Feeling blue! Chris Wheeler takes a look at a new pellet from BSA – the Blue Star .22
BSA Blue Star
Type: Semi-Flat Head
Calibre Tested: .22
Advertised weight: 18.31gr
Average weight: 18.39gr
Use: Hunting and plinking
Supplied in: Tin of 250
SRP: Around £8
What BSA has produced in the Blue Star is a pointed pellet without the point – reminiscent of the RWS Super-H Point, heavier and without the hollow tip. BSA’s YouTube advertising tells us that it is made for “maximum expansion”, but it is hard to understand how that could work in such a solid slug.
The Blue Star .22 is in the lightly populated range of around 18 grains. It’s advertised as 18.31gr, but averages 18.39gr, plus or minus 0.5gr. The pellets arrive in screw-top tins of 250 (nominal) and are generally well-made, though there were many pellets with lead flaking from the skirts which would certainly lead to imbalance in flight and possible contamination of your rifle’s bore. The 248 pellets in my tin included one whose skirt was crammed with swarf, and I had to use a dental pick to dislodge it. Overall, the tin contained more than 2gr of dust and swarf, which is quite unacceptable these days.
The weather on test day was favourable, with a gusty, light breeze, which I had faith would make little difference to this heavy pellet’s travel. The first sighting shot through my BSA R-10 Mk 2 was promising, and placed the Blue Star on the centre line of the target, but 43mm low. After adjusting my scope, I ran a few 10-shot magazines to get pellet and bore acquainted and for fine-tuning my scope. With the usual rules applying – using a 10mm grid target and taking 10 shots at the green at each range from a rested position – it was game on!
At the zero range of 30 yards, six of my shots fell in the 20mm green centre, with the remaining four just out, but only two outside the 25mm ‘killing zone’. I can’t help thinking that impact from one of these, even here, would be a telling blow. The penetration and cavity this pellet makes when shot into a block of modelling clay gives an idea of the retained energy of this ammo. The 9mm entry cavity and 37.5mm of penetration certainly gives an idea of the knock-down power.
Down at the 20-yard mark, the rise above centre varied between 7mm and 20mm, and all 10 shots were contained to 10mm on either side of the vertical axis.
Forty yards was the Achilles’ heel for this round. After five shots with the pellets hitting around 85mm below the horizontal axis line (almost off the paper), I conceded defeat and pulled back to 35 yards. Here the drop from zero was somewhat erratic, at between 15mm and 38mm, but still clustered around the vertical. In the next five yards the drop increased by a whopping 47mm and the spread to 40mm. “Every picture tells a story” they say – and so it does here!
Muzzle Velocity: 15
“From a promising start, I have to admit disappointment with this test. BSA’s reputation for quality ammo is in the doldrums, and it needs to up its game. I doubt that this will be happening with this ammunition, though, with its ‘death dive’ trajectory after 35 yards and its high price, where it’s usual to buy 500 for the same as the 250 used here. Cost aside, I think that for hunting at ranges over 35 yards, most shooters will struggle with the Blue Star .22.”