Wondering what the ideal air rifle calibre is for this particular target? John Knibbs offers some advice
It’s a debate that’s been going on for the past century without any obvious conclusions being reached.
Air rifles are restricted in power output
Regardless of calibre, all standard air rifles are restricted in power output to a maximum of 12 ft/lb.Whether they are pre-charged or spring-powered.
A full-power legal .177 rifle firing an 8.5-gr pellet at around 800fps, or a .22 air rifle firing a 16-gr pellet at around 580fps would be perfectly capable of killing a rabbit at normal ranges up to 35-40 yards.
However I am assuming that you are competent to shoot consistently in a tight group of a maximum of 2in.
Smaller pellet v the larger pellet
The smaller pellet will not produce as much kinetic energy as the larger .22 pellet, but it will give a flatter trajectory and is likely to be more accurate.
The larger .22 pellet will give more “knock-down” or killing power, but will require more sight adjustment at longer ranges.
The size of the air rifle’s calibre will make little difference however if the rabbit is hit in the head. Even if the shot is taken at long range.
Zeroing is crucial
First things first. Before you go out in the field with your air rifle, you need to check that it is correctly zeroed. Which means that it is hitting where you are aiming.
The rule applies whether you are using open sights or telescopic sights.
Take the air rifles you use along to your local gunshop for testing. They will advise on whether your air rifle needs a full service or re-zeroing.