Wondering if your air rifle could perform better? Maybe you need to change your pellets, says Mike Morton

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Airguns are prima donnas when it comes to ammunition. They’re fussy. Sometime it’s a matter of testing out a few brands before you find best airgun pellets for your particular rifle.
airgun pellets

Airguns are very fussy about pellets so it pays to experiment to find the best for you.

The good news is that experimenting is reasonably affordable because airgun pellets aren’t a lot of money. (Read our tips on finding the perfect airgun pellet.)
Before deciding on the best airgun pellets for you, you need to known the difference between different shapes and sizes.
  • Round head pellets are for general use and cut through the air more efficiently than the other shapes of pellets.
  • Pointed pellets are designed for hunting.
  • Hollow point pellets are best used at close quarters and spread on impact
  • Wadcutters pellets have flat heads and are only good at close ranges.
  • Nowadays there are also lead-free airgun pellets – scroll down to find out more.

Calibres and weights

The  .22 calibre used to be considered the best option for hunting but nowadays the smaller .177 calibre is more popular in sub-12ft/lbs air rifles.

Pellets come in different weights.  Low-powered airguns should use lighter pellets and high-powered air rifles should use heavier pellets.

Best airgun pellets

I’d recommend you try some of these.

1.RIFLE Premium Series Pointed Pellets Air Rifle 177 – 22 100 for £6.99

best airgun pellets

Best for HFT and field shooting

+ High accuracy

+ Can also be used for hunting

These roundhead diablos perform  well. The range is also available in wadcutter and pointed pellets. Rifle Premium Series rounds are marketed as being suitable for HFT or Field Target, but with accuracy like this you can happily add hunting to that list.

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2.Bisley Super Field from £6.89 

Bisley Super Field airgun pellets

Best established

+ Improved drive in the barrel

+ Good for field target shooting and hunting up to 25 yards

This pellet has been around for a long time. If you’re a shooter who’s not afraid to try something completely different you could be in for a super time with Super Fields.

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3. JSB Hades .22 5.50mm Tin of 500 Air Gun Pellets from £13.03JSB Hades

Best for hunting

+ Aerodynamic shape

+ Excellent accuracy

These pellets are super-heavyweight, with a pattern carved into the domehead that helps them to spread on impact. Domeheads don’t all need to be smooth to display ballistic capability.

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4. RWS Super Field .177 4.51mm PELLETS 8.4gr Air Rifle Gun Airgun 500 Tin from £13.80

RWS Super Field pellets

Best for spending a little extra

+ High penetration power

+ For PCP airguns

+ Ideal for field target shooting and hunting airguns

These pellets are favourites of field target and HFT shooters. They may have an unconventional head design but shoot them through the right barrel and they are superb.

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5. RIFLE 1000 Premium Series Round .22 Pellets – Super Box from £14.49

best airgun pellets listing

Best for short and mid-range hunting

+ Rifle Airgun pellets used by Olympians

+ Suitable for any airgun activity

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6. QYS Pointed Competition Grade Air Gun Pellets .177 / 4.5mm Qty500 from £13.99

Best for accuracy

+ Superb quality

+ Deeper penetration

If you want a hunting pellet that offers deeper penetration as well as accuracy, then you might find yourself rather pleasantly surprised by the QYS Pointed.

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7. HW Weihrauch Magnum .177 4.51mm Pellets Airgun Target Shooting 500 from £16.99

WEihrauch Magnum

Overall score 92%

+ Highly rated by users

+ Suitable for all kinds of airgunning

“Very good and accurate” says users in the product reviews.

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What about lead-free airgun pellets?

Many of the best airgun pellet manufacturers, such as JSB, H&N, RWS and Gamo, produce lead-free options.  They will perform differently in different barrels, so you will need to try a few to see which suits your gun best. (You’ll find our guide to discovering which will be the perfect airgun pellets for your rifle here; it’s worth a read because air rifles are fussy about pellets.)

Lead-free airgun pellets to buy and try

1. Gamo Lethal Pellets .177 Non Lead Airgun Air Rifle Hunting Pest Control £12.19 

Gamo Lethal 177

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2. Gamo Power Raptor .22 5.5mm Lead-Free Airgun Rifle Pellets 22 50 Pack Gold Plated PBA £11.29

Gamo Power Raptor22

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3. BSA Greenstar LEAD FREE pellets Air gun pistol Rifle Hunt Target 177 22 4.5 5.5 £13.99

lead-free airgun pellets

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4.RWS HyperDome Tin .177 4.5mm Non Lead Air Rifle Gun Pellets 200 Airgun Target Pest Control 231 81 62 £14.95

lead-free airgun pellets

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I have yet to find non-toxic airgun pellets that group quite as well as traditional lead ammo, and they seem to be particularly affected by the wind which can have a serious impact on accuracy. This can make shot placement unpredictable at longer ranges.

The pellets I have tested have been impeccably made. The problem is mostly to do with their weight — .177 lead-free pellets tend to weigh around six grains, whereas the lead equivalent would be between eight and nine.

Non-toxic airgun pellets also feel hard by comparison, which makes them quite rough through magazines and I would imagine it compromises their ability to hug the rifling of the barrel.

Though lead-free airgun pellets tend to fall short of lead in terms of performance, they have come a long way over the past decade and I expect them to advance further as demand increases.