<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to one of our Airgun titles today click here

Gary Wain investigates: the importance of picking the perfect pellets

PUBLISHED: 15:50 04 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:50 04 January 2017

Four rifles and more than 40 kinds of pellet

Four rifles and more than 40 kinds of pellet


Is it worth taking the time to pick the right brand of pellets for your rifle, or does it not make much difference? Pellet-obsessed Gary is on the case

The good, the bad and the downright ugly The good, the bad and the downright ugly

Recently, I’ve been more than a little obsessed with pellets. I’ve looked at how damage affects flight then, after a bout of guilt brought on by maiming innocent members of the pellet community, I considered how pampering them can improve performance.

Damaged pellets don’t have as much effect as you might think. Pellet preparation also has a negligible, but nonetheless measurable, impact on consistent accuracy. So what can we do to improve our chances of reliably hitting what we’re aiming for?

Perhaps the single most important factor in the accuracy of the gun is your choice of pellets. We’ve all heard people talk about how their gun is ‘pellet picky’. Time, plus trial and error, will often reveal that a rifle prefers a specific type of pellet within an identified brand, or even a specific size within that type.

Three possible scenarios, but which will it be? Three possible scenarios, but which will it be?

This time, I’ll be guiding you through the process of pellet selection and looking at what difference it makes.

While trying to keep an open mind, we’re looking at one of a few sets of possible results. Scenario one: we find the guns actually aren’t that picky and all brands of pellet shoot equally well. Scenario two: we find the choice of pellet brand, type and size makes a massive difference and that rifles perform measurably better with just one pellet. Scenario three: a sort of middle ground. So which will we get? Only one way to find out. Time to get testing.

The awesome foursome The awesome foursome

I used four rifles – my new Daystate Pulsar in .177, an Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter in .177, an Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter in .22, and my wife’s BSA Ultra Se in .22. I was particularly keen to see whether or not my new state-of-the-art Daystate would be picky about its pellets, and see whether the two Air Arms rifles preferred the same type of pellet.

As always, I’ve tried to remove as many external influences as possible. For the pellets, I used a few sample testing packs from Trev Horner, over at South Yorkshire Shooting Centre, combined with a few tins that shooters seem to amass over the years. The reason for using pellet sample packs is simply one of economics. Buying full tins of pellets only to find your gun doesn’t get on with them is quite an expensive way to get a result. Pellet selection packs offer the chance to test a brand without having to fork out for a full tin.

As you most likely know, there are many types of packs available from many distributers, and some even allow you to build your own. If you do go this route, I’d recommend you pick a pack that allows for a minimum of 20 pellets. I’d also recommend opting for domed pellets because although hollow points and spire-point pellets have their uses out in the field, they simply aren’t accurate enough at longer ranges.

The Daystate Pulsar was the least picky The Daystate Pulsar was the least picky

So, on a nice, still summer’s day, I headed out armed to the teeth with four air rifles and more than 40 brands of pellets. I decided to push the accuracy envelope as far as I could, so rather than testing at 25 or 45 metres, I went all the way out to 55. Tiny differences between the pellets would become amplified with increased range.

To mitigate as many variables as possible, I refilled the rifles with air after every 20 shots to rule out declining air pressure as an effect on accuracy.

Marianne with her well-loved BSA Ultra Se Marianne with her well-loved BSA Ultra Se

Before we get to the results, I want to make it clear that just because a certain rifle does not perform well with a certain brand of pellets, it does not mean those pellets aren’t any good. It simply means they are not suited to that rifle.

So, let’s look at .177 first, starting with the Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter. As might be expected, it was more accurate with Air Arms’ own pellets, but performed better with the Diabolo Field in 4.52 than 4.51. The stand-out pellet, though, was the Diabolo Express, which yielded a significantly better group size than the Field. What was surprising was just how badly the S510 shot with all other brands of domed pellets, with only the Falcon in 4.52 garnering anything close to what could be called a decent group.

The Pulsar, on the other hand, seemed to get on quite well with most brands, giving good groups in all but a few cases. It was actually quite hard to pick a winner, with identically tight groups achieved when combined with Air Arms Diabolo Field in 4.51, H&N FT Trophy in 4.52, Daystate Kaiser in 4.52 and Webley Accupel in 4.52. The rest of the pellets gave reasonably tight groups, certainly better than the S510.

The variance of the results was really quite staggering The variance of the results was really quite staggering

Moving to .22, it was the turn of the Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter once more. Where the .177 version appears very picky, the .22 seems a little bit more forgiving. I was able to achieve satisfactory groups from a range of pellets, including Diabolo Field in 5.51, (not so the 5.52) Sovereign Rangemaster in 5.5, Falcon in 5.52 and JSB Jumbo in 5.52.

Last, but not least, it was time for my wife to test her .22 BSA Ultra Se. Beforehand, she insisted that her gun shoots brilliantly with Sovereign Rangemaster in 5.5 and nothing else. ‘What does she know,’ I thought. ‘She’s never put anything else through it.’ But she was right. Although the other pellet groups weren’t atrocious, the Ultra Se shot very accurately with the Sovereigns.


It appears that some air rifles are certainly more pellet-picky than others. Even if you appear to have a rifle that gets along well with most brands, it’s worth taking the time to find the right one. Finding the preferred pellet has the biggest impact on consistent accuracy.


You may also like:

Airgun Guru: what are the benefits of lubricating pellets?

H&N pellets: Terminator and Hornet

Q&A: Can heavy pellets cause mainspring failure?

1 comment

  • Hi there, I enjoyed your article very much. May I point out something to you please? You were using JSB Exact and Air Arms pellets, both being Diabolo shaped. (Diabolo is not a name, but the shape of the pellet.) You wil notice that almost all pellets are manufactured in CZ by JSB and not by the rifle manufacturers, as many people may think. There is a difference thou between them, as every manufacturer has his own specs. You will further notice that looking from the back they have different skirts making them more head heavy then others and thus heavier in total.

    Report this comment

    Gerrie Ferreira

    Thursday, January 19, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

More from News

Yesterday, 13:35

The editor says – get those applications in for one of the best airgunning days of the year

Read more
Thursday, January 11, 2018

After visiting the factory, the editor gets his paws on something special from Weihrauch

Read more
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The editor gets stuck into the practicalities of the Air Arms S510 TDR

Read more
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

If we go out to hunt rather than to kill, we need never come home frustrated again

Read more
Thursday, January 4, 2018

The editor gets first go of the production Priest, courtesy of City Air Weapons

Read more
Thursday, January 4, 2018

John Milewski never misses a visit to Weston’s gun shop on a trip to Brighton!

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Phill Price looks through something new in the scope world

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dave and Rosie Barham broadcast their defence of air rifle hunting on live TV

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Eddie Jones shares some hard-won technique, and tips on lamping rabbits

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Mark Camoccio concludes his BSA Goldstar hunter review

Read more

Subscribe today

Air Gunner Application Link
Airgun World Application Link

Follow Our Titles

Airgun World
Air Gunner

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most Read

Latest news