Wadcutter pellets are the natural choice for target shooting.

They have a broad, round head that cut big holes in paper targets. Wadcutters are good for plinking, and some competitive shooting events make their marksmen use them. They range from ultra-cheap target pellets, to expensive tournament-grade wadcutters.

Some hunters think that wadcutters work better on a small game than domed or pointed pellets, but I haven’t been able to dig up any hard evidence to prove it. The theory is that wadcutters don’t over penetrate so they work like some sort of a poor man’s hollowpoint.

Take Note

Whether or not that’s true is anyone’s guess, but there’s a decent amount of anecdotal evidence — and some squirrel hunters swear by them.

Wadcutters aren’t very aerodynamic so they drop faster than other pellets at range. If you’re making shots out further than you’ve calibrated your sights, you need to adjust.


Domed pellets are more aerodynamic than other kinds of ammunition. That means, they hit harder at long distances. They were designed as airguns became more powerful and wadcutters started to tumble and lose accuracy because of wind resistance.

These pellets have a heavier tip, which generates a ton of knock-down power compared to other pellets. They keep a lot of that power at long range too.

Take Note

Domed pellets hit harder than pointed pellets but they aren’t specifically designed for hunting. That said, they do a great job as long as your airgun is powerful enough to make good use of them. They don’t penetrate as well as pointed pellets, but they are typically heavier and hit harder.

Since domed pellets tend to be heavy, you won’t see the same muzzle velocity as you would with other types. But if you have a powerful airgun and you need to make a long-range shot that hits the target hard, domed pellets are a good pick.


Pointed pellets are designed to penetrate. They’re a good choice for varmints at medium range, since they cut through thicker hair and hides. They also have some of the same aerodynamic benefits as domed pellets, but they quite aren’t as pronounced.

They retain velocity better than wadcutters, so they’ll shoot flatter and penetrate well at range.

Take Note

One thing that sets pointed pellets apart from wadcutters and domed pellets is the skirt, which tends to be longer to compensate for the lighter tip.

Some of the best manufacturers of pointed pellets, like Beeman and ARS, also include thick bands at the midpoint which are designed to engage the rifling and put more spin on the pellet.

Pointed pellets work better than domed pellets in underpowered airguns, especially pistols. They’re typically lighter than domed pellets. Since they penetrate better, pointed pellets are more likely to get you a clean kill at a range — even if your airgun isn’t outstanding.


When they’re fired out of a powerful airgun, hollowpoint pellets expand to cause maximum damage. Just like hollowpoint bullets, these pellets are designed to kill. You don’t want to use them for plinking, but they’re great for hunting.

Take Note

They tend to be a little bit lighter than wadcutters which makes them fly faster. As they expand in the target, they dump all of their energy fast. That makes for larger wounds and better stopping power.

The downside is that hollowpoint pellets only expand if they’re traveling fast.

Depending on the brand, you only get good results above 1,000 FPS. If you’re shooting long distances, or if your airgun doesn’t have enough power, stick with pointed or domed pellets instead. But up close, they’re a killer.


Hybrid pellets combine the benefits of more than one style of airgun pellet. For instance, Crosman makes hollow point pellets that have a small spike in the middle. They give you a bit more penetration while still having some of the stopping power of hollow points.

It’s hard to categorize hybrid pellets since they come in so many shapes and style. But remember, you get the drawbacks as well as the benefits.


It is important to realize that pellet stability and slug stability are different forms of the same phenomenon.

Our typical Diabolo (waisted) pellets primarily get their stability from the Center of Pressure (CP), caused by the drag of the flared skirt, being behind the Center of Gravity (CG). This makes them naturally stable in flight much like the behavior of a dart, arrow or Badminton shuttlecock.

When the pellet is not travelling straight, there is more pressure or drag on one side than the other (left drawing), and the CP is offset, causing a torque or twisting moment about the CG.

The pellet will tend to yaw less until the CP is directly behind the CG (right drawing) and the pellet travels straight. This is called “Shuttlecock Stability” and pellets are often referred to as “Drag Stabilized”. This is not strictly true, pellets are “Flare Stabilized”, but the effect is the same.

Unfortunately, very few slugs are perfect. There may be tiny voids in the lead, or imperfections from casting or swaging, that causes them to be asymmetrical. This results in the CG being offset from the shape (and hence the CP), as in the upper right sketch.

In addition, as the forces realign, the slug yaws. There is also a reaction to that yaw which causes the slug to suddenly depart from the direction the barrel is pointing.