Two new types of air rifle pellet have been introduced; Prometheus, made from steel and nylon, and 'Sabo', made from lead alloy and plastic. Both have radio-opaque and radio-lucent components and their manufacturers claim better penetration. To establish their capabilities and the clinical implications a comparison of penetration was made between diablo, Prometheus and 'Sabo' pellets using gelatin 20% as a tissue simulant. Prometheus penetrated no further than diablo pellets but fragmented in up to 70% of cases. 'Sabo' penetrated 46% further than diablo (p = 0.001) and its plastic component did not penetrate at ranges greater than 0.5 m. Prometheus penetrated steel, unlike the other pellets, and is therefore potentially more dangerous in head injury. Because of fragmentation after impact it should be remembered that the radio-lucent sleeve is likely to be lying in the wound track. 'Sabo' would appear to be the most dangerous in soft and medium density materials.
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