.22 air rifle vs. .22 rifle (SHTF related)


August 7, 2004, 03:22 PM
I know there are a lot of .22 cartridges out there but what if you found yourself in a situation where that was not the case? Would a .22 air rifle be a good SHTF weapon?

Is there a chart that gives a ballistic comparison of the two?

If a .22 (or .25 or higher) air rifle can do what you need in a SHTF scenario then would that not be the better choice?

As long as you can pump air you have propellent and you can find lead for pellets everywhere.

There are some interesting big bore air rifles (http://www.quackenbushairguns.com/outlaws.html) out there as well. If they could take saboted small bore pellets or be able to exchange barrels you could have a dual system where you never have to worry about where your powder is going to come from.

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Vern Humphrey
August 7, 2004, 06:24 PM
Generally speaking, there is no available air rifle that can match the .22 long rifle. Most .22 air rifles shoot a lighter bullet (called a "pellet) and several hundred feet per second below .22 LR velociites.

August 7, 2004, 08:35 PM
Well, a typical air rifle is WAY lower powered than a .22rimfire.

There are higher powered air rifles (Pre-Charged Pneumatics--PCPs) available these days, and in calibers higher than .22 that meet and in some cases exceed the power of a .22 rimfire.

They either require charging from a scuba tank (or equivalent) or require a high-pressure compressor or a special hand pump.

I don't imagine getting a scuba tank charged in a SHTF situation would be very easy. And if there's no electricity then you're going to have to have a generator to run your compressor. The hand pumps work but require a lot of sweat equity to get up to pressure.

And, to further complicate the situation, a PCP and accessories will run you a considerable amount more than a decent .22 Auto.

I like air rifles and I think that a typical air rifle (springer or pump pneumatic) would be handy in a "post-apocalypse type situation" for taking small animals for food. But it's not going to substitute for a .22 rimfire. The more powerful PCPs can sub for a 22 rimfire but cost a lot more money and are much more hassle to deal with.

Vern Humphrey
August 7, 2004, 09:02 PM
I buy .22s in bulk -- typically a case (5,000 rounds) at a time, and currently have two unopened cases on hand, plus several 500 round cartons from Wal Mart.

August 7, 2004, 09:55 PM
But I had a .22cal Benjamin air rifle as a teen that was just deadly on squirrels and rabbits. Would make a dandy, fairly quiet, pot rifle.

August 7, 2004, 11:16 PM
If you are considering air rifles for SHTF just get a .177 pump that can handle both BBs and pellets. .177s are easy to get and real cheap.


Joshua M. Smith
August 8, 2004, 02:49 PM
Air rifles were used against, IIRC, Napolean by some army or other. They required all night charging by people specially assigned to operate a charging station (human powered). I forget who this army was- will research and add a link later.

Anyway, Napolean (or whomever) considered this unfair warfare because this rebel army would hide in the woods and shoot, the air not giving away their positions. I believe they were finally conquered however.


Joshua M. Smith
August 8, 2004, 03:00 PM
From this (http://www.air-rifle.net/history/history.html) site:

"Certainly one of the most famous of the butt-reservoir guns was the Austrian military air rifle designed by Girandoni about 1779. Its buttstock also is a detachable air reservoir which could be quickly unscrewed when empty and replaced by a full one. Each reservoir held enough air to fire a series of 20 heavy lead balls fed from an ingenious rapid feed magazine. These formidable weapons could put out their 20 smokeless shots in a minute; it is reported that the .51" caliber (13mm) balls were deadly to 100 yards! A corps of 500 soldiers so armed had a potential firepower of 300,000 shots in a half-hour - incredible for military rifles of the late 1700's! During this same period, and for almost a century to follow, big bore airguns were extremely popular with the wealthy sportsmen of Europe. Among the ancient airguns in the Beeman collection are beautiful specimens of air carbines, about .45" caliber, apparently for boar hunting from horseback, long rifles for deer hunting, and especially beautiful English cased sets with richly engraved receivers and interchangeable rifle and shot barrels for mammals or waterfowl. The ultimate in mechanical airgun development was the fearsome air canes with their jewel-like internal locks. Evidently no well-dressed English gentleman of the late 1800's would be seen without one of these weapons-which ranged from almost .30" to .49" in caliber and had perhaps the power of a modern police revolver!"


Joshua M. Smith
August 8, 2004, 03:22 PM
...And from this (http://air_guns.tripod.com/air_gun_history.htm) site (press your "Stop" button on your browser to kill the music):

"Due to the fact that high powered air guns were both silent and deadly, they were feared by many, Nobility tired to keep these air guns out of the hands of commoners (the poor). Air guns even saw battle, a Austrian Army used a air rifle designed by Grandoni in 1779 that shot 20 rounds of .44 cal. bullets at speeds as high as 1,000 feet per second. They did battle against Napoleon's Army and even though the Austrian Army was out numbered and lost the battle, the Austrian Army armed with air guns demoralized Napoleon's Army, Napoleon's Army had a great number of casualties. Air guns were so feared by Napoleon's Army that any enemy soldier captured with a air rifle was executed as a assassin."


Joshua M. Smith
August 8, 2004, 03:26 PM
And I guess the point I'm trying to make is that, while not at the top of my list, large bore airguns have a military history that cannot be ignored. There is a guy in Japan, I believe, who makes a 9mm version and all I remember about the specs is that it would be quite capable of being pressed into a SD role, though again, not my first choice.


August 8, 2004, 04:38 PM
First of all, having fired several large bore airguns, I can tell you with a certainty that they FAR from being silent. In fact, I would venture to say that they're about as loud as a firearm with equivalent power would be. I didn't have a dB meter handy, but that's my WAG.

Second, IIRC, the reason Napoleon was so upset about air guns was because there was no cloud of smoke upon firing which would allow the sniper to be pin-pointed and killed.

If they were heavily regulated, it was more likely because it was much easier at the time to make multi-shot airguns than multi-shot firearms. And to say that the nobility tried to keep them out of the hands of the commoners is not surprising--since they typically took that approach with ANY weapon.

However, your point is correct--especially in the days of black powder, airguns were a formidable alternative to firearms, although high pressure air has always been something of a problem to deal with. Even today, if you're willing to hassle with compressors, pumps or air tanks you can get performance that rivals that of some firearms.

Right now there are a couple of 'smiths that I know of (Gary Barnes & Dennis Quackenbush) making .308 or larger PCP airguns on a custom basis in the U.S. and there are a variety of .22 and 9mm PCP production airguns available widely in the U.S. The production guns are made mostly in Korea and Europe with at least one company in the States making a pretty decent model (Air Force Talon).

August 8, 2004, 11:49 PM
The Career 707 in .22 and .25 caliber can get near to a rimfire in terms of energy when shooting a heavy pellet but in the end...it's not really that "great". They are fairly loud, rely on charging systems with SCUBA tanks, and considering all equipment, the cost per shot isn't that great. There are also many new air rifles coming into the US that have built in suppressors....I don't really buy that it's legal...but hey folks are doing it.

I have some Daystates, a couple custom airguns by Alan Z....and they are very good but way expensive and if I can get it done with a rimfire...why bother with the airgun.

Vern Humphrey
August 9, 2004, 09:17 AM
There's no reason you shouldn't have an air rifle, if you want one -- and a bucket full of BBs to go with it. If you want a super-powerful one to hunt with, why not?

But if you really need a rifle, a .22 would serve you a lot better.

August 9, 2004, 12:18 PM
1. Re SHTF: What JohnKSA said.

2. Joshua, thanks for the info! Extremely interesting

3. A Barnes Delta Ranger in .32 or Quackenbush Exile in .308 (PCP guns) would be my choice for a "large" bore defensive arm *IF* the gov't banned guns altogether, but would not be my choice for SHTF, if .22lr's etc. are available because of what Johnk said (hassles/availabitity of compressors, pumps, etc.)

4. The Air Force (name brand) "Condor" rifle meets or exceeds the RWS/Sam Yang Career 707, in power, and is a heck of a lot prettier, and lighter, and American made, and more modular (capable of simple replacement of the buttstock reservoir rather than a recharge), and has multiple rails for accessories, and a Lothar Walther barrel. Oh yeah, and it costs about 1/3rd the price of a Beeman Super 12. It's is the pig's feces in *smallbore* PCPs (.22), IMO. (at least on paper; I don't have one...yet)


5. A spring piston gun in .177 or .22 would be preferable to a PCP airgun in any caliber, for the game-getting/survival aspects of SHTF, because it's human powered (simple cocking) instead of compressed air use, but this would still not be a good choice for defense vs. humans. And a .22lr would be better still than either type of airgun for any aspect of SHTF than a comparable airgun, particularly game-getting. Except, I suppose you could come to the conclusion that IF you're equipped with generator and compressor, then a PCP such as a Barnes etc. in .32 or 45 or whatehaveyou would be preferable to a .22lr for defense, to be sure. But if you have access to a .22lr, then you should also have access to big bore centerfire rifles (UNLESS the gov't, tween now and then, outlaws all guns EXCEPT for .22s.....hmmmmm). In any event, it's probably easier to stockpile/store/hide ammo in all calibers than it would be to maintain a generator and compressor, feed same with gasoline, oil, parts, etc., over time. I suppose eventually you'd run out of ammo, but eventually your compressor would break as well. Good reason to stockpile ammo..

6. Springers and PCPs are not quiet, as mentioned. And PCPs are generally lounder than springers. A .22 super colibri is much quieter than a full-powered springer or PCP. A .22 CB long is approximately the same "loudness" as a springer or PCP. Good thing about PCPs though, is that they can be dialed in to the power level you want, with corresponding report. The ultimate in accurate stealth if you don't have a firearm silencer may be that Air Force Talon SS (suppressed PCP airgun), which has a nice dial to adjust the power level (as do all Air Force models).

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