Pellet Preparation guidePrepare your pellets.
I know some of you are thinking the usual "just unwrap the tin and use them" and im not saying that lubing weighing etc does make a difference to how you will shoot but the main thing is confidence in your shooting if you think "im going to miss this target" then your probably will, were if you had total confidence in your shooting equipment then you too should have confidence in your shot. Now if 30 mins of work adds up to a few more points on your hft score then in my book its time well spent.
Start off with a good consistent pellet.
You can spot a good pellet as soon as you open the tin lid, they should all look the same, with undamaged heads and skirts, any deformity to the head and the skirt is going to effect you grouping immensely so if the pellets you use are poor quality find ones that are not. The most popular pellets on the HFT circuit are Air arms Field , Jsb exact, daystate select, Fx, Webley Mosquito express and H+N field target trophy. All of those bar the H+N FTT are made by a Czech company called Jsb, they manufacture there own pellets the exacts and then repackage the others for Air arms and daystate, the exacts, selects, Field and Fx all weigh an average of 8.4 grain. The Webley mosquito express (relabelled Jsb exact express) are a lighter weight (7.9grain) pellet, the benefit of a lighter pellet is a less pronounced trajectory ie the pellet drops slightly less over you aim points. All the JSb variety pellets are made from lead wire and each pellet is cut and formed by a machine unlike some cheaper pellets that are still made using a mould and molten lead, using the stamp and cut method gives a very constant pellet and as the JSb pellets are made using a nice soft lead they mould and grip to rifling in your barrel alot better and give better results. H+N Field target trophy seem to be a pellet favoured by German guns, they are a really good pellet but i find them a little to hard and hence donít use them, but they are still worth a try.
As to what pellet to use in your rifle, well each rifle even the same make and model will vary, trial and error is the only way to find what you rifle likes but stick to the above and you cant go wrong. Price can be a big factor on choosing the pellet you use with some of them now costing £8 and above a tin in .177, but those extra few £ís are well spent in my book.
Finding which pellet your rifle prefers is simple really, zero at your chosen zero range (28 yards in my case) and start by grouping in groups of 3, 3 shots shows were you going properly rather than having a massive group of 5 or ten shots that donít show the group well enough. At 30 yards if your grouping under 15-10mm with a pcp and under 25-20mm with a springer your on to a good start, you then need to push it as far back as 45 yards if your capable, this will then show the true grouping of your rifle and chosen pellets, you should be [img]http://still well under an inch at this range if not try a different pellet. Constancy is the key at shooting at long range, make sure you are comfortable as if your not you wont shoot well[/img]and most of all trigger technique is critical at long range. To give an example my Weihrauch HW77 Springer will put 3 pellets well under 8mm at 28 yards and about 10 mm at 45 yards if I do my part using weighed JSB exacts, so that shows im using the best pellet I can for my rifle.
Photosbykev has done a pellet database showing all the info about the pellets and close up photos, find the pellets you are using at the moment and see what they look like close up.
Express and exacts (middle and right)
Cross section of pellets
Cleaning and lubing pellets.
If you ever look in the bottom of you empty pellet tin you may see the lead swarfe left behind from the manufacturing process, cleaning the pellets will also remove any traces of chemicals left behind too. To clean fill a plastic container* with luke warm water and add a little washing up liquid †in there and foam it up, then gently add you tin of pellets and very slowly and gently swirl them around a few times, then using an old sieve* slowly tip them and the water through and rinse off using clean water. You can then tip them on kitchen paper and dry them a s much as you can and either leave over night in a warm place or dry using a gentle heat from a hairdryer.
* Do not use the container or sieve for anything else other than pellets after using once, lead is poisonous and carcinogenic so be careful.
Once they are dry you can then lube, if you clean the pellets you will have to lube then or they will or they will oxidise and go dull looking.
I use Lubro techinic pellet lube which is also labelled as logun PL9 pellet lube (Tonys camo sells this) its been around for years and you get 100ml for about £5, ive never been a fan of the Napier pellet lube as its too thick and at £3-£4 for just 10ml its a lot more expansive than the lt1/logun. A bottle of the lt1/logun lube lasted me for over a year and anyone who knows just how many pellets I get through knows thatís a lot.
Logun Pellet lube (same stuff different label)
Right to lube use a small plastic bag, the kind you use for sandwiches or freezer bags, spray 2-3 sprays of the lube in the bag and slowly tip your pellets in, then lay the bag flat on the floor/desk and very gently using you palm rol the pellets round in the bag to evenly coat them in the lube. Once lubed pour them back in the tin and leave the lid off the tin over night to allow the excess lube to dissipate.
Ive had mixed results lubing pellets and therefore no longer bother washing and lubing, but as with anything its always worth a try as each rifle and pellet combo will always vary to how they respond to stuff.
All pellets have an average weight usually shown on the pellet tin. My chosen pellet the Jsb exact has an average weigh of 8.4 grain but using very sensitive scales show the weight to vary from pellet to pellet from 8.2-8.6 grain this is due to manufacturing tolerances and to be fair its not a huge margin of error when you bear in mind a 2mmx2mm square or paper weighs 0.2 grain. Some of the cheaper pellets vary massively though so weighing can sort that problem.
You need a good set of scales to weigh pellets properly, a lot of people swear by the cheap £10 scale son eBay, but after having 3 different sets of eBay I can confirm they are rubbish. I ended up paying £35 from Blackpool air rifles for my set on mcn reloading scales made to weigh gunpowder when reloading full bore bullets I have found this to be very reliable and accurate.
Once you have you scales and you want to start weighing again consistency is the key, find a good level surface to use nothing that can move and make sure there are not big drafts around the area, if I have my fan on above my scales the weight lowers then rises as the fan passes by (told you they were good scales).
Pellets weight wise I use the 8.3, 8.4 and 8.5 grain pellets for competitions an any other s above and below these weights for plinking at the range, its surprising just how many you find under and over weight and you can do a tin in less than 30 mins or as I do 60 or so enough to check zero and shoot a comp and they only take about 5 mins and again people will say weighing makes no difference at all but if a shot drops low on a target I donít blame the pellet as I have confidence in them
If you look under you tin of pellets you should see a sticker than shows the tins head size, usually 4.51, 4.52 and 4.53 this is the pellets head size in mm, again its just an average head size (some will be smaller some bigger) †and the use of a pellet sizer can size all the pellets to a consistent size, a sizer is basically a brass tube smaller one end than the other, the smaller size is your chosen size you wish to size them too, and you simply insert the pellet and slowly push it through resizing the head as you do so. Im about to try sizing for myself and will add to this when I have my results, but with shooting the Springer so much lately and thumbing hundreds of pellet home into the barrel I can feel some are looser than others and must have shot about 15 off into the ground at yesterdays comp as I wasnít happy with the pellet so I think the results of sizing should be interesting.
Some results from sizing 1/06/09
Well as soon as i did this guide Mikey got on the phone to UK Neil on the Airgun BBS and at 9am the following morning we both had a 4.52 pellet sizer. I found two things A) At 28 yards (my zero) using the jsb exact i used at the last comp the hw77 groups fine but at 45 yards its like a shotgun, so i went back to the AA Field i used at the nationals and the grouping was vastly improved, using jsb's i was producing groups about 35mm wide with aa fields the groups went to under 15mm @45 yards. B) the sizer does make a difference to grouping and as i said the way the pellets feel going into the rifle (they all felt the same with some resistance going in) with sized AA Field the 45 yard groupings were about 10mm so in my eyes it definitely works and i will continue to try the sizer with the hw77 and my mk4 daystate and will post my results here as and when known. The sizer cost £14 each and Ryan charlts has offered the use of his 4.48 one to see what the results of that are.
Use of you prepared pellets
If you have spent time prepping your pellets then the last thing you want to do is ruin them on you way to a shoot. Donít leave them in your pellet tin as they will rattle round and get damaged, buy a good pellet pouch, im a big fan of the solid leather ones worn around the neck as they offer a lot of protection. I have some plastic boxes I have put nice foam padding in and when I buy a new tin of pellets they go straight in there and donít get damaged at all. I then put them in the pouch as and when required.
My pellet pouch
At a shoot as you are loading your rifle always check the pellet for damage, watch me at a shoot I inspect every pellet before it goes in my rifle, it takes seconds but may mean the difference of a kill or plate so is well worth doing.
If your using a pouch always make sure its shut before you go prone too, those little piles of pellets you see on a hft course near the posts are a good case in point to make sure you shut them. Get into a set routine when your taking your shot and do the same routine every shot, mine is;
Take rifle off shoulder
Take baseball cap off.
Open pellet pouch
Cock rifle and hold under lever
Take pellet out of pouch and inspect (throw away if damaged)
Load rifle then close bolt/barrel/under lever
Open flip ups on scope
Lay prone and hold post
Pull target string to confirm correct target and check target has be reset (pulled back up)
Range find target by eye
Look through scope confirm kill zone and size of kill zone and check my range again
Check for grass twigs etc in line of sight of scope and pellets path
Check barrel clearance from humps in ground, grass etc in front of rifle.
Check for wind at firing line then at target
Switch safety off
Give correct aim point
Follow through for a second
Pull target back up if killed, swear and confirm where you missed if plated.
Seems like a lot of things to do but I bet I do them all in under 30 seconds keeping a routine stops you forgetting something, nothing more annoying than getting ready for you shot squeezing the trigger and realising the safety is till on.
I think the most important things I can say are always check you pellet for damage before shooting and if you do drop a pellet on the floor leave it there do not pick it up and use it.