Hunters with sub-12 foot pound rifles no longer need to feel left out when it comes to slugs thanks to Pro Hunter’s new .22, as Mike Morton finds out.
The last 18 months or so have seen an upsurge in interest in airgun slugs, with both mainstream manufacturers and smaller specialist operations offering a huge range of ammo, with quality being high across the board.
The downside to this is that most of this ammunition is the preserve of the FAC-holder, with these heavy slugs requiring a high level of muzzle energy to unlock their ballistic potential. But there’s good news for people who enjoy shooting sub-12 foot pound air rifles – manufacturers like Pro Hunter Swaging are now producing slugs to cater for lovers of the legal limit.
Pro Hunter’s latest, lighter Premium High Impact design is a .22 slug with an advertised weight of 17.8 grains. That’s not much heavier than a typical .22 pellet of around 16 grains, and is substantially lighter than the big boys of the pellet world, such as the mighty 21.4 grain Bisley Magnum.
The main advantage of a slug compared with a pellet is the slug’s better ballistic coefficient, which should translate to more retained energy, long-range accuracy and better performance in the wind.
Pro Hunter Premium High Impact .22 – key specs
Pellet: Premium High Impact 17.8 grain .22
Manufacturer: Pro Hunter Swaging (www.prohunterswaging.co.uk)
Ammo type: Hollowpoint slug
Calibre tested: .22 (5.5mm)
Supplied in: Tin of 100
Advertised weight: 17.8 grains
Measured weight: 17.9 grains
Pro Hunter slugs are the brainchild of husband and wife Graham and Yvonne Scase, and like the other slugs we’ve seen from this company, the 17.8 grain projectiles arrive cosseted in a little black jewellery bag inside the tin.
This is no gimmick, however, as the packaging ensures all 100 slugs arrive in perfect condition. A little slip of paper accompanying the ammo reminds us that the slugs have already been washed before being bagged and benefit from being shot from a clean barrel with just a little pellet lube.
The slugs themselves look similar to an ogive-shaped centrefire bullet, having a large hollowpoint nose and a fairly deeply dished base to better catch and make use of the blast of air. One huge difference between slugs and pellets is the amount of bearing surface that engages with the lands and grooves of the rifling. There’s far more contact with a slug, meaning more resistance, and I was interested to see whether this would affect velocity.
As always, I put 50 slugs over my scales to check their consistency. I found 19 slugs measured 17.8 grains, while 31 came in at 18.0 grains, yielding an average measured weight of 17.9 grains. My digital scales weigh to one decimal place and measure in increments of 0.2 grains, but they are consistent, so I was very happy with these close readings.
The test was carried out on an overcast day, which makes for the best visibility of the target in my opinion, from a covered firing point with a little light rain, but minimal wind. I used my Weihrauch HW100 for this test, with the barrel duly cleaned before shooting began. Having lubed the slugs, I was pleased to see how well they fitted into the rotary magazine.
My HW was shot off a bench, supported by heavyweight Dog-Gone-Good bags. With the barrel leaded, 10 slugs were fired over my Shooting Chrony F1, giving an average muzzle velocity of 512 feet per second, an absolutely excellent variation in velocity of 4.0 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 10.42 foot pounds.
I’ve shot other slugs in the past and have seen muzzle velocity be reduced quite dramatically due to the increased contact area and increased friction, so Pro Hunter has really hit the nail on the head with this projectile.
My usual test scenario is to shoot groups at 20, 30 and 40 yards, but 40 was just too far this time, so I reset the ranges to 15, 20 and 30 yards – with great results. At 15 yards (I’m thinking ratting here), the five-shot group measured a tiny 3.3mm centre-to-centre, with 16mm of holdunder required from my nominal 30-yard zero.
At 20 yards the group was just 7.6mm centre-to-centre, with 19mm of holdunder required, while back at 30 yards it was an impressive 8.9mm centre-to centre, with me aiming on. I apologise for shooting too high at 30, but I wanted to conserve ammo and didn’t want to repeat the test. My groups opened up beyond that, but I’m extremely pleased with what these slugs achieved out to 30 yards, easily grouping within the 18mm diameter of a five pence piece.
So the accuracy is certainly there for shooting in a sub-12 rifle, and although I didn’t test them on ballistic gel it’s fair to say they’d hit like a hammer. Rats and squirrels should be very afraid.
More pellet tests from Airgun Shooter
- Predator polymag shorts .22 review with Mike Morton
- Webley Mosquito Express .22 review with Mike Morton
- RWS Power Bolt review w/ Mike Morton
- Baracuda Green pellet review with Mike Morton
- QYS Training Grade review with Mike Morton