The Best Caliber For Air Rifles

Air rifles come in a range of calibers, and a discussion amongst air rifle owners often includes which caliber is best.

What is an Air Rifle’s ‘Caliber?’

Air rifle caliber refers to the diameter of the bore (the inner part of the barrel) of an air rifle. It is usually expressed in millimeters or inches and determines the size of the pellets that can be fired from the rifle.

Why is an Air Rifle’s Caliber Important?

Air rifle caliber is important for several reasons:

  1. Accuracy: The caliber of an air rifle can affect its accuracy. Generally, smaller calibers have a tighter shooting pattern and are more accurate, while larger calibers have more spread.
  2. Power: The caliber of an air rifle also affects its power. Larger calibers typically generate more force, making them suitable for long-range shooting or for hunting larger game. Smaller calibers, on the other hand, are better suited for target shooting or for hunting smaller game.
  3. Range: The caliber of an air rifle also affects its range. Larger calibers typically have a longer effective range, while smaller calibers have a shorter range.
  4. Pellet selection: The caliber of an air rifle determines the size of the pellets that can be fired from the rifle. This means that you need to choose your pellets carefully based on the caliber of your air rifle.

The size of the caliber also plays a significant role in the air rifle’s ballistics. For a detailed breakdown of air rifle ballistics, see our post All About Air Gun Ballistics.

Air Rifle Calibers

Air rifles are available in a range of calibers, including:

  • 177 Caliber / 4.5 mm
  • .20 Caliber / 5 mm
  • .22 Caliber / 5.5 mm
  • .25 Caliber / 6.35 mm
  • .30 Caliber / 7.62 mm
  • .50 Caliber / 13 mm

The most common air rifle calibers are .177 and .22. There are also what are called “big bore” airguns available in the .257, .30, .357, .45 & .50 calibers.

Which Caliber Air Rifle Is Best?

Which air rifle caliber is best is up for debate. The air rifle that is best for you depends on what you want to use it for.

Here is a breakdown of the best uses for each air gun caliber:

  1. .177 caliber: This is a popular caliber for target shooting and competition, as it is accurate and has a relatively flat trajectory. It is also used for small game hunting, as it has enough power to take down small animals.
  2. .22 caliber: This is a larger caliber that is commonly used for hunting and target shooting. It has more power and trajectory compared to .177 caliber, making it suitable for shooting at longer distances and for hunting larger game.
  3. .25 caliber: This is a larger caliber that is often used for hunting, as it has more power and trajectory compared to the other calibers. It is also commonly used for target shooting, as it has a more stable flight path.
  4. .30 caliber: This is a relatively large caliber, and it is best used for hunting larger game or for long-range shooting. It has more power and trajectory compared to smaller calibers, and it is capable of taking down larger animals such as hogs or deer. However, it is not as common as other calibers, such as .177 or .22, and it may be more difficult to find .30 caliber pellets and accessories.
  5. .50 caliber: The .50 caliber air rifle is a very large caliber that has a lot of power and trajectory. It is used for extreme long-range shooting, as well as for hunting big game. However, it is a specialty item that is not commonly used and may be difficult to find.

The most commonly chosen calibers are .177 and .22. If you are looking for an air rifle to shoot targets, then a .177 caliber air rifle would be a good choice. If you are looking to hunt small animals, then a .22 or larger caliber would be best.

However, much of the success a shooter will have depends on their skills in handling and aiming the rifle. Using an additional scope or attached silencer can affect the aim and trajectory of the round.

Best Air Rifle Caliber For Target Shooting

Target shooting can be performed with any caliber air rifle.

If you do not own an air rifle and are unsure of which sized caliber to get, consider the following:

  • The size of the air rifle’s caliber.
  • The listed range of the air rifle.
  • The distance to the expected target(s).
  • Your shooting experience.
  • Your budget

Target shooting does not require a large caliber for challenge or enjoyment. In fact, the only caliber used for international competitive target shooting at a distance of 10m (both pistol and rifle) is .177 caliber.

However, a larger caliber air rifle (.25 and above) can excel at both target shooting and hunting larger animals. It is ultimately up to the shooter to decide what they intend to use the air rifle for.

The Most Popular Caliber For Air Rifles

The most popular caliber for air rifles is .177 or .22. These air rifles are both powerful and accurate, making them ideal for hunting and target shooting. Air rifles in these calibers are also relatively inexpensive and lightweight, so they are a good choice for beginners.

To Close

The best caliber air rifle greatly depends on what the shooter is intending to use it for. Regardless of which caliber air rifle you purchase, always make sure to use it safely. Just like other firearms, air rifles can cause serious injury if they are used or handled improperly.

Lawrence the Airgun Ranger