First off, ‘Diablo’ should really be spelt ‘Diabolo’ – and for the pub quiz fraternity, yes… it’s Spanish for devil!
But Diablo is what it says on the tin – that tin in question being the new Super Diablo carrying the famous UK brand of Brocock.
However, even before you take off the lid, you may well be able to guess these pellets are going to be of the ‘Crosman Premier’ ilk thanks to the ‘Made in USA’ logo blazoned on it – and you’d be correct!
These familiar-looking roundheads arrive on UK shores all the way from Bloomfield, NY.
Delving back to the mid-1990s, the Crosman Premier was the pellet everyone was raving about; it was winning FT competitions in both pneumatic and spring-powered classes.
Originally, the .177s came in cardboard boxes of 1,200 pellets, complete with a black foam insert and a coal-like dust residue at the bottom of the box! That was graphite dust Crosman used as a ‘dry’ lubricant – but as the box wasn’t at all air tight, the pellets soon oxidised to a dark, dull grey from their previous bright state.
A superb pellet, Crosman’s Premier has been marketed under a few different brand names, in various tin types – apparently with different die-sets applied at the production and sorting stages. I’ve used many of these incarnations down the years, and they demolish every target I ever take aim at. It certainly bodes well for the new Brocock version.
As presented, the Super Diablo is a general-purpose pellet that is suitable for pretty much anything aside of 10-metre paper punching. They should find favour with target shooters and hunters alike. Hunters particularly like them for a number of reasons: their renowned accuracy, relatively flat trajectory and, oddly, because of their flat rear end.
Although this pellet has a fairly traditional skirt shape, the inside of the tail – the diaphragm – is solid and shiny enough (when new) to act as a mirror, which gives the pellet tracer-like qualities.
Years ago, many hunters considered the solid diaphragm a pellet design in its own right – and there was much discussion about firing them backwards for extra stopping power on close-range targets.
It was considered the perfect ratting round as, in theory, you were hitting ratty with a wadcutter-like thump, with the added benefit of the outer skirt expanding on impact. In practise, however, the shuttlecock shape ensured that the heavier nose actually ’corrected‘ the pellet very quickly in flight – so to hit ‘tail on’, the range had to be very close. However, the pellets were surprisingly accurate even when fired back-to-front!
I’m testing the .177 calibre Super Diablo which, says the tin, weigh in at 7.9 grains. This makes them a medium-light roundhead, which translates into slightly lower power levels when shot from a PCP, but top-end muzzle energies from a spring-powered air rifle.
Of course, while lighter pellets – especially in .177 calibre – give faster initial velocities. They have a tendency to lose their residual energy much more quickly compared to heavyweights as they fly downrange.
While there’s a trend for the higher quality brands to offer various head sizes, Brocock supply their .177 Super Diablo in 4.52mm head size only. Quite honestly, it’s the most ‘common’ size, which seems to suit most barrels, especially the ubiquitous Walther which we find on so many of the better quality airguns these days.
Examining the tin shows no sign of dust or swarf, and each pellet is well formed with no duds apparent in my test tins (which I selected at random, by the way). I suspect there’s no lubricant on these pellets as they appear dry. I like that – you’re either free to add your own as you wish or, indeed, none at all.
The tins are screw-top, which is always a bonus as it prevents spillage – but, alas, there’s no foam insert to cushion the ammo during transport. Like I said, though, the pellets in my tins were all in good condition.
I set-to with the usual regime. The test-day conditions involved (for once!) a still day, wind-wise and target cards were set out at the usual 25, 35 (zero) and 50 yards; these represent typical hunting ranges, and FT and extreme plinking at the long end.
I fired about 40 shots to let the barrel ‘adjust’ to the new ammo before commencing testing. This is an important part of the test and, in the Diablo’s case, the running-in process was much needed; the group sizes markedly shrank from the early shots I fired.
The scales showed Brocock’s pellets to be very consistent, within 0.05 grains apiece, and very close to the labelled weight. I’m of the opinion that my scales are accurate to about 0.03 of a grain with an individual pellet, so I prefer to do lots of ‘averaging’.
Weighing batches of 10 kept returning around the 79- to 80-grain figure; suffice to say, compared to most other ammo, Super Diablo are pretty much in the top drawer for weight consistency.
The photographs really show the quality of the finish. Ironically, I always think pellets look shabby in high magnification imagery, but the Brococks hold up rather well.
Yes, there is a mould ‘seam’, but it’s quite flat and only apparent visually. It certainly didn’t appear to have any effect on the pellets’ performance throughout my tests.
With the barrel now ‘leaded-in’, I zeroed the rifle at 35 yards, and began printing some very reasonable groups without any obvious fliers.
The best one stuffed nine shots inside a ragged hole, the tenth only just outside. At the extreme, the group was understandably looser, but still around the 25mm mark.
On the outdoor front, you won’t really find many pellets to better that – and not every shooter can group that well in the first place!
As you’d expect, bringing it back to 25 yards gave a similar experience – a less ragged one-hole group with that single shot just outside.
The chrono told a predictable story. Being a lighter pellet, the Super Diablo developed a little less power at the muzzle – roughly around 0.3 ft/lb lower than an 8.4-grain JSB roundhead.
At 25 and 35 yards, the power had dropped to 7.9 and 6.8ft/lb respectively, which is pretty much par for the course.
By 50 yards, power had dropped to 5.5ft/lb – very much the norm for this weight of pellet which has to be less efficient than, say, the heavier JSB or Defiant, which my tests have proved can still top 7ft/lb at this range.
But power at 50 yards is essentially academic – it’s beyond normal hunting ranges and knockdown silhouette targets don’t need much more than 0.5ft/lb to fell them.
Overall, the accuracy of the Super Diablo up to 35 yards is a match for anything out there.
Accuracy is arguably everything, so from this viewpoint the pellet is in the Premier League, if you excuse the pun.
The pellet does have a weakness in that it’s not as aerodynamically efficient as more modern designs. It should have a nice flat trajectory out to 50 yards, but loses it to the heavier JSB, which has a similar trajectory but packs an extra half-a-grain. The JSB gives significantly more power to the furthest targets.
At 50 yards the Diablo’s accuracy is still very good, being coverable by a 2p piece. That’s comparable with what I achieved with JSB-based brands, currently so much in vogue with competition shooters.
Having said that, looking at previous data, it’s worth noting JSB results were produced in a light breeze, with the group patterns having a general lateral spread (indicating wind drift).
While a high-level FT shooter may therefore go down the JSB route, I think that a hunter wouldn’t notice any difference in the field between Super Diablo and JSB, power or accuracy wise. Both brands are priced the same, incidentally.
I’ll part with the notion that anyone who’s experienced the excellent in-flight characteristics of the old Crosman Premier should definitely try a tin of Brocock’s new Super Diablos.
They certainly shot very well out of my test Daystate – and they were pretty impressive on the weighing scales.
As downrange accuracy is very reliant on weight and velocity consistency, that’s a great head start for any pellet to have.
BEST TIN THE BUSINESS
They have a clever press-to-open, snap-to-shut lid to stop spillages, and the lid also has a rubberised face which, when put underneath the tray, stops the tin from slipping off uneven surfaces.
In fact, the only thing that this ingenious little pellet container lacks is… a foam insert! (But that’s easy enough to add yourself.)