Air Rifles? .177 or .22 caliber?


January 2, 2004, 12:25 AM
I, of course had BB guns as a kid, but haven't had one in years. I'm now thinking about one of those higher-priced, barrel-cocking things I've seen that evidently shoot lead pellets. I have a couple of questions, if you guys will indulge.

What are some good brands of pellet guns to look for? (I'm not talking about $1000 Olympic quality - just fun.)

What are some things I should look for in one?

When I was a kid, I remember reading about .22 cal. pellets. Are those still around, or should I stick with .177?

What kind of velocity can I expect out of these type of rifles?

Thanks for any help,

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January 2, 2004, 12:34 AM
I always shot benjamin but that was for affordability issues since i bought my own gun as a kid and the gun worked great.

The pellet gun i had was a .22 caliber....they are larger caliber and carry more energy on impact although a .177 would kill a squirrel just as well. the .22 caliber i had shot extremely accurate even with the open sights i had. I would have to say it was the best learning tool I had for shooting.

as far as velocities you can expect 800 fps out of the benjamin with .177 cal or around 650-700 on the .22 cal I use to shoot. Now days I would not be suprised if the guns shot a little quicker near 1100 fps with the spring airs.


January 2, 2004, 12:42 AM
BSA makes a nice air rifle for under $200. The generel rule is .117 for feathers and .22 for fur. However my .177 does just fine on squirrel. The advertised fps. is only a guildline to power as many companies user very light weight pellets to get those velocities. If the gun is going to be a basement plinker get a gun that shoots around 600 fps. or less. If for hunting look for 900-1000 fps.

January 2, 2004, 12:44 AM
I have a Beeman GS1000 and couldn't be happier. It is a .22 single cocking air rifle that is suppossed to launch a .22 caliber pellet to around 850 FPS.

I have killed a Possum at roughly 75 yards instantly with it.

Here is a thread discussing the GS1000

For a lower priced gun I have a CZ Slavia 631, yes that CZ. It is very very well made and shoots .177 caliber pellets at a moderate speed, say around 650-700 fps. It is however very accurate and great fun.

My next foray into air gunning will be a RWS C225 which is pretty much an exact replica of a SIG P225.


January 2, 2004, 12:56 AM
Don't base much on their advertised muzzle velocity.
If you actually chrono them, you might be disappointed and feel used.

January 2, 2004, 01:06 AM
I recently got an RWS model 34 with scope in .177 for about $230. It is sold as a "demo" but with full RWS new warrenty. Found a lot of good info on the Airgun Forum and other sites. Like most things it is almost a matter of personal choice and budget. Many choices available; .177, .22, .25 and more including 9mm. Good answers above, depends on what you want to use it for. Lots of good info on the internet. Really like the RWS 34, just wanted a backyard plinker.,

January 2, 2004, 02:03 AM
the .22 offers more impact power (like a .40). the .177 offers more penatration (like the 9mm)...because of the lower velocities of the air rifle, killing power has more to do with penetration than cross-section.

the .20 is a compromise diameter and .25 is the new "magnum...both are more viable due to increases in velocity

i have a chinese (imported by IAR) b-21 copy of a european rifle. it throws a .177 pellet at about 1000fps and is very accurate. got it at big 5 for <$200. i prefer side cocking lever guns, but the barrel cocking model are generally less bucks

January 2, 2004, 03:47 AM
I have a Sheridan Blue Streak which turned 38 years old this last Christmas Eve. It uses the 20 cal (5mm) pellets. It hasn't lost much oomph in all those years. It's accounted for literally hundreds of rats, (big suckas - some approaching the size of a small cat) and one bird all of which dropped on the first shot.

January 2, 2004, 06:19 AM
There's .177, .20, .22 and .25, as well as other larger sizes.
If you want the most variety, stick with either .177 or .22. They are the most common.
If you're one to hunt animals regularly with an airgun, then 22 will often hit harder but it depends: for instance on birds, it is a common opinion that .177 is best because it penetrates better than 22 does, and a thick layer of flight feathers can sap quite a bit of momentum from an airgun pellet. Of course with birds such as pigeons if you don't snap their spinal columns they will usually take a shot through the heart and still fly 100 yards off before dying, but that's one of the things you learn airgunning for animals--placement matters drastically.
The reason for bigger calibers now is to avoid driving a 177 pellet at supersonic velocities, because this causes poor accuracy (even though the noise a spring-piston gun makes doing this is really cool!). So if you are shopping for an airgun that will put out more than about 18 ft-lbs and is a non-adjustable-velocity type, then get a 20-cal or larger.

January 2, 2004, 11:50 AM
Thanks for all the help. Side-cocking, huh? Shows how much I know - I didn't even know about those. I thought they were all barrel cocking. Is the side-cocking the more prevalent design?

Thanks again,

January 2, 2004, 04:11 PM
Side-lever cocking is the RWS 52 and 54 (54 is probably the most famous, having a recoilless sliding-action), and there's some other companies making similar guns--Air Arms has one, and there's a cheap Chinese copy of the RWS 52 out there. A side-lever is supposed to be more handier to cock. All the big-name German target companies made side-lever 10-meter guns at one point, and there is a Chinese version of the Feinwerkbau 10-meter gun still available for around $400.
Barrel-cocking guns are usually a bit lighter and they have fewer parts--which is why so many of the cheaper Chinese/Russian/Spanish guns are barrel-cockers.

January 2, 2004, 08:24 PM
A break barrel is a bit faster to load than a side lever or underlever.

If you purchase a bargain sidelever or underlever, better fiigure out some way to control the lever while you have your fingers in the loading port.

If something gives out while you are pushing a pellet into the barrel, you're going to have a few VERY flat fingers (if they're still attached.) On my cheapo Chinese rifle, I hold the lever with one hand, keeping the stock against my hip while I load with the other hand.

If something gives on a break barrel, the upward motion of the barrel will kick the rest of the gun away from your hand.

I recommend .177. Pellets are cheaper and there's a bigger variety to be found. AND, pretty much anything you SHOULD be shooting with an airgun will fall to a .177 handily if you put your shots where they go. Trajectory tends to be a bit flatter as well.

If you plan to be shooting anything significantly bigger than a crow or a squirrel then you might want to go with a .22. Or better yet, maybe a rimfire...

Any of the Beeman R series guns, the RWS rifles, or the Webley rifles are considered to be good quality. BSA makes decent guns that tend to be more bargain priced. The Slavia airguns are quite well made but on the low side in terms of power.

My experience with Chinese airguns (although somewhat limited) has been decidedly negative. Even when they appear to be well made, the steel tends to be very soft. Also, the Chinese have yet to be able to make a decent spring. In fact, one high end importer replaces the springs with U.S. made products before selling them, the problem is so bad.

January 3, 2004, 01:39 AM
Well, thanks for all the help. I ended up getting an RWS Model 34 (Diana?) in .177 for $179 new. It looks like it has good sights. I'm looking forward to trying it out.

I just got it to shoot in the basement and the backyard.

By the way, when shooting pellets in the basement from an air rifle, do you get lead in the air?

Thanks again,

January 3, 2004, 01:46 AM
I've got a Gamo 220 hunter. .177 rated at 1000fps, break barrel action.

Its very accurate for me. I've hit sparrows as far as 30 yards with it on occasion, and regularly out to about 15 yards (open sights). I don't know how close it is to the advertised power, but I can you one thing. Its packs some punch for a pellet gun. Sparrows hit solidly become a cloud of feathers if you hit them with any kind of wadcutter,domed, or hollow point. Pointed pellets, are less spectacular but equally dead on birds.
It will easily shoot clear through a peice of soft pine car siding.

I don't recommend it for things like racoon, or similar sized varmints as it doesn't make a big enough hole. Shot placement will drop them but you have pretty much no margin for error.

January 3, 2004, 02:53 AM
Airguns do not put any appreciable amount of lead into the air. It would probably be wrong to say that there is NO lead in the air after an airgun is shot, but it is safe and accurate to say that there is not enough to cause any problems--even after extended and repeated exposure.

Depending on the kind of pellet trap you use, you may need to deal with a small amount of lead splatter generated AT the target. It's not going to get into the air, but if you use a metal type trap then you should probably place it on some newspapers for easy cleanup.

After shooting, wash your hands carefully with soap and cold water to eliminate any traces of lead on your fingers and you should never have any problems.

There are airgunners who shoot thousands of rounds a month and have their lead levels tested regularly without showing any elevation in the levels at all.

The RWS 34 is a solid gun. It should last a long time.

Some tips.

For extended spring life, choose pellets in the 7.5 to 9.5 grain range that fit the bore snugly when loading.

When shooting, remember that the a spring piston gun recoils BEFORE the pellet even starts moving. It's important to hold the gun consistently. Cradle (don't grasp) the stock with the palm of the weak hand. I use a screw or other landmark on the forearm to get my hand in the same place for each shot. The strong hand should grip the stock lightly--just enough to stabilize the gun. The gun should be against your shoulder firmly but you don't need to push it back against your shoulder with either hand. Don't push your cheek down on the stock, just let it rest lightly against the cheekrest.

Don't overclean your airgun. Airguns don't foul like firearms. Also, the bores are more delicate and the steel of an airgun barrel can be softer than a firearm barrel. The bore will rarely need cleaning unless you put a TON of lead downrange.

NEVER use any firearm solvents or lubricants on your airgun. Spring piston airguns have unusual lubrication requirements and contain seals which may be damaged by firearm solvents.

Don't overlubricate your airgun. The cocking linkage needs grease, and the barrel latch needs some good lube. The rest of the gun shouldn't need much. You're more likely to damage the inner workings by lubricating too much than too little.

For more information, visit the airgun forum at

January 4, 2004, 12:56 AM

Great info - thanks.


January 4, 2004, 11:00 PM
I too have this decision to make.. I would like an air rifle, and an air pistol as well.

Of course (Logistically) I'd like to pick a round that can be used in both..

The Beeman's P3 doesn't come in .22 (grrr) So I might have to settle for a P1 and pick a .22 caliber. .22's a bit more versatile...

January 5, 2004, 12:41 AM
The P3 barely makes 400fps in .177 with light pellets. My guess is that it would shoot something under 200fps in .22. Which is why they don't even sell it in that caliber.

The P1 is rated at 600fps in .177. It shoots an 8 grain pellet about 550fps. You can probably knock off about 200fps if you want a rough idea of what the muzzle velocity in .22 will be.

January 5, 2004, 05:57 AM
If you want a powerful air pistol, then there's only one (or maybe a couple) possibilities: Falcon in the UK offers a couple slightly different PCP pistols. Beeman used to carry them back when Bob ran things, one was named the "Wolverine". These guns aren't cheap, a few hundred dollars, but are a pistol-sized pistol that can actually put out 15-20+ ft-lbs and fire a few dozen accurate shots before recharging.
Falcon airguns are also generally very mechanically quiet; when fitted with silencers they are among the quietest-shooting airguns you can buy anywhere.
That's the only powerful and refined air pistol I have yet seen. I said "or maybe a couple" because there might be some other out there, but not that I know of.

Tropical Z
January 5, 2004, 12:46 PM
CDNN has a good deal on a Russian one thats well made and Russian tough.Imported by EAA.

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