A recent issue with some Indian Myna’s invading the farm shed meant that I was prompted into thinking about how best to control them. I didn’t like the idea of trapping them so the only viable option was to try and dispatch them with a firearm.
I was concerned about ricochets so the most appropriate choice for the job was my old Diana Millbro Model 70 Series 79 in .177 calibre. The poor old Diana doesn’t get used much these days so I thought it would be a good excuse to wipe the dust off it.
I had a couple of tins of pellets lying around so I thought I’d sight the rifle in and see how they went. I have a 2-7 power scope on it so dialling in a 20 meter zero was an easy task. I had forgotten how terrible the three stage non-adjustable trigger was but even with the handicap it still managed to produce minute of Myna groups at 20 meters.
Heading down to the shed I quickly found some suitable targets and spent a few hours getting stuck into the pesky birds. It didn’t take more than a few shots to realise that my Diana wasn’t giving the results I was looking for. Some birds would fly quite a distance before expiring and I wanted a quicker kill than I was getting.
I decided to check exactly how fast my rifle was shooting the pellets so I dug out the Chrony and worked off an average over ten shots. I was getting 615fps from the pellets which weighed in at roughly 8 grains. I’m certainly not an airgun hunter (just starting to get into it) but I figured that my Diana was giving me enough velocity for shots on birds at under 30 meters.
I knew that I’d get better results with a .22 calibre air rifle but I wanted to use what I had and the only other option I could think of was to try a few different kinds of pellets.
A trip to the local gun store had me baffled. I told the guy behind the counter what I was after and he pulled out all sorts of weird pellets that I had never heard of before. Plastic tipped pellets, pellets that had ball bearings in them and even pellets made entirely of plastic. Things have certainly come a long way in pellet design.
In the end I politely told the gentlemen that I wanted something with no gizmos attached and something that worked and wouldn’t break the bank (I was shooting Myna’s and Pigeons after all). He handed over a container of 500 pellets that was branded EXP and said “you won’t go wrong with these mate”.
When I got home I had a closer look at the EXP pellets and discovered that they are brought in from Europe by Alcock & Pierce down in Victoria. They are marketed as extra power hunting pellets and are a pointed design.
Out of curiosity I decided to weigh a handful of them and my scales told me that they weighed in at 8 grains. They were the same weight as the previous pellets I was using so naturally I just assumed that they would have close to the same velocity.
I had some 22LR ammunition to Chrony and just as an after-thought I decided to put down a few of the EXP pellets. I got a bit of a shock to see that the EXP’s were travelling at 640fps (average) which is 25fps faster than the previous brand of pellets. I have my Chrony location marked so it’s always in the same spot so how I got the increase is beyond me. If anyone can explain it please post it below in the comments section! Perhaps they have a tighter seal in the barrel?
Of course I wanted to see how they grouped before I tested them on game so I set up a target at 20 meters and used a bench to get some steady shots off. Over the course of six, five shot groups I managed to average an impressive 16mm group size. I know it doesn’t sound all that great when you compare it to some of the more serious air rifles around today, but it’s got to be the best the Diana has ever shot (in my hands anyway).
Extremely happy with the accuracy of the EXP pellets, I decided to get them out on the farm and into some birds.
The first couple of targets were some Myna’s that were happily picking at an old dog bone. I had some good cover and it was an easy shot into the chest of the closest bird. He fell over and was dead within seconds!
The next bird was roughly 25 meters away when he took an EXP pellet straight through the centre of his chest. He was facing towards me and he took it hard! He flopped over backwards and had nothing but a few shakes left in him.
I had similar results over the next few days with only a couple of lost birds. The EXP pellets were certainly doing a much better job at ensuring a humane kill. I don’t usually shoot past the 25 meter mark simply because I don’t think I have the equipment or skill to ensure a good hit.
I was hoping to recover some of the pellets but in each instance they past completely through the birds. I decided to fire a few into some wet newspaper media at 20 meters just to see how a pellet reacted on impact. As it turns out not much changes in the pellet profile and in all the recovered ones there was only small skirt damage and hardly any tip deformation. I can’t say what would happen when impact velocities are higher but perhaps someday I might have a more powerful air rifle and I’ll do an update.
If you’re after a high performance air rifle pellet without all the advertising hype and one that just does what it’s supposed to, I recommend you at least give the EXP brand a go. They of course come in .22 calibre and Alcock and Pierce have some other design options available as well.