How to find the pellet that works best in your air rifle


If your .22 rifle’s performing well, but you think it can do even better, Chris Wheeler urges you to try the JSB Test Diabolo sampler

It can get very costly when trying to find the perfect pellet for your gun, but sampler packs can take away a major headache – and a major expense – by letting you test a variety of different types of ammo. Why do we need to test so many pellets? Well, if the head of your pellet doesn’t sufficiently engage with the rifling, this can cause a slight off-centre rotation of the head as the pellet travels down the barrel. Correct engagement aids consistent accuracy. In an ideal world, air rifle manufacturers would always be able to recommend the perfect pellet for their guns, but this is not always the case.

Consequently shooters are left to buy tin after tin of ammo in the hope that they can find the ideal match for their barrel. But even after you’ve found a pellet that works, is it really the perfect one?

After trying various types of ammo in my .22 FX Wildcat Mk 1, I had decided that Rangemaster Sovereign 5.51 was the best I had tested and hit my mark pretty reliably – but I always wondered if I could do better. To find out, I chose the JSB Diabolo Test Exact .22 sample pack, which supplies 30 pellets, each of seven different weights or head sizes, for £9.99.

The pack contains the 18-grain Heavy and the 21-grain Monster which, being better suited to FAC power levels, were not used here. The five pellets remaining in my test were the Exact Jumbo 5.51, 5.52 and 5.53, all weighing 15.89 grains, the Exact Express 5.52, weighing 14.35 grains, and the Exact Jumbo RS 5.52, weighing 13.34 grains. Luckily Rangemaster Sovereigns are also made by JSB using the same lead alloy, so there was no need to clean and re-lead the barrel before the test.


Shooting Conditions

Conditions were sunny and calm, and the test was conducted at typical hunting ranges of 30 and 40 yards, five shots being taken at each target’s centre from a rifle rest. Both distances were shot on the same cards.

Downrange Accuracy

While all the 30-yard groups would fit under a 5p piece, it was the 40-yard groups that told the truth of this test. My 15.9-grain Sovereigns, which I shot as a control group, fared reasonably well at 40 yards, along with all the similar weight Exact Jumbos, but it was the Express 14.35-grain that surprised me. Less drop from centre was expected, but the way the Express hugged the vertical axis was not.

This has turned out to be a worthwhile exercise, as the pellet I had thought was ideal turned in only the third-best performance. The statistics table clearly shows the best in test was the Express 5.52 at 14.35 grains, which gave the smallest 30- and 40-yard groups, while also putting out the highest power.

Fine-tuning your rifle’s accuracy is never a wasted exercise, and a sample set such as this is an economical and valuable tool to ensure you get the very best results.

Test results: Rangemaster Sovereign 5.51, JSB Exact Jumbo 5.51, JSB Exact Jumbo 5.52

Test results: JSB Exact Jumbo 5.53, JSB Exact Express 5.52, Exact RS Jumbo 5.52

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Posted in Features, Gear, Pellets, Tests

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