A pellet gun is designed to shoot pellets, which makes them different from most other firearms because these guns can function at as low as 50 atmospheres of pressure while most other guns require thousands of atmospheres to fire.
Air guns will also typically fire undersized projectiles, which will obdurate when they are shot. These are also shot through a smoothbore barrel to help keep them stable.
Pellets are generally designed to travel at subsonic speeds because high speed can cause a pellet to break apart or deform before it hits its target. Shooting at a higher speed can also cause the pellet to tumble which can affect accuracy during the shot.
The problem with using a high powered barrel for these types of shots is that pre-charged air rifles will fairly consistent impact the quality of shot that can be taken.
Air guns that are designed to allow the pellet to travel faster than the speed of sound will need to use heavier pellets to ensure that the pellet will travel well with more accuracy and less tumbling. There are a variety of pellets available for use in air guns, most of which are designed with a specific purpose.
The type of shot that a pellet is designed for will be determined by its shape. These will have a different type of spin because they will form different levels of seal within the barrel before they are shot. These pellets can be made out of a variety of materials as well. Most of them are made out of lead, but people that need a non-toxic version can buy plastic or tin pellets instead.
Pellet Head Shapes
Looking through the different types of pellets to find the right choices is almost as important as picking a high quality air gun. Shooting a poor quality pellet will lower the quality of your shot and can damage the overall performance of your gun.
High quality pellets can often make even the lowest quality gun shoot a bit better. It is tempting to invest in discount pellets, but this will usually yield results that make the low price tag seem disappointing. It makes sense to take the time to experiment with different pellets to get a feel for what works best for what you normally use it for.
Air guns can be very sensitive to the type of pellet you are using. Barrels can vary between guns and have different tolerances naturally built into them. This means that it is very common for different types of guns to shoot different types of pellets better than others. This means you will need to try out several different types of pellets to decide which ones your gun takes to the best.
There are also different kinds of pellets for the kinds of shots that you will try to take. Knowing these specifications can help you narrow down what you are looking for before you buy.
Types of Pellets
Pointed- Pointed pellets are usually used in light to medium powered guns. They are designed to offer maximum penetration when they hit. Most people swear by the pellets produced by Beeman, RWS, JSB or H&N.
The unique head design of a pointed pellet means that it usually will not work at all in a high powered air gun. Those that are using .25 caliber gas ram or spring guns are usually advised to check out these types of pellets because the lower velocity of these guns lets these shots to group well.
Wadcutter– Wadcutters have a flat head that is designed to make a clear hole when they are shot. These are usually designed for shooting through paper because these shots are easier to score in competition. Target shooters tend to prefer wadcutters, especially when shooting at close distances.
These are also commonly used for pest control or hunting because they offer limited penetration and high impact. All major pellet manufacturers offer some form of Wadcutter but it is recommended that you buy pellets from a manufacturer that designs pellets to be used at short distances because these tend to open up at longer distances which will impact your shot.
Round Nose– Round Nose pellets might also be referred to as domed pellets depending on the manufacturer. These are designed with aerodynamic properties in mind which makes them great for all around shooting. These get very tight groups when they are shot because they buck at the wind.
The rounded shape of a domed pellet will also give you a higher ballistic coefficient or knockdown power which makes these great for hunting.
People that use a high power rifle often rely on round nose pellets because they are very aerodynamic and can hit hard when they reach a target. These shots are also ideal for long distances which make them very good for those that will be taking a variety of types of shots.
Hollowpoint– Hollowpoint shots are designed for maximum impact. There are different brands of these pellets which can be used in any type of air gun. The unique headstyle here allows the pellet to expand when it hits a target of the shot with enough velocity. This usually occurs more with medium to high powered pellet guns because they are naturally designed to bring in this type of shot.
Hollowpoint pellets are typically recommended for use in a high powered gun for pest control or close distance hunting. The main problem with these types of pellets is that they tend to not group well, especially if you would be trying to use them at a longer distance.
The hollow point in the nose of the pellet makes it very easy for these pellets to go off course when they are being shot, so it is usually recommended that you use these in situations when you will be aiming at targets 20 yards or closer.