.22 vs .177: Choosing the Right Calibre for Your Airgun Needs

.22 vs .177: Choosing the Right Calibre for Your Airgun Needs

When venturing into the world of airgunning, one of the first and most crucial decisions you'll make is choosing the right calibre. The .22 and .177 calibres dominate the market, each with its unique characteristics and advantages. Whether you're a competitive shooter, a hunter, or a casual backyard plinker, understanding these differences can help you make an informed choice that best suits your airgunning needs.

Physical Differences

The .22 calibre pellets, with a diameter of 5.5 mm, are larger and heavier than their .177 counterparts, which have a diameter of 4.5 mm. This size and weight difference significantly affect the pellet's flight dynamics and impact energy. .22 pellets, being heavier, typically have a more pronounced trajectory but carry more momentum, making them ideal for hunting and pest control. In contrast, .177 pellets are lighter and faster, offering a flatter trajectory over shorter distances, perfect for target shooting.

Performance Metrics

Performance is a critical factor in choosing between .22 and .177 pellets. .177 calibre pellets often achieve higher velocities due to their lighter weight, resulting in a flatter trajectory. This characteristic is particularly advantageous in target shooting, where precision is paramount. On the other hand, .22 pellets, with their greater mass, tend to deliver more energy upon impact, making them the preferred choice for hunting small game where stopping power is necessary.

Intended Use and Applications

Target Shooting and Competitions

The .177 calibre is the undisputed king of target shooting and competitive events. Its high velocity and flat trajectory enable shooters to achieve pinpoint accuracy, essential in hitting small targets or bullseyes consistently. Many competition rules also specify the use of .177 pellets, making this calibre the go-to choice for serious competitive shooters.

Hunting and Pest Control

For hunters and those dealing with pest control, the .22 calibre is often the preferred choice. The heavier .22 pellets provide significant knockdown power necessary for a humane and effective kill. The impact energy of a .22 pellet ensures that the energy transfer is sufficient to deal with small game, making it a responsible and ethical choice for hunting.

Shooting airguns for target or hunting outdoors

Accuracy and Precision

While both calibres are capable of high accuracy, the choice between .177 and .22 might depend on the shooting conditions and the airgun's characteristics. The .177's flatter trajectory can be an advantage in controlled environments, such as indoor ranges or calm outdoor settings. However, the heavier .22 pellets can be less susceptible to wind drift, making them potentially more accurate in outdoor conditions where wind plays a factor.

Cost and Availability

Both .22 and .177 pellets are widely available and come in various types and price points, catering to casual shooters and serious enthusiasts alike. Generally, .177 pellets can be slightly cheaper and more widely available due to their popularity in target shooting and competitive scenes. However, the cost difference is often minimal, and the choice should primarily be based on the intended use rather than price alone.

We are currently stocking both .22 and .177 calibre pellets, you can check out our range by clicking here.

Environmental Considerations

The environmental impact of lead pellets has led to an increased interest in non-lead alternatives for both calibres. While traditionally, lead has been the material of choice for its density and malleability, non-lead options are becoming more prevalent, offering a less toxic alternative without significantly compromising performance.

Real-World Scenarios

  • Backyard Plinking: Either calibre can be enjoyable, but .177 might be more economical and provide more shots per fill or CO2 cartridge due to its lighter pellets.
  • Indoor Target Shooting: .177 is the clear choice for its flat trajectory and the calibre most competitions require.
  • Outdoor Hunting: .22 offers the necessary impact energy for humane kills at reasonable airgun hunting ranges.

Pros and Cons Summary

Aspect .177 Calibre .22 Calibre
Trajectory Flatter, ideal for target shooting More pronounced, suitable for hunting
Impact Energy Lower, sufficient for plinking and targets Higher, better for hunting and pest control
Wind Drift More susceptible Less affected
Availability Widely available, slightly cheaper Widely available
Environmental Non-lead options available Non-lead options available


Choosing between .22 and .177 calibre pellets ultimately boils down to what you want to achieve with your air rifle. If precision and target shooting are your goals, .177 might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you're into hunting or need that extra punch for effective pest control, .22 could be the way to go. Consider your primary activities, budget, and performance expectations to make the right choice for your airgunning adventures.

For more frequently asked questions regarding these calibres, please consider checking out our blog posts below.

.22 Pellet & Air Rifle Commonly Asked Questions

.177 Pellet & Air Rifle Commonly Asked Questions

Another great place you can check out is the Air Gun Forum, here you can ask more specific questions to meet your requirements. Or you can drop us a comment below and we will also be happy to help!

Happy Shooting!

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