How to Load a Pellet Gun | Explained

Pellet guns are popular among shooting enthusiasts for their precision and versatility. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a beginner, understanding how to load a pellet gun correctly is crucial for a safe and enjoyable shooting experience. In this guide, we’ll take you through the process step by step, addressing common questions along the way.

Understanding Your Pellet Gun

Before diving into the loading process, it’s essential to thoroughly familiarize yourself with your specific pellet gun. Each type of pellet gun, whether a classic break-barrel, a modern CO2-powered model, or a pump-action powerhouse, boasts its unique loading mechanism. Recognizing these differences and their corresponding steps is paramount to ensuring a smooth and safe operation.

Recognizing Pellet Gun Types:

  • Break-Barrel: This traditional design requires manually breaking the barrel open by pivoting it downwards before loading a single pellet into the exposed breech.
  • CO2-Powered: These models utilize compressed CO2 cartridges to propel pellets. Loading often involves inserting the CO2 cartridge followed by placing pellets directly into the breech or into a detachable magazine.
  • Pump-Action: As the name suggests, these guns require repeated pumping of a lever or handle to compress air before loading pellets into a magazine or directly into the breech.

Consulting the Manual

Referencing the manufacturer’s manual is an invaluable step before attempting to load your pellet gun. This document provides specific instructions tailored to your model, outlining the correct loading procedure, safety protocols, and any potential nuances unique to your gun. Ignoring this crucial step can lead to not only frustration but also potentially dangerous situations.

Safety First: Essential Precautions

Safety should always be your top priority when handling any firearm, including pellet guns. Before embarking on the loading process, remember these fundamental safety principles:

  • Treat every pellet gun as if it were loaded: Even when unloaded, maintain the same level of caution and respect as you would with a real firearm.
  • Always point the gun in a safe direction: Never point the gun at yourself, others, or anything you don’t intend to shoot. Choose a safe direction, free of people and objects, to ensure any accidental discharge wouldn’t cause harm.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot: This basic rule prevents accidental discharges and should be ingrained in your muscle memory.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and what’s beyond your target: Always know what lies behind your target to avoid unintended consequences of a missed shot.
  • Never modify your pellet gun: Unauthorized modifications can compromise the gun’s safety and functionality. Stick to the manufacturer’s design and specifications.

How to Load a Pellet Gun Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you’ve identified your pellet gun type, consulted the manual, and prioritized safety, let’s delve into the specific loading steps for each type:

How to Load a Pellet Gun Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide

Break-Barrel Pellet Guns

  1. Ensure the gun is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Break the barrel open by pivoting it downwards as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Carefully place a single pellet into the exposed breech, ensuring the flat skirt faces the barrel. Avoid touching the pellet with your fingers, as oils can affect accuracy.
  4. Close the barrel firmly until it locks into place.
  5. Engage the safety mechanism before aiming or shooting.

CO2-Powered Pellet Guns

  1. Unload the gun and ensure it’s pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Locate the CO2 cartridge compartment and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for insertion. Tighten securely to avoid leaks.
  3. Consult the manual for specific pellet loading procedures. Some models require loading directly into the breech, while others utilize magazines.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for closing any compartments and engaging the safety mechanism.

Pump-Action Pellet Guns

  1. Unload the gun and point it in a safe direction.
  2. Pump the handle or lever the required number of times as specified in the manual. This pressurizes the air chamber for propulsion.
  3. Refer to the manual for specific pellet loading procedures. Similar to CO2-powered models, some require direct breech loading, while others use magazines.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for closing any compartments and engaging the safety mechanism.

Pellet Fundamentals: Choosing the Right Ammo

Selecting the appropriate pellet is crucial for both accuracy and safe operation of your pellet gun. Understanding the key factors influencing pellet choice will empower you to make informed decisions that enhance your shooting experience.

Pellet Caliber

Pellet guns come in various calibers, the most common being .177 caliber, .22 caliber, and .25 caliber. Each caliber offers distinct advantages and disadvantages:

  • .177 caliber: Lightweight and fast, offering superior flat trajectories at shorter distances but less energy for long-range targets.
  • .22 caliber: A good balance between weight and velocity, providing decent accuracy and power for a wider range of applications.
  • .25 caliber: Heavier and slower, delivering more energy for deep penetration and better performance at longer distances.

Refer to your gun’s manual to determine the compatible caliber. Using incorrect caliber pellets can damage the gun and pose safety risks.

 Pellet Weight

Pellet weight significantly impacts trajectory and penetration. Heavier pellets retain momentum better, offering improved accuracy and power at longer distances but experiencing more significant wind drift. Lighter pellets offer flatter trajectories at shorter distances but lose energy faster.

Match pellet weight to your intended use:

  • Target shooting: Opt for lighter pellets for flatter trajectories at typical target distances (10-25 yards).
  • Small game hunting: Choose heavier pellets for better penetration and stopping power on small animals.
  • Pest control: Select pellets appropriate for the target species, considering factors like size and penetration needs.

Pellet Shape

Pellet shapes vary, each offering unique characteristics:

  • Domed: Ideal for target shooting due to their good balance and high ballistic coefficient for minimal wind drift.
  • Pointed: Excellent for long-range shooting and hunting small game as they offer improved penetration.
  • Hollowpoint: Designed for maximum expansion upon impact, making them effective for small game hunting but unsuitable for target practice due to potential damage to targets.

Consult your gun’s manual and experiment with different shapes to find what works best for your specific needs and shooting style.

Material and Coating

Pellet materials and coatings can influence accuracy, performance, and legality depending on your location. Common materials include lead, lead-free alloys, and copper. Coatings like copper plating can improve accuracy and reduce barrel wear.

Always verify local regulations regarding pellet material and coating restrictions before purchasing or using them.

By understanding these key factors and consulting your gun’s manual, you can select the right pellet for optimal performance and safety.

Which Way Do Pellets Go in a Gun?

Pellets have a distinctive shape, with one flat side (skirt) and one rounded side (head). When loading a pellet gun, ensure the flat side faces the gun’s barrel. This orientation promotes stability and accuracy during firing.

Can You Put Real Bullets in a Pellet Gun?

No, pellet guns are designed to shoot pellets specifically. Attempting to load real bullets can result in severe damage to the gun and pose a significant safety risk. Always use the appropriate ammunition for your pellet gun.

How Many Pellets Can You Put in a Pellet Gun?

The number of pellets a gun can hold depends on its design. Most pellet guns have a single-shot capacity, meaning you load one pellet at a time. Some models, particularly CO2-powered guns, may have a larger capacity, allowing for multiple shots before reloading. Refer to your gun’s manual for specific details.

How Many Pellets Can You Put in a Pellet Gun?

Can You Leave a Pellet Gun Loaded?

It is not recommended to leave any firearm, including pellet guns, loaded when not in use. Unload the gun and engage safety features before storing it. Leaving a pellet gun loaded can lead to accidental discharges and compromise safety.

 Additional Tips and Considerations:

  • Store pellets in a cool, dry place: Improper storage can affect their accuracy and consistency.
  • Clean your gun regularly: Regular cleaning ensures smooth operation and maintains accuracy. Refer to your manual for proper cleaning procedures.
  • Never reuse pellets: Deformed or damaged pellets can compromise accuracy and potentially damage your gun.
  • Practice safe shooting habits: Always follow the four basic rules of gun safety and adhere to all local laws and regulations.


Understanding the proper loading techniques and choosing the right ammunition are essential aspects of responsible and enjoyable pellet gun ownership. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure a safe and rewarding shooting experience for yourself and those around you. Remember, prioritize safety, prioritize knowledge, and prioritize responsible gun ownership.