RWS Power Bolt review w/ Mike Morton

Mike Morton tests the RWS Power Bolt, a pellet that’s not sure if it’s a bullet or a slug, but knows without doubt that it’s very heavy

Without meaning to sound too controversial, the standard diabolo of average weight is the perfect universal pellet, at least in my opinion, taking on any task the airgun shooter might care to ask of it.

But there are plenty of pellet designs that run contrary to this belief in the pursuit of better ballistics, energy retention or knockdown power, and the RWS Power Bolt is very much in this camp.

Power Bolts are available in .177, the subject of this test, and in .22 calibre in small tins of 150 and 100 respectively. The .177 pellet has an advertised weight of 14.2 grains, while the .22 is 23.2 grains, making them the heaviest pellets RWS makes in these calibres.

At first glance the Power Bolt may resemble a bullet or slug, but despite its unconventional looks, this projectile has two bearing surfaces, at the head and at the skirt, just like any standard pellet. 

What makes it so different, apart from the weight, is the flared cylindrical body and shallow skirt. I was interested to see that the heads of the pellets in my tin had a fairly squashed shape, while the images of the pellets on the
tin show a more aerodynamic-looking design.

RWS always produces very clean and consistently made ammo, and the Power Bolts were no exception, mine being almost spotless out of the tin, with just a few flakes of lead detritus to blow away.

As usual, I took a random sample of 50 pellets and put them on my digital scales. Eight pellets were 14.2 grains, RWS’s advertised weight, two measured 14.4 grains and the remaining 40 all came in at 14.6 grains, yielding an average measured weight of 14.5 grains.


RWS Power Bolt: specifications

UK distributor: RUAG Ammotec (www.ruag.co.uk)
Pellet: Power Bolt
Manufacturer: RWS
Type: Heavyweight pellet
Calibre tested: .177 (4.5mm)
Supplied in: Tin of 150
Price: £8
Advertised weight: 14.2 grains
Measured weight: 14.5 grains
Uses: Hunting


Test Conditions

This shoot was conducted outdoors from a covered firing point on a cool, damp, but totally windless day – near-perfect conditions for the testing to come. I took two rifles with me to the range, only expecting to shoot one, but ending up shooting both. 

Power Bolts are a really heavy pellet, and would probably benefit from being launched from an FAC-rated rifle rather than sub-12

I had intended to use my Daystate Red Wolf, cleaning then re-leading the barrel, and then zeroing the rifle at 30 yards. The Red Wolf generally handles any pellets I put through it without complaint, but this combo wasn’t working. I switched to my Weihrauch HW100 and unfortunately got similarly poor groups of around 29mm at 30 yards. 

The Power Bolts chambered nicely in both barrels, and I can only conclude that these pellets just didn’t have enough oomph behind them to drive them over that distance.

Downrange

I cut the test distances to 20 yards, 15 yards and 10 yards, and I think this was the right move. I re-zeroed the rifle at 15 yards, needing a bit of holdover at both 20 and 10.

The pellets were taken straight from the tin, and five shots were taken at a 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spot set out at each distance. The test began with 10 Power Bolts being fired over my Shooting Chrony F1, giving an average muzzle velocity of 557.0 feet per second, a variation of 7.1 feet per second and a lower-than-expected muzzle energy of 9.99 foot pounds.

The body of the pellet isn’t quite a perfect cylinder as it narrows from head to tail, keeping more of the weight up front

At 10 yards the results were astonishing, with the HW/RWS combo delivering a five-shot group measuring 2.5mm centre-to-centre, with 14.6mm of holdover required.

At 15 yards the group was still very good at just 10.7mm centre-to-centre, with me aiming on at the target, while back at 20 yards the group size was still a respectable 12.9mm centre-to centre, using 10mm of holdover.

I’ll admit to being disappointed by my longer-range groups. Perhaps a different barrel would have made things better, or perhaps these pellets do need a higher muzzle velocity to extract better long-range performance.

Test results

But the accuracy of these pellets was more than adequate out to 20 yards, with the 10-yard results being near match-quality. One thing sprung to mind when I was carrying out this test: ratting.

This type of pest control is typically carried out at shorter distances, and the Power Bolt would be just that – a powerful bolt that comes out of the blue. The rats would be rolling over without ever knowing what hit them.

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