There are different kinds of ammunition, namely bullets and shells, which are used in air pistols. Let us know about the different ammunitions which are popularly used in air guns or pistols:
Pellet: These are small sized ammunition which are used in rifled air pistols and one of the most popular ones is the wasp-waisted pellet which is diabolo shaped. There are two sections of the pellet: named as head and skirt. The head consists of the center of mass and can be flat, round, conical and pitted, also known as wadcutter, domed, pointed and hollow point shaped respectively. The skirt is a hollow and thin walled portion positioned at rear and it can expand and fully engage the bore thereby providing a good sealing. Therefore there is a maximal efficiency in pellet shooting.
There are more powerful pellets than the others and the slug shaped or cylindrical pellets which are recently manufactured are used for powerful PCP air rifles and guns. These are believed to have greater contact surface with a bore, and hence the slugs need greater force to overcome friction. These have better aerodynamics and long lasting effectiveness as well.
BB: These are second category of the ammunition for guns and pistols, which are usually made of steel and coated with copper and nickel. It appears like a small metallic ball and is 4.5 mm /.177” diameter. These are great for short distances shooting and BB guns having smooth bore barrels make use of these very efficiently. Normally, BBs are used for indoor practicing, casual outdoor activities, training children, or for air pistol enthusiasts who like to put into practice, but cannot have the funds for high-powered air gun systems that require pellets. Some shot gunners also make use of sightless BB guns to train in natural shooting. The steel of BBs is very hard and therefore cannot be used for rifled barrels.
Arrows and darts: These were used in the early period and were very popular as these can be reused multiple times. There are several kinds which can be used in air guns. However, it is not recommended to be used in spring powered air guns or rifled bores. The modern air guns also make use of arrows for shooting and these are crafted with a hollow shaft which is opened in the rear position. During shooting of these ammunition, a high pressure is released from the barrel when triggered. Thus, the arrow shaft pushes the arrow forward. These are highly precise and retain consistency. However, the setup is expensive to take care and maintain.
The guns that make use of darts in shooting are called dart guns or tranquilizer guns. Tranquilizer guns are named so because darts used in the guns are loaded with anesthetic or tranquilizer compounds.
Besides the ammunition, there are different sizes and calibers of air guns and the usage depends upon the kind of air guns or rifles which are used for shooting.