A while back, I received a couple of tins of the Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy, .22 caliber, 18 grain pellets, and probably eighty percent of the pellets had damaged skirts. The damage ranged from minor, to major, and everything in-between. Some of them actually looked like they had been stepped on, those I tossed. The assumption is, damaged skirts mean the pellets are ruined, but are they?
Making lemonade out of lemons, I sorted the rest by head size and weight. I figured that this would be a good opportunity to answer a question that I've had for some time. From a PRACTICAL standpoint, just how much of an effect do pellets with damaged skirts have on accuracy?
The gun that I chose to shoot the test with was my AA 510 TC. This rifle is the most accurate .22 caliber PCP in my collection, regulated or unregulated, and this rifle is unregulated. The TC stands for Twin Cylinder. Meaning it has dual air cylinders.
The accuracy of this rifle is in a league of its own. I've got some very accurate PCP's in my collection, but this one stands alone in that department. Below, is the target from the first time that I shot the gun on paper at 50 yards. It took three shots to get it centered on the bullseye, and then I moved up to the eye and put five pellets touching it. They literally went through the same hole. I was shooting the 18 grain JSB's, and it continues to shoot them the same way to this day.
I had recently changed scopes on this rifle, so before I could test the pellets with the damaged skirts, I needed to get the new scope zeroed at 40 yards. I'm going to hunt some of our local ground squirrels, here in the forest, and I find that 40 yards is a good zero distance when hunting these guys. As usual my pellet of choice was the 18 grain JSB's, and as usual, the gun continues to shoot them lights out.
The target below shows the results from sighting in the scope, as well as the results from testing the pellets with the damaged skirts. In several instances, the fifth shot blew what was left of the orange dots, off of the target backer.
The bottom row, middle target, shows the adjustments that I made while zeroing the scope. It took four shots to get on the orange dot, and then I fired four more that went into a group just a little bigger than the diameter of an individual pellet.
Moving up to the top row of orange dots, I shot three five shot groups using 18 grain AA pellets with no skirt damage. Next, I dropped down to the second row and shot three five shot groups using the AA pellets with the damaged skirts. For all practical purposes, there isn't much of a difference in accuracy between the undamaged pellets, and the damaged pellets. The third group on the right, shot with the pellets with damaged skirts, had one shot slightly out of the group at two o'clock, but not enough to matter in a hunting situation.
JSB uses pure soft lead in the manufacture of their pellets. They also make the Air Arms line of pellets. I think what happens is, since the skirts are thin and soft, when the shot is fired, the sudden blast of high pressure air hitting the skirt, blows it back out and reshapes it, causing it to seal the bore just like a pellet does without a damaged skirt.
Now, if you're competing in benchrest, or something like that, you probably wouldn't shoot pellets with damaged skirts, but for my application, which is primarily small game, and varmint hunting, I'm not going to worry about it.
I've got some life size cottontail rabbit targets, so just for the heck of it, I put one of those out at sixty yards, and put six pellets, with bent skirts, down range at one of those. The results are shown below. Works for me.
I have to admit, when I first opened the tins of AA pellets, and saw what a mess the skirts were in, I was more than just a bit disappointed, but I've come to the conclusion, after this shooting test, that they look worse than they are, and shoot just fine for my application. This may not be the case with other brands of pellets where they alloy their metal to make it harder, but with the JSB and Air Arms branded pellets, as far as I'm concerned, bent skirts are no big deal.
Until next time, thanks for reading.