Pellets or Slugs? HAM Shoots Them Both In The Huben K1
Should I shoot pellets or slugs? That’s a question being asked by many owners of high power PCP air rifles right now. So we ran some tests using a Huben K1.
The Huben is a powerful semi-automatic PCP air rifle which works well as a slug gun. The US importers – Airguns of Arizona – shipped a sample gun to HAM for testing, along with two types of their recommended ammunition.
The pellets were the 25.39 Grain JSB Exact Jumbo Monster pellets. The “redesigned” version to be precise. The slugs were 36 Grain ammo by Nielsen Specialty Ammo.
For our experiments, we used Labradar to record the velocities achieved at 10-Yard intervals from the muzzle out to 50 yards. This enabled us to calculate the Ballistic Coefficients of the two types of projectile. We also shot targets for each type of ammunition at 25 Yards.
All test firing was was conducted on the same day on the same range in consistent weather conditions. We took average velocities from strings of 10-shots in both cases. Both pellets and slugs were fired un-sorted and un-selected, straight from the tin.
So what worked better, pellets or slugs? Well, here’s what we found…
Pellets or Slugs? – 1. Velocity Differences
First things first! As the Nielsen slugs were 10.1 Grains heavier than the JSB pellets, we naturally expected the Muzzle Velocity to be lower. It was.
The chart below shows the pellet Muzzle Velocity averaged 952 FPS, compared to 904 FPS for the heavier slugs. It also shows how the pellet velocity dropped faster than that for the slugs. In these charts, the red data is for pellets, green for slugs.
This meant that at 40 Yards range, the velocity of both slugs and pellets was the same. (The lines cross). Beyond that, the slugs were traveling faster, even though the Muzzle Velocity was considerably less.
Pellets or Slugs? – 2. Downrange Energy
Knowing the velocities and projectile weights, it was possible to calculate their kinetic energy. The results are shown in the chart below.
As we see, even at 50 Yards, the slugs retained more kinetic energy (53.37 Ft/Lbs) than the Muzzle Energy achieved with the pellets (51.09 Ft/Lbs).
So clearly the slugs deliver more knockdown energy at any range. This makes them superior for a humane one-shot kill when hunting.
Pellets or Slugs? – 3. Ballistic Coefficient
Of course, the differences in downrange velocities and retained energies are due to dramatically-different Ballistic Coeffficients between the two projectiles.
The BC we measured for the 25.39 Grain JSB Exact Jumbo Monster pellets was 0.040. This compared very closely with the BC of 0.039 we achieved previously when testing with an FX Impact.
Plugging the BS and pellet weight into the Chairgun ballistic software package gave the following result. That’s a difference of around 13-inches in the Point Of Impact at 100 Yards.
Note that the numbers calculated by Chairgun are very similar to those achieved in HAM’s practical testing. But they are NOT exactly the same.
This is not surprising as we used the specified pellet weight – 25.39 Grains – for the Chairgun calculations. As is consistently found in HAM’s comprehensive pellet test reviews, ACTUAL individual pellet weights will often vary from the manufacturer’s specs.
This is, in fact, the case with the 25.39 Grain JSB Exact Jumbo Monster pellets we tested last year.
The BC for the 36 Grain Nielsen slugs measured 0.065. This was significantly different to that of the pellets. However, Chairgun calculates the POI difference at 100 Yards to be very similar – around 13-Inches. That will likely be a surprise to many of us!
But we need to remember that the slugs are much heavier than the pellets and left the gun at a significantly lower Muzzle Velocity. That’s why the POI difference calculations are so similar, in spite of the radically different BCs.
Note also that I chose to use the RA4 profile for drag calculation in Chairgun for the slugs – compared to the GA profile for the pellets. This was because I felt the different profiles matched the different physical characteristics of the two types of projectile.
Incidentally, the BC of 0.065 calculated for the Nielsen slugs in this test is very different from the BC of .120 specified by Nielsen for their special “Huben slugs” in .22 caliber. There must be two different products here!
Pellets or Slugs? – 4. Accuracy
The accuracy test was fired at 25 Yards using 10-shot strings. Why not further? Well, increasing distances magnify the effect of environmental conditions (the wind was gusty) and shooter capability (that would be me).
At 25 Yards, both these variables were contributing fairly minimal differences to the test, they would make more difference at longer range. So, 25 Yards it was.
As we can see from the two test targets, the Huben gave better accuracy on test at 25 Yards. I’m not counting that flier on the slugs target. It was – of course – the final shot of the day and I know it was my fault even before the slug had left the barrel.
Don’t you just hate it when that happens???
Pellets or Slugs? – 5. Conclusions
So what did we find from this test?
The Huben shot slugs more accurately than pellets at 25 Yards using the ammo we tested. Slugs also retain more kinetic energy downrange and therefore are definitely preferable for hunting.
But at long range – say 100 Yards – there’s less difference than might be expected in the Point Of Impact, with both slugs and pellets showing a similar drop at that distance.