Pellets come in different shapes and sizes, as we’ve talked about quite a bit in the past. Looking at the four major groups: Wadcutter, Pointed, Domed, and Hollowpoint, what’s the best pellet for your airgun? It all depends on your airgun and your target. Let’s talk about how to pick the perfect pellet based on the type of airgun and the type of shooting you’ll be doing.
So if you are shooting a typical high-powered (roughly 1000 FPS) airgun, you’ll want to look at the Pointed, Domed, and Hollowpoint pellet options. Give the Wadcutters a pass as they are better for lower-powered airguns shooting up to 500 FPS. It’s not that they won’t get the job done, but they’ll be less likely to do what you want than the other options.
Best .177 Pellets for Paper Punching
So now, let’s talk about what you’ll be shooting. If you are just punching paper, then a quality domed pellet like the 8.4 grain JSBs will probably be a great option. If the pellets are not shooting consistently, it may be that you need to step up the weight and look at the 10.3 grain JSBs. Generally speaking, these are some of the best pellets for target shooting out to 50+ yards.
Best .177 Pellets for Hunting
Let’s say you are going for pest control or hunting. That’s when the hollowpoint and pointed pellets come into play. You’ll need to put in some time testing the various options to see what will work best in your airgun. A good starting point would be a pellet sampler. These are available from multiple manufacturers, and they offer shooters the chance to test five or six different pellets for one low price vs having to buy full tins of every pellet in the pack.
Some of our favorite hunting pellets are the:
The Baracuda pellets are hollowpoints, and the Polymags and Redfires are variations of pointed pellets that use a polymer “tip” followed by a deep hollowpoint. They are devastating on small game but may not be as accurate as the barracuda pellet options at longer ranges.
Low Powered Guns
Lower powered airguns shooting under ten foot-pounds, whether they are a pistol or a rifle, are generally served well by quality wadcutter pellets. The flat pellet head on the wadcutter pellets makes them optimal for cutting very clean holes in your paper targets. They come in various weights, from say 5.25 grain, and go up just under 10 grain.
This is important, with so many options, finding the perfect precision target shooting wadcutter pellet can be a challenge.
While all wadcutters look pretty much the same, they can be made very differently. The lead alloy, manufacturing process, and quality control all play a big part.
If absolute accuracy is the key, then be sure to look for the following characteristics when picking the perfect wadcutter. Check the face of the pellet. Cheaper pellets may show a line right down the middle of the face of the pellet. Cast lines can happen when the mold or swedge is not matching correctly. If you see these types of imperfections, then it may be that the pellet may not fly straight when it leaves the barrel.
Also, check for bent skirts. Softer lead pellets will be more prone to having bent skirts leading to “flyers” in your groups. This is not uncommon on inexpensive pellets and if you are just plinking in the back yard, you’ll probably never see any difference between cheaper pellets and match pellets.
Best .177 Pellets for Accuracy
Let’s talk about match wadcutter pellets as we wrap up this article. Going back to the point of accuracy being on top of the must-have list, the term “match” generally means that you are looking at a higher quality pellet. It may not mean that it will be the best pellet for your gun, but it’s not a bad place to start.
Match pellets should not show any cast lines and should not have bent skirts when you take them out of the tin. They should also be extremely uniform if you weigh them on a jeweler’s scale. Their head diameter should also be consistent from pellet to pellet.
Match shooters will often hand-select their pellets for weight and size to make sure they get the best consistency on target. It takes a lot of time, but if perfection is your goal, then you’ll want to put in the time to make sure that you’re only using the very best in your airgun.
At the end of the day, it takes trial and error to find the best pellet for your airgun. But if you use some of the tips above, you can shorten that task considerably. If you’d like some help along the way, just reach out to us here at Airgun Depot, and we’ll be happy to help you get started!