Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The big question: .177 or .22 for Rabbit Hunting?

177 or 22? That - a swift peek at any of the popular airgun forums will quickly assure you - is most certainly the question.

To cut to the chase, the answer's 177.

Why? Well: it seems to boil down to trajectory - the parabolic path that a hopefully rabbit-bound pellet describes after it leaves the barrel of a rifle. It does not go in a straight line, I learned to my surprise, and then drop when it's tired - it inscribes, instead, an arc 'twixt gun and rabbit. But if it does that, then it's not simply a question of 'point and shoot' at all; distance becomes a crucial factor. How can you predict where in its arc your pellet is going to be when it reaches the head of the rabbit that you wish to shoot? Because if it's an inch too high then it will miss, and if it's an inch too low, then it will miss again. Nightmare!

177 pellets have a much flatter trajectory in the 40-odd yards after they leave the rifle barrel than 22's do. It's as simple as that. You can arrange it - I gather - so that in the area, say, between 20 and 35 yards (the crucial area within which the vast majority of relatively humane air rifle shooting is going to be taking place) the pellet will deviate from an imaginary straight line drawn between the end of the barrel and the rabbit's brain by a matter of only so little as half an inch or so. A 22 pellet, on the other hand, will be drawing a line that looks like the path of an amusing roller-coaster ride.

This I learned after I blew all the cash I had to spare on a 22 rifle.

If you want to have a gander at some parabolas, head over to http://www.chairgun.com/ or to the ballistic reticle calculator (superb name!) at http://www.hawkeoptics.com/brc/index.php and download the free software.

[In my time machine I revisit this post to leave a link to the future where I will write more upon this topic and my decision to opt for .177: http://austeritygrub.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-177-for-hunting-rabbits.html ]


17 comments:

  1. You forgot about .20

    The happy medium and ideal calibre for a spring/gasram hunting rifle.
    As it has a decent whack with a flatter trajectory than .22 and the fact that .177 losses its advantages on a Springer.
    As you need a more powerful spring to send a .177 with 12ftlbs of power thus the rifle has more recoil and is much more difficult to hold/shoot accurately negating the added benefit of the flatter trajectory :)

    So since you habve the hw 80k in .22 I think it is?!
    You have a much more shotable rifle than in its .177 form :)

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  2. That's very interesting, thank you mate!

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  3. All calibres have a place in air gunning, shooting pigeons from inside a barn up in the roof for instance would be ideally suited to .22 cal as .177 would pass through the bird and into the roof.

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  4. Very true & very kind of you to point it out!

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  5. Well tbh a .177 in spring form has not more recoil than a .22. Fired a TX200 and the Prosport, the latter being my farthers rifle. Both .177, then fired my .22 TX200 HC. Theres was no difference between the recoil, both were very low. If you hug any springer too much then this does make it kick, using the artillary(excuse spelling) hold then most springers hardly recoil.

     As for .177 passing through a target. Never had that issue. Took 3 woodies out of my farthers tree with his .177 Prosport. Never had a pellet pass through them and they were all head shots. Even a .22 will pass through if its fired within a certain range I.E. close. And those pointed pellets are just the worst pellets I have used for hunting. Too much penetration which just ment the pellet took 95% of its killing energy with it. I do prefer dome style pellets, as these tend to flatten after they hit thus putting all the energy where it matters into your intended prey.

     But as I find with Air riflehunting everyone has their view/ideas about it lol.

     Happy and Safe hunting.

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  6. Thanks for posting your thoughts and experiences here, Jason! It's always interesting to hear what other field shooters have to say.



    Cheers,



    HH

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  7. I am about to buy a hw100 multi shot air cylinder rifle for shooting rabbits and wood pigeons in my rather large garden. I used to shoot air rifles many years ago and always used a .22 (for no real reason other than i thought it would tranfer more energy and kill better)

    I fully understand the trajectory discussion and the .177 makes sense there but at 40yds (the sort of shot i will be making) would both sizes kill the target equally (only head shots)?

    Basically which calliber would you go for if you were me.

    regards and thanks in advance. robert

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  8. Hi Robert,

    At that kind of distance I'm still pretty sure that a .177 is what you need. I think you'd unquestionably do better with a bipod too. You'll still need - of course - to do a good deal of practice on paper targets before moving on to your intended quarry - but getting to the stage where you can consistently group within one inch at 40 yrds with a HW100 shouldn't take you too long.
    Best of luck,
    HH

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  9. That is a good graph to show that velocity is important. If you targets are close then a .22 is good. I like the pellet options for .177.

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  10. i had loads off practice when i got my first gun the s410 tdr 177, i went out shooting for the first time last weekend missed two rabbits and killed 5 my longest kill shot was between 40 and 45 yards (chuffed). i also shot a crow at about 30 and the pellet went straight through the head

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  11. Ive had BSA rifles in the past, and now fancy something new, ive read quiet a lot of reviews on the tx200hc, and been down to my local gunsmiths for a demo, he told me its a fantastic rifle especialy for a springer. i wasn't sure to get a .22 or .177 walnut tx200hc but after reading your posts, its cleared things up for me, Thank you

    Lee, Cornwall 25

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  12. Thank you, Lee, glad to be of help. Those TX200's are superb bits of kit: best of luck of with it!

    HH

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  13. .22 is surely more effective if you are accustomed to the trajectory? not that hard to master, and there are a lot of drawbacks with .177 - more opinions pls

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  14. Choose the Beeman dual caliber rifle, with interchangeable barrels in 177 and 22. reasonably priced, comes in RS1/RS2 and RS3, in either blue or stainless barrels, fully adjustable triggers, and either a 4x32, 3-9x32 or 3-9x40 respectively, priced between $114 to $229 for different models and all but the cheapest include a carrying case for when broke down.

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  15. Isn't there an argument that .22 would transfer more energy to the quarry?

    E=0.5mv^2

    We can assume initial energy of the .22 and .177 pellets are the same since both are governed by the same laws. .177 is allowed to travel (much) faster than a .22 because of its smaller mass.

    The only (major) energy losses going on between the muzzle and the target are from air resistance which is proportional to the frontal area and, more significantly, to v^3. Therefore the faster moving .177 will slow down proportionally more than a .22, so will have lost more energy in flight. A .177 will therefore be unable to deliver as much energy to the quarry as the .22 because of increased losses, thus resulting in less trauma and damage, added to by the smaller pellet bumping into a smaller amount of tissue in the animal.

    However I take the point that you can at least hit the prey more easily at different distances.

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  16. Remember to kill it you have to hit it ,That means accuracy must come first which means .177 (Hows That !)

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  17. will sombody please dumb this down if you shoot a rabbit at 40 yard wi a 12ft/lb spring rifle will both kill the rabbit regardless of caliber also short and simple what is better for rabbiting for around 40yards an whats it matter about muzzle energy whats it matter if it gets a bang to the head or it goes straight through it will still die either way ? thank some one please help

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