What’s The Best Airgun Pellet For Plinking And Target Shooting?
“What’s the best airgun pellet for plinking and target shooting?” This is a very common question among new airgunners. It’s also one that is well answered by this article that was originally generated by Airgun Depot.
The company graciously gave approval for it to be published in HAM in a slightly modified form. First we’ll cover target shooting and plinking. Part Two will focus on airgun hunting.
Thanks Airgun Depot!
What Pellet? Well It Depends…
Airgun pellets come in literally hundreds of different calibers, weights, sizes and shapes. With such a huge choice, it can be tough deciding out what is the best airgun pellet for your shooting needs.
In this mini-series we will look at which pellet are likely to be best for each particular kind of shooting.
Airgun pellets have many variables but most are of the diabolo design. Diabolo is the technical term indicating a pellet with a pinched waist. That’s a basic difference from airgun slugs. Slugs do not have a waist but are pretty-well straight-sided.
Below we see a comparison between a diabolo pellet (left) and a slug.
Most, if not all, diabolo pellets have a hollow skirt that produces drag on the pellet just like the skirt on a badminton birdie, or shuttlecock. This drag is what keeps the pellet from turning end over end, aiding in accuracy.
If you take a look at different types of diabolo pellets, you’ll find many variations in the skirt. There’s thick or thin, long or short. You’ll notice that the lead of some is harder than others, too.
These factors affect how well the skirt flares upon firing to engage the rifling and seal the air behind it as it travels down the barrel.
Let’s divide airgun shooters into three basic groups:
– Target shooters,
– Plinking/fun shooters
Each group has specific needs that will determine best airgun pellet they should use.
The leading pellet manufacturers such as JSB and H&N Sport offer multiple pellet designs for all these groups. With so many choices available, you are sure to find a pellet that will fit your needs for your intended shooting pastime.
Check out the great selection of airgun pellets at Airgun Depot and read the HAM test reviews for them too!
Most target shooting in formal competition is done at the distance of 10 meters. The airguns used for such shooting are very precise, phenomenally accurate, and extremely smooth shooting. They shoot wadcutter pellets because these cut a precise hole in the card stock that the target is made out of. This enables officials to score more accurately to determine the better shooter.
Below, RWS R10 Match Plus pellets are among the most consistent ever tested by HAM.
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RWS R10 Match Plus .177 Cal 8.2 Gr Pellets 500 Ct
Wadcutter pellets have a flat head, pinched waist, and are designed to be shot at lower velocities. The need for extreme accuracy is aided by a slower moving pellet, since projectiles that approach the speed of sound (around 1100 fps) tend to be adversely affected by the sonic wave they produce at that velocity.
Keeping the wadcutter moving at a more sedate 500-600 fps, or even slower, results in the extreme accuracy needed for formal competition.
But wadcutters can also be a good choice for the for the pest control shooter. This is because they deliver impressive knockdown power at shorter ranges due to the wide surface area of the pellet’s head.
Plinking for Fun
If you aren’t shooting for extreme accuracy, and simply want to bounce a plastic bottle or tin can around, your choice of pellet opens up quite a bit.
Pretty much any kind of pellet you have will work for close-range fun shooting, but if you want to stretch out the distance, using a round-nosed diabolo pellet will help you reach out a little further.
Wadcutters are the least aerodynamic pellet available, shedding velocity very quickly. At 10 meters that is of little concern, but for fun plinking at longer ranges, a good quality round-nosed pellet is hard to beat.
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JSB Exact Diabolo 8.44 Grain .177 Cal Pellets, 500 Ct
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H&N Field Target Trophy Pellets .177 Cal 500 Ct
So now we have an answer to the question “What’s the best airgun pellet for plinking and target shooting?” We’ll continue the second part of this mini-series by looking at the best airgun pellet for hunting.