Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to find out how my new Cricket rifle would shoot non-lead pellets.
I've been shooting non-lead pellets since back in 2007, when I still lived in California, and had access to a couple of private ranches to hunt ground squirrels on. Both ranch owners had decided, that they would no longer allow the use of lead ammunition on their property, including airgun pellets.
That lead to the discovery of the DYNAMIC brand of non-lead pellets out of England. They are made of a tin copper alloy, and work great in many of my PCP rifles. The DYNAMIC PCP-2, 14.5 grain tin pellet, is the one that has given me the most consistent performance out of a variety of PCP rifles. It is available in two head diameters, 5.54mm, and 5.56mm.
I have guns with barrels by Crosman, LW, and HW, and the 5.54mm PCP-2 is the one that works best in those guns for me. The Cricket rifle has a barrel made by CZ. Not knowing what it might shoot best, and based on past experience, I started off with the 5.54mm head size, PCP-2.
I shot three five shot groups, the best of which went about two inches at 50 yards. Hmm. Not exactly what I was hoping for. Half inch is more like what I'd be happy with.
Next up, I thought I would try some of the H&N Baracuda Green, 12.6 grain tin pellets. That's a pretty light pellet, and I'm guessing the the gun is going to be pushing them at close to 1000 fps, maybe more. Pretty fast. Maybe too fast. I didn't have high hopes for these, and it's a good thing too. Two inch patterns were the norm. I've had really good luck with these pellets in other guns, at slower speeds, so this isn't a knock on the pellet, they are just being driven way too fast out of this gun.
Well heck, so far no joy with non-lead pellets in my Cricket. One last hope, the PCP-2 with the 5.56mm head diameter. WOW! What a difference a couple of millimeters in head diameter can make, in how a specific pellet shoots in a particular barrel.
The fourth shot, that landed at 8 o'clock, blew my aim point off of the target backer. Holding at where 6 o'clock on the orange dot used to be, I fired one more shot, that landed back in the cluster with the first three. I decided to add a little left windage to the scope, and put in several clicks of elevation, to get the point of impact away from my point of aim.
As usual, I was shooting over my set of wind flags. It was a bit breezy, with the wind running from about 2 to 8 miles per hour. Waiting for the lulls, I fired another five shot group, shown below. Now we're talkin'. This will work just fine, thank you.
I don't have any immediate need to shoot non-lead out of my Cricket rifle, but should that change, I now know which pellet to reach for.
Shooting non-lead has been interesting over the years. I've had the most success, when I thoroughly clean and dry the barrel before starting to shoot tin pellets. I've tried them both lubed and unlubed, and my guns prefer unlubed. These are like any pellet, lead or non-lead. Some guns will shoot them great, while others will throw them all over the place. No way to know except by trying them in a given gun and see what happens.
The good news is, so far, most places do not require the use of non-lead airgun pellets. That may change over time, and if it does, it's good to know we have access to a few high quality options.