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Choosing Pellets for Hunting

Your first consideration in selecting pellets should be accuracy. Again, most of the accuracy in shooting comes from the shooter, but accuracy also depends on the projectile. Look for pellets that are bright when first opened, well-formed, and lack marks caused by the forming processes. There should be a consistency in weight, size, and shape from one pellet to another.

There are several types of pellets, each with its own unique characteristics. We will discuss wadcutters, domes, and hollowpoints here.

Wadcutters are designed for target shooting. They are typically light-weight flat-nosed pellets. Many are made to the exacting tolerances required for target shooting. What most wadcutters gain in accuracy, they lose in long range power and penetration. The flat nose creates alot of drag, slowing the pellet dramatically over longer distances. Because of this, wadcutters are usually only effective in hunting small prey at relatively close ranges. Many mid-power springers like these pellets, so don't overlook them.

Domed pellets have rounded noses, allowing them to slice right through the air. This helps them retain energy and accuracy at longer distances. Most weigh a few more grains and penetrate better than wadcutters, making them a great all around pellet for hunting. A close relative of the domed pellet is the pointed pellet. These seem like they would be a good option for hunting, but often are too inaccurate to use over a long range. In addition, they usually don't penetrate as deeply as domed pellets do. My personal favorite out of all the domes I have tried is the Beeman Kodiak. These are one of the heaviest pellets around, and my CO2 airguns love them.

Hollow point pellets are designed specifically for hunting. They have a hollow expansion cup on the nose, which causes them to expand on impact. In theory, this gives them better killing power. They suffer from the drag effects that plague the wadcutters, and normally don't expand enough to cause much additional damage. They do expand well when fired from a higher power gun, making them a great choice with PCPs. I have had tremendous success with the Beeman Crow Magnums through a souped up Crosman 2260.

Pellet weight is an important consideration. Here are some things to consider: 1. Lighter pellets travel faster, giving a flatter trajectory 2. Heavier pellets have more energy downrange, but have a more pronounced trajectory. Based on this information, lightweight pellets are best for beginners and close range hunting. Heavyweight pellets are best used in long range hunting by the experienced airgun hunter, as there is more skill required to put the pellet on target. Medium weight pellets like the JSB Exacts are a good compromise between the two, having good short to medium range energy and a relatively flat trajectory.

Personal experience has shown me that lightweight pellets work best in multipump pneumatics and springers. Medium weight pellets work best in CO2 airguns and higher powered springers. Heavy pellets are best left to a hot rodded CO2 airgun, PCPs, and the most powerful springers.

Pellet caliber is important as well. Smaller calibers like the .177 and .22 are great for small game hunting and pest control. The best all-around hunting caliber in my opinion would be the .22, though many claim the .20 is superior. Use a .25 to .30 to reliably take down intermediate-sized game. If you are interested in taking wild boar or small deer, use a .44 or larger caliber to ensure clean kills.

I said all that to say this: domed pellets will probably be where you want to start. Use the above guide for select the proper weight and caliber for your purposes. Try out a few brands and stick with the one that groups best with your gun. Remember, you get what you pay for. The serious hunter will not be afraid to spend a dollar or two more per tin if it results in cleaner kills.