Be sure to read various disclaimers…especially the last one.
Last fall, I tested several different expanding hunting pellets. The test was simple. Test for accuracy, test the damage potential in a wax block, then make a body shot on a squirrel and observe the effects. Now the time has come to compile the results and crown one pellet as king of the airgun hunting world…all subject to cricism and debate.
I used an Airforce Condor SS .22 set to about 40 foot pounds of energy (generally). If you are shooting a rifle with a different power-or a different rifle-or any rifle other than mine, expect differing results in accuracy and terminal performance. Remember, accuracy is the most important consideration for ethical airgun hunting. Set an accuracy standard for yourself and test!
Disclaimer #1a This article is for demonstrative and entertainment purposes only.
Disclaimer #1b: I should have put Disclaimer #1a first.
I will examine pellets first in terms of their accuracy, then I will compare the wax test, next I will compare the field test and finally give a ranking.
Better yet, we’ll make it like a reality show #yourefired #trumppuns #gunpuns. The pellets will be given a point for their ranking in the tests. The one with the lowest number of points is the winner.
Pellets tested were as follows:
Beeman Crow Magnum
H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme
H&N Baracuda Hunter
H&N Crow Magnum
JSB Ultra Shock
RWS Super H Point
Accuracy- Ranked most to least accurate
“X” at 100 indicates the pellet did not group at 100 yards.
H&N Hornet 35fpe
H&N Terminator 32fpe
Predator Polymag 35fpe
JSB Ultra Shock 45fpe
Beeman Crow Magnum 39fpe
H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40fpe
H&N Baracuda Hunter 37fpe
H&N Crow Magnum 39fpe
RWS Super H Point 20fpe
Post accuracy test summary: My standard is 1 inch at 50 yards for hunting. All came close to that number. The RWS was shot at low speed and had a steep trajectory- too unforgiving for hunting. The JSB shot terribly until the pressure dropped below 2550 psi, then they shot very well. Other than the accuracy is pretty straight forward. Hornets shot the best by a long shot.
Disclaimer #2: I mostly hunt squirrles, so I’m geared towards a squirrel pellet. Others may be using their .22 for small pest birds or larger predators. Each target is different, so pellet choice should reflect that.
In this test, we will be looking at both penetration and the size of the cavity created as it indicates how energy is transferred to the target. Feel free to contest the results. Photos are ranked by most impressive to least:
JSB Ultra Shock 45 fpe
Crow Magnum 39 fpe
Predator Polymag 35 fpe
H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40 fpe
The JSB Ultra Shock won by a land slide. It has a wide wound channel and a great deal of penetration.The Crow Magnum pellets offer a wider channel, but lacked penetration. The Polymag gives the best balance between penetration and wound channel diameter. The H&N Hornets managed to pass completely through the block-the only pellet to do so. All other pellets seem to offer either penetration or energy transfer.
This is really a moot point, but since I’m examining hunting pellets it is necessary to report the results.
Disclaimer #3: In all field tests, the one common denominator was shot placement. Whether I had a non expanding copper plated pointed pellet or the hardest hitting pellet available, they all had a similar killing potential. Body shots with all pellets usually resulted in a kill in about 5 seconds.
Disclaimer #3a The JSB Ultra Shock hit a squirrel in the liver only and resulted in a 5 second kill-comparable results to a heart/lung shot. Other pellets didn’t do that.
Here’s a list of the pellets and whether or not a complete pass through was made. Neither good nor bad, just something to look at:
Crow Magnum 39fpe (stopped)
Baracuda Hunter 37fpe (stopped)
Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40fpe (stopped)
Terminator 32fpe (no test, would likely stop)
Ultra Shock 45fpe (pass through)
Polymag 32fpe (stopped)
Super H Point 20fpe (stopped)
Here are a few pellets recovered from squirrles:
So we have to pick a winner in the field test caregory. Here are my picks:
1-JSB Ultra Shock
Tie between the rest.
To review, in each of the three tests, the pellets were ranked 1-9 on each test (unless there was a tie). Each pellet was scored on each test, so there were 3 numbers for each pellet (Accuracy/wax test/field test). The numbers were combined for a final ranking. Here are the results:
JSB Ultra Shock (4/1/1=6)
Predator Polymag (3/3/3=9)
Beeman Crow Magnum (5/2/2=9)
H&N Hornet (1/7/4=12)
H&N Terminator (2/6/4=12)
H&N Crow Magnum (8/2/2=12)
H&N Baracuda Hunter Xtreme (6/4/4=14)
H&N Baracuda Hunter (7/5/4=16)
RWS Super H Point (9/8/4=21)
And the winner is…
Wait. What the hell?
Yep. Even though it wasn’t included in this comparison, here’s your winner for best hunting pellet… probably best long range pellet…probably best overall pellet… Great accuracy at any distance. Good killing power and penetration. Whatever.
If I have learned anything from this testing series, it is this:
Accuracy is king.
Shot placement is queen.
Cutting a super nasty, wide wound channel will sometimes offer a quicker kill.