It’s great to get a rush when a pellet performs well, and Mike Morton sets out to see if BSA’s new Gold Stars will deliver it.
BSA really hit the ground running with its new line-up of pellets, offering a choice of four different designs in both .177 and .22 calibres. I’ve tested the Gold Star in .177, finding it to be a great all-rounder despite its intended use as a target round, and wondered if its bigger sibling in .22 calibre would deliver similarly good results.
Like their .177 counterparts, the .22 Gold Stars are domehead diabolos, this time having a head size of 5.53mm. Each pellet looks slightly squat, giving it a bulldog-like build on the outside, but the skirt has a deeper-than-usual hollow on the inside, better to catch the blast of air that propels it down the barrel.
That squashed shape may or may not be ballistically advantageous, but it does make the pellet more multi-shot magazine-friendly as it won’t stick out of the rotor and foul the cycling of your action.
Gold Star pellets come in a tin of 500 and sample packs are also available. As always, my test began by checking the whole tin’s worth for cleanliness, any deformities and any crush damage.
I’m very pleased to say that these pellets passed that particular test with flying colours.
I used to spend hours carefully washing and drying pellets (with my wife’s hairdryer!), but those days are long gone thanks to the higher standards we now enjoy today from pellets like these.
BSA says that these pellets weigh 14.66 grains, but I couldn’t verify that because my digital scales will only weigh to one decimal place. What I could verify, however, was their consistency.
I weighed my usual sample size of 50 pellets taken at random from the tin, and all 50 weighed exactly the same – 14.60 grains. I checked the results from my earlier .177 test, and found that they too all weighed the same, so full marks to BSA for consistency across both calibres.
This shoot was conducted on a bright, pleasantly warm and wind-free day. All shots were taken at 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spots stuck to white card. I like the colour combination of a black bull on an orange disc, both of which are easily identifiable against the white background.
The pellets were straight from the tin, with five shots being taken at each of the targets I set out at 20, 30 and 40 yards, with the rifle being zeroed at my standard distance of 30 yards.
I chose to use my BSA R-10 SE for this test. Although the R-10 can take a bipod, I prefer to bench it off of my usual heavyweight Dog-Gone-Good shooting bags.
This rifle has had many different types of pellet fired through it over the years, with these probably
being made from very different lead alloys, so I always clean the barrel and re-lead the bore before carrying out my initial zero, chrono and accuracy testing.
Ten shots fired over my Shooting Chrony F1 yielded an average muzzle velocity of 597.1 feet per second, a muzzle energy of 11.56 foot pounds and a variation in velocity of a mere 4.3 feet per second over the string.
At 20 yards my R-10 and Gold Star combo managed to produce a five-shot group measuring 5.9mm centre-to-centre, requiring 10.2mm of holdunder due to my 30-yard zero.
Back at my zero distance I realised the gun hadn’t been perfectly zeroed after all and was shooting a tad low. Nevertheless, the group size still measured 9.4mm centre-to-centre.
Back at 40 yards I overcompensated, with the first pellet landing slightly high with me using 48mm of holdover.
However I maintained the same aim point for the remaining shots as the objective was to see how well the pellets would group, not my ability to hit the bull.
This time group size expanded again, but was still only 13.4mm measured centre-to centre.
All three groups displayed some lateral spread, with this being most apparent on the 40-yard target. There was no wind, and the groups were pretty evenly spread on and either side of the bull, so were consistent in this regard.
They were also accurate. All three were well within the 18mm diameter of a five pence piece, which is my personal yardstick when testing ammo with the rifle shot off the bench. And, as the saying goes, accuracy is everything.