rain, particularly in the guns with a higher FPS. To counter the light weight accuracy issue, a heavier pellet can be purchased which will slow the bullet slightly which provides more resistance to weather interference, hit harder, and still maintain the accuracy the .177 is known for. Another thing is that as the .177 caliber gun is the most popular, pellets are always readily available in a variety of weights and shapes wherever pellet gun ammunition is sold.

.22 Caliber Pellets

The .22 caliber is a common size among hunters, farmers and occasionally casual target shooting. While not accepted by international shooting organizations for target shooting, the .22 is accurate enough for casual shooting. The field is where this caliber excels. Due to the light weight, speed and accuracy of the pellets, this caliber is often the size of choice for dispatching birds and small animals such as groundhogs, rats, and other vermin. This is the type of pellet you would use with the Benjamin Discovery.

The .22 is favored over the .177 for these tasks as, while they are slower, they hit significantly harder than the .177 and their larger size makes it more likely to drop small animals where they stand as opposed to the .177 where pellets passing through their quarry are fairly common occurrences.

Other Calibers Pellets

The .20 caliber is historically the founding father of pellet gun calibers. While between the .177 and the .22 caliber, they meet neither the speed nor accuracy of the .177, nor the weight and power of the .22. While this may seem like it could have the best of both worlds, it masters neither making it less favorable than either the .177 or the .22.

The .25 caliber is the largest commonly seen calibers. Commonly seen only in rifles, the .25 caliber is generally slower than the .22, and this makes long-distance shooting significantly less accurate and less powerful. This is one case where size truly does matter, and there are few reasons to look at the .25 or larger range.

Weight

The weight of a pellet is incredibly important as it will affect both the accuracy, drop and speed of the shot. Most guns will have a suggested weight listed and, if not, the staff selling the gun or local shooting club will have suggestions on the best pellet for your choice of gun.

It is also important to consider how the gun is powered, whether by spring or gas. While the gas powered guns can handle a heavier pellet with ease, the same caliber of gun that is spring powered would potentially be damaged by the same pellet.

Shape

It is important to consider what tasks you are looking to accomplish when you are purchasing pellets for your gun. While a pellet that is designed for target shooting may be able to dispatch pests, it will not function as effectively as a pellet designed for that task.

Domed

Domed Pellet

The domed pellet, also known as a round pellet, are incredibly versatile. These pellets are incredibly accurate, even at a long distance due to their aerodynamic properties. They can be used for hunting and target shooting alike and are often the most cost-effective option for ammunition.

Hollowpoint

Hollowpoint Pellet

Hollowpoint pellets are designed to create the most damage with minimal effort making them popular with hunters as they expand when they come into contact with their target. This makes for a very quick and humane death for any quarry that ends up in this pellet’s path. While they are excellent when they hit their target, the wide base of the pellet affects their aerodynamic properties, and environmental factors can and will affect the accuracy.

Pointed

Pointed Pellet

Pointed pellets are ideal for general shooting with the lower powered guns as they offer the least amount of resistance. The head is incredibly sharp and for this reason many hunters prefer these pellets although incidences of pellets passing through their prey, particularly in the .177 caliber range, are fairly common allowing the animal to survive and escape only to die a slow and painful death days or weeks later.

Wadcutter

Wadcutter Pellet

Wadcutter pellets are very accurate and commonly used in target shooting competitions. Their overall design allows for a high velocity and very stable trajectory, particularly over 10 meters. For dispatching small prey at a close distance, these pellets can be as effective as a hollowpoint at humanely dispatching the vermin.

As these are one of the most common pellets on the market, they are often an economical option and are often the first pellets that are recommended to new gun owners.

Conclusion

Often the size, type and weight of pellet will be in a state of flux for the first period of owning a gun until you find the correct fit for your gun, the task required and your own personal preference. It is important to remember that there is a learning curve with every pellet change and accuracy and consistency increase over time with experience.

Dave

Hi! I'm Dave - an air rifle enthusiast and a bit of a geek to be honest. When I'm not out at the range or on a hunting trip, I enjoy writing about different air rifle products and accessories.