Which caliber is better 177 or 22

Is .177 or .22 Better for Hunting?

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Mathew R Reed
October 30, 2022
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Hunting is a popular activity practiced by many. For your hunting to be successful and more enjoyable, you need to have proper hunting gear. This includes the right gun and ammunition. If you are into small game hunting, such as rabbits and squirrels, you probably have come across the .177 or .22 caliber rounds. They are the smallest and most common calibers on the market today.

.177 vs .22

The most common calibers are the .177 and the .22. Choosing between .177 or .22 for hunting can be a little overwhelming especially if you are just starting your hunting hobby. They are both of high value and performance and this makes it hard for new shooters to make a choice between them.

For a long time, the .22 was most common in America while the .177 was popular in Europe. This however changed after exports became a common thing between the two regions. The difference between the two calibers is a slightly higher weight in the .22caliber. They are both accurate but the .22 is a favorite of many hunters because of the bigger pellets that gain more power while hitting the target. This high power serves as compensation for low fps.

In this post, we are going to take an in-depth look at the differences between these two calibers, the pros, and cons of each, and the hunting activity each caliber is best suited for. Let’s have a look.

.177 Caliber

This is the smallest caliber available on the market today. Featuring a 4.52 head size, the .177 caliber weighs just 10.34 grains. Due to the lightweight design, it offers the highest firing velocity but the least muzzle energy. Due to its high velocity, this caliber travels further so it’s ideal for shooting targets at a distance.

.22 Caliber

The .22 caliber is slightly bigger than the .177 cousin. It has a 5.7mm head size and weighs around 30 to 32 grains. The higher weight gives it more muzzle energy than the .177 caliber, but slower velocity.

Is .177 or .22 Better for Hunting?

Power

One of the important factors to consider when hunting is power. The right amount of power helps you to accurately hit a target from a distance. Lack of power will make hitting and striking long-distance targets very difficult.

Generally, the heavier the pellet, the higher the muzzle energy. Muzzle velocity refers to the velocity at which a bullet leaves the muzzle of a gun. With this logic, a .22 caliber is the better choice when considering power. It can deliver 20% more power per shot than a .177 caliber and the weight doubles when you are using a pellet.

But if you intend to shoot a distant game, you should use the .177 caliber. With the right air rifle, this pellet can travel up to 400yards when the weather conditions are favorable.

Cost

There is no big price difference between .177 and .22 caliber rifles.  However, .177 caliber pellets are cheaper than .22 pellets. A standard size tin of .177 pellets will contain more pellets than the .22 one and at a cheaper price. So, if you hunt often, you’ll find that you spend almost double on .22 pellets compared with .177 pellets for one tin.

Hunting Supremacy

When hunting, you want a weapon that will not leave an injured animal running into the woods. .177 pellets are small and often pass through the target without causing damage that is not enough to stop the animal. This results in an injured animal running away. The .22 caliber bullet however causes more damage capacity. Even though you are not guaranteed a sure kill, most of the time the .22 pellet kills the target with a single shot. The animal might get away but the performance is far much better than .177caliber in the game.

Accuracy

The scope, just like the gun, plays a major role in hitting the target accurately. The kind of pellet used has very little to do with accuracy. Both the .177 and .22 have affair share in the level of accuracy, although many hunters prefer the .22 caliber. They have a better weight which keeps the accuracy level constant.

Hunter’s choice

For small game hunting, .177 are more preferred than the .22. A .177 generates more energy and has a higher velocity, making it more effective on a small game than a slower .22 that produces less energy at the muzzle. Small animals can be killed easily with an accurate and precise shot. A .22 caliber on the other hand can be used to kill a bit larger animals than a rabbit which does not require 100% accuracy. This is because a .22 caliber stuns the game for a few seconds and you can reload and take a second shot.

Range

It is undeniable that the .177 has a much higher velocity and travels a larger distance than a .22 caliber. A .177 caliber is better for shooting long-range targets as it is more superior compared to the .22 caliber.

Uses

Its highly advised to use .177 for target shooting and fun plinking. 177 rifles are designed to achieve greater accuracy levels than you can find in .22 rifles. If the weather is windy, it might affect the accuracy of the pellet since .177 pellets are extra-light.

Since .22 pellets are generally heavier, they are less likely to be affected by windy weather. Additionally, .22 pellets produce more muzzle energy. This gives you a more humane kill when hunting. This makes it more suited for small game hunting. With one accurately-placed shot, the .22 delivers instant kill compared with .177 which injures the game which succumbs to the injuries later on. A 22 pellet can also kill a deer-like game if the shot placement is accurate.

177 vs 22 Air Rifles FAQs

Which is better between a .22 and .177 air rifle?

A .22 air rifle does deliver more energy into the target. It is heavier and retains more energy but that is not all that is to be considered when choosing an air rifle. As discussed above, the .177 also has its advantages compared to the .22.

Is .177 or .22 better for hunting?

.177 is better than .22 for small game hunting. The caliber generates more energy on paper and has a higher velocity making it more effective on a small game than a slower .22, which produces less energy at the muzzle.

Can a .22 air rifle shoot .177 pellets?

Caliber refers to the internal diameter of the barrel that accommodates the pellet. A .22 caliber is larger than a .177 caliber meaning that .177 pellets cannot fit in a .22 air rile barrel and vice versa.

How far can a .22 air rifle shoot?

A .22 caliber will shoot up to about 450 yards fired at an angle of about 35 degrees while a .177 caliber will travel about 400 yards when fired at 27 degrees.

Can you kill a deer with a .177 air rifle?

Yes. The small, speedy .177 bullets can be used to kill a deer. However, the bigger heavier bullets hit harder. You just need to consider how far the target is from you and the kind of accuracy your gun or scope has when hunting.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this post has been informative. Having an idea of the hunting activity you intend to engage in will help you determine the right pellet for you. Additionally, your preference also plays a big role in whether you should settle for .22 or .177.

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of ArmorHoldings.com and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.