Sorting Pellets by Head Size

Forums Pellets, Projectiles, Slugs, & Ammo Sorting Pellets by Head Size

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    oldspook
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    So the recent new sponsors got me interested in fiddling with sorting pellets to improve accuracy.  They  jury is still out but both tests I’ve done suggest that it may actually be worth the effort.

    Linked is the test I just did with CPHP .22 Walmart Special screw top tin in my D460.  Sorting with that http://www.pelletgage.com is “fiddly” to say the least.  The problem with the gauge is that the edges of the holes in the gauge are LASER cut.  They are very precise and they are very square.  Depending upon the pellet,  it can be a nightmare to figure out how much pressure is enough and how much is too much.  The lead, even hard lead like in the CPHP, tends to snag on the corner of the hole.  It would be nice if the engineer could find a way to radius edges of the holes or even to somehow make them into a bit more of a funnel so that round nosed pellets could more easily find the center and either fall through or fail.  I’ve probably sorted 750 pellets of 4 different basic designs so far and each type of pellet seems to require it’s own “technique”.

    Still the gauge does work and provides a means to sort pellets and discover which ones your gun “likes”.   I have not done any weighing yet.  Once I accumulate enough pellets that one of my guns “likes” I’ll use that group to further test the benefits of weighing.

    Here is one batch of results shot today.  I’ll keep this thread alive as I do more work:

    And this is what we learned (about my D460 and that pellet) from that target:

     

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    nced
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    I never messed with sorting my boxed die lot marked and dated Crosman Premiers, I simply tossed out the occasional “loose fitter” and the unsized CPLs were the most accurate pellets from my R9 & HW77. I believe that as long as the pellet head is large enough to be swaged to “leade size” when loading, the pellet head size will be adjusted to a consistent size by the leade. I’ve always had great accuracy from my R9 with unsized CPLs as these pics show (shot hunter class field target style sitting on a bucket resting the gun on cross sticks).
    15 out of 20 CPLs through a 3/4″ killzone at 50 yards……

    Some other 50 yard CPL groups shot HFT style with the .177 R9……..

    Next 5 shots on paper……..

    Testing different pellets at 50 yards. Notice the CPL group in the upper left corner (1″ squares, 3/8″ dia bulls)………

    Well…a few years ago I received a case of CPLs that had excess parting compound on them (or whatever the dark grey gunge was) and those CPLs required washing prior to my usual lubing. It was at that time I tried out a couple other brands of pellets hoping to dispense with the washing chore and the first alternate pellet I tried was the H&N FTT. I bought a tin and the accuracy was as good as the CPL even though they didn’t fit the leade as snug so I ordered 8 more tins. After the 1st tin was used up I found that the second tin tried had a LOT of really loose fitting pellets in the leade of my R9 with the resulting fliers. This started a pellet head measuring marathon and this is the result……..

    The head sizes of remaining tins of H&N FTTs varied as much as .005 INCH.

    I got rid of the H&Ns and then tested out the JSB Exacts and indeed the first tin I bought were as accurate as unsorted CPLs so I ordered 8 more tins (can you tell that I usually buy from Pyramyd Air,s “buy 4 and pay for 3” deal). I finished up the 1st tin of 8.4 grain Exacts and found that the second tin had pellets with varying head sizes and some were extremely loose fitting in my R9. Matter of fact, the last time I used the Exacts was at a THAGC field target match where I had 2 dry-fires. I would have had a 3rd had I not noticed the pellet flipping out of the R9 leade when relatching the barrel! Well…..out of curiosity I did another head measuring session and this was the result with the Exacts……..


    The remaining Exacts were sold!

    That was in June of 2015 and I decided to return to the CPLs and wash if necessary so I ordered a case from PA. After receiving the case I immediately dumped a box in the washing solvent and was delighted to see that the excess “parting compound” was absent and here is the solvent after soaking and stirring the pellets………

    That case of CPLs was clean so I ordered several more cases and here was my stash in June 2015……

    That whole good fitting Exacts and FTTs shooting accurately while the “loose fitters” not so accurately convinced me that the pellet heads need to be consistent and snug fitting in the leade.

    Then I bought a new .177 HW95 to go with my .177 R9 and found that the leade of the HW95 was considerably tighter than the R9 and after shooting a while there was “hurt loading finger syndrome” from pushing the CPL with 4.54-4.55mm heads into the leade, however the CPLs still shot accurately. Measuring thousands of pellet heads I learned that many (most?) pellets didn’t have perfectly round heads so I really didn’t see how sorting with “holes in a plate” would sort properly since the holes were gauging pellets by head ovality. There are many users of the “holes in a plate” that maintain the sorting did make for more accurate shooting so I have to admit that the “holy plate” must work well for some.   The tight CPLs in the HW95 leade prompted me to make my own sizing die to take the 4.54-4.55mm CPL head down to a smaller diameter for the HW95. After starting with CPL heads sized to 4.48mm I progressively lapped the sizing ring of the die stopping at 4.52mm which works well with my R9 plus they load into the tight leade HW95 without “sore loading finger syndrome”.

    Now all my CPLs get “head sized” to 4.52mm and the skirts get expanded a bit, plus rounded. This pellet head size works well with both of my HW springers!
    Sketch of my sizing die………..

    Sizing die……..

    Notice the slight flat on the pellet head rifling surface.

    Anywhoo…..IMHO the issues with pellet head sizes is mostly an issue with pellets that aren’t large enough to be “sized” when loading and the tins Exacts and FTTs had a great variation in head size from the same tin. I had JSB exacts and FTTs from the tin marked 4.50mm that were larger than pellets from the tins marked 4.52mm and visa-versa to the point that I even wondered why supposed head sizes were even stamped on the tins. From the 8 tins of Exacts marked 4.52mm there were relatively few that actually measured 4.52mm, to the point that I wondered if my digital calliper was off. Then I measured a bunch of Air Arms Domes marked 4.52mm and most actually measured the marked size, however I’ve only measured from a single AA tin.
     

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    oldspook
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    Great information Ed, thanks!  I’ll need to read this a couple more times.  I remember you saying how happy you were that CPs weren’t shipping with the extra grunge anymore.  Don’t know if that was here or on another forum but I remember it specifically.  I have a couple of old Beeman sizers around here somewhere and you have prompted me to try to dig them up.

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    nced
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    There may be an issue with the old Beeman sizers (I did own a couple) in the sense that when I used the sizers the pellets were “full sized” (both head and skirt reduced to the same dimension). My home made sizer does swage the head a bit but also expands the skirt a bit as it “rounds out” the skirt.

    Funny thing is that I’m currently accuracy testing some pellets that I “full sized” by pushing them completely through the die. At only 18 yards the accuracy seems comparable to the “head sized only” pellets but the true test will be some shooting at 50 yards if the wind ever lets up!

    Here’s a pic of the Delrin ram I made to push the pellets through the die for “full sizing” the pellet………


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    Pelletgage
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    Oldspook said:
    The problem with the gauge is that the edges of the holes in the gauge are LASER cut.  They are very precise and they are very square.  Depending upon the pellet,  it can be a nightmare to figure out how much pressure is enough and how much is too much.  The lead, even hard lead like in the CPHP, tends to snag on the corner of the hole.  It would be nice if the engineer could find a way to radius edges of the holes or even to somehow make them into a bit more of a funnel so that round nosed pellets could more easily find the center and either fall through or fail
    You are quite right, the cut edges of the apertures in the gage plate are sharp. I use a case edge chamfer tool to reduce this, by hand (every aperture, both sides). If you like, I will send you one with more chamfer. You are also right in that it requires some technique. I hope you see an improvement with practice.
    Your data look pretty interesting. Joe Peacock (who makes the plastic parts for Pelletgage) has an indoor range, and shoots sorted pellets with a Thomas benchrest setup. He told me last week that “4.53 shoots best but the 4.54’s and 4.52’s shoot nearly as well, maybe off 2x’s out of 75 shots compared to the 4.53’s. I have 1,149 targets I have kept and recorded data on”.
    I believe that if you have consistency of +/- 0.01 mm in your pellets, the benefit of sorting is small, but that you often see more than that in a tin, and that it is a good practice to take a sample of 40 pellets from a new tin, and measure to see if you have the consistency and mean diameter that will work well with your barrel. If so, that could be all you need to do. If you are shooting in a match, you might go as far as sorting all the pellets needed for the shoot.

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    oldspook
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    “Pelletgage”Oldspook said:
    The problem with the gauge is that the edges of the holes in the gauge are LASER cut.  They are very precise and they are very square.  Depending upon the pellet,  it can be a nightmare to figure out how much pressure is enough and how much is too much.  The lead, even hard lead like in the CPHP, tends to snag on the corner of the hole.  It would be nice if the engineer could find a way to radius edges of the holes or even to somehow make them into a bit more of a funnel so that round nosed pellets could more easily find the center and either fall through or fail
    You are quite right, the cut edges of the apertures in the gage plate are sharp. I use a case edge chamfer tool to reduce this, by hand (every aperture, both sides). If you like, I will send you one with more chamfer. You are also right in that it requires some technique. I hope you see an improvement with practice.
    Your data look pretty interesting. Joe Peacock (who makes the plastic parts for Pelletgage) has an indoor range, and shoots sorted pellets with a Thomas benchrest setup. He told me last week that “4.53 shoots best but the 4.54’s and 4.52’s shoot nearly as well, maybe off 2x’s out of 75 shots compared to the 4.53’s. I have 1,149 targets I have kept and recorded data on”.
    I believe that if you have consistency of +/- 0.01 mm in your pellets, the benefit of sorting is small, but that you often see more than that in a tin, and that it is a good practice to take a sample of 40 pellets from a new tin, and measure to see if you have the consistency and mean diameter that will work well with your barrel. If so, that could be all you need to do. If you are shooting in a match, you might go as far as sorting all the pellets needed for the shoot.

    
Not necessary.  I’ll get some barrel lapping compound and lap those corners with a pencil eraser in a 1/4″ drill.  That will make it smoother.  Thanks for the advice.  I was afraid to do that, with your advice I am more comfortable.  I am certainly seeing a difference and intend to continue using the device.  My observations agree with Mr. Peacock’s.  There is a “dip” on the CtC graphs I make which shows there is some “windage” allowable.

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    Pelletgage
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    Ed, I’ve seen similar results in gaging H&N FTT pellets, and other cases where a tin looked great. JSB also seems to have lapses, I have first hand reports with photos like yours. Again, I offer that a good practice is to check a 10% sample apply some simple statistics. Your mean should be within 0.02 mm of what you believe is the best for your gun (typically only with sampling, test firing, etc.) and the standard deviation will tell you how likely it is that you will see outliers as you demonstrated with both (reputable) pellet manufacturers. I believe a “good” tin of pellets will have 95% within 0.01 mm of nominal. The decision of whether to sort them all is another matter.

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    oldspook
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    “nced”There may be an issue with the old Beeman sizers (I did own a couple) in the sense that when I used the sizers the pellets were “full sized” (both head and skirt reduced to the same dimension). My home made sizer does swage the head a bit but also expands the skirt a bit as it “rounds out” the skirt.

     

    
I’ve been thinking some about your results and the idea that head size being too large isn’t as significant as being too small.  The reason I’ve been thinking on it is that my graphs are mostly coming up looking more or less like the one I linked at the top of the page.  I am working with springers also.  We know that the pellet gets pushed into the leade about the time that the temperature spikes during piston travel.  It seems to me that temperature would spike higher and therefor working pressure would spike higher as well if the piston encountered more resistance while forcing the pellet to engrave on the rifling.  The opposite is true of pellets which are loose in the leade.  That (or something else I suppose ;) ) would explain why I get the curve I am seeing.  The skirt itself would be much easier to engrave and so would have much lower impact.  The idea that the skirt is flexible enough to be “blown” into a fit in the rifling makes good sense to me, especially the softer pellets.  It may well be that simply sizing both head and skirt are a good way to “sort” pellets.  The fact that you are sizing heads would obscure that difference in your testing. 

    What are your thoughts on this idea?

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    Percula
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    I agree that smaller head size has greater impact on POI than larger. When I’m shooting out of the tin and I get a small pellet its pretty easy to feel it/see it being smaller in the breach of my Thomas. When I get a smaller I always get a windage “flyer” to one degree or another. Larger on the other hand seem to have little to no significant impact on the POI.

    I size my pellets. When you place a pellet in the die it will stop at a certain distance, which you will learn to find the mean. Pellets that fall deep at too small and I toss them into the “what ever” tin or recycling jar. Large ones will sit high in the die and also get tossed.

    I inspect visually the head, sides and skirt for defects and toss a lot in to the “what ever” tin. What is frustrating is that even with sorting, sizing, weighing and inspecting I still will get flyers in a match. I suspect that not all pellets are balanced and wobble like a out of balance tire or that the skirt is ever so lightly off center so they get a kick to one side or another coming out of the crown. Short of getting a laser measure and spin balancing system I don’t know how you eliminate these.

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    nced
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    A few comments to “oldspook”:

    I don’t get too worked up over the “theoretical”, I simply try to address specific issues as I find them. I’ve used unsized CPLs for decades and they worked well from my HW77k, BVeeman R10 and Beeman R9, however when I bought my HW95 last year I ran into an issue I never had before with HW springers……..real tight leade that made loading Die “B” CPLs “finger hurtin’ tight”.

    In years past I simply tossed out a loose fitting CPL knowing that it would be a flier and I do remember one case of “die 5s” (either die 5 or die 7) that was plagued with peewees and I remember one particular 1250 count box that contained about 120 under sized pellets and three dozen that actually “free fell” through the bore of my R9. During that time Crosman QC was horrendous with swarf in the box as well as undersized and “ill-shapen” pellets, however the ones that fit the leade properly were the most accurate pellet for that R9. I bought three different sizes of .177 Beeman sizers and basically used only the largest size as a “go-no go” gage. If the pellet didn’t drop through the sizer it was considered good, however I ended up simply dropping a CPL into the leade and observing how high it set before pushing home. If the pellet sat at the proper height by eye it was pushed home, if it sat too low in the leade it was shaken out and replaced. I used this method for a while till Crosman got their QC issues under control. For years since I haven’t had any issues with CPL pellet fit into my R9 leade, but a couple years ago I had a case that was exceptionally “dusty” from excess parting compound (or whatever) and they required washing before lubing. That case of dirty CPLs started my flirting with JSB & H&N pellets only to had one “good tin” followed with several “bad tins” of very inconsistent head sizes  and overall loose fits with the leade of my R9.

    As far as pellet skirts getting “blown out” by the “power pulse” before the pellet “pops through the leade”, I suppose this does happen but it also seems to me that the degree the skirt gets “blown out” is dependent of the fit of the pellet head in the leade to begin with. At one field target match I had shot two “dry fires” using 8.4 JSB Exacts before I realized that the pellets were so loose fitting that they flipped out of the leade when latching the barrel. IMHO, the fit of the pellet head to the leade of the barrel affects the pellet in many different ways, however I found that the result was predictable………..a “loose fitter” will be a flier compared to the “normal fitter”. Before using up my last tin of loose fitting (in my R9) JSB Exacts I casually shot them from my  .177 HW95 with the tighter bore and choke and found that while they fit “un-snug” compared to my CPLs sized to 4.52ish mm they were actually rather accurate from that gun so the old saying “let the gun decide the best pellet” certainly proves true in my case.

    By the way, I did notice that even the thick skirted CPLs in the cardboard box will occasionally be “squished a bit”, however my home made sizer actually “irons out the ovality” so all sized pellets are consistent in “head size” and also consistent in “skirt size” by the ram when it pushes the pellet head through the sizing ring. Normal round CPL as it’s dropped into the die before sizing…….. 

    See how a CPL with slightly oval skirt gets “hung up” when dropped into the die……….

    Even a pellet with the skirt deformed this much will be “ironed out” when sized, however I usually just toss these out rather than messing with them.

    While I currently get very few “deformed skirts” in a box of CPLs, I got the one on the left recently and the sizer can’t fix that one……..

    Hope my rambling helped more than confused!!

     

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    oldspook
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    Thank you sir!  I think I’ll order a sizing die (push through) when I figure out what diameter of pellet my 48 likes.
     

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    A2ZBen
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    Air Rifle Tuning

    I use these in .177 and .22

    http://noebulletmoulds.com/ and these with hand press for .25 and .30 caliber 

    Both work great ,I also verify with pelletgage.com plates. PS I leave the clear plastic off and only use the actual metal plates for each size.

     

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    LIVIT
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    This is some of the knowledge I have been trying to find. I am going to be shooting FT with the THAGC, starting the next meet. As a lot of subjects there seems to be very mixed opinions on what is correct in sizing. I have seen; don’t bother its a waste of time, size just the head, shape and size just the skirt, or shape and size both.  It would make sense to me, if the skirt was sized larger than the head. Less contact on rifling, maybe a bit more speed along with accuracy.  Or is the skirt to soft, which would cause inconsistency due to blowouts. I am a bit confused, appreciate some help here…. Dale

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    nced
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    “LIVIT”This is some of the knowledge I have been trying to find. I am going to be shooting FT with the THAGC, starting the next meet. As a lot of subjects there seems to be very mixed opinions on what is correct in sizing. I have seen; don’t bother its a waste of time, size just the head, shape and size just the skirt, or shape and size both.  It would make sense to me, if the skirt was sized larger than the head. Less contact on rifling, maybe a bit more speed along with accuracy.  Or is the skirt to soft, which would cause inconsistency due to blowouts. I am a bit confused, appreciate some help here…. Dale

     

    
I’m planning to be at the March 25 match at Mt Pleasant and hope to see you there!

    “a lot of subjects there seems to be very mixed opinions on what is correct in sizing.”
    There are indeed differences in opinions concerning about every aspect of airgunning, however, I’ve always had very enjoyable matches and have found that such differences in opinions are accepted in a very cordial manner at the matches.

    My personal advice is to accept these differences in opinions and have fun shooting enough to find out what works best for you. After a couple decades shooting hunter class field target I never got into pellet sizing (or weighing) but the purchase of a new HW95 a couple seasons ago started my journey in sizing CPLs simply to make them fit the tight HW95 leade without “loadin’ finger trauma”! While the sized and weighed CPLs are considerably more consistent than they are “from the box”, I really don’t know if I can tell that they’re more accurate with my shooting skills from “bucket and sticks” if I toss out the occasional “looser than normal” pellet.

    One thing I learned shooting unsized CPLs from my tight lead HW95 was this………

    WOW….the camera shows up a lot of lint doesn’t it? ;)
    Before sizing my CPLs I’m wondering if the occasional fliers weren’t caused by not seating the tight fitting pellet properly on occasion. Over the last couple days I’ve been shooting head sized/skirt expanded CPLs and while the sized pellets do load easier I occasionally found a bit of “skirt deformation” from a slightly protruding pellet skirt with the tight leade HW95. A couple ways of preventing “skirt deforming protrusion” is to shoot a looser fitting pellet or seat the pellet with the ball end of a pellet seater like this………

    I personally like the pellet skirt seated flush with the end of the leade and I prefer to not need the extra pellet seating step but whatever works best for me is what I’ll do. With the tight leade HW95 I’m planning to do some testing at my back yard practice range using full sized CPL (sized to 4.52mm) to see if they can be consistently loaded without pellet skirt deformation when relatching the barrel. Last night I tried some full sized CPLs upstairs at 18 yards and they were as accurate as “head sized only” when I’m shooting from “bucket and sticks” but I’m not sure that will be the same outdoors at 50 and 53 yards

    Anywhoo….don’t get all “wrapped up around the axle” with “excess minutia” that can become a hassle when beginning field target shooting. Just practice as best you can and at all costs……..simply come and ENJOY a low stress and fun day shooting your airgun alongside other airgunners! I’ve had some relatively high scoring matches within my class and also some real “stinkers” but I’ve never walked off a course without finishing no matter what my score! I like to say on occasion “if the prize money were more my score might matter” (LOL, there is no prize money). Another comment I make on occasion after the shot is “don’t have a clue where that one went”. LOL

    Come on out with the determination to simply have a good time and make some new friends!
     

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    LIVIT
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    Ed, Jimmy (fussel) was the one you can blame for me joining club. I bought a nice underlever from Dwight. Those two have been attempting to guide me or maybe misguide :)  They are both great guys and have helped me a lot already. I have shot competition in many other disciplines from archery to bp cowboy action. To me the airgun challenge is greater than any of my other disciplines, specially since I have chosen to go springer verse PCP. I love a good challenge ! To me its more about the learning and accomplishing my personal challenge than shooting against someone. From what I have seen already from THAGC members I have no doubts I am going to enjoy y’alls company and do look forward to meeting you sir at the March 25th match.

    For me personally I think that pellet sizing/weighing/cleaning/lubricating will be just something I do because it makes me personally feel more confident that I have done everything I could to help my rifle shoot its best. That leaves the rest up to me ! I am sure I will have plenty of those moments you mentioned.   Dale

    Since I am shooting a underlever, it don’t appear that a traditional pellet seater is gong to work. Any suggestions ?

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    nced
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    “it don’t appear that a traditional pellet seater is gong to work. Any suggestions ?”
    They worked just fine with my HW77k when I owned it, I just preferred to seat the pellet by “feel”. I don’t know what under lever you’ll be using but my HW77 had a protruding loading port like this……….

    Real easy to seat the pellet with a “pellet seater” if desired. One thing about the gund with a sliding compression tube……..the compression tube travels in a linear motion when re-latching the cocking lever so the pellet skirt wouldn’t get deformed very much even if it did protrude a bit.

    LOL……considering the pellet sizing & weighing for my break barrels, I’m about at the point where I can test the sorted pellets to see if my accuracy is actually better after all the work considering my shooting skills from “bucket and sticks”. It might simply be that there won’t be much difference in 50 yard group sizes after the “pellet sorting”. Hopefully tomorrow will be relatively windless so I can compare a couple 50 yard groups, a couple groups from this lot of culled CPLs that weighed less than 7.90grains and more than 8.12grains………….

    If this lot of “mis-fits” don’t group significantly worse than my lot weighing 8.00grains to 8.04grains I’ll dispense with the weighing all together.

    I mounted my “looser leade” R9 barrel on my HW95 so I wouldn’t have to mess with the pellet seater. I still intend to size my CPLs even though it isn’t necessary with the R9 simply because it’s a great way to sort out the occasional misshapen pellets.

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    spitsnn
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    “<font style=vertical-align: inherit;><font style=vertical-align: inherit;>nced</font></font>”
    15 out of 20 CPLs through a 3/4″ killzone at 50 yards……



    the washing solvent and was delighted to see that the excess “parting compound” was absent and here is the solvent after soaking and stirring the pellets………

    That case of CPLs was clean so I ordered several more cases and here was my stash in June 2015……

    Sketch of my sizing die………..
    Sizing die……..

     

    I have not opened the picture. Climbs any unnecessary ads instead of a photo.
     

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    spitsnn
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    I can not open the photos. Instead of them, advertising comes.

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    nced
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    I’m a victim of the PhotoBucket charge where my posted pic links were  blocked unless i paid a $400 fee for the privilege of posting pics as 3rd party on web sites. After that I canceled my PhotoBucket account and opened up a couple new photo hosting accounts. I’ve been able to recover about 600 pics that were connected to PhotoBucket from backups and I’ll try to replace the deleted pics as i find them. 

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    spitsnn
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    <font style=vertical-align: inherit;><font style=vertical-align: inherit;>nced</font></font>I’m a victim of the PhotoBucket charge where my posted pic links were  blocked unless i paid a $400 fee for the privilege of posting pics as 3rd party on web sites. After that I canceled my PhotoBucket account and opened up a couple new photo hosting accounts. I’ve been able to recover about 600 pics that were connected to PhotoBucket from backups and I’ll try to replace the deleted pics as i find them. 

    
Thank you. Now you can see the first pictures.This is the bottom of the saizer. On the stump there will be a bullet, and on top of the bullet the second part of the sizer will drop.

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