At Last – A Better Way to Package Pellets for Shipping

Monday, October 12, 2009

The whole thing began a little ominously. I was chatting with Airguns of Arizona’s normally cheerful Greg Glover when he got serious on me: “I’m going to be sending you some pellets,” he said, adding, “You might want to have a camera handy when you open them up.”

Oh? Why? I wondered.

“Just open the pellets and let me know what you think,” Greg said.

After he hung up, I remembered that he had mentioned AoA’s quest for a better way to package pellets. They wanted to deliver pellets in as perfect condition as possible without going to stupid lengths like swaddling a single tin of pellets in a bale of bubble wrap. They were tired of tins getting beat up in transit, he said.

A day or so later I get an email notification from UPS that a package is en route to me from AoA. My fevered writer’s imagination goes into high gear. I could picture titanium clamshells lovingly cupping pellet tins centered in a nest of resilient elastomers. Or maybe some George Jetson/Star Wars combo based on hovercraft-anti-gravity tech. “May the Force be with your pellets.” Or perhaps pellet tins cast into a cloud of poly-something-or-other foam and protected by one of those cool metal cases the international couriers use (preferably handcuffed to the wrist to prevent lost).

So I was ready, primed for something spectacular, on high alert. I even put fresh batteries in my camera.

About a week after the email notification, our UPS guy drops off a thoroughly unremarkable package: a cube of cardboard measuring a hair over six inches on a side. (An aside: I’m convinced that our UPS guy has Ninja, or SEAL or SAS training; he can leave a package on our front stoop without setting off our security system – two dachshunds. These same two dogs will sound ‘all hands to battle stations’ if a butterfly so much as lands on our back deck.)

At first glance, the new packaging didn't look especially impressive.

So I pick up the cube and eyeball it. Nothing obvious. Easy-like, I slide my Buck tactical knife out of my pocket, flick open the blade, and quietly slit the tape. The top two cardboard flaps part slightly. Other than that, nothing. No fweeeet or zeeeee as robotic extensors activate, no hum from gyroscopic stabilizers. Hmmm.

Digging a little deeper revealed a tin of JSB Monsters nestled in a hole in a stack of cardboard squares.

I lean over, spread the flap, revealing two more cardboard flaps. I spread these flaps to reveal a tin of JSB Exact Jumbo Monster .22 pellets nestled in the exact center of a square of cardboard . . . except that it’s not just a square of cardboard. It’s a whole stack of squares of cardboard that have a circle punched out in the center so the pellet tin can live there unmolested as the box travels through whatever horrors UPS subjects it to on the way from Arizona to upstate New York.

This shows the Monsters tin with the surrounding cardboard removed, showing the cardboard square between layers.

Underneath the tin is a square of cardboard and below that, another laminated cardboard hole containing a tin of JSB .177 Express pellets. Below that, the same thing again, but this time with a bigger hole to accommodate a tin of JSB .20 cal pellets (the tins are bigger, see?). One more layer down, I find a tin of JSB .22 Jumbo Express pellets, and below that, the bottom of the box.

This is the next layer down, showing the cardboard layers with the hole in the center pulled out to the side. This is the secret of the new packaging. Every pellet tin is secure in a cardboard nest. It can't bounce around, and it would take a mightly blow to inflict damage on any of the tins packaged and shipped this way.

The upshot of this is that four tins of pellets arrived in perfect shape, thanks to Airguns of Arizona’s new packaging scheme. And, if getting my pellets in pristine condition were not enough, my floor is not covered with those foam plastic packing peanuts that seem to cling to everything. Heck, you can even recycle all of the packaging when you’re done with it. Is that neat, or what?

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