.22 vs .177 Pellet: Which Is Better for Air Gun/Rifles?

If you’re venturing into the air rifles, one of the first decisions you’ll encounter is choosing the right caliber between .177 and .22. Both have distinct characteristics that significantly impact your shooting experience.

I’ll tell you everything in detail on .22 and .177 pellets based on power, accuracy, suitability for different activities, cost, and technological advancements to help you make a better decision.

.22 and .177 Caliber Basics

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s clarify the basics.

When we talk about .177 and .22 air rifles, we’re referring to the diameter of the pellets-

  • .177 caliber: 0.177 inches (4.5mm)
  • .22 caliber: 0.22 inches (5.5mm)

.22 or .177: Why Does Pellet Choice Matter?

.22 or .177 caliber pellet choice is a decision that revolves around your shooting goals and the specific demands of your chosen airgun activity.

1. Pellet Weight

The weight of the pellet directly influences its performance and effectiveness for various shooting tasks.

  • Power: .22 caliber pellets are inherently heavier compared to their .177 counterparts. So .22 has more energy and hitting power. These qualities make them an excellent choice for hunting, where deeper penetration and more stopping power are necessary.
  • Accuracy: Heavier pellets offer superior accuracy because of their stability in flight. They are less susceptible to wind drift. It means heavier pellets are ideal for consistent and precise target shooting over longer distances.
  • Hunting Effectiveness: In hunting scenarios, the additional weight of .22 pellets helps ensure a humane and swift kill. The heavyweight minimizes the risk of wounding the game animal.

2. Pellet Shape

The shape of the pellet is another important factor that differentiates .22 from .177 pellets.

  • Aerodynamics: Pellet shape influences its aerodynamics. Some pellets are designed for high speed and a flatter trajectory, so they are suitable for shooting at targets with minimal adjustments.
  • Energy Transfer: Specific pellet shapes (like hollow points) enhance energy transfer upon impact. In hunting, this results in a more effective and humane kill.
  • Long-Range Shooting: The right pellet shape makes a significant difference in long-range shooting accuracy. That’s why you must find out which shape works best for your shooting discipline.

3. Pellet Material

The material used in pellet construction has implications for performance and compatibility.

  • Lead vs. Non-Lead: Traditional lead pellets offer excellent weight and energy transfer, while non-lead alternatives are chosen for environmental reasons. So here, you must understand which material suits your airgun and purpose.
  • Expansion and Behavior: Pellet material impacts how the pellet behaves upon hitting the target. Lead pellets tend to expand, while non-lead pellets may fragment differently. This knowledge helps optimize your shooting technique.
  • Compatibility: Ensure that your chosen pellet material aligns with your airgun’s specifications. Otherwise, using the wrong material will affect your performance.

.22 or .177 Pellet Caliber: Which One Is Better Choice?

Both calibers have their own merits, and your choice should align with your intended use.

1. Power and Energy

.22 caliber air rifles have the upper hand when it comes to raw power.

  • These rifles deliver about 20% more energy compared to their .177 counterparts, regardless of factors like powerplant or barrel length.
  • The additional energy stems from the fact that .22 pellets are heavier, roughly twice the weight of .177 pellets.

2. Accuracy

Accuracy is paramount for any shooter. In most cases, the accuracy of .177 and .22 calibers is on par.

There’s no inherent advantage in the number of barrel grooves (e.g., 12-groove for .177 and six-groove for .22).

Is one caliber inherently more accurate than the other?

In general, both calibers offer similar accuracy, but differences in barrel quality may impact the outcome.

3. Target Shooting

For target shooters, .177 caliber air rifles tend to be the preferred choice.

They offer a flatter trajectory because of their lighter pellets and higher velocity. This means that .177 pellets follow a more predictable path to the target, so it reduces the need for complex ballistic adjustments.

Many competitive shooting disciplines such as the Olympics exclusively use .177 caliber for their air rifle events.

4. Hunting

The .22 caliber takes the lead when it comes to hunting.

.177 pellets might pass through the game animal without causing significant damage that only results in a non-fatal hit. But it’s possible to hunt with .177, so many hunters prefer .22 due to its enhanced stopping power.

5. Pellet Cost

In terms of ammo cost, .177 pellets have an advantage here—they are generally cheaper than .22 pellets. You get more pellets per box of .177 which is a cost-effective option for target shooting and plinking.

6. Technological Advancements

Airgun technology has evolved over the years, impacting the performance of both .177 and .22 calibers.

  • Advancements in pellet design have made .177 more suitable for hunting with new designs.
  • The rise of precharged pneumatics (PCP) has increased the power of airguns in both calibers. It also makes .177 more capable at longer distances.

What’s The Difference Between .177 and .22 Calibre?

Here I’m giving you a comparison table highlighting the key aspects of .177 and .22 calibers for Airguns.


.177 Caliber

.22 Caliber

Pellet Diameter

0.177 inches (4.5mm)

0.22 inches (5.5mm)

Pellet Weight





More pronounced, loopy





Excellent for target shooting

Well-suited for hunting, especially at longer ranges


Generally cheaper

More expensive

Advantages and Disadvantages of .22 Pellet (Caliber or Gun)

Potentialities of .22 Caliber

Superior Knockdown (Energy) Power:

.22 pellets are heavier and deliver more energy. So, they are effective for larger small games like squirrels, pigeons, and rabbits. The extra weight of .22 pellets ensures better penetration and energy transfer upon impact.

Better Wind Resistance:

Due to their weight, .22 pellets tend to be less affected by wind, making them more reliable for outdoor shooting, especially at longer distances.

Larger Pellet Size:

The larger size of .22 pellets makes them easier to handle and load, especially in airguns with tight loading spaces. This convenience is a game-changer in the field.

Predictable Trajectory:

.22 pellets offer a more predictable trajectory, which is crucial for accurate shooting. They tend to have less drop, making them suitable for shooting at a distance.

Wider Kill Zones:

.22 caliber pellets are more forgiving and offer larger kill zones.

Drawbacks of .22 Caliber

Limited Range:

Though .22 pellets are excellent for medium-range shooting, they are not as effective for extreme long-range precision due to their heavier weight.

Ammo Cost:

In general, .22 pellets are slightly more expensive than .177 pellets. This could be a factor if you’re budget-conscious.


As .22 pellets have a more pronounced trajectory, they need adjustments for longer shots.

Advantages and Disadvantages of .177 Pellet (Caliber or Gun)

Benefits of .177 Caliber

Flatter Trajectory:

.177 pellets have a flatter and faster trajectory. So, they are a popular choice for target shooting and plinking at moderate ranges. They are great for honing your accuracy skills.

More Shots per Fill:

If you’re using a PCP or CO2 airgun, .177 provides you more shots per fill due to its smaller size and lighter weight.

High Velocity:

As .177 pellets travel faster, they reduce the need for extensive holdover or windage adjustments.


.177 air rifles excel in target shooting. So, they are useful and effective for small game hunting if shot placement is precise.


.177 caliber airguns are quieter compared to their .22 counterparts. It is beneficial if you don’t want to disturb the neighbors while shooting in your backyard.

Ammo Affordability:

.177 pellets are generally more affordable. It means you get more shots for your money.

Considerations of .177 Caliber

Limited Knockdown (Energy) Power:

The lighter weight of .177 pellets means they can’t deliver as much energy upon impact. Thus they are less suitable for humane kills on larger small games.

Wind Sensitivity:

.177 pellets are more susceptible to wind drift due to their lighter weight, which is a challenge in outdoor shooting.

Smaller Pellet Size:

While some find .177 pellets easier to handle, others (with larger hands) struggle with loading (especially in airguns with tight breech areas).

What’s Better for Hunting: .22 at 975fps or .177 at 1300fps?

The ideal airgun caliber for hunting small game such as birds, rats, rabbits, and squirrels, is a topic that frequently divides all airgun users. Some argue in favor of the .22 caliber at 975fps, while others advocate for the .177 caliber at 1300fps.

So now, I will shed light on this ongoing debate by examining various perspectives and considerations related to pellet caliber and velocity.

Caliber and Pellet Weight:

The caliber of the pellet plays the most important role in hunting effectiveness.

  • Some .177 pellets achieve or surpass the impact energy of .22 pellets due to their weight.
  • A heavier .177 pellet such as a 15gr is straighter and faster than a lighter .22 pellet like a 12gr.

However, if you opt for a heavier .22 pellet such as one over 20gr, the .177 caliber struggle to match or exceed the impact energy.


Trajectory and Accuracy:

Accurate pellet placement is paramount in ensuring humane kills.

One significant advantage of the .177 caliber is its flatter and faster trajectory. This characteristic makes it more forgiving in accuracy (especially for headshots).

In contrast, .22 caliber pellets tend to have a slower and more arched trajectory which requires more precise shooting skills.

Wound Channel and Hunting Efficiency:

The debate also goes into the wound channel created by these two calibers.

  • A larger diameter (.22) pellet passes more energy into the target.
  • On the other hand, the .177 leaves a smaller wound channel, potentially allowing for obstructions in the chest cavity. So this pellet is only suitable for headshots.

This consideration leans towards a .22 caliber for a cleaner and more effective kill.

Airgun Caliber Preferences:

In practice, many experienced air gunners tend to favor .22 caliber for hunting small game. Even some argue that .25 caliber provides even better results due to the larger wound channel and increased trauma.

However, advancements in .22 Air Javelin slugs have proven effective even at longer distances.


Velocity and Accuracy:

Maintaining accuracy in airguns is essential for hunting.

Though .177 may achieve velocities of 1300fps, these velocities are often exaggerated for marketing purposes. Such high speeds create issues with pellet stability, especially if they approach the speed of sound.

This phenomenon underscores the significance of shot placement and choosing the right pellet weight.

.22 or .177: Best Airgun Caliber for Squirrels, Pigeons, Rabbits, Rats, or Any Small Game Hunting?

The ideal caliber for small game hunting depends on the specific game you’re pursuing and your hunting style.

  • .177 (caliber) airguns are suitable for target practice and hunting smaller pests like rats.
  • .22 (caliber) air rifles are ideal for hunting squirrels, pigeons, rabbits, and other medium-sized small game. The increased energy and larger pellet size make them the preferred choice.

Read More:

FAQs About .22 and .177 Pellets Caliber

Which Is Better For Beginners?

For beginners, .177 caliber air rifles are better. They are lighter, faster, and easier to aim due to their flatter trajectory. So it is simpler for newcomers to develop proper shooting techniques.

Which Is Usually Cheaper?

Generally, .177 pellets are more affordable than .22 pellets because they use less lead. However, the actual pellet cost usually varies on the manufacturer and pellet type.

Which Is Faster?

.177 caliber air rifles are usually faster due to their smaller diameter, which reduces air resistance. They shoot pellets around 200 feet per second faster than .22.

Which Is Better for Long Range?

For long-range shooting, .177 caliber air rifles are more suitable for their higher velocity, but .22 can also perform well with the right pellets.

Which Is Better for Short Range?

At short ranges, there isn’t much difference between the two calibers. It largely depends on personal preference, skills, and specific shooting goals.

Conclusion: .177 or .22 – Which Should You Use?

Your choice between .22 and .177 caliber largely depends on your intended use and personal preferences.

  • If you’re primarily into target shooting, and plinking, or need a quieter airgun, .177 is your go-to.
  • If you’re looking for more knockdown power and reliability in the field, .22 is the caliber of choice.

Both calibers have their advantages and limitations. .22 caliber is known for its efficiency in delivering knockdown power, while .177 offers a flatter trajectory and potentially easier accuracy.

  • For smaller pests, a .177 caliber is effective, while a .22 caliber is better suited for medium-sized game.

Keep in mind that these pros and cons should guide your decision, but the ultimate determining factor is what works best for your specific airgun and shooting style.

Choose the right pellet between .22 or .177 as per your needs, style, skills, and preferences. Happy shooting!