Caliber 0.177” or 0.22” (4.5 mm or 5.5 mm)? Which one should I use with a compressed air gun? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each caliber?
In today’s post, I’m taking on this frequently discussed and requested topic.
I hope to be able to help you a little with my explanations.
Caliber 0.177” (4.5 mm)
Let’s start with what is probably the most common caliber in Germany. Most air rifles with the F-in-pentagon mark are certainly made and sold for smaller caliber pellets. (In Germany, the F stands for frei / free and indicates that the muzzle energy doesn’t exceed 7.5 J and the air gun can be owned by persons from the age of 18 years without needing a license). Due to the smaller size, the weight is of course also lower than most 0.22” (5.5 mm) pellets. Lighter weight means a higher velocity and therefore a flatter trajectory.
Especially in shooting disciplines like Field Target or Hunter Field Target with their changing target distances, not too much varying hold points are advantageous for the shooter. At longer distances, pellets of the larger caliber drop much faster than 0.177” (4.5 mm) pellets. This would result in an extremely increased difficulty level, especially at longer distances.
Caliber 0.22” (5.5 mm)
Air rifle pellets in caliber 0.22” (5.5 mm) normally have a higher weight than those with 0.177” (4.5 mm). At the same muzzle energy of the air rifle, they fly slower, have a more curved trajectory, release more energy at the target and, of course, make larger holes (for example, in paper targets).
At distances up to 27 yards (25 meters), the trajectory is still reasonably straight, but after that it drops more and more with every additional yard.
However, if you have a target at a fixed distance of, say, 32 yards (30 meters), you can of course set your scope to that exact distance and then sight in your rifle with caliber 0.22” (5.5 mm). However, with changing targets at further distances, it becomes very difficult to calculate.
A very big advantage of the larger pellets, however, is that it doesn’t take as much dexterity to grab them out of the tin and load them, for example. You simply have more in your hand than with the small 0.177” (4.5 mm) air rifle pellets.
The availability of pellets
Of course, a key point for any shooter is the availability of pellets on the market. Every barrel is different. So, each barrel has its own favorite type of pellets or even its favorite batch. That is why a wide selection on the market is extremely important to find the best pellet for yourself and your rifle.
When I look at my shelves at home, where I probably have at least one tin of each of the most renowned and high-quality pellets, I immediately see that the selection in 0.177” (4.5 mm) caliber is higher than in 0.22” (5.5 mm). However, the comparison of availabilities between these two kinds of pellets isn’t as serious as when it comes to different head sizes. The larger the pellets are, the scarcer and, unfortunately, the poorer the quality.
Thanks to my license, I also have air rifles in caliber 0.25” (6.35 mm) and 0.3” (7.62 mm) here for testing. To find really well-made pellets or slugs in this caliber is much more difficult than with caliber 0.177” (4.5 mm).
This is another point in favor of caliber 0.177” (4.5 mm).
What caliber do competitors use?
An important indicator in the search for the perfect air rifle pellet is to look at what competitors choose. When I started, I was just going by what the other shooters were shooting. Both, 10-yards-shooters as well as Field Target and Hunter Field Target shooters who shoot at longer distances, use only 0.177” (4.5 mm) pellets. So, for my air rifle with the F-in-pentagon mark, the decision was quickly made.
Of course, every shooter should shoot with the setup they enjoy the most! My intention wasn’t to be prescriptive or to badmouth anything. I just wanted to gather all the facts and summarize them for you.
If you have a German firearm certificate (FAC) and are allowed to shoot air rifles with more than 7.5 joules, then of course the topic has to be approached from a completely different angle. I prefer to shoot my powerful air rifles in caliber 0.177” (4.5 mm), 0.22” (5.5 mm) and 0.25” (6.35 mm) depending on the intended use and performance.
For my air rifles under 7.5 joules, I currently only have models in caliber 0.177″ (4.5 mm).
I hope I was able to answer a few of your questions.
What’s your favorite caliber? Have you ever tried out real exotic calibers?
Thank you for your time!
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