Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pick a pellet

.177 / .20 / .22

Caliber selection is about as personal of a choice as pizza toppings. Everyone has a favorite and an opinion. I can’t say that I can offer much more on the subject other than to share what I like on my pizza and in my barrel.

Buy quality

.177 Pellets

Conventional wisdom picks this for paper only; I would have to disagree because in low to medium powered rifles, the larger .22 will lack the needed penetration in prey. In fact, Dr. Beeman advised strongly in the 1970’s that .177 was the only viable choice for hunting due to the lower power of the day. So .177 can get the job done in these rifles, just never forget pellets need exact placement like the arrow from a bow.

Top pick for pistols, CO2, and Springer’s under 12 foot pounds and the only choice for most target rifles. .177 is very economical due to more pellets per tin, and lots of variety. However, like a pretty girl, they can be hard to pick up and even harder to hold on to. Flatter trajectory in modest powered guns means a better chance of hitting what you aim at.

The famous queen bee??

.20 Pellets

Now this is the most fickle of the choices. I’ll be the first to admit I thought this was just a marketing ploy by the good Dr. Beeman. Then I finally picked up an R-7 in .20 caliber and I love it. Flatter shooting than the .22 and a better smack than the .177, who knew?

Excellent in the middle range Springers, really is the best of both worlds. Not as many choices, and forget about getting .20 cal at Wal Mart. Close to the .22 in size, so easy to load. The only thing that works in your Sheridan Silver Streak.


.22 pellets

Once up to adequate velocity, this is the most common hunter. Abundant selections and good availability, it is hard to argue with the versatility of the enduring .22

While most Springer’s favor a middle weight pellet for the best usable energy, PCP’s tend to thrive on heavy weights in this category. As a basic rule of thumb, a PCP that makes 21 ft lbs in .177 will make 30 ft lbs plus in .22

Best in a PCP’s and higher powered springers.

spice of life


Not really worth the expense and limited selection in mid powered rifles like the BSA Lighting which favors sub 20 grain pellets, (that is .22 cal territory, why bother?) it is best in the now defunct Patriot \ Kodiak. While the Patriot was not an all day plinker, mine was an amazing hunter offering close to .22 short rimfire power.

Unsurpassed in the highest power PCP’s or Springer’s. A must try in the Marauder if you need the energy for bigger varmints.

At the end of the day, shoot what tastes best to you…


  1. Volvo

    Pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives.

    I really liked the small pellet/pretty lady analogy. And in a huge effort to keep it classy, you didn't even make a joke about 'looking up the skirt'. Your self discipline outpaces my own.

    If I had to rely on local sources for pellets, I don't think I would be into airgunning for very long. Using quality pellets, and trying as many different types as you can, makes all the difference (and keeps it interesting.) You would also have to be crazy not to admire a sizable vintage pellet tin collection.

    Nice touch, linking the various calibers to pages to buy each.

  2. Volvo,

    Very relevant.

    I've never owned a .25 caliber airgun. I'm watching the reports closely on the new .25 cal marauder though.

    Never ceases to amaze me that people will pay good money for an airgun then become tightwads when it comes to buying ammo.

    Having a wide variety of pellets is a good reason for me to constantly shoot. Always looking for that best pellet. I tell the wife that I'm off to complete my pellet testing.

    Don't see any JSB RS pellets in your collection. I really like these pellets in my .177 mid power springers (590fps-670fps).


  3. Volvo,
    Except for some .22 pumpers as a kid, I've only used .177, but I think its safe to say you are right about them being better in modestly powered rifles. Based on my informal tests with heavy .177's, velocity is a critical factor below a certain power level. For a PCP, .22 should be the default choice for hunting, I would think.

    The .25 caliber looks interesting to me, but only because I think it has potential to take air rifles to an entirely different level as far as (relatively) long range shooting. Pellet design, limited selection and price are definitely downsides from what I've seen.

  4. S.L.,

    Same here. I call it the opium pizza (OPM - Olives, Pepperoni, Mushrooms).


    Great topic... did you coordinate with Tom before deciding on pellets for today? I'll bet you guys are wearing matching outfits, too, huh? :D

    - Orin

  5. Orin,S.L.,
    You guys are sick -- black olives with pepperoni and mushrooms? Anchovy and onion, and drink black coffee with it:).

  6. Slinging,
    If you’re looking for some old pellets let me know.
    Those JSB’s are the same as the Falcon’s in the photo.
    Bg Farmer,
    I hope you are not serious on those pizza toppings!
    No B.B. and I are not coordinating the blog. In fact, I am not permitted to post a link on his site.
    However if you guys wouldn’t mind spreading the word, I would certainly appreciate it.

  7. Volvo,
    Serious as a heart attack, but I also like plain pepperoni, and since my wife and kid also have to eat the pizza, that's what I end up getting:).

  8. Seriously? You can't post your link (again)?

    Does that mean I can't post a link either and I have to come up with some vague and cryptic method of giving you a public shout-out? Or is it just you who is restricted?

    - Orin

  9. Volvo,
    That's shocking. It's not as if you're selling anything to complete with PA.
    Or are you?? :-))

  10. Make that "compete", not "complete"! :)