Choosing the right calibre air rifle as a beginner can be overwhelming. You don’t want to invest in a rifle only to find you selected the wrong one. To simplify the decision-making process, we’ll focus on the two most common calibres: .177 and .22.

Understanding .177 and .22 Calibres

The main difference between .177 and .22 calibres is the size of the pellets:

  • .177 Calibre Pellets: These pellets have a diameter of 0.177 inches (4.5mm).
  • .22 Calibre Pellets: These are larger, with a diameter of 0.22 inches (5.5mm).

.177 pellets are lighter and faster, achieving speeds around 200 feet per second more than .22 pellets. This results in a flatter trajectory, making them easier to aim and shoot accurately, especially for beginners.

Best Calibre for Beginners

For newcomers to air rifle shooting, the .177 calibre is highly recommended. Its lighter, faster pellets have a flatter trajectory, which simplifies aiming and enhances accuracy. Additionally, the reduced recoil of .177 pellets, especially in spring-powered air rifles, helps beginners develop proper shooting techniques more easily.

Target Shooting vs. Hunting

For target shooting, the .177 calibre is ideal due to its flat trajectory and higher velocity. These features allow for precise shot placement without complex ballistic calculations, making .177 the preferred choice in competitive shooting, including Olympic events.

In hunting, the .22 calibre was traditionally favoured for its heavier pellet weight. However, advancements in pellet design have made .177 pellets equally effective. Heavier .177 pellets can achieve longer distances and maintain sufficient power for humane kills, overcoming the wind drag issues lighter pellets face at long ranges.

Cost Considerations

The cost difference between .177 and .22 air rifles is minimal. However, .177 pellets are usually slightly cheaper due to their smaller size and lesser lead content, which might be a factor if you’re budget-conscious.


While there is no definitive answer, starting with a .177 calibre air rifle is generally advisable for beginners. Its flatter trajectory and improved accuracy make it easier to hone your skills without worrying much about pellet drop. Additionally, if you transition to target shooting, the .177 calibre will provide consistency in performance. The slight reduction in recoil with .177 pellets also benefits beginners using spring-powered air rifles.

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