Wasp pellets are back, so Mike Morton cracks open a tin of the No.3 variety in .22 calibre to find out how well they can swat a target
While a few airgun ammo stalwarts have been in constant production, others have disappeared, some on a temporary basis and some for good. But thanks to John Rothery Wholesale, the temporary drought is over in the case of the Wasp, as these pellets are now flying back onto the shelves and buzzing back into action.
These new-breed Wasps are available in two varieties, No.1 pellets in .177 calibre, identified by a red label, and No.3 in .22 calibre, featuring a mauve label.
This test focuses on the larger calibre, but I’ll take a look at the .177 variety in a future article. Both tins feature a screw-on lid and measure the now-standard diameter of 68mm, which is smaller than the original tin size, with the .22 variety being deeper to accommodate the larger ammo.
No.3 pellets come in a tin of 400 and have a retail price of £7.95. This seems very reasonable – as long as they shoot well – so to answer that question, it was on with the test.
Like the original No.3, the new .22 Wasps are a domehead diabolo design, with the head squashed in appearance. A squashed head is a fairly common shape, so I suspect there’s a good reason for this, either in terms of the manufacturing process or ballistic performance.
Wasp .22: key specs
Pellet: Wasp No.3
Supplied by: John Rothery Wholesale (bisley-uk.com)
Type: Domehead diabolo
Head size: 5.5mm
Supplied in: Tin of 400
Advertised weight: Not stated
Measured weight: 15.02 grains
Pellet length: 7.2mm
Suggested uses: Target shooting, hunting, plinking
The pellets in my tin looked clean, but my preferred test to check if this really is true is to tip them out onto a microfibre cloth.
This immediately shows up any swarf or other detritus, and also helps me inspect the pellets for any damage or deformity.
It’s boring – and that’s good – to report that the whole tin was almost spotless, with no damaged pellets. No advertised weight is given for the No.3, but I put a sample of 50 over my scales and found one pellet weighed 14.8 grains, while 43 came in at 15.0 grains and six measured 15.2 grains, giving an average of 15.02 grains over the sample.
I measured the pellet’s overall length at 7.2mm, and because Wasps have always had a fairly deep skirt I also measured the internal depth, which turned out to be even deeper than I expected at 4.6mm.
Since carrying out the test seen here I’ve shot these pellets on numerous occasions, though admittedly in near-identical overcast weather conditions, and thanks to a glint of light being reflected off the back of each pellet, it’s been easy for me to watch them making their way to the target while maintaining the sight picture through the scope.
This may be to do with the way the light catches the inside of the skirt due to its depth, the weather or something completely different, but it’s a pleasing phenomenon regardless.
Test day was fairly miserable, cold, damp, cloudy and windless, but what’s miserable for shooter comfort is often beneficial in terms of the test. That’s especially the case with the lighting, with overcast conditions being much better for viewing the target.
I applied 1” Birchwood Casey Target Spots to a white sheet of backing card. The pellets were taken straight from the tin, with five shots being taken at 20, 30 and 40 yards, with the rifle having been zeroed at my regular distance of 30 yards.
I used my Weihrauch HW100, shot off the bench from a covered firing point and supported by heavyweight shooting bags at the front and rear. After zeroing with the Wasps, I broke out my Shooting Chrony F1 and fired a 10-shot string. Muzzle velocity averaged 590.4 feet per second, with a pleasingly low variation of 5.2 feet per second, with a muzzle energy of 11.63 foot pounds.
At 20 yards, the Weihrauch and Wasp pairing delivered a five-shot group measuring 9.6mm centre-to-centre, with me applying 20mm of holdunder. At 30 yards, with me aiming on at my set zero, group size shrunk to 6.6mm.
While this was unexpected, it’s not uncommon to see a group tighten at a further distance and I guess some pellets become more stable after a certain amount of flight time.
Back at 40 yards the group expanded to 16.4mm, requiring 51mm of holdover. At first glance, it looks as if the Target Spot has been stuck over the pellet hole that appears on the backing card in the 2 o’clock position, but that was definitely not the case.
Closer inspection reveals the pellet has left a faint outline on the orange disc, but instead of cutting the edge of the Target Spot it merely bent it into the hole. While this group looks pretty tatty, it does still fall within the 18mm diameter of a five pence piece.
While the results could have been different with another rifle, I was pleased with the consistency and accuracy of the Wasp No.3.
Taking into account the pellet’s low price, you could be forgiven for thinking this was just a casual plinking pellet. But as these results clearly show, it’s potentially much, much more.