by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- BB’s gun wall
- .177 caliber
- Are steel BBs 4.5mm/.177 caliber?
- Can you hunt with .177 caliber?
- More good pellets
- Higher velocity means flatter shooting
- Twenty caliber
- Twenty-two caliber
- Target shooting
- Twenty-two caliber
- The big .25
- Expensive pellets
- Fewer pellets to choose from
- Big hole!
- Only one good handgun
- .30 caliber
- What does BB recommend?
- .30 caliber
BB’s gun wall
My late wife, Edith, used to kid me by saying if she went first I would probably jackhammer a pit in the living room and cook my meals over an open fire. I think she was making fun of my domestic inabilities. Well, Edith, that never happened. However, after 4 years of static living I finally decided to make my home my own, so when John McCaslin gave me the replica Girardoni air rifle for my birthday, I decided to hang it on my living room wall. Actually I had already hung a pair of kukri knives there — one a gift from Ton Jones — so the Girardoni wasn’t the first.
Now, BB Pelletier is no craftsman. I rank just behind termites as a worker of wood. So when I say I decided, that is as far as it went. In sharp contrast my neighbor, Denny, is a fantastic woodworker! Denny worked as a patternmaker in the aerospace industry, where he made one-of-a-kind tooling. So he pays attention to the smallest detail.
Denny is always puttering around in his garage/shop, and his wife and family do not keep him gainfully employed all the time, so I “enable” him to do projects for me, from time to time. He did the plaque for the kukries, so when I told him of my idea to hang the Girardoni on the same wall the trap was baited and set. Like the elves and the shoemaker, all I had to do was buy the walnut board and stay out of his way. Then, when the air rifle was up and looking pretty, I brought out my flintlock fowler and showed that to him. Here is the result.
My gun wall.
I may not live in a log cabin like reader RidgeRunner, but I have a man cave, too! Next I think I will get rid of the genuine cowhide armchair and replace it with a Cushman Eagle for guest seating! Either that or a tractor seat on a leaf spring.
Enough silliness. Let’s begin today’s report.
As the holiday season draws near (I already have my fruitcake!) many of you are thinking about that next airgun. For some it may also be the first one. So today I want to discuss the various calibers, their strengths and weaknesses and the purposes to which I believe they are best-suited.
The .177 caliber that is known in many places as 4.5mm is the most popular airgun caliber. It’s also the smallest, which means each pellet takes less lead and that can help to keep cost down, though it is just one of many driving factors.
Are steel BBs 4.5mm/.177 caliber?
Steel BBs are absolutely NOT .177 caliber! They are 0.173 caliber or 4.4mm. But, to keep from confusing buyers, they are labeled as 4.5mm or .177 caliber, and that shifts the confusion over to the 6mm airsoft guns whose plastic balls are also called BBs. You gotta love it!
For the sake of the moms and newcomers I will also lump BBs into the .177 caliber group, and that is the last I will say about them. Because today I am talking about airguns that shoot diabolo (wasp-waisted) pellets. Pellet guns.
One reason .177 caliber is so popular is there are several airgun events that either mandate its use (10-meter target shooting for both rifle and pistol) or strongly encourage it because of a decided advantage (field target). Does that mean that .177 caliber is more accurate than the others? Not at all. It means that through decades of international competition inertia has built up and now it would be too costly for the shooting complexes around the world to switch their expensive transducer-operated and sound-scored target systems to another caliber. Besides, it’s only paper. How much power do you need?
In field target you shoot through a small opening called a kill zone to hit a paddle that triggers the fall of the target. If you happen to hit the side of the kill zone while passing through the energy pushes the target back and may lock the paddle in the upright position, even though a portion of the pellet does hit it. The smaller caliber has less chance, statistically, of hitting the side of the kill zone. I have seen shooters compete with .20 caliber and even .22 caliber rifles. Never saw them win, though.
Can you hunt with .177 caliber?
Yes, you absolutely can hunt with .177 caliber. Like any pellet, the energy delivered is small, so it is essential to hit a vital spot on your quarry, and since .177 is the smallest caliber it is the reverse of field target — it is statistically the least likely to hit something vital when the aim is off.
In the United Kingdom where airgun power is limited by law to under 12 foot-pounds, the .177 gives the advantage of the highest velocity (821 f.p.s. for an 8-grain pellet is 11.98 foot-pounds). In a country where your airgun can be confiscated if it develops over 12 foot-pounds, no matter how close, you want to stay on the “good” side of the limit. Most Americans wouldn’t give it a second thought, unless they were shooting in a field target competition under World Field Target Federation (WFTF) rules.
More good pellets
Another reason to go with .177 is there are more good pellets for this caliber than for all the other calibers combined. Some countries don’t even permit pellet guns in larger calibers!
This caliber is extremely popular worldwide, and because of that the pellet makers have to work hard to keep up with the demand. There are cheap .177 pellets that are no better than sinker larvae, but as time passes there are fewer of those around.
No pellet maker is going to run a target-grade .25-caliber pellet when they can’t meet the demands for .177 pellets. Forget the 400-1,000 people who compete in Extreme Benchrest worldwide. They are nothing compared to the millions of airgunners around the world who only shoot at paper. So, you are the production manager at JSB. What do you do — run 50,000 heavy .25-caliber pellets for the 2020 benchrest season or fill the 2-month backlog for Pyramyd Air — just one customer out of thousands around the world — for the three pallets of .177 pellets (1.5 million pellets) they are willing to pay you for right now? Hmmmm! Tough choice, but what the heck. You like your job, don’t you?
Higher velocity means flatter shooting
Yes a faster-moving pellet does shoot flatter and all other things being the same the .177 caliber pellet will move the fastest, but this advantage isn’t as big as it sounds. Because what it masks is the inability to determine range. A shooter who knows his rifle and can guess ranges can hit more with a 500 f.p.s. .22-caliber springer than someone with a thousand-dollar hyper-velocity PCP who isn’t a good shooter. I’m not saying those who shoot .177-caliber airguns aren’t good shooters; I’m saying the first thing to do is learn to shoot!
The .177 is an excellent choice for plinking, target practice and pest elimination around the home. It’s also good for hunting.
The .20 caliber that is known in some places as 5.0mm was popularized by the Sheridan company, starting in 1947. They said at the time they did it because there weren’t any good .22-caliber pellets around, and that was a true statement, but it’s also highly likely they were hoping to “corner” the market with this special caliber. They actually fought an uphill battle because of the decision. American buyers knew .22 caliber and they knew .177 caliber but they were unfamiliar with .20 caliber. Just ask the Remington firearms company how popular the twenty caliber is.
Dr. Robert Beeman liked the .20 though and he convinced many of his manufacturers to make airguns in that caliber for him. He also thought .22 caliber pellets were less accurate, and in fairness they were during the time he was growing up. Because of this there are some very fine airguns in twenty caliber. But not many are being made today.
There are some .20-caliber guns being made, but they are seen by the market as a narrow niche. Remember what I said about the pellet manufacturers and the .177 caliber pellet. Twenty caliber is not the mainstream today and if you choose one you will have to become its champion.
From a power and accuracy standpoint, .20 caliber is just fine. You can hunt with it, shoot targets, and plink. There are no drawbacks to .20 caliber in this respect.
Some call .20 caliber a compromise between .177 and .22, but I think it’s a lot closer to .22 than to .177. You are going to have a hard time finding good pellets for this caliber and you can forget buying them from the discount store. Don’t forget, there was once an 8mm airsoft caliber, but try to find one today!
The .22 caliber pellet is the second most popular pellet in the world, and at one time in the United States and probably in most of North America, it was the most popular. That means that there are a lot of older airguns in this caliber.
The twenty-two is a fine accurate caliber. The most accurate longer-range air rifle I ever shot (Skan) was a .22. My ASP20 is a .22. Webley once made a couple nearly full-blown target rifles in .22. The Mark III and the Osprey were both made in Supertarget versions. But world-class target rules shut out the .22s, so these guns were just made for informal competition.
The .22 pellet leaves a larger wound channel and impacts with a bigger punch, from a given powerplant, than a .177. The fact that .22 pellets go slower than .177s in the same powerplant is not seen as a disadvantage, because a higher-velocity .177 can go clear through game leaving a nasty but small wound and not shedding all its energy. A slower-moving .22 often stays in the animal, delivering all of its kinetic energy. So if hunting is your game, the .22 is one of the two best calibers to choose.
Twenty-two pellets do cost a lot more than .177s because twice the material is used to make them. Consider that in your decision if you want to shoot a lot and will mostly be plinking. It’s like the difference between .22 long rifle and .22 magnum. Why do you care about how much energy hits the tin can?
This is a toughie to address. If you already own a .22 pellet gun there is nothing that says it isn’t good for targets. But if you are considering buying a new gun, remember the cost and the overkill proposition I just stated.
For hunting and pest elimination .22 is one of the two best calibers, with .25 being the other. HOWEVER, if the pests are small, like mice and wasps, use a .177 if you can. The .22 is way overkill for small targets like that. Also, if the pest is in an area where a miss could put a pellet through the wall or ceiling, keep that in your considerations.
For larger pests like rats and woodchucks, the .22 is the better way to go. Not that .177 won’t do the job; .22 just does it better.
The big .25
Twenty-five caliber pellet guns have been around as long as .177s and .22s, give or take a year or two. In the past they were not popular because the spring-piston powerplants they were in couldn’t shoot them fast enough to make them really work well. But all that changed a couple decades ago with precharged pneumatics (PCP) moving into the caliber. More recently there are spring gun powerplants that are far more efficient than ever. Today you give very little away with a .25.
The .25 pellets are very expensive, so I don’t recommend using them for plinking and general shooting. On the other hand, they are one of the two best calibers for hunters. Pay the price for the pellets if you need the extra performance.
Fewer pellets to choose from
There are far fewer .25 caliber pellets to choose from today. The good news is that most of them are premium pellets, but you’re not going to find them at discount stores! If you own a .25 you better be comfortable with buying online.
Everything I said about .22 caliber applies in spades to the .25. They hit very hard and seldom go through game if it is of the appropriate size. You still need to make good shots in vital areas, but if you do the quarter-inch caliber will be your friend.
But the .25 is a specialty caliber. Buy it to hunt with or for larger pests, but unless you are made of money don’t think of it for plinking.
Only one good handgun
I think the TalonP from AirForce Airguns is the only .25 caliber handgun that is worth its salt. If I am overlooking one I apologize beforehand. The TalonP I have shoots 5-shot groups that are smaller than one inch at 50 yards at the 30 foot-pound level. And the gun can be adjusted up to 55 foot-pounds!
I bet you thought I was done at .25. The thirty caliber is a very recent innovation that is only possible now because of advances in airgun technology. Pellet choices are expensive and very few, and hunting is the primary and almost only purpose for this caliber. If you are looking at a .30 you must have a good reason. Don’t envision it through daydreams on your couch because you may be highly disappointed.
What does BB recommend?
BB recommends either .177 or .22 caliber at this time. I would go with .177 if hunting is a small portion of the shooting you intend doing, and .22 if hunting is half the plan or more. I would always buy .22 over .25 because they are so close in performance and the number of good pellets in .22 is so much greater.
Sometimes the airgun dictates the caliber. Perhaps there is a real beauty and you want it just for how it looks. It’s one single special airgun and it is whatever it is.
Or perhaps you stumble into a purchase of a gun with more than one caliber. Let’s call it a Webley Mark II Service with .177, .22 and .25 barrels. Naturally you buy all three barrels with the gun — you’re not an idiot. You may never even mount the .25-caliber barrel on the gun, but you have it and it adds that much more value to your gun. I own a Whiscombe JW75 that has barrels in all four calibers. I don’t know whether the .20 and .25 barrels have ever been on the airgun. I shoot .177 the most and .22 sometimes.
On the other hand I own a .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder just because several people said the Green Mountain barrels Crosman used to put on them were highly accurate. I never found that to be the case, but I do like the airgun and probably won’t get rid of it. I’ve owned both .177 and .22 Marauders that were as accurate or better than this one, but right now the .25 is all I have.
I hope this little discussion has helped you with your decision of which caliber to choose for that next airgun. I have to make the same decision every time I ask Pyramyd Air for a new pellet gun to test. One big difference between you and me is that I get to send my airguns back when I’m done with them. Only a few tickle my fancy and remain with me.
73 thoughts on “Considering the calibers”
🙂 it all about the right power at the right time. For example a hw30/r7 putting out a meager 7fpe will knock down tree rats all day at 20-30 yards. Or step up to a Diana 350 in 22 and do the same thing a bit further out, or rabbits a bit closer up. It a gauntlet .25 for nutrea at 50 yards…this is why you need to buy many airguns ☺️
I concur with Edw. Each caliber has its advantages and limitations. Understanding and accepting these allows one to make intelligent choices in what one buys and uses in sport shooting.
I have one .25 that has been very frustrating. It is an Hatsan 135 and finally figured out that the .25 in Hatsan are over-sized bores and it came to be that the JSB Exact King Heavy III’s were also oversized enough to FINALLY shoot well.
I have .177 and .22 springers that are all magnum spring or gas ram guns. I did, however, purchase an RWS 430L in .177 to have a mid-power target springer. Since I shoot paper in my basement range in the cold, winter non-bicycling months, I wanted an accurate rifle that doesn’t hurt to shoot it as a result of a longish session downstairs.
The other pieces will, of course, be rotated in and out of the gun vault, I’m familiar with the double-recoil and tolerate it. When critters become unwanted around the property, it will be the magnums that get employed, not the 430L.
As BB was suggesting, one has to know what one wants, what the limitations and advantages are to each caliber, and then make one’s purchases. The only thing that I’ve learned that goes across them all is to buy upscale (as much as one can) and purchase from a reputable source, like Pyramyd Air or other on-line air weapon retailers. Build a relationship so problems and repairs can be attended to quickly and fairly.
Oh, and shoot enough so one learns the dynamics of each piece.
One more great article for the “Basics” series.
Very cool artwork for the living room.
Mine are in an extra china cabinet in my man cave.
My daily rifle I shoot more than any other is an antiquated Gunpower Stealth, in .22, made in 1998.
It is a UK legal sub 12 ft lbs.
and is tuned to 10 ft lbs for pest control.
I work for a nationwide company that sells and installs trailer hitches on your car/suv.
Sometimes pigeons take up residence in the hitch bays leaving a huge mess in the morning.
The managers in our area call me to get rid of the pigeons.
It is short, quiet, and it breaks down to fit in a hard case made for an alto saxophone, that does not attract attention when I get called to the store.
My shots are less than 20 yards, and I don’t make holes in the steel buildings.
You need 8 ft lbs, run it on CO2.
You want 10-12 ft lbs, screw on the UK bottle.
You want 20 ftlbs, screw on a standard AirForce Talon bottle.
And caliber changes are 3 minutes.
I do have a .177 barrel made by CZ, but don’t use it much.
Nice little setup.
Thanks, here is the cased setup
Serial number 667.
Inside the case.
When I find my round tuit I will be doing something very similar with a Talon SS. It will have an 18″ .25 barrel.
I have used soft sided violin cases, and other instrument cases for gun cases. A soft sided tenor saxophone case would work well for that length..
My wife and I used to manage senior independent living facilities.
And figuring out a way to get the “equipment” out of the community with 300 nosey residents always watching who is coming and going was a challenge.
Needles to say when I was shooting powder burners a lot, I figured out a Spaulding labeled bag that baseball players kept their gear in was perfect.
It would stash an Ar-15, and an M1 carbine and targets, a couple of handguns and ammo.
And they thought I was going to the batting cages down the road.
Think outside the box, and inside the bag.
Fortunately I live in an area where there are more gun cases than any other kind of case around. It is not unusual to hear powder burners going off each and every day. It is not uncommon to hear a shot after dark. With hunting season upon us it sounds like a war zone around here.
Nothing like the sweet sounds of living in the country. 🙂
You can even hear the birds on occasion.
Wow, that is a pretty cool set up! =>
I had one of those. Mine was left powerful for the American market. That was the one that we “tuned” by putting an o-ring under the top hat.
Look ma, no power wheel!!
I love it.
We 3D printed 2 small baffles to go between the barrel and end cap, and vented the front barrel support to increase the suppressor volume.
It made it much quieter.
I have put a 3-9 bug buster scope on it since the photo was taken, but for the distances used, the red dot was more than adequate.
Great article, I agree completely.
Once again my comment became lost in the Netherworld. Oh well.
Nice man cave! I used to make plaques for mine until we moved into the cabin. Neither Kathy or I liked them on the log walls so I found some antique style nails to hang the older ones up with. Kathy does not shoot them but likes to use them for the rustic décor. It also means they are handy when I want to do some plinking.
You need to select a couple that you like to look at all of the time and give Denny more to do.
This is most definitely a great article, most especially for the newbies. There is one important point that everyone should take away from this. When I was going to have Gary Barnes build my first air rifle he asked me “What are you going to do with this air rifle?” Apparently I did not have an answer that suited him. He never did build me one.
Whenever you feel the urge to buy an airgun you should ask yourself that question. I know it has saved me a lot of disappointment, outright heartbreak and an awful lot of money.
“So, just what am I going to do with this airgun?”
As Denny and his wife were admiring what you see here, they both felt there needed to be something above the kukries to balance that side. So I brought out my 1822 French military pistol. Voila! Next project scheduled!
You know, Denny will be reading this, so I don’t want to give away all my secrets. 😉
I am on to you BB!
Welcome to the blog!
Oh, my! My worst fear is realized. This is Denny, the neighbor I told all of you about. And, as you can see, he is now on to me! My free ride is over!
Guys, say hello to Denny.
I mean Sawdust! Sorry!
Maybe nobody noticed? 🙂
Nice job on the gun displays. If only all neighbors could be like you. 🙂
Amen to that!
I am retired and wood working is my hobby, keeps me busy! While I may give BB a bad time about it now and then, I enjoy making all that stuff.
That is a nice hobby. Maybe you can get into another hobby. Air guns.
Heck you live next door to BB. I’m sure he could hook you up with something. (Hint BB) for that nice woodwork Sawdust has done for you. 😉
By the way have you messed with air guns?
Welcome to the blog! Nice work on the wall plaques. Maybe Tom can talk you into attending the TX Airgun show next June.
To protect against the Netherworld problem (after being burned a couple of times) I make it a habit to copy the text to the paste buffer before hitting the “Post Comment” button. Having a back-up saves a lot of frustration.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. This was one of those don’t times.
R.R and everyone
Could the answer to the question above be;
just because I like it so much? It happens to me and then I try to find a practical purpose…
The answer to the above question can indeed be “just because I like it so much”. I have four antique air rifles and two antique air pistols that I acquired “just because I like them so much”. I do shoot them regularly, but I have “modern” airguns to fill my “slots” for what am I going to do with this airgun.
Really Really nice set-up Bravo! RR, That is the best advice I’ve heard in quite a while.
If you have several airguns that will fill the bill, you either need to walk on by or “I just gotta have it”. Do you sell the others? Do you want a closet or a room full of airguns you do not shoot?
Airgun calibers is an important discussion since many overlook these basics in their decision making process.
I will add a couple of observations:
1-For cold fingers loading a .22 caliber pellet is much easier than a .177. Whether target shooting or hunting in cold weather this should be a consideration
2-For short range target shooting or hunting the enormous choices of wadcutter pellets in .177 over other calibers should be considered. Wadcutters punch clean holes in paper and make a greater impact on targets. For hunting, a wadcutter sheds more energy on the target and lowers the over penetration problem that is a concern if you have nearby neighbors or when shooting indoors (think of pesting in barns or hitch bays as mentioned above).
For example, on the PA site there are 6 choices of .22 caliber wadcutter pellets and 47 choices in .177 caliber.
Wadcutters in my smooth bore 760 is great for closer range plinking and pesting. Definitely does as you say. Works out nice.
Excellent blog B.B.!
Agree totally with your comments! As I have explained to my wife (on numerous occasions LOL!), you need different guns/calibers for different applications just like you don’t cook everything in one kind of pot.
Talking about calibers and their uses… The exciting thing in the industry now is airgun slugs – in a suitable rifle (with a barrel with the right twist rate, enough power and fine tuned) sub-MOA groups at 100 yards is common and pesting pigeons out to 200 yards (and further) is not a problem for a skilled shooter.
Without getting into details I’ll just say that because of their design and how they are stabilized, slugs have a huge potential as far as accuracy, range and energy goes. In my favorite caliber (.22 with a 700mm barrel), the rifle I have ordered will develop some serious energy …46 fpe with a 23 grain slug; 50 fpe with a 26 grain, that’s in stock configuration. Some of the “modded” guns are driving a .22 caliber, 34 grain slug to 990 fps for over 70 fpe! (Thanks to Gerhard and Roelf of the AirHunters YouTube channel for posting their stats with their videos).
Slugs are not cheap but competition is already bringing prices down. Because they are simple to swage (relative to the shape of the diabolo pellet) it is expected that slug costs will be comparable to that of pellets. There is still a lot of development going on with many small businesses selling slugs and the major pellet manufacturers are now stepping up to the plate. H&N has started volume production and JSB is currently testing their designs.
I thoroughly enjoy shooting my pellet guns and that will never change but I have to admit that I am really looking forward to learning more about long range shooting with airguns.
I just deleted my question Hank, that’s exactly what i am looking into as well.
For shot count and accuracy out to 200yds .22 slugs? what about .257?
more for hunting?
The platform I selected allows for easy caliber changes (for a cost of course) and great flexibility in tuning and adjusting power levels so performance vs shot count is up to the user.
Tuned for accuracy with pellets, the manufacturer is claiming: .22=130; .25=100 and .30=40 so I guess real numbers would be around 100 shots from a 480cc 250 barr fill for .22 pellets. Won’t know about slugs until I have the gun and am able to do some testing in the spring.
If you are tuning for maximum power you probably won’t be too concerned about shot count… what mileage does a Lamborghini get… who cares eh?
The gun is capable of shooting a .30 caliber slug so in choosing .22 caliber and the longest barrel I should have more than enough (potential) power available that I can shoot with lower regulator pressures for lower stresses and better shot count. Myself, I will probably run a factory stock configuration with (maybe) a bit of modification to the transfer port and pellet probe for improved efficiency (same velocity at a lower reg pressure) and more latitude in tuning to a heavier slug.
Long range precision shooting with airguns is the big challenge that is attracting me. My ultimate goal is pesting birds at 100-125 … maybe to 150 yards so I don’t need a lot of caliber/energy. I figure that once I am dialled in that 99% of my shooting will be spinners so the economy of the .22 caliber is a strong factor. For small game hunting shots are usually 20-40 yards so the JSB RD Monsters or the Hades are practical (economical) contenders.
This .22 new rifle can easily develop more energy than my .25 Royale so it is a contender for groundhogs as well. I am making inquires as to what the maximum effective range is going to be for them. If I decide to specifically take up groundhog pesting I might consider a .25 barrel but for now I have enough of their fur to tie lots of flies and don’t bother with them unless they become a nuisance. For big pests I can always resort to a powder burner if needed.
Anyway, that is my take on it Rob. Hope it is of interest. If you want to discuss this more I am on the Airgun Nation forum (same name) and you can PM me there.
“…you need different guns/calibers for different applications just like you don’t cook everything in one kind of pot.”
Hank, I have never heard it put quite that way before; I’ll have to try that one on my wife. LOL =>
Careful with that line – especially if she happens to have a pot in her hands LOL!
As a proficient home cook and an avid shooter,… I can relate to both camps. And,.. since there is no “she” in the camp,… I can attest to having better of either,… is better.
If you are on the same “brownie point” regime as RR,… then buying her some top end cookware and/or/cutlery might “score” big! 😉 We do not even want to approach to topic of peripheral cooking gadgetry,… rice pots, slow cookers, instapots, pasta rollers/cutters, etc., etc.. Like air guns,… there is no end and there is always the proverbial “cliff” of which one can easily topple over.
“there is always the proverbial “cliff” of which one can easily topple over.” So true! =>
For sure, Hank! I don’t need to be trying to “bark my way out of the doghouse,” hahaha! =>
What about taking advantage of the power current PCP’s offer and using slugs for longer range target shooting?
How does one decide whether to go with .22 or .257? Sure, I could use my rimfires, but I get why the indians were so impressed with the Girardoni’s, they wouldn’t have to clean them when they were done hunting/fighting with them like blackpowder guns require. Whats the relationship between caliber, weight, and range of a projectile if accuracy and shot count are the most important factors? For taking a deer at two hundred yards, I would want at least .357/9mm or larger with corresponding ft/lbs energy,and a deer tag, but match grade accuracy would be less important to me. Plus, good quality .22 rimfire ammo is expensive, and it’s not the best at such a long range. Is there a cost benefit to using slugs, or is it expensive too?
For the back yard, the .177 seems just right.
“Whats the relationship between caliber, weight, and range of a projectile if accuracy and shot count are the most important factors?”
What are the most important factors? Before (trying to) answer that you would have to decide what you (primarily) wanted to do with the airgun. Each application will have it’s own set of “ideal requirements” with a lot of overlapping between applications. My .177, 10 Meter FWB 300 springer is an awesome paper-puncher and also makes a fantastic pesting gun for sparrows – but for grackles at longer ranges my .22 PCP is my go-to and my .25 gets the nod for porcupines.
A typical PCP won’t match a rimfire for power but then the rimfire won’t match the PCP in accuracy either. Different guns, different strengths.
As a side bar: I tested six common brands of rimfire ammo and the ES was from AWFUL (51 fps) to TERRIBLE (127 fps). The march ammo is more consistent but still is nowhere near what is typical for most pellet guns.
The first thing to answer if you are going to hunt with an Airgun is to get up to speed on the rules for the State /Country where you will be hunting. That may narrow your choices dramatically.
Like most other air gun enthusiasts, all my air guns are in .177 or .22, with the exception of my Sheridan Blue Streak, which of course was made in .20 only. I have on a few occasions come close to purchasing a vintage Beeman air rifle, only to ultimately decide to pass because it was in .20. I have what I consider a lifetime cache of quality .20 pellets, but those are for my Sheridan only.
But for plinking, targets and reactive air gun targets, .177 and .22 are the way to go. I consider this to be one of the great things about the hobby, that just two calibers will suffice. I am involved in other “gear-intensive” interests that have far more standard variants that require the hobbyist to make a larger investment and purchase far more gear than does airgunning.
However, the Supertarget versions of the Webley MkIII and Osprey were only marketed in .177”.
You could, though, in the 50s and 60s factory order things like Diana 50s and BSF54s in .22” with match diopter sights. Or Webley MkIIIs with factory-fitted Parker-Hale PH16 aperture rear sights (though most I have seen, including the one I own, are in .177”).
Maybe where you shopped but I had a .22 caliber Supertarget. The Blue Book also confirms this.
The Osprey I know less about, so they may have been .177 only.
I have had several BSF S54 target rifles in both calibers.
By the way, B.B., besides this being a great report, I really like “B.B.’s Gun Wall”! =>
Me, too! 🙂
As for .25’s and .30’s costing more to shoot,… yup. You have to commit to that before you buy. I am not made of money by any stretch , but I find my two .25’s to not be breaking the bank.
Something you did not mention is finding the best pellet. How much you gonna spend there? Then,… there is the sighting in and getting (and confirming) hold overs/unders. Then also,… there is just staying in practice (and in familiarity) with that gun.
Toss in in some power adjustments and the shot count just went up some more. This is where a (chrony) will pay for itself with less lead shot and hard data collected. Don’t have one and your cost to shoot just went up some more. Also,… can you (repeat) prior groups to verify the settings/pellet selection?
Good article,……. Chris
“I’m not saying those who shoot .177-caliber airguns aren’t good shooters; I’m saying the first thing to do is learn to shoot!”
Now THAT is some (real) wisdom there!!! That,.. (above all),… will insure that you are not endlessly wasting lead and constantly getting frustrated,.. needlessly. Plus,.. it might insure that you will progress much further in the sport.
There is a (whole lot) more to shooting than just cramming a pellet into the breech and pointing the rifle in the “general” direction of the target. 😉
“There is a (whole lot) more to shooting than just cramming a pellet into the breech and pointing the rifle in the “general” direction of the target.
Really not all too much more! I have seen the approach you discribe work…from time to time. Why just recently I saw some folks with really expensive rifles and optics at a DNR range do just that. Some call it sighting in. You just use a really big sheet, say 2′ x 3′, of paper and draw an X near the center. If you hit the paper near that X a few times you are ready to hunt probably with an expensive Guide outfit.
Seriously how much can we expect of average Joe’s when stuff like the below passes for professional writing?
Anyone know what’s wrong with the article?
shootski is embarrass for them!
I went to Ham and read the article and watched the video. What’s wrong? To be honest, I do/did not know. (Pure speculation) took a stab at your question and the only thing that I thought was,… isn’t the M1A1 a tank? A quick search said yes,… so I got that right. Is there an actual historical firearm named the same?, I do not know. So?,… what is wrong?
As for your experience of the range,… I do not know what to say to that except,…. huh? How does an “expensive guide outfit” (guide) even begin to guide someone on a hunt when the owner has (no clue) on the rifle/ammo/scope/optics? If the big game, mountain guide has not ever seen the gun/ammo/optic package that a client brings,… then he had better do some really fast homework and calculations for whatever terrain and environment that they may encounter on the hunt.
The only way I see that ever working is for the owner to say this is sighted in at 100 yards, with this ammo and this optics,.. set at this setting. You then at least know the load, the gun, the sight in range and the only thing left would be to insure that you fully know how the optics work so that you can call for optic adjustments. Or do I have that all wrong,… too? 😉
Unless,…. I mistook your reference of “….. the approach that you describe ….”
I have been back East and had some time to travel to a state run range for some practice. My mindset as I wrote the post was based on folks I saw do just that and then plan to travel to places like Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana or other long range hunting states for a “once-in-a-lifetime” hunt.
The rest of it is based on the HAM article about the M1921 Thompson Submachine Gun (and subsequent models) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thompson_submachine_gun for a good read and clarification on if it might be a M1A1 “style” or not! Of course you already noticed that M1A1 could be a Main Battle Tank, or a variant of an M14. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Armory_M1A. etc, etc.
shootski, aka: GRUMPY
So,… what (exactly) does a professional guide do when faced with a “well heeled” customer that (may) or (may have not) at least sighted the rifle in at 100 yards???? Not to mention the atmospheric/elevation differences from Ohio (for example) to the mountains out West?
A simple-ish response will suffice. My first inclination is to get them good and liquored up the night before and talk an (extremely) good “game” (all) along the way,…. maybe?
Of course,… you have the folks that actually know what they are doing,.. (the customer),.. and those that have little to (no) clue. The latter is what I am interested in your thoughts on.
What is a guide to do?
Boy you do know how to ask great questions Chris! Guides almost never can live off just guiding hunts. It is seasonal work at best so you better have some other source of income, sponsored by manufacturers, part-time or retired folks. Well heeled clients are paying the Outfitting company some serious money ($5,000+) for say, a 3 day Elk hunt. The outfitter pays the Professional Hunter $100 a day, a fuel allowance, room, and board. The PH gets a bonus for a successful hunt of perhaps $300-$400. The services rendered are knowing where the game is, all the paperwork, keeping the hunt legal, first aid, navigation, and helping the client understand conditions effecting the shot and sighting in for the probable shot range. The PH uses that to decide how to run the hunt. If the shot goes badly the PH should either set up the client for a follow-up shot or do the kill shot with own rifle/pistol. Tracking if the animal bolts is the PH and assistant guide responsibility. As is field prep of the meat and safe handling of meat and or the Trophy head/rack/skin. Since it is a paying customer the issue as you understand it other than the booze is pretty close. Booze may or may not be an after the hunt feature. Most of the outfitters aren’t big on booze because of insurance and licensing.
I could never be a hunting guide…I would rather teach folks how to XC Ski and (since I hate bugs) Backcountry Winter Survival.
Thanks for that fine reply. I have watched some of the big hunting shows on the Pursuit channel (which it turns out I still have, but they moved it) and am always in awe of the majestic beauty and the excitement of the hunt. A few even show the breakdown and the pack out. Definitely not for someone not in top shape.
Yes, some sort of onsite site-in would be definitely be required. I am sure some quick hunter education (ballistics, drop, uphill, down hill, scope principals, etc.) goes on as well.
Thanks again,….. Chris
Reader Kevin was a professional guide. I hope he answers your question, because I know he had the experience.
A shout out to the ,30. I’ve got a hatsan Springer in .30 and it’s really fun to shoot longer ranges. Sure it costs almost as much as factory reloaded 9mm. But it’s a hobby for a reason.
Glad you like it. Do you find it hard to cock? At long ranges, you do hold over a lot, right? I wish they could lighten that rifle and made it a repeater.
It cocks heavy. It’s a two hander for sure. But that said it works out to pulling down 60 pounds with two arms, so not that bad. You really have to know the ballistics to use it. But it’s accurate if you do. Also a droop mount is mandatory for longer ranges.
Agree with you about knowing the ballistics.
I bet it’s a thumper when it hits.
Still over 18fpe at 100 yards.
Good comprehensive article. I agree with Chris that shooting the .25 caliber has not broke the bank. My set up is a factor in that. I have a PCP in each of the three most common calibers and they get filled with a hand pump. I don’t mind the work of hand filling it is an exercise with a purpose. It has also shown me a general pumps to shot ratio.
For the .25 two magazines is 16 shots and a top off is about 50 pump strokes.
For the .22 three magazines is 24 shots and the top off is about 50 pump strokes.
The .17 can get 40-48 shot for the same 50 pump strokes.
This is only my observation and not a scientific result. With the .25 needing three pumps per shot it is natural that I am going to put fewer pellets down range with it.
Shootski, the HAM article picture is of a Thompson replica. Your right that he should know that.
Yup! I suspect Umarex knows that too! And it is a cheap way to get around © Copyright © ISSUES!
See my response to Chris above.
I like how you noted the difference in shot count for the the same amount of pumps per caliber.
I use to hand pump too and noted that. Definitely should help someone that’s considering a pcp and hand pumping it.
I know i am late to the party here and i have 177 22 & 25 break barrel & side lever and have owned at one time or another multi pumps & co2 as for plinking and target practice i did prefer 22. When i got my first 25 break barrel i had a bursitis condition which i aggravated i still cock it one handed as at lest for me doing it with 2 hands is just awkward after even switching hands one handed easier. I never could tame that rifle down to getting reliable kill zones much past 40yds off hand and yes using .25 barracuda 31gr gets 17-18 FPE at 100yds I refined the trigger and put in a quality breech seal, but now the safety broke some time back.
I have good rifles in .22 including what i thought was my last air rifle a Diana 56th and i love it it could use a touch refinement in the trigger surfaces and is an absolute tack driver even at 50yds the power level though even though it can be sued on small game say out to 75 it lacks the power a limitation or the limitation i wanted to get past . Among other issues i have neuropathy and my numbed fingertips just like .25 pellets and i am going to fix my Hatsan .25 as it has what i surmise a tighter than normal bore and shoots well for what it is even with its strange slight forward push shot cycle i found that it is perfectly balanced with open sights.
I am a horrible insomniac and find my time being consumed reading about new and old products constantly and scouring resources for information and deals i can manage and was looking at an underlever not found at the usual outlets and ended up by chance a time sensitive deal on Gauntlet .25 well i have ammo of every sort laying around, but have never owned a PCP i absolutely love .25 though. I had only seen reviews and articles of this rifle in 177 & 22 so i kind of glossed over the 25 when it came out, but an hour later i went ahead and against recommendations bought a cheap hand pump BTW it works great. I enjoy hand pumping because i enjoy the rifle power and accuracy and o good trigger. So to a point if i had one.
If you are going to talk plinking every day or once a month you use what you enjoy or what is the purpose. I live in the sticks in Kansas ordering online is as easy as a trip to the bass pro shop but cheaper and the pellet selection is not much better than walmart. Larger caliber pellets are no problem for me or any firearm for that matter i prefer air rifles. I can see where if i was living in a city and just doing the backyard shooting dealing with neighbors and such 177 or 22 would be the only sensible options or larger quiet and on the DL. Like my Hatsan 125 sniper may be powerful and perhaps not legal in the city, but i don’t think its quiet operation would ever make it an issue.
I am above all cheap though i dont think the price of cheaper .25 pellets is at all out of line and if we are talking plinking in a yard or just shooting paper depending it is all dependent on the bore and barrel you have what is or is not acceptable. Perhaps my opinion is skewed as it is easy to just shoot whatever i want & whenever i just go outside its easy and i enjoy every gun i have or i would not have it and i can see where even with the limitation of pellets i would love to have a Hatsan 130S .30 break barrel or a HW95L in .20 and i say never let anyone sway you in your choices just know what you are getting into do the research.
Hello fellow Kansan! Glad to see another Midwesterner on here. I’m in Overland Park. Longtime reader, but sometimes don’t have time to get on here for a few weeks at a time.
Hello it is nice to know asa we don’t have any clubs or competitions in this area. I am N. Franklin county or Ottawa rural [not in Ottawa] South of Centropolis which is hardly a place.
I am sure many more people tale a look see at the blog than ever contribute, for whatever reason, but is nice just knowing some local people are into it.
If I had the time I would have interest in starting up some sort of airgun club or shooting group in the area. But, being self-employed, having boys in sports, Scouts, etc., doesn’t leave much time for that. .
Do you shoot mostly for fun, or do you get out and hunt with your air rifles?