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.177 vs .22 air rifle: the pros and cons of each

Can't decide between a .177 or a .22?

lighter airguns

If you’re wondering what’s best in the .177 vs .22 air rifle debate, then read the list of pros and cons compiled below which should help you to make up your mind. In the meantime you might want to read this article on powerful air rifles that don’t need an FAC licence. 

And if you’re looking for an air rifle for pest control, then this is a useful read on ratting with an air rifle.

Of course, there are other calibres of air rifle to be thinking about, but Mike Morton, editor of Airgun Shooter advises: “Those new to airgunning should probably consider just two calibres – .177 and .22 – as there is a wide choice and availability of both rifles and ammunition.”

Anyway, back to the .177 vs .22 air rifle question.

Boy using air rifle

A .177 air rifle is good for novice shooters and will help a beginner learn fieldcraft

Choosing between a .177 vs .22

Characteristics of a .177

  • .177 pellets generally have a flatter trajectory
  • Small pellets usually cost a bit less
  • However small pellets can be fiddly
  • Target shooters like the .177 air rifle
  • .177 air rifles make accurate shooting over a variety of distances easier
  • .177 air rifles have more forgiving ballistics
  • A .177 pellet if faster, flatter and easier to maintain accuracy over varied range
  • A .177 pellet travels just under 800fps
  • A .177 has better penetration and is effective for squirrel control
  • A .177 is more forgiving, so better for novices

Weihrauch HW95K

Characteristics of a .22 air rifle

  • A .22 is heavier
  • A .22 delivers more energy into the target
  • However a .22 will require more fieldcraft and placement experience
  • A .22 travels just under 600fps

Many air rifles come in both .177 and .22 options so you should definitely go to your local gunshop and investigate both. Examples include: Daystate Alpha Wolf, Walther Reign, Weihrauch HW100 BP.

You’ll find plenty of other ideas here in our pick of the best airguns, with prices ranging from £2,300 to £169. Each gun is clearly listed with reasons to buy.

Remember that air rifles can be fussy about pellets so it’s always worth trying a few out to see which perform best in your particular air gun. Read more on choosing the perfect airgun pellet here.