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Airgun Pellet Weight Consistency. What Should We Expect?

With more and more airgunners shooting at ever longer ranges, airgun pellet weight consistency becomes increasingly important. But what should we expect as consumers from the pellets we shoot?

Dedicated Field Target and Benchrest competitors have long sorted their pellets. So there’s some experience that sorting by weight – and by head size, too – maximizes downrange accuracy.

Over the years, Hard Air Magazine has published no less than 38 comprehensive pellet test reviews. This forms an un-paralleled amount of information about airgun pellet weight consistency across a wide range of manufacturers.

By analyzing all that data, we can make some assessment for what we should expect from the pellet manufacturers’ products.

First, let’s give the manufacturers some congratulations!

Given that they’re mass-manufacturing and selling pellets for just a few cents each, the quality is really amazing. It’s clear to any enthusiast that the overall quality and consistency of our pellets has improved greatly over the years. Just dig out a 20-year old tin of pellets and take a look at them, if you need a reminder of that.

Of course, pellet weight is just one aspect of consistency. But it’s an important one. Let’s see what we can expect….


Overall Pellet Weight Consistency Results.

From the HAM data we can establish that:

  • On average, pellets work-out to be slightly heavier than the manufacturers’ claimed weights. In fact, pellet weights average 0.39% heavier than the weight marked on the tin.
  • The lightest pellet in a tin is – on average – just over 3% lighter than the heaviest in the same tin. Actually, there’s a 3.28% difference according to the HAM test data.

But there are some interesting differences between the calibers, as we’ll see below…


Variation Between Claimed And Actual Weights.

This chart below shows how very few tins of pellets actually have an average weight precisely the same as the specification printed on the tin. In fact – out of those 38 different pellets tested to date by HAM – only five tins had an actual average weight per pellet that was within 0.1% of the claimed weight.

Airgun Pellet Weight Consistency. What Should We Expect?

Four of these were manufactured by one company: JSB. Congratulations to the Czech company!

ManufacturerPellet TypeCaliberClaimed WeightActual Average Weight Difference
JSBExact King0.2525.39 Grains0.08% heavier
JSBHades0.2526.54 GrainsSame
JSBExact Jumbo Heavy0.2218.13 GrainsSame
Beeman (Actually Manufactued by H&N)Kodiak0.2221.14 Grains0.01% lighter
JSBKing Heavy Mk II0.2533.95 Grains0.02% lighter

Now let’s separate the pellets by caliber. This next chart shows how the .177 caliber pellets tested by HAM had an average weight that was 0.57% greater than the specs on the tin.

Airgun Pellet Weight Consistency. What Should We Expect?

But the data is distorted by one test: that of the RWS Hobbys. These were so far away from the average that – if we take them out of the analysis – we see that the average difference between the manufacturer’s claim and the average weight per pellet in a tin is 0.31%.

In .22 caliber, the average pellet weighed 0.23% more than the manufacturer claimed.

The .25 caliber pellets tested were really close to the manufacturer’s specs. But all three came from one factory. Yes, you’ve guessed it: JSB!


Variation Between Lightest And Heaviest Pellets In A Tin.

We’ve already said that – on average – the lightest pellet in a tin weighs around 3.28% less than the heaviest. Now let’s look at how that translates by caliber.

Airgun Pellet Weight Consistency. What Should We Expect?

In .177 caliber, the average difference between lightest and heaviest pellets in a tin is 2.48%. That is is we leave out the massive “flier” caused by the data from RWS Hobbies – a 16.44% variation in the tin tested by HAM.

RWS can produce pellets with outstanding consistency – like the R10 Match, for example. But that consistency did not manifest itself in the Hobbys we tested. It’s extremely rare that Hobbys are accurate in HAM air rifle and pistol tests.

Hmmm. That’s probably not a co-incidence!

In .22 caliber, we see a difference of 3.15% between the lightest and heaviest pellets in a tin.

The average for .25 caliber is 2.84%.


Conclusions.

All-in-all, this analysis demonstrates remarkable airgun pellet weight consistency from our manufacturers. Thanks to all of them for producing such high quality products costing just a few cents each.

For pellet-by-pellet detail, check out the individual HAM pellet test reviews. And don’t forget to thank HAM Tester Doug Wall. He painstakingly weighs every single pellet using HAM’s laboratory-grade milligram balance and records the results. That’s 3,800 pellets to date and he’s still going strong…

Thanks Doug!!!