Which is better – .22 or .25? – Part 2
Today, the prosecution begins presenting evidence in its case, contending that the .22 caliber pellet is superior to the .25 caliber pellet.
John Whiscombe, the man who hand-built spring-piston air rifles of such excellence that most authorities agree they are among the finest, if not the absolute finest, springers to ever exist, stopped making his rifles in .25 caliber because they weren’t as accurate as the other three calibers. This wasn’t a financial decision; it was solely based on performance. For whatever reasons, Whiscombe felt that .25 wasn’t a caliber he wanted to make. You can argue that the pellets aren’t up to par or the barrels are substandard or whatever, he just didn’t feel that he wanted to make that caliber anymore.
At one time, the JW75 could be bought with barrels in all 4 calibers – .177, .20, .22 and .25. I bought this one, so I can compare the accuracy of a .25 to that of a .22.
I own one of his rifles, and it came to me with barrels in all four calibers. One of the things I want to do is compare group sizes shot from the .22 barrel against the .25 barrel. My tests will not be conclusive, though, because there are far too many variables to consider. I can vary the velocity the rifle shoots, as each barrel has the Harmonically Optimized Tuning System (HOTS) attached. Add that to the great numbers of pellets I would have to test–each at multiple velocities and each of those with different HOTS adjustments–and this one test could last the rest of my life!
The HOTS weight is screwed in or out and locked in position to change the location of the vibration nodes.
Nobody has ever tested all these possibilities with a Whiscombe rifle, and the best I will be able to do is point to a possible inclination toward one caliber or another. And, since I have already told you what my feelings are, there’s going to be bias in my testing. I’ll give .25 caliber what I feel is a fair trial. Unless a miracle happens, I don’t look for it to emerge the victor.
Whiscombe rifles are no longer being made. Even if they did come with .25 caliber barrels right until the end, John has ceased production. And, among the rest of the air rifles in the world, .22 is by far the dominant caliber over .25. So, .22 caliber rifles have hundreds and perhaps thousands of times more chances of being more accurate than .25 caliber rifles, just because they exist in far greater numbers. The odds favor them.
The most accurate rifles were not produced in .25 caliber, generally speaking. And even when a few of them were, like Daystate and Falcon, none of those .25 caliber rifles has the reputation of being as accurate as the same gun in .22. That’s a simple fact that I cannot prove, but which my research has turned up. When shooters brag about their accurate rifles, I note that the .25s they brag about are only capable of producing larger groups than the equivalent rifle in .22. For example, they may brag about a certain Sam Yang .25 as giving one-inch groups at 50 yards, but others tell of half-inch groups with the same model in .22 caliber. While this is not factual evidence, I do note that it seems fairly consistent.
There are few good .25 caliber pellets. Several years ago, RWS offered a Diana Magnum in .25. It was a lightweight that hovered around the 20-grain mark and was a great pellet–sometimes the best in a particular rifle. That pellet is now gone from the market, though I have managed to save a few tins against the possibility of finding a straight-shooting .25 someday. I will shoot some groups for you in my Whiscombe and show you the best that rifle can do in that caliber, because the Diana Magnum was always the best pellet in it. But the same rifle in .22 shooting good pellets can do better, and an AirForce Condor or a Benjamin Marauder in .22 can out-shoot it any day of the week.
Beeman Kodiak pellets are the tops in .25 today, and that’s by default. No other pellet challenges them. That said, Crosman is talking about bringing out the Premier pellet in .25 caliber. If they do and if they also make a .25 Marauder, we may see a turnaround. Crosman choked rifle barrels are fully the equivalent of the best that Daystate, Falcon and FX offer. They’re as good as Lothar Walther barrels. If they decide to take both of these steps (the rifle and the pellet), the world could get its first serious .25 caliber air rifle that has a chance of keeping up with a .22.
In the next report, I’ll show some groups from good .22s and the best .25 I have.