Choosing pellets for your air rifle can seem a bit tricky at first. It is important to note right off the bat that there are no right or wrong pellets.
Instead, selecting the correct pellets depends on finding the best air rifle pellets for your specific gun and the type of shooting you most commonly do. With a little knowledge and the willingness to test out different pellets, it isn’t hard to find ones that provide improved performance and accuracy when shot. In my opinion, any pellet that does this is the best air rifle pellet.
While nearly all air rifles today shoot modern lead pellets, this wasn’t always the case. The guns of yesterday were known to shoot lead shot and BBs. However, modern lead pellets are cheaper (both to manufacture and purchase), more plentiful, more efficient, and much safer. All of these things together have led them to become the standard for air rifle ammunition.
One of the first things you will notice when looking into the best air rifle pellets for your gun is the vast variety of types available. Generally, the different types are based primarily on shape, but weight and caliber are other factors to consider.
The most important thing to remember is that it isn’t type of pellet you should most worry about – it is quality of pellet. And that is why you should always buy your pellets from an established and reputable manufacturer. It is all too easy to get sucked into buying low-priced bargain pellets but you need to resist the temptation to save a little money. In addition to lower performance, low-priced pellets run the risk of sticking in the bore or damaging your air rifle.
To help you find the absolute best air rifle pellets for your air gun, I put together the little buyer’s guide below. It explains the differences between the best types of air gun pellets and then lists a recommendation for a particular brand and model for each. But first a quick look at matching your pellets to the bore size of your air gun is needed…
The pellets that you buy need to match the bore size of your air gun. As straightforward as this sounds, many newcomers to air gun shooting don’t take it into account. If the pellets you bought don’t fit your gun, chances are you just wasted some money.
After matching up the pellet to the bore size of your air rifle, the rest is left up to trial and error. I’d say grab a couple different kinds of pellets at first (all matching the correct bore size of your air rifle) and test them for accuracy. There is little doubt that you will be amazed at how differently each separate pellet fires from the same gun.
It is also worth noting that air rifles can generally shoot heavier pellets than air pistols. Naturally, this is because air rifles are larger and more powerful. They contain larger air chambers that are able to produce greater amounts of energy.
Nearly every type of air rifle pellet that is widely used today is constructed in the diabolo shape. Basically, this means that they are larger on both ends and have a thinner middle area.
The diabolo shape has numerous benefits. Chief among them is that they are extremely efficient in the chamber and bore, as well as in flight. This all relates to the self-stabilizing design.
The four main types of air gun pellets all feature the diabolo shape. The actual specific design of the head is what makes them different from one another and determines their primary usage.
Featuring a flat head with a slight bevel on the edge, the wadcutter pellet has long been considered the most accurate air rifle pellet available. This makes them a solid bet for target shooting competitions.
The wadcutter is lightweight to provide maximum velocity. They are also among the most cost-effective pellets available, making them economical to shoot. They cut a sharp-edged hole in paper targets making them easy to score.
Though they are best for plinking and target shooting, you might also consider wadcutter pellets if you plan to take your air rifle small game hunting. They are great at short range but can’t be used accurately at anything over 25 yards.
My favorite wadcutter pellets are those available from Crosman. In particular, their .177 Caliber, 7.4 Grains Wadcutter Pellets. You can find these in a 1,250-count carton for just over ten bucks. They fit snuggly in just about any .177 air gun and I have never had them jam or get stuck. They are lightly greased and fly straight and true.
Just as its name implies, the head shape of a pointed pellet is just that, pointed. It ends in a very sharp point that is designed for maximum efficiency when penetrating small game. These air rifle pellets were specifically designed for hunting.
The waist area of a pointed pellet is slightly larger in diameter than other types of pellets. This is to make up for the reduced weight that the pointed head causes. The thicker middle ensures that they remain accurate and stable without reducing overall punch.
If hunting is what you bought your air rifle for, then pointed pellets are likely the best air rifle pellets for you. In addition to their accuracy and power, they are the best for one-shot kills.
The only real drawback is their cost. They are slightly more expensive than wadcutters. However, the benefits that you do receive from them far outweigh this slight negative. Just don’t use pointed pellets for plinking or target shooting. Reserve them for hunting situations and the price won’t be a big factor.
Among my favorite pointed pellets are RWS Superpoint Pellets. No matter the caliber you choose, these can’t be beat. They seem to have better accuracy than any other model or brand and are cast with excellent uniformity. They fit snuggly inside most rifles and work great at both high and low velocities.
Round Nose Pellet
Another great option for air rifle pellets is the round nose pellet. These have a protruding area on the head, ahead of the driving band, that increase weight and provide an even bigger punch upon impact. The round protrusion also decreases wind resistance.
Round nose pellets are perfect for higher caliber air guns that have faster and more powerful velocities. They maintain speed over long distances and aren’t knocked off course as much by wind and other factors.
Use round nose pellets for hunting when long distance shots are expected. Many people think these pellets really shine at distances of 50 yards or so at knocking down air gun sized steel silhouettes – that’s pretty impressive.
It’s important to note that round nose pellets are generally only suited for air rifles. Most air pistols don’t have enough oomph to really utilize this particular type of pellet.
Once again, RWS is a great choice for the best round nose air rifle pellets. Their Superdome Pellets are among the best for distance shooting while still remaining accurate at close range. RWS pellets are well known for their uniformity and consistency and their Superdome Pellets are no different.
The hollowpoint shape makes this pellet accurate and efficient during flight. They combine the increased weight and knock down power of a round nose pellet with the wadcutter shape mentioned above. This makes them perfect for short distance small game hunting or home pest control.
Hollowpoint pellets are great because they are generally suited for both air pistols and air rifles. They also provide nearly the same results for both.
I like to use hollowpoint pellets for both plinking and small pest control. It is nice to be able to use the same pellet for both, especially if you only own one air gun.
Crosman Premier Hollowpoint Pellets are among my favorite. I find them to be very accurate and well made. They pack a solid punch that is perfect for one-shot kills without too much penetration. Plus, they are affordable and don’t break the bank.
The Best Air Rifle Pellets
Selecting the best air rifle pellets is not about sending for the best-reviewed pellets available. Instead, it is about experimenting and finding the ones that are best suited for your particular air rifle and shooting preferences.
The information discussed above should greatly help you in your search for the best air rifle pellets. Use it to aid in your experimentation so you can find a pellet that you truly love.
Further reading: Best Air Rifle