Are .177s more accurate than .22s?
by B.B. Pelletier
Reader Sumo inspired today’s post.
Robert Beeman pushed .177 caliber over .22 when he owned the Beeman comany, and a lot of shooters got the idea that .177s were more accurate. Then, Beeman came out with .20 caliber and dropped the .22 models of many of the guns he carried.
His reasoning was that .22 pellets are more expensive, which they are. He also said that he got better groups with .177s, which he may have, but we have to consider what he was doing in the 1970s and ’80s. Beeman was pushing 10-meter guns such as the FWB 300 and the HW55. At 10 meters, those rifles are incredibly accurate, and no one can say differently. But, they’re not the only airguns on the market.
After Beeman left the business, field target became popular in the U.S. and the distances at which shooters shot stretched from 10 meters out to 55 yards. The .177 caliber dominates field target, as well as 10-meter, so it’s natural to think that .177s are the most accurate guns of all. That isn’t necessarily the case.
Also, when Beeman owned the company, he never saw the fabulous pellets that JSB sells. If he had, I feel he would have tried very hard to put the Beeman name on them, because their domed pellets are certainly the world’s most accurate long-range pellets.
Which leads to me to my opinion on the .177/.22 controversy. As long as the quality of the ammunition is the same, I feel there is no difference between the two calibers. Here is my reasoning. At long range, the smallest centerfire caliber is not the most accurate. Back in black powder days, .32 to .34 caliber was the most accurate, and today it ranges between 6.5mm and .30 caliber. The distance has great bearing on the measure of accuracy, of course.
What I think has held .22 caliber back has been the quality of pellets available in that caliber. When I shoot a Talon SS, I always shoot a .22 with JSB Exacts and get 50-yard groups that a .177 would be hard-pressed to better.
So,why do both 10-meter and field target stick with .177? Well, 10-meter stays because the rules of the sport mandate the caliber. All the scoring apparatus is based on a .177 pellet. Field target sticks with .177 because it is the smallest pellet, and shooters don’t want to touch the sides of the kill zone, if possible. Statistically, .177 is the best choice.
As far as I can tell, there is no real accuracy difference between these two calibers. Now, if only someone would make a .25 caliber pellet that was as accurate as the other three calibers!