Simon Everett puts popular airgun pellets to the test. This month: BSA Interceptor .22
BSA’s Interceptor is a long-skirted hollowpoint with a difference – its conical head has a hollow resembling a volcano’s crater! The lead alloy used is just hard enough to keep the pellets in shape in the tin, thus allowing good expansion in the barrel for an efficient seal and providing for decent deformation on impact with the target. The latter makes it a good hunting round, and its head shape appears to dissipate energy very efficiently, without relying on fragmentation of the pellet to impart the necessary killer blow.
Of the 495 pellets in the nominal 500 tin, all but one were in perfect shape, well finished with a smooth, lubricated surface. Billed at 15.43 grains, they’re right in the sweet spot of .22 pellet weights when shot from sub 12ft/lb air rifles, and are ideal for close- and medium-range vermin control. They also destroy tinnies and other fun targets very pleasingly!
To suit the main purpose of this pellet, I set the zero at a practical 25 yards on a wind-free day. This provided manageable holdover/under allowance from six to 30 yards – typical rat-shooting ranges. Interestingly, this flat arc came despite the pellet returning a very low muzzle energy from my Theoben Rapid PCP. A gun performing nearer the legal limit would probably shoot the .22 Interceptor even flatter.
Given many hollowpoints can be ‘tricky’ to group with, the Interceptor’s performance pleasantly surprised me, with a zero-range group no bigger than a 1p piece (20mm). Because my test rifle was mounted with a fixed-parallax Nikon Monarch scope, I struggled focusing on the 20-yard target (so would probably group even tighter than the results here with a different telly). However, my initial 30-yard groupings were so impressive for a hollowpoint – all coverable by a 2p coin (26mm) – I decided to see how it performed at an ‘extreme’ 40 yards.
Sometimes, you get a barrel/pellet combo that works so well you can comfortably add a few paces to your ‘norm’. However, as it transpired, the results proved that 40 yards was, perhaps, right on the limit in terms of responsible hunting. Nevertheless, I’d feel very happy using the Interceptor at 30 yards (even 35) out of my Rapid; the Interceptor’s much more than just a short-range ratting round.
This pellet’s flight characteristic was another pleasant surprise. With a 25-yard zero, the trajectory arc deviated less than 25mm between five and 30 yards – incredible for any .22, let alone a hollow-headed one shot at low power! In practical terms, you can just pick your spot on any critter… and hit it.
It wasn’t until the range was extended to beyond 30 yards that the Interceptor’s drop became significant, as one would expect from a .22 with a front end designed with ‘impact’ rather than ‘aerodynamics’ in mind.
Despite my rifle’s lowly power output, I used a warmed-up block of Plasticene to record the kind of shock that the pellet delivers. As you can see from the image above, the Interceptor transfers all its energy in a concentrated, cone-shaped shockwave immediately on impact. The ‘entry wound’ is four times the surface area of the pellet, and the tract is still twice the diameter of the .22 pellet even after it’s penetrated over 25mm (by which time massive trauma would have occurred on a verminous target).
I found these pellets to perform brilliantly. The pile of dead rats was an ‘extra’ test I threw in this month – and I can tell you every one expired very humanely, proving the credentials of the BSA Interceptor .22 better than any chrono and paper exercise can. Indeed, if I’d gone by muzzle energy alone, I’d have probably not even considered using this rifle/pellet combo. As it is, I’ve bought myself a few more tins for personal use…