BSA Green Star .177
Mike Morton becomes a lead-free lightweight and tests the BSA Green Star in .177 to see how far these green alternatives can go
BSA Green Star .177
Will it or won’t it? Lead ammo being banned, that is. As airgun shooters, we can’t get into the minds of the politicians or gaze into a crystal ball and see if such a thing will become a reality. But what we can do is start to prepare. And perhaps there are some environmentally aware shooters among us who have already shunned the poisonous metal that is lead in favour of a less harmful alternative, just like the Green Star from BSA.
Green Stars come in a screw-top tin of 300 in .177, as on test here, and are part of BSA’s premium pellet range. Possibly the most useful of the lead options is the Gold Star, a domehead diabolo.
Green Stars are also a domehead diabolo, but while the overall design may be similar to the Gold, their actual shape is quite different. Gold Stars, which offer superb accuracy, are more squat.
Their lead-free brothers, on the other hand, are longer, leaner and are far shinier, this being down to the type of alloy that is used to manufacture them.
As with most lead-free pellets, the .177 Green Stars are made of a hard, crush-resistant alloy, despite having a skirt with thin walls.
My standard procedure on receiving a new tin of pellets is to tip them all out onto a microfibre cloth for inspection. All were undamaged and perfectly clean. This is mostly the norm for a tin of high quality lead pellets, and absolutely the norm for high-end, lead-free pellets.
Green Stars have a head size of 4.50mm and a length of 6.56mm. BSA doesn’t specify what these are best for, but the tin features the slogan “The Power To Change”, which is a message we may one day be forced to live and shoot by. BSA lists the weight on the tin as 6.66gr, two grains lighter than the lead Gold Stars. Having weighed 50 pellets with my scales, I found 33 pellets to be 6.4gr, with 17 coming in at 6.6gr, giving an average measured weight of 6.47gr. This is lighter than BSA’s figure, but may be due to the calibration of my scales. Nevertheless, the sample I weighed was quite consistent.
BSA Green Star .177 – key specifications
Pellet: Green Star
Supplied by: BSA Guns (bsaguns.co.uk)
Type: Lead-free domehead diabolo
Calibre tested: .177
Head size: 4.50mm
Supplied in: Tin of 300
Advertised weight: 6.64 grains
Measured weight: 6.47 grains
Uses: Pest control, target shooting
This shoot was carried out on an absolutely perfect autumn day, being mild, which was good for me, overcast, enhancing the view of the target, and utterly windless.
All shots were taken at self-adhesive 1in Birchwood Casey Target Spots stuck to white A4 card, which provides a nice optical contrast through the scope lenses. My rifle of choice was the Daystate Red Wolf. As always, the barrel was cleaned before being tested with this new ammo, and I put around 20 pellets through the bore while setting my normal zero of 30yds.
With the Red Wolf supported by bench bags front and rear that were filled with heavy ABS plastic chips, I carried out my velocity testing over the chronograph, with all pellets being taken straight from the tin.
I put 10 shots over my Shooting Chrony F1, yielding an average muzzle velocity of 824.4 ft/sec, a muzzle energy of 9.77 ft-lb and a variation in velocity of 12.2 ft/sec – certainly a good result, but a tad higher than I’d been expecting from such well-made pellets being shot in such a well-made rifle.
My usual testing regime with lead pellets is to shoot them at 20, 30 and 40yds from a 30yd zero. Experience has taught me that lead-free pellets may exceed the performance of some lead pellets out to medium distances, but don’t remain accurate at longer ranges.
Fast, light pellets tend to lose energy more quickly than slower, heavier lead ammo. This was true to an extent here too, and I ended up testing and recording results for these pellets at slightly different distances, these being 25, 30 and 35 yards.
At 25yds, the Green Stars delivered a five-shot group measuring 8.0mm centre-to-centre, with me applying 6mm of holdunder. At 30 yards the group shrank slightly to 7.4mm centre-to-centre with me aiming on. While this runs contrary to what you might expect, this is nonetheless something I’ve experienced a number of times before. And back at 35 yards the group size opened up to 17.2mm centre-to centre with 13mm of holdover. That’s just under the diameter of a 5p piece.
At this moment in time I think it’s fair to say that, like for like, lead pellets still out-perform lead-free ammo, and that’s purely down to the material that has to be used and its ballistic inferiority compared with lead. But as BSA has proven, the gap is certainly narrowing.
“With the effective range slowly extended, airgun shooters preparing for a lead-free future or wanting to help the environment right now have a lot to be thankful for in the shape of BSA’s .177 Green Star