Airgun Guru: what are the benefits of lubricating pellets?

PUBLISHED: 15:15 17 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:15 17 November 2016

Some roll pellets in fine moly powder for lubrication, but handling them won’'t half make your hands dirty

Some roll pellets in fine moly powder for lubrication, but handling them won’'t half make your hands dirty

Archant

Some people lubricate pellets while others don’t bother, but one reader wants to know if it has any tangible effects

Q: I’ve read a lot about the supposed benefits of lubricating pellets, as well as some of the weird, wonderful, sometimes questionable lubricants people use. Are the benefits real and which lube (if any) is best?

The Airgun Guru says:

I don’t personally use pellet lubricant and have never routinely lubricated pellets, other than a few experiments to see whether it was worth the effort. Although it is beneficial, the effect is not that great.

Beeswax furniture polish is popular for lubricating pelletsBeeswax furniture polish is popular for lubricating pellets

Many people lubricate pellets in an effort to reduce friction in the barrel, thinking this will gain them a few more fps of muzzle velocity. No gain in fps was apparent, however, when I tested a small range of lubricants.

I found two tangible benefits from lubricating pellets. There was a slight improvement in accuracy when using pellets that had started to oxidise, so had dulled – shiny pellets appeared unaffected.

The second benefit was protecting the barrel bore. Using lubricated pellets results in a residue being left inside the bore, which isolates it from air and moisture and prevents oxidisation.

Now I stop and think about it, there is a third tangible benefit – it can cause a slight improvement in the pellet’s ballistic coefficient (its ability to maintain velocity in flight). I tested pellets with and without lubrication for both muzzle and 30-yard velocity, and the lubricated pellets averaged around 10fps more velocity at range.

Which lubricant to use?

Many people swear by beeswax furniture polish, available in aerosol cans to make applying it easy. Beeswax is flammable so it’s important none gets into the skirts of pellets to be used in springers. Stand the pellets on their bases and give them a light spray.

It is not essential to cover every square millimetre of every pellet because enough wax residue remains in the barrel to lubricate one or more uncoated pellets.

I would be wary of experimenting with oils as most are flammable, and oil from the exterior of one pellet could easily find its way into the skirt of others in the tin.

For me, the effects of lubricating pellets are too slight, but others will no doubt think differently.

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