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Pellet Head Shapes

Start with Pellet Quality

Airgun ammunition is perhaps the most critical component in the shooting equation and is as important as one's airgun selection.

Shooting poor quality pellets in a high quality airgun can lead to poor results - they will literally degrade the performance of most airguns. On the other hand, high quality pellets can make any airgun shoot better to one degree or another. Even mediocre quality guns can perform better when using quality pellets.

Although it is very tempting to purchase pellets at a bargain basement price, the end result will likely be very disappointing to the shooter. It makes little sense to purchase an expensive high quality airgun and then load it with cheap, poor quality pellets. There are a number of manufacturers of high quality pellets and all of them should be tried to determine which pellet your gun shoots best.

Selecting The Best Pellet for your Gun's Barrel:

An interesting phenomenon with airguns is that each individual gun can be quite pellet sensitive. The reason for this is that barrels vary slightly from one to another because they are built within tolerances and that means that the can vary slightly from one barrel to another. By definition, this means that it is quite common for one gun's barrel to shoot one pellet well while another gun of the same model prefers a different pellet. This leads to a need for experimentation on the part of the shooter to determine which pellets perform the best in their gun. And to further that, just as with firearm cartridges, there are different pellets for different needs. You may find that you prefer one pellet for target shooting, another for small game hunting, and even a third for informal "plinking." Each pellet will have different flight characteristics, so experimentation, testing, and plenty of shooting is necessary for the best performance from your airgun!

Different Head Designs:

Most pellets types today are known as "Diablo" pellets. Basically that means that they have a "wasp-waist" rather than being barrel shaped like many were years ago. Beeman tells us that this hourglass design was actually named after a spool shaped object used in the ancient game of Diablo. The skirt of the Diablo pellet grabs the rifling, sealing the air, which yields the best and highest efficiency while the wasp waist means there is less resistance than the older barrel shape. 
But the biggest difference in pellets comes in the head design. Pellets types are generally named according to their head shape and that shape has a major effect on performance.

 Four Basic Pellet Types:

1. Wadcutter

Wadcutters are  pellets with a flat head that are designed to make a clean round hole in a paper target to aid scoring. For the target shooter, wadcutter pellets are a preferred choice, especially when shooting at closer distances such as 10 or 20 yards. Wadcutters can also be a good choice for hunting and pest control situations because of their excellent impact and limited penetration. All the major pellet manufacturers make one or more pellets of this style. However, they are best used for short distance shooting...10 or 20 yards. Groups will tend to open up at longer distances due to the flat head bucking the wind.

2. Pointed

Pointed pellets are designed for maximum penetration in light and medium powered airguns. The best selling models come from RWS, Beeman, H&N and JSB. Due to the head design, pointed pellets often do not work well in the higher powered airguns. However, for shooters using .25 caliber spring or gas ram guns, be sure to give pointed pellets a try. Because of the lower velocities in .25 caliber, it is not uncommon for pointed pellets to group very well.

3. Round Nose

Round headed (domed) pellets are great for all-around shooting because of their aerodynamic properties. They buck the wind better resulting in tighter groups. Oddly enough, due to their rounded shape, they yield a higher ballistic coefficient (knockdown power) and make great hunting pellets. These are the best choice for high powered air rifles due to their aerodynamic shape and hard-hitting energy. They generally group better at longer distances too.

4. Hollow Point

Hollow Points allow for the maximum impact from all airguns. This head style allows for expansion when hitting a target although sufficient velocity is required to make that happen. That generally occurs with medium to higher powered airguns making them a good choice for close distance hunting or pest control with a higher powered airgun.  The downside to hollowpoint pellets however,  is that due to their hollow point nose, they do not generally group well at longer distances. That hollow pointed nose grabs the wind as it flies allowing it to be moved off course. They are best used at distances of 20 yards and under.

Kevin Gilbride - Straight Shooters Precision Airguns, Inc.