How To

How To Choose an Airgun Pellet

Every airgun is unique. Here’s a guide on choosing a pellet for your airgun.

There are several different airgun pellet styles available to use with your airgun and each rifle is unique in that every one has an “ideal pellet” for accuracy and/or speed. Your desired result will dictate what kind of airgun pellet you’ll want to use.

Choosing An Airgun PelletAirgun pellet weight is important because it can affect velocity, trajectory, terminal performance and flight stability. Heavier lead pellets tend to be more stable in breezy conditions and retain their energy better over longer distances. Heavy pellets also hit the target with more force. Heavier isn’t always better, it is important to match the weight of the pellet to your airgun’s unique characteristics and your desired result.

If you’re desired result is accuracy, a convenient and inexpensive way to find which pellet is uniquely perfect for your airgun is to try several different pellet shapes. One product made specifically for this is an RWS Pellet Sampler. It contains five different premium pellets that are made to the strictest quality standards. There’s a good chance you’ll find one of these pellets to provide a very high level of accuracy.

If velocity is what you’re after, a non-lead, very lightweight “hyper velocity” or “alloy” will likely provide your air gun’s maximum speed.

For specific shooting activities, some shapes may be better than others. Read further to help you determine which air gun pellet will be best for your shooting objectives.

For fun shooting or informal practice, an inexpensive, “7 grain basic pellet” will do. However, choose a quality pellet, like RWS Diabolos, that will leave minimal lead residue in your airgun’s barrel.

For accurate practice and general plinking, a lightweight 7 grain rifled sport pellet will provide you with an inexpensive and accurate pellet. One such pellet is the RWS Hobby which is very economical to shoot, but still leaves minimal amounts of lead in your air gun’s barrel.

Choosing An Airgun Pellet2For an airgun hunting pellet, choose one with excellent knock down power and accuracy. A heavier rifled English bulldog design provides such performance. English bulldog pellets, such as the RWS Superdome, are great general use pellets as well. They have very aerodynamic heads and are good for shooting at longer distances. The shape causes these pellets to have more knockdown power at the target than other pellet shapes. Hollow point pellets are also good hunting pellets because they really expand on impact. Hollowpoints, like the Super-H-Point by RWS are popular for pest control, however, the hollow mouth can catch wind and cause the pellet to create open groups at longer distances.

If you’re looking for a pellet with penetrating power, a pointed pellet is what you’re looking for. A quality pellet that has a uniform cone can also enhance performance and accuracy of medium powered air guns. They have good penetration capabilities for pest control, but may not work as well as a Superdome pellet in a high-powered air rifle.

For accuracy at longer distances, consider a heavyweight wadcutter style pellet that’s perfectly balanced for accuracy. A pellet of this type, like the RWS Supermag, is ideal for modern ultra high power air rifles.

Extreme accuracy can be achieved with a match grade pellet. These professional wadcutter pellets are perfect for competition and training as well as accuracy and sighting in. The flat head design makes clean holes in paper targets. These pellets, like the RWS Meisterkugeln, can also be used for pest control, but they are not specifically designed for longer distances. They generally perform best at about 20 yards.

Airgun competition shooters desire the highest match accuracy possible. For this, a pellet that is consistent in size and weight from pellet-to-pellet is extremely important. RWS’s R 10 Match Pellets are optoelectronically verified and have a spotless surface finish. To ensure consistency, many air gun competitors desire R10 Match Plus pellets, which are packed in holders that do not allow the pellets to touch each other, thereby ensuring every pellet is flawless.

How to Pick Good Quality CO2

CO2 Quality is Critically Important for Your Airgun

CO2 cartridge cutaway - clean vs. dirty

CO2 cartridge cutaway – clean vs. dirty

CO2 quality is critically important for the health of your airgun. We see many air pistols and T4E (RAM) markers serviced at our gun benches that have inoperable / clogged valves or deteriorated o-rings and seals. More times than not, it’s evident that a lesser quality cylinder was regularly used in these airguns and markers. The performance life of your gun’s valve and seals depends heavily on the cleanliness of the CO2 you’re using as well as the type of seal the cylinder creates against your airgun’s o-ring. Dirty CO2 can also cause diminished velocities and equate to fewer shots per cylinder.

There are several brands of cartridges (or capsules) to choose from and without being able to see inside of each capsule, it is impossible to know which brand or brands offer the cleanest CO2 and are of the best quality. Cartridges also come from various manufacturers and countries, all of which have differing standards of quality control. Each capsule has to conform to size, weight and temperature threshold specifications, but there are no regulations governing the cleanliness of the CO2 or the cartridge, so it is hard to know which is the best without testing each and every one – you could go through several o-rings and destroy a valve or two before figuring out which is best.

CO2 cartridge cutaway - Umarex/Walther clean vs. dirty brand

CO2 cartridge cutaway – Umarex/Walther clean vs. dirty brand

CO2 Cartridges Opened and Examined – Disgusting?

Because of the number of “bad” seals and valves we were seeing, we cut open some Umarex/Walther CO2 capsules and some leading branded CO2 capsules. We were amazed at the difference.

One leading brand had extraordinary amounts of oil and grit lining the walls of the capsule. The Umarex/Walther CO2 capsule was absolutely clean. The color, texture, and smell of the grime in the leading brand cylinder was consistent with what we were seeing on our gunsmith bench and is what we determined to be the main cause of most of the “bad” o-rings and valves we were seeing in the airguns coming in for service.

What Causes Leaks?

Dirty valve caused by bad CO2

Dirty valve caused by bad CO2

Another issue we often have calls about is CO2 leaks. The most common leak is caused by a cartridge’s tip making a bad seal against an o-ring. Cartridges are filled with liquid CO2 and then capped. There are at least three different styles of caps and one may work better than another in your airgun. Take a close look at the valve where your cartridge fits into the airgun. If the cartridge simply presses against a seal, most of the time any of the three will work. If your cartridge slides through an O-ring, you could experience leaks if you use the wrong kind of cylinder. Take a look at the three cartridges in the picture. The cylinder on the left is crimped on. The one in the middle has a pressed on top that leaves a groove around the neck and the one on the right has a smooth neck. If your airgun has a slide-through o-ring, the style on the right is the only style of these three you should use. Umarex/Walther CO2 cylinders are produced in this fashion and are the only kind we use in our airgun testing facility.

CO2 variations on neck seal

CO2 variations on neck seal

You will also notice in the picture that the dimensions of the neck and shoulder of the capsules vary. We see many instances where leading brand capsules (the first and second capsules from left) will not fit properly into an air pistol and then will not pierce correctly due to incorrect dimensions. Do not apply excessive force or use pliers to get these ill-shaped capsules in your airgun. Doing so could damage the gun’s frame and/or puncture assembly.

One final tip to consider, and the easiest to do – always put a drop of RWS Chamber Lube or other airgun valve oil on the tip of each CO2 capsule before installing it. Doing this will extend the life of your valves and o-rings and can prevent leaks. This one simple tip alone could save you a service call.

Used our tested and proven clean cartridges with the good type of O-ring to extend the life of your airgun: