As you might expect the most typical topics on airgun forums will be the features and foibles of the dozens and lots of different models, but following closely behind the model discussions is the chatter about airgun ammunition or pellets. You may not expect that a.177 caliber pellet from Manufacturer A would perform wildly different from a.177 caliber pellet from Manufacturer B in the exact same airgun, nevertheless they do. To make it even more complicated Manufacturer B’s ammo may outperform Manufacturer A’s in a different air rifle or pistol.
We shall discuss some of the different characteristics of airgun pellets and how you can use this information to your advantage when selecting a pellet for your air rifle or pistol.
A lighter pellet will leave the barrel of an airgun faster than the usual heavier pellet and it will also accelerate faster downrange 30-30 ammo. That means less time to target and a flatter trajectory because there is less time for gravity to work its magic. A heavier pellet will are apt to have a less flat trajectory not due to the weight but as it spends more time to target providing gravity with more time and energy to pull it towards the earth.
The 2nd factor that most affects the flight of an airgun pellet is air resistance. Air resistance increases with the cube of speed. Whenever you double the speed of a pellet moving downrange you increase its air resistance by eight times. Really light.177 caliber pellets lose energy because of air resistance so rapidly that after a 35 yd. or so it will soon be moving slower than the usual heavier pellet fired from the exact same gun. Air resistance might be irrelevant for target shooting out to 10 m but it would play a large role in a hunting shot beyond that range. This really is one of many reasons that you wish to hunt with the heaviest pellet your airgun can handle effectively.
Along with the weight of the pellet air resistance will be different based on the model of the pellet. Wadcutters are flat nose pellets useful for paper target shooting. At the 10 m range the escalation in air resistance is almost negligible but just like with the effect of weight beyond 35 yd. the flat nose will start working as an air brake.
Medium weight round nose pellets offer the most effective compromise for both weight and shape for medium powered air rifles. For small caliber air rifles (.177 and.20) the most effective hunting ammo is a circular nose hollowpoint. This pellet moves through the air as well as a regular round nose and mushrooms on impact significantly increasing the force of the shot.
The best advice about air rifle ammo is to try many different brands, many different shapes, and many different weights. That which you read inside the airgun forums may be true generally but might not work for your air rifle. If you are only a periodic shooter and still want the most effective accuracy and range then select a premium pellet from the exact same manufacturer that made your gun. It’s almost always best to prevent no-name bargains because there may be significant variability between pellets in the exact same package.