Caliber talk

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:
.177?
Plinking and hunting?
Ubiquity!
Long-range target shooting?
Beware of velocity
Summary for .177
.20 caliber or 5mm?
Summary for the .20 caliber
.22 caliber
Plinking?
Target shooting
Hunting and pesting
Power ranges
Summary of the .22 caliber
.25 caliber
Target?
Hunting
Cost
What about the .30?
Report summary

Looking at all the new airguns we saw last week brought something to mind. What caliber should you select for your new airgun?

.177?

This is the smallest standard caliber. It is used exclusively in 10-meter target matches for both rifle and pistol. It should also be selected for the sport of field target if you intend winning.

Plinking and hunting?

This is also the universal caliber for plinking, It’s also good for some light hunting (squirrels, rabbits, and similar-sized game animals and pests). If you plan on shooting a lot, this caliber generally has the least expensive pellets, though premium ones can still cost quite a lot.

There are many new pellets coming out that tout their performance for hunting. In .177 caliber I would remain skeptical until I saw some real proof. That doesn’t have to mean game taken but at least see performance in ballistic gelatin or a similar media.

Ubiquity!

There are more pellets available in .177 than in any other caliber and in fact, there are more choices of .177 pellets than in ALL of the other smallbore calibers combined! That did matter at one time in the past when there weren’t as many premium pellets around, but these days there are good pellets in all 4 smallbore calibers, so it isn’t as important.

Long-range target shooting?

Can you shoot a .177 pellet out to long range? Of course you can. The big question is what will it do. Under ideal conditions a .177 caliber pellet can do quite well when target shooting out to 100 yards. Can it go even farther? Sure, but as the distance increases it quickly becomes a trick performed for a You Tube video, rather than a legitimate pastime.

Beware of velocity

Unfortunately the .177 caliber is where the highest velocity potential is, so companies have used it for decades as the speed demon pellet. Velocity alone does not hurt accuracy, as I demonstrated in my 11-part test back in 2011. But those companies that tout their guns based on velocity usually don’t have any accuracy to go along with their speed. They are selling on velocity alone. That makes .177 a caliber be beware of.

Summary for .177

The .177 pellet is low-cost, universal and far more capable in 2020 than it was just a decade ago. Match it to your airgun and look for energies in the lower 20 foot-pound region, because that is where the more accurate airguns will be.

.20 caliber or 5mm?

Twenty caliber was brought to market in 1948 by the American manufacturer, Sheridan. But it was in the 1970s when American retailer and importer, Beeman, pushed it into the mainstream — or tried to. Dr. Beeman favored the 5mm/.20 caliber as a compromise between .177 and .22 — as the best of both worlds. As it played out, however, it was closer to the .22 side and suffered from too much competition with the larger double deuce. Twenty caliber has been on again, off again since Beeman first touted it, and in 2020 I have to say it is in an off cycle. The Sheridan Blue Streak that uses it is no longer being manufactured. Plus, you can tell the demand is down because companies like Hatsan that offer their guns in all calibers often skip over the .20.

This fact makes buying a new airgun in .20 caliber a risk. There are good pellets at the present, but the selection is quite small and who is to say how long they will last? Companies only make what people buy and the twenty is at the bottom of the list.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or bad about .20 caliber. It’s as good as people who love it claim it is. But it just isn’t in favor right now. I don’t think it will ever go away, but I also don’t think it is a caliber I can recommend to someone who is buying a new airgun.

Summary for the .20 caliber

The .20 just isn’t in vogue right now. And you won’t get a break on the price of pellets over the .22. Check both the tin price and the pellet count per tin to compare. Buy a new .20 caliber with that in mind.

.22 caliber

At one time (roughly 1910-1970) .22 caliber was the “American” caliber, while .177 was seen as a European caliber. That has certainly changed, but the .22 caliber is still the second most popular caliber in the airgun world. And the pellets have gotten so heavy and specialized that .22 now competes with .25 caliber on the larger end of the smallbore range. Its pellets are certainly less expensive than .25 caliber pellets of the same type — sometimes by having more pieces in a tin. So, a lot of airgunners feel that if they want to go big, .22 might be their best choice, even though .25 has it beat where sheer weight is concerned. But consider this — it’s much like a big bore air rifle — once you go past 500 foot-pounds it’s all bragging rights with very little actual performance advantage. I say that because at 500 foot pounds big bore airgun bullets are pasing completely through 2,000 lb. American bison.

Plinking?

Twenty-two can be used for plinking and general shooting — as long as the shooter is willing to pay the premium for shooting the larger, more expensive pellet. If plinking is all you plan to do, consider the .177.

Target shooting

For formal matches .22 is as dead as a doornail! Formal matches are reserved for .177. For the new line of long-range benchrest matches that haven’t settled down and stabilized yet, the .22 is on the lighter side of possible. It’s not really the best choice. But for personal long-range target shooting, it’s a wonderful caliber.

Hunting and pesting

Twenty-two is ideal for smallbore hunting and pesting! You can go after larger game like woodchucks and raccoons that are on the fringe for a .177 caliber airgun. In fact .22 and .25 are in close competition for this type of sport.

Power ranges

I know that there are fine .22 caliber rifles that only produce 5 foot-pounds at the muzzle. And there are .22s that certainly top 80 foot-pounds So perhaps this caliber has the broadest spread of useful power of all the airgun calibers.

Summary of the .22 caliber

The .22 is the big brother of the .177. Get it when power is necessary. It leans towards hunting and long-range shooting more than the .177. But be aware that the pellets do cost more.

.25 caliber

The quarter-inch bore was the largest smallbore caliber for the longest time. It came into being before 1910 and is still going today. In fact, it is seeing a resurgence of interest today because it generates the greatest power of all the smallbores. That would be an AirForce Condor putting out 105 foot-pounds with the Ring Loc Kit maximized.

Twenty-five was a back-burner caliber like the .20 is today until close to the start of the new millennium. It took the power potential of precharged pneumatics to bring it to full bloom.

Target?

Twenty-five caliber doesn’t spring to mind when I think of shooting targets, but for long-range benchrest it has a definite place. If the wind isn’t too high and especially if there aren’t any .30 caliber rifles on the line, .25 is the way to roll.

Hunting

The big .25 is the airgun hunter’s dream. It is the .45/70 of the airgun world! And like the .45/70, the .25 can reach way out there and punch hard. You just have to know the distance and trajectory precisely to hit what you shoot at.

The .25 punches a large wound channel that is the airgun hunter’s secret to success. As long as the rifle or pistol is accurate, the big .25 has no equal. Even in a pistol, the TalonP in .25 produces over 50 foot-pounds at the muzzle!

Cost

Make no mistake — .25 caliber pellets are not cheap! This is not the caliber for a family picnic fun shoot unless you are okay with the cost. A tin can will be just as hit by a .177 as by a .25, though the sound of the larger pellet smacking through the steel plate may be more dramatic.

Summary for the .25

The .25 caliber is growing more popular day by day. Precharged powerplants have made this possible. While today’s springers are certainly capable of launching a .25 at reasonable speeds, they tend to cock harder and shoot rougher than I prefer.

What about the .30?

No, no, and no! Thirty caliber is fine for hunting larger small game and for competing in a few highly specialized target sports that are still evolving, BUT — the pellets are very expensive and the choice is extremely limited. If you want a .30 because you just want one, I understand. We all have itches that need to be scratched. But if this is a choice you made simply because .30 is a bigger number than .25, it’s time to reconsider. Thirty caliber is not even in the smallbore corral. It’s a horse of a different color and you need to know why you want one before you buy.

Report summary

Pellets have changed a lot in the past 15 years because pellet guns have changed a lot. If you are looking at the new crop of airguns coming out at this year’s SHOT Show you may want to rethink your caliber choice, because things have certainly changed.

93 thoughts on “Caliber talk



      • Hi B.B. With the SHOT show now over, can you comment on the Korean air guns, (if any). My Blizzard is now near 10-years old, (bought based on your review), and it replaced and even older Career Infinity, (which you also reviewed). Time for a new rifle, but it appears Career, ShinSung, and Evanix are no longer around, and I can’t make sense of SamYang, Sumatra, and Seneca? Are these all made by the same factory. The new Air Venturi / Seneca Eagle Claw sure looks like it came out of the ShinSung factory. What else was at the show for Korean guns? Do plan on a review of the Eagle Claw?

        Best regards,
        Jane Hansen


        • Rocket Jane!

          My gosh — it’s been years! Good to hear from you.

          Some of the makers have quit making airguns. Shin Sung, for example, is gone. They make drill bits for deep drilling and airguns were an aside.

          Sam Yang was some of the same people in a different wrapper. Seneca is Air Venturi and encompasses whomever they do business with.

          I might review the Eagle Claw, since it’s a gun people seem to like.

          Welcome back! 🙂

          B.B.


  1. B.B.,

    For the smallbore the .22 still reigns in my country due to the greater variety of pellets available locally compared to .177 unless you count pellets sourced outside of the country.

    Siraniko

    PS: Oddly the first letter of each header is normal before becoming bold in my browser on the cellphone. On cutting and pasting there is a space in between.

    PPS: Section Report summary last sentence:”If you are looking at the new crop of airguns coming out at this year’s SHOT Show you may want to rethink your caliber choice, because thangs (things) have certainly changed.”


    • Siraniko,

      Believe it or not,.. “thangs” would be a slang replacement for “things”. It could be intentional,… or not. Besides,… they talk kinda funny down Texas way anyways. 🙂

      Chris


    • “For the smallbore the .22 still reigns in my country…”
      Siraniko, out of curiosity, which country is that? (you may have said so before; if so, I missed it)
      And how easy is it to get airguns and equipment in your country?
      Are some brands of airguns easier to find there more so than others?
      Thank you in advance for your answers. =>
      Take care,
      dave


      • Dave,

        I’m in the Philippines. Gun ownership is restricted. Airguns are treated as firearms. Licenses to import are typically expensive contributing to the added cost. Brand availability depends on the selection of the importers. Crosman, Gamo, Hatsan, and Cometa are imported brands that are being sold by some in very limited quantities. The airgun market here is rather limited due to cost and registration requirement. Upscale local makers are concentrating on PCP production having cut their teeth on CO2 production. Some are still stuck in the past and produce pneumatics and CO2 out of brass. Quality of production is going up slowly. Previously these cottage industries were made in two car garage sized machine shops. Some are now moving to CNC produced parts.

        Siraniko


        • Thank you, Siraniko,
          I recall reading, years ago (like perhaps the 1980s, in the old Air Rifle Headquarters magazine), that CO2 airguns were very popular in the Philippines due to the warm climate there:
          “Average temperatures in the Philippines usually range between 21 °C (70 °F) and 32 °C (90 °F) with the average yearly temperature coming in at around 26.6 °C (79.9 °F).”
          (from: https://www.travelonline.com/philippines/weather.html )
          Here in the USA in middle Georgia, even though it is “the South,” we do get freezing temperatures; hence, the CO2 guns only get shot indoors in the winter months. =>
          Yet that makes a lot of sense that a country with a warm climate that formerly focused on CO2 guns would move into PCP airguns, instead of say, spring-powered airguns. And I can understand why brass was used in the past; in a country with a warm and humid climate, it doesn’t rust (I still have my brass Sheridan, which is still going strong after 40 years). I hope your country continues to ramp up production so you can enjoy shooting airguns for many more years. =>
          Thanks again, and have a blessed day,
          dave


          • Dave,

            What really slows the ramping up of production is the very small population of shooters with deep enough pockets to afford this hobby. There is not enough of a market to produce in the economy of scale to really bring the price down. The second hand market allows newbies to experience and learn until they have earned and saved enough for the gun they want.

            Siraniko


            • Siraniko,

              I seem to recall reading in some airgun magazines, here during the 1980s, that a big deal in the Philippines was a thing called a Monkey Gun. It seems it was a CO2 shotgun that was used to hunt monkeys and was favored because it wasn’t regulated as much as a solid projectile weapon would have been. Does any of that seem right? Your response about airguns being treated as firearms is what triggered the memory, if it’s actually true. Otherwise, I guess I hallucinated it along with about half of what I “recall” these days. 🙂

              I think it was being imported here with the caveat that the pressure might not be high enough, because we aren’t tropical, to actually hunt with. That was triggered by Thedavemyster’s earlier discussion about CO2 in your country. I also seem to remember reading that that large bore gun provided the impetus for the development of a CO2 powered line launcher for the US Navy and Coast Guard.

              Half


              • Halfstep,

                Those would be the CO2 guns that had their brass liner barrel removed and capable of shooting ⅜” ball bearings. Don’t know about their accuracy though as those are going to be smoothbore shooting a round ball.

                Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      Please explain, if you’re willing, why .22 is more available in the ..Philippines?.. right? Are they made in country, with the .177 being mostly imported? I would expect that being an island nation, resources ( like lead ) would be in short supply and that virtually ALL of the pellets available to you would need to be sourced outside your country. I can’t claim to know much about your economy and won’t be surprised if I’m wrong,in my assumptions, but I don’t want to stay ignorant, so be as detailed as you have time for.

      And thank you very much in advance, Half


      • Halfstep,

        In the early part of production .22 barrels were easier to source that .177. Please keep in mind that some of these makers were using spare .22 rimfire barrels to produce airguns with. Those who were making their own barrels (usually brass) found .22 easier to make than .177. There are many makers of .22 pellets although their design resembles that of the old flying ashcan. I think there is only one consistent maker of .177 pellets. Lead is relatively available being used in a lot of places.

        Siraniko


        • Siraniko,

          Are most of the modern airguns that get discussed here imported to the Philippines or do you have a much smaller pool of guns to buy from? And, if the choices are fewer, how much of that is because some would violate your laws and how much is because there just wouldn’t be a market for many of them because of cost or impracticality? Are the more modern designs of pellets available but are just very expensive?

          Half

          Half



          • Half,
            I would love to post those articles of a couple of cool air rifles (one a CO2 and one a multi-pimp) from the Philippines (these were back in the older times to which Siraniko was referring when they made many pneumatics and CO2 guns from brass) that I had back in my old issues of “Air Rifle Headquarters” (ARH) magazines…but that was so long ago…about 4 moves ago…God alone knows where they are…too bad, because those guns were cool. They were locally produced, but appeared to be well made (and both were .22 caliber; no option on the caliber).
            I could kick myself for not buying them back then! There was no issue with importing them, as they were imported and then sold by ARH. Oh well, live and learn. =>
            Take care,
            dave


            • Thedavemyster,

              Scroll up a bit to my question to Siraniko about Monkey Guns and see if any of it is familiar to you. It seem you may have run into the articles that I refer to.

              Thanks, Half




  2. B.B.

    Good report! A few years ago, everybody was trying to came up with lead-free pellets. Are there any new LF pellets introduced at the shot show? Slugs are also new on the scene. Would they be effective in .177 or .22 caliber? You see them mainly in the bigger bore sizes for long distance shooting.
    Lastly, would bronze be a good material for LF pellets?

    -Yogi
    PS wondering if my fellow blog readers have as many opened and half used pellet tins as I do?


  3. LOL! No, the newbie should not even consider going to .30 and above for quite some time.

    This is a most excellent introduction to calibers. You have given a superb description of the practical uses of the various calibers.

    Someone new to airgunning really should start with the .177 in a relatively low power airgun. Most people who “mess” with airguns will find this combination very satisfying to their “needs”. It is also a good caliber to begin learning the limitations of airguns. A large portion of my “collection” is .177 well under 12 FPE.

    A good question everyone, not just newbies, should ask themselves is “What am I going to do with this airgun?” With a good bit of serious consideration of that question, the proper caliber will come to the forefront.


    • “What am I going to do with this airgun?”
      RidgeRunner, that is an excellent question! Long ago, I went to buy my first hot tub, and the salesman, a really cool and honest guy said,
      “Think about your actual needs, what you actually plan to use it for…and not your imagined needs.”
      I think that applies, in spades to hot tubs, cars, motorcycles, houses…pretty much everything.
      And especially to airguns!
      Some new to airgunning might dream that they need to get a 500 fpe big bore airgun for that “someday” trip out West to hunt elk…when in the meantime, they would be better served with a .177 caliber 7 fpe rifle to hunt feral soda cans in their back yard. =>
      Thumbs up to you, and to B.B. for this great tutorial,
      blessings to all,
      dave


      • Dave,

        Many years ago when I went to buy my first air rifle, I met Gary Barnes at the Roanoke show. I was all set to make him a down payment and have him make me one of his air rifles. Then he asked me the question “What are you going to do with this air rifle?” I guess my answer did not satisfy him. He did not build me an air rifle.

        It was actually quite some time before I bought my first air rifle. I felt that I needed to answer that question first. Now, every time I go to buy an airgun, and a lot of other stuff also, I ask myself that question.


  4. Since we are talking different calibers here. I was going to bring this up the other day when Geo posted that link to the video of the guy shooting the paint can at 450 yards.

    Chris asked if I watched the video and thought it was a bit amazing that it was done with a .22 caliber air gun.

    Well I will have to say I skimmed through the video and did see the part when the can got hit. It must of been a full can because it sprayed and moved around a bit when it was hit.

    Heres what I was going to post about. I wonder what velocity and what grain pellet or bullet was used. I know from shooting a full paint can at 100 yards that a .22 air gun needs to be making some power to penetrate a full can. The pressure in the can also makes it harder to penetrate the can.

    To penetrate that can at 450 yards took a good amount of retained energy to penetrate. Did anybody catch what projectile he used and what velocity it was shooting at. Interested to know.


  5. I just watched the video from Shooter 1721, he said he’s shooting FX hybrid slugs at 1000 FPS. Those slugs are only available in .22 caliber at 22 grains, unless he testing something different for FX.
    A quick look at the ChairGun app says he’s making 48.8 ftlbs at the muzzle, and 12.7 ftlbs at 415 yds. Utah Airguns reports these slugs have a ballistic coefficient of .08.



    • Toddspeed,

      Dang ,Dude, what are you, some kinda libarian? That was perty swift researchin’ for 7:00 in the mornin’ ! I’m impressed. Next little curiosity I get rollin’ around in my head, I know who I’m askin’. 😉

      Half


      • Ha! No, not a librarian, I just read a little airgun stuff while I drink my morning coffee. I’ve been obsessed with airguns for a couple years, so I get real excited when I have a little something that might legitimately add to the discussion.



    • Yogi,

      That is a .22 caliber slug. Slugs are currently available in .215, .216, .217 and .218 to allow matching the slug to the bore of the rifle.

      There is a lot of variation in airgun barrel sizes and because airgun slugs don’t have skirt to flair to the rifling the size to the bore is critical for sealing and accuracy.

      Friction is another consideration. Pellets have relatively low friction because they only ride the rifling at the head and skirt, because slugs contact the bore over most of their length you can’t just use an oversized slug.

      Hank


      • So would longer barrels be a detriment when shooting slugs? When shooting pellets, B.B. had convinced me that longer barrels are faster. So a longer barrel would be slower when shooting slugs? How about accuracy?

        -Y


        • Yogi,

          Like lots of thing its a double-edged sword… Long barrels are good in that they allow for more time for the HPA to accelerate the projectile; the flip side to that is that the longer lock time (that the pellet/slug is in the barrel) allows the shooter more time to disturb the aim so being steady and having a good follow through is more important.

          Slugs like speed. Pellets are limited so the PCP power levels were geared to that. With slugs on the scene the PCP designers are increasing working pressures, improving porting, volume and flow so that many current designs are capable of developing FPE that is almost double what it was previously.

          Hank





            • Yogi,

              There are formulas that get you to a starting point for determining the correct length (range) of the barrel. Unfortunately all that gets messed with when you buy an Airgun with lots of different adjustments, twist or change pellet/slug (bullet) weight/mass, form factor, length and more.
              The what are you planning to do with the Airgun comes into play as the most important question you MUST answer first. After that a whole bunch of specific questions both technical and practical need to be answered to come to grips with your seemingly simple but spot-on question.

              It actually can be done once you, decide your one PRIMARY purpose to within an inch…for one and only one optimized purpose. Every other use will then become a compromised outcome; unless you make changes and test those out over a CHRONOGRAPH (only one Prosumer product right now: the LabRadar) that allows you to determine actual drag count (Cd) for that Fill, Flow, Volume of Charge, Dwell Time, rifle barrel and pellet/slug (bullet) combination! I’m certain if I thought about it there are a few more items that could be added to all of this.

              shootski


              • I understand that for slugs to be really accurate they need to be traveling minimum 900 fps+ when they are leaving the barrel. So it the answer is the longest barrel that will still enable 900fps???

                -Y


                • Yogi,

                  Another short answer,… A springer has a fixed amount of air/push. A PCP will (keep) pushing. Drag/time to exit the barrel,… becomes less of a factor.

                  Chris


                  • Yes Chris,
                    I get that. That is the idea behind the smooth twist barrels.
                    I understand that slugs have full rifled barrels. They do not have skirts.
                    They either fit or don’t. So the lands “grab” the pellet the whole way though. Must have great rotational spin. Do slug barrels have a choke?

                    -Y


                    • Yogi,

                      Choked or not choked,.. I think is a preference of the barrel maker/gun maker. For sure, any barrel maker/gun maker will do their homework to know for sure. Then,.. as you brought up,.. what is the optimal FPS? Shootski brought up (many) other variables and maybe left out a few,… as he stated.

                      I will gladly (and smartly) tip my hat to Shootski for further insight.

                      Chris


                • Yogi,

                  I think your information on that comes from a HAM test: that applies to that Airgun/barrel/pellet/slug/ Pressure setting/fill only. It was a complex post and also added in the efficiency of the input power IIRC into the conversation. External Balistics Stability of bullets/slugs is a very complex area that up until recently we had tables and Theories about that resulted in some Rules of Thumb but much of that is wrong just like Newtonian Physics.

                  In general the choice of 900FPS is a good starting point for PCP because it is below the Transonic region. IF you can shoot a stable Supersonic round that stays above the Transonic speed to your intended target you will have no loss of accuracy. The problem is the very aerodynamically difficult Transonic region. The issue is that the pressure waves move all over the surface of the object and they separate at odd points on the objects surface and travel forward and backward on the object with Chaotic (the Math meaning) impulse. Believe me while flying Supersonic aircraft you get yourself through the Transonic Region as quickly as you can on acceleration and on deceleration. It causes all kinds of Pitch, Yaw, Roll and Control Surface flutter issues! I can only imagine what a pellet or slug would experience.

                  shootski


                  • Shootski,

                    Interesting comment!

                    Guess that only a small percentage of people can say that they have first hand experience of feeling the Transonic turbulence that a pellet would see. I’m envious, it’s something that I always wanted to try.

                    You must smile when people talk about “powerful” motorcycles and cars. If they only knew what a full power takeoff in a military jet fighter felt like. The “Top Gun” movie opening scene of the fighter powering up for a carrier takeoff comes to mind – raises the hair on my arms just thinking about all that energy.

                    Cheers,
                    Hank


                    • Vana2,

                      Hey Hank do you think you could build a backyard steam catapult? All you need is about 100yards of clear flat land with a not all that deep trench! We could get you to well over 170mph in no time flat…some of those giant airbags another 100yards away might work to safely arrest your “flight” shortly after launch!

                      STILL interested? All you need to do is give the Cat Officer that snappy hand salute and it happens even with your feet fully on the toe brakes!

                      It has been correctly described as: “Second only to the end result of an intimate act.” (Slightly edited for family blog consumption.)

                      shootski


                • Yogi,

                  I don’t know too much about slugs in airguns, but I don’t think one velocity will be any sort of threshold for all slugs. I think that the twist rate of the barrel will be one determiner of the correct velocity as well as what caliber the slug is and its weight. Its weight is mostly determined by the slugs length, which in turn helps set up what spin is required to stabilize it, longer slugs require a different rate than shorter slugs. The diameter will also determine how fast it must spin to stabilize. I believe I’ve read that over spinning a poorly made slug causes it to be inaccurate as the voids make it wobble more.

                  Can you post a source for that 900 fps figure because I’m not certain about any of what I just posted. It’s just some things that I thought that I had reasoned out in my own head. Your way would be much simpler to follow.

                  Half


                  • Half,

                    It is from talking to the FX Impact guys at the range. They have no trouble hitting 1 inch spinners at 120 yards in .25 with pellets. They talk about how much longer their range would be with slugs. All info is second hand here say. I’m a 12 lbs springer guy. I only pay attention to what they are saying when they talk about slugs.

                    -Y


                  • Halfstep,
                    I think that all this hype about slugs is interesting, but if slugs require a special barrel and high FPS to shoot accurately, they will be a flash in the pan. We already know that the biggest benefit is better accuracy at long ranges and more resistance to wind deflection. I think only a very small percentage of airgun shooters will gain any advantage shooting slugs verses shooting pellets. Most of us are shooting our airguns at ranges of 50 yards or less 99% of the time. Slugs are a novelty that I don’t really see selling that well. They are too expensive for target practice or plinking. I see them as a very limited production item, like big bore airguns. Back to that very important question “What are you going to use this airgun for?”. For pesting sparrows and starlings with slugs? I think not!
                    Geo


                    • Geo,

                      I am not sure. I think they (slugs) will stick around. I also see “The Complete Package” being marketed (assuming the makers do their homework). Gun, known fill, specific ammo/slug, done. Needed or not, the slug benefits are an attractive lure,… if delivered on.

                      It will be interesting to watch. I do not think it is all that new either. I think that serious people have been playing with them for quite awhile now. They have come far enough and received enough publicity that they are solidly in the main stream air gun media now. Plus, the benefits of PCP’s are widely known now and not slowing down anytime soon. And, they have come a long way in a short amount of time.

                      Maybe over kill, but if I can get 1/2″ at 50 yards with slugs vs 1″ at 50 yards with pellets (for a complete random example), the 1/2″ gun would be getting my attention and maybe my dollars.

                      Chris





            • I have saw numerous times with air force rifles where a guy will have a few barrels and the shorter ones have less velocity. why does the Texan have such a long barrel where it looks like a civil war musket? it has to be to get more velocity cause I am sure hunters would not want it that long


              • Mildot52,

                Yes!
                That’s why my .58 cal is a Shortrifle! That’s why my .58 cal pistol barrel is only fourteen inches long. The Shortrifle barrel is only twenty inches long, thank heaven, if it was longer itcwould become a PCP drooper that sucker is heavy!!! I could get a longer barrel but this is a PIG hunter and pigs like being in undergrowth and long barrels have no place in there. I would probably get 10-30 more FPS for every added inch in both pistol and rifle! Do I need it? No. Plenty of pig punching power to drive a 350gn hollow point bullet with the 20″ barrel to 100 yards without all to much drop!

                shootski


        • Yogi,

          Short answer NO! B.B. is correct when we are within the range of reasonable increase in length.. See my longer answer to your next question to Gunfun1 just below.

          shootski



      • Halfstep,

        That is what slug/bullet shooters have been doing with presses and sizing dies to better or worse effect for decades. The amount you can size down a round has been hotly debated all that time too! The Rule of Thumb I have used for cast bullets is if they pop out of the casting mold and are only a little difficult to seat in the barrel and close the bolt on that is probably your best fit. If they fall into the bore they will probably be of poor accuracy. On measuring the properly sized or as cast ones with a Micrometer (not a Caliper) they are usually oversized (Land to Land diameter) by .001 to .0015; and the bore needs to be of consistent diameter the entire length of the rifling. I haven’t heard of all too many Airgunsmith that Choke an Airgun Slug/Bullet barrel.

        shootski


  6. B.B.

    You forgot to mention your “neighbour”, Phat Phingered Phreddy. He has trouble loading the diminutive .177 pellets and has to be careful that he does not load wadcutters in backwards. Definitely a plus for .22 and .25 pellets.
    Things to worry about when you become an OG!?

    -Yogi


  7. Interesting stuff BB!

    As an old guy who started out with a 2-3 fpe break barrels and now shooting 45 fpe PCPs, I agree completely with your comments.

    Wish that the airgun newbies would read this report before they buy their first airgun – they would probably be much happier for it in a long run…

    Seen a lot of posts recently from newbies asking which .25 or .30 caliber rifle they should buy. You can tell they are newbies because they want a rifle to shoot coyotes at 100+ yards (if they happen to see one) but need the rifle to be “backyard friendly” for shooting pests in urban settings. Some of these guys are real excited about the full-auto capabilities of the Hatsan Blitz – 16 rounds a second at 50 fpe! …Scary!

    With the new PCPs and slugs coming on to the scene caliber selection is getting a bit confusing as the fpe ranges start overlapping. With slugs, the new .22 rifle I am waiting for can (easily) develop 30% more power than my .25 but still switch to shooting pellets at 30 fpe at the twist of the dial. It’s getting harder to define calibers and usage these days.

    Hank


    • Vana2,

      ” It’s getting harder to define calibers and usage these days.” Now who was just talking about complexity being what interests him in our Sport/avocation/hobby, just the other day? Coduece?

      This isn’t Kansas Hank and it ain’t just Plinking No more!
      We are getting fire hosed with complexity! Soon enough someone is going to remember the caution: Beware of the shooter with only one Airgun!

      Airgunners have arrived at the Difficult Age of Airguns?

      Lol! (See GrandpaDan’s post below.)

      shootski


      • Shootski,

        “We are getting fire hosed with complexity! Soon enough someone is going to remember the caution: Beware of the shooter with only one Airgun!”

        Yeah, know what you mean. Used to be – one airgun, one rimfire, one shotgun, one centerfire… all bases covered, I was happy with that.

        For 30 years my FWB 124 was my one airgun – it’s great for pesting, plinking and a bit of hunting out to 25 yards or so.

        About 8 years ago I needed to replace the piston seal on the 124, research brought me to this blog and had my eyes opened to modern airguns and different disciplines. So you are right, it ain’t just Plinking No more!

        Except for the rimfire the powder burners are gone and I find myself owning a bunch of “speciality” airguns to cover all the bases. Plinking is still my first love, (the 124 still sees regular use) the new rifle is Sometimes I am not sure if I should thank or curse the “great enabler” but I sure am having fun!


      • Shootski,

        “We are getting fire hosed with complexity! Soon enough someone is going to remember the caution: Beware of the shooter with only one Airgun!”

        Yeah, know what you mean. Used to be – one airgun, one rimfire, one shotgun, one centerfire… all bases covered, I was happy with that.

        For 30 years my FWB 124 was my one airgun – it’s great for pesting, plinking and a bit of hunting out to 25 yards or so.

        About 8 years ago I needed to replace the piston seal on the 124, research brought me to this blog and I had my eyes opened to modern airguns and different disciplines. So you are right, it ain’t just Plinking No more!

        Except for the rimfire the powder burners are gone and I find myself owning a bunch of “speciality” airguns to cover all the bases. Plinking is still my first love, (the 124 still sees regular use) and the new rifle (if it ever clears Customs) is for plinking spinners at extended ranges.

        Sometimes I am not sure if I should thank or curse the “great enabler” but I sure am having fun!

        Cheers!
        Hank


  8. Hank,

    The old saying, “Too soon old, too late smart.”

    “Wish that the airgun newbies would read this report before they buy their first airgun – they would probably be much happier for it in a long run…”

    I’ve been lurking and reading and buying and trying for about five years now. And too frequently I run across a BB blog that brings a, “Dang, wish I’d thought of that!” Today is one such. Oh well, moving on…

    I’m drifting back to tuned springers as my ideal gun. Tried PCP, CO2, pumper and now have some nice springers, one in .177 and two in.22.

    Learning

    Dan


    • GrandpaDan,

      I count a good day as a day when I learned something new – I try to make every day a good day!

      I like springers as well – all you need is some pellets and a safe backstop, doesn’t get much better than that!

      But even in springers there are a lot of options. Anything from the .177 light plinkers to the magnum .25 hunters. As much as I like my FWB 124, it doesn’t come close to the shooting experience of my FWB 300SU (I recommend trying one if you ever get the chance). Both are springers but they are totally different.

      I’m still in the “try different things” mode and happily shoot all types. My wife says that I am A.D.D. so there is a good reason as any for not being able to decide. LOL! I’m into PCPs right now but I strongly suspect that my next rifle will be a HW 30S.

      Glad that you have found your prefered airgun. What is your favorite?

      Cheers Dan!
      Hank



  9. A guy shooting a .20 caliber USFT won the Tennessee Open PCP title a few years ago so the .20 caliber isn’t dead yet. I was paired with him and he hit all his close shots (3/8” kill zone). I believe that the heavier .20 pellets gave also him an advantage with what wind we had that day.

    Brent


  10. Mr. Gaylord:
    .177 for juniors can be a key to funding a college education. A junior who can put 60 shote into the X ring will almost certintly have an NCAA school calling to offier some type of fincial aid. Such a junior bringing his or her .177 rifle to school will almost certaintly find a place on the rifle team.
    William Schooley


  11. To all the newbies,

    Another item to consider when choosing caliber is the fact that different calibers in some guns don’t share the same reputation for accuracy.

    My .22 Marauder is a case in point. It hasn’t proven to be all that accurate and I’ve found out since buying it that the .22 caliber barrels, at that point in the gun’s manufacture, were generally considered less accurate by the shooters that were in the know. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those shooters and probably would have been better served by one of the other calibers. In another case I bought a .177 caliber RWS 52 back in the 1980’s when .177 was catching on here in the US, only to have learned, since then, that the .22 is thought by many to be the more accurate because the firing characteristics are better with the heavier .22 pellets.

    One other thing just occurred to me. In this day of high power springers, .177 pellets will be the ones most likely to disturb your neighbor’s Sunday brunch when they go supersonic and produce their mini sonic boom. The same gun in .22 will not likely break the sound barrier.

    Hope this helps someone make better choices than I sometimes did.

    Half


  12. BB,

    I’m having trouble posting comments. It times out, gives me an error message that indicates the problem is at Pyramyd’s site, I go back, click post again, I’m told that I already posted that comment, I go back, still not posted, close app, reopen , then like magic, I’m now posted. Anybody else havin’ trouble?

    Half


  13. B.B.,

    “At one time (roughly 1910-1970) .22 caliber was the “American” caliber, while .177 was seen as a European caliber.” And at one time .45 APC was viewed as the American firearm caliber while 9mm was seen as a European caliber, no? The times and calibers are always a-changin’.

    I usually plink with .177, but when I plink with my tuned Winchester 427 (which is .22), the sound of that slow-moving big pellet hitting the soup can sure is satisfying!

    Michael



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