.22 LR v .22 Air Rifle

Not the tiniest of ammunition, but the all time favorite for small game, the rim fire .22 Long Rifle (LR) has been round for ever. (Well since 1887).

22lrA good round developing about 100 ft.lb (at the muzzle) worth of “smack down” with the familiar 40 grain soft lead bullet.

Compared to what I use for hunting which is a simple cheap little air gun pellet weighing in at only 21 grains and through my UK legal Air Rifle it develops just 11.7 Ft.lbs

bisleyOK, you can stop laughing now because you’re all thinking no comparison and ballistically you’re quite correct.

Ballistic coefficients (BC)?
For beginners BC is its shape, it’s aerodynamics, and how it slows down from air drag. With a high BC, it cuts though the air like a hot knife through butter, low BC and the air acts like molasses slowing the projectile REALLY FAST.
The 22 LR 40 grain soft lead, 1040 fps, BC is 0.169 (Internet figures, not great, not bad)
e 21 grain air pellet at 500 fps, BC is 0.034 Chrono’d, (Absolutely DIRE)

Trajectory of both over 50 yards (zeroed at 50 yards)?
Green is the little air gun pellet
22ballisticsSo what’s the appeal of the obviously underpowered air gun pellet over the .22 LR? It can’t be trajectory, it can’t be “smack”, could it be accuracy?

As I used to shoot 97-99/100 prone at 25 yards with a .22 Martini-Henry Target Rifle, I can’t really fault the 22 LR in any way.
Having said that, 93-97/100 prone on the same range with the air gun pellet in my PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) it is pretty even.
In inches terms that 0.12″. Not really worrying about is it?

Accuracy is about the same just low on the “smack down power”.
Although do you really need the power?

I regularly go out rabbiting and pot the occasional hare should one be stupid enough to come into range. That’s my main prey with grey squirrel, wood-pigeon, collared dove, and if I’m really lucky, a duck.

My maximum effective kill range is only 35 to 40 yards.
At that range 8.75 ft lb of smack which is tiny when compared to the 22 LR (86 ft lb).
Yet I often come home with a net full of eatables. Can’t be power.

The advantage for me (UK-based), is I don’t need a license for a firearm, I can use my air gun in an urban environment safely when pest controlling, and with the moderator on the front, it’s virtually silent.

Does the US hunting world bother to moderate (silence) their 22’s? I’ve got it in my mind that moderators are banned in some US states, is that still right? Certainly in the UK a moderator (silencer) is a listed accessory on a firearms license.
Not on an air gun though.

My absolute maximum range is pathetic too.

Initial Angle: 25.0 deg Terminal Angle: 57.5 deg
Terminal Range: 406.7 yd Terminal Velocity: 119.1 ft/s
Terminal Time: 7.7 s Terminal Energy: 0.7 ft lbs

I’m thinking you’ve got to be a lot more careful as the little 22 LR slug can carry way over a mile.

Initial Angle: 35.0 deg Terminal Angle: 66.1 deg
Terminal Range: 1980.0 yd Terminal Velocity: 281.3 ft/s
Terminal Time: 20.6 s Terminal Energy: 7.0 ft•lbs

(Both data worked out using  JBM Ballistics)

Why is that important?
Because we all miss occasionally and when shooting upwards into trees, the bullet or pellet just keeps on going till it does its ICBM bit and falls to Earth. It only takes 163 fps (2.3ft lb)  to penetrate skin and 213 fps (4 ft lb) to break bone  (Belkin, 1978)

OUCH! Your little 22 LR slug is WAY over that. Mine? Perhaps a bruise.
Boy, have you .22 LR  users got to be careful about back drop when shooting.

Whilst talking about shooting into trees.
Most anyone who shoots tree game must have had a ricochet or two because even if you penetrate the prey, green wood has a nasty knack of returning the bullet or pellet to the sender with little reduction of power.

I’ve had a few pellets come back at me one taking out my safety glasses frame (never go out without wearing a pair) and putting a nice “dent” into my eyebrow.
I know a 22 LR coming back will do serious damage as I’ve seen what one did to a fellow pest controller when it came back off two trees and dug into his knee. He’s still limping on cold days, that’s 6 years ago.

Ummm. So I can’t shoot fox (which I trap) or deer with my little air rifle and its pathetic power and range. Not looking good for me is it?

Yet, for safety, covert operation, cheapness of ammunition, licensing, and putting the listed food on my table, I’m quite happy with my little 22 Air Pellet.

Now I sit back and wait for all you US shooters to (figuratively I hope) shoot me down. (Probably noisily, expensively, and with tales of rabbit shoots with whole pick up trucks full of bunnies).

There again I can only eat one bunny at a sitting and my freezer has plenty of jointed rabbit waiting time in the stew pot.

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31 Responses to .22 LR v .22 Air Rifle

  1. Sinany says:

    Hi again, I couldn’t reply to your last answer so I’m opening a new pic.
    Yes I was really intrested by the UK gun laws to see how they differ to french gun laws, the difference in france is that we have weapons classed in 4 categories, our limit for non regulated airguns is 20joules wich is about 16ft/lbs (not so much more than in the UK), after that they are considered class C weapons, wich doesn’t mean firearm however it’s regulation will be exactly the same as for a bolt action 22lr, a pump action shotgun, a hunting rifle you name it.
    So don’t worry french gun laws are as ridiculous as uk (but maybe they are a good thing I don’t really know), even though there are some différences and that french laws are a bit lighter regarding weapons.
    It’s that I don’t know how to cool pigeons or squirrels, and my girlfriend doesn’t know either ^^
    Same here, weapons are tools, but very usefull and joyflull tools imo.
    For pest hunting, the airguns and 22lr are the best (regarding noise disturbance and cost), 223 is too much for pest control I think. 17hmr is sometimes used but very rare and costy.
    I was wondering, do you guys have limited ammo for 22lr ? and for pellets of a FAC airgun ?

    • Yep, you can only hold the amount of ammunition your firearms license says except air gun pellets are not firearms ammunition in their own right so you can own what you want.

      Pigeons are simple fare.
      Don’t bother getting all fancy, pluck only the breasts, no need to clean the whole bird.
      All you are after is the two breasts so slice away!
      6 pigeon breasts will provide enough meat for a very large meal for two.
      Treat it like any game bird, fry, roast, stew, whatever and you’ll find it is almost completely fat free.
      NO FAT means you need to cook it slowly!

      Pigeon pie (wife’s recipe)
      You’ll need a medium sized pie dish.

      6 pigeon breasts are gently fried in olive oil with either mint or rosemary leaves in the pan.
      SLOW is the best way else they will go tough!
      Thick Slice the cooked meat.

      Precook diced carrots, onion, potatoes, garlic, and swede.

      If using short crust pastry, line the bottom of the pie dish.
      BUT if you prefer puff pastry, only use it as a cover for the pie.

      Put layers of precooked diced vegetables and your sliced pigeon into the dish.
      Fill the dish to 3/4 full of layers of meat and veg.
      Then add a thick stock made of:-
      1 teaspoon of cornflower adding a tablespoon of cold water to dissolve the cornflower.
      Now add 1/2 cup of boiling water to thicken the cornflower.
      Add 2 vegetable stock cubes.
      When making it stir until it resembles a thick stock BUT NOT A PASTE adding water to suit.
      DO NOT ADD A WATERY STOCK to the pie as the pastry won’t cook correctly.
      Add salt and pepper to taste
      Roll out the top cover of the pie to be 1/4″ 6 mm thick.
      Place on mix sealing the edges.
      Make two cuts in the pie crust to let out the steam as it’s cooking.
      Brush top of pastry with milk (or beaten egg if preferred).

      Put in a medium oven 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) / Gas 5 for 25-35 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and lightly browned.

      Serve with green vegetables and if you like roast potatoes.


  2. Ben says:

    I LOL at your UK and French gun laws…. I came here as I am trying to decide between 22 air rifle and 22lr.
    Here in Australia a firearm is defined as a piece of machinery designed to fire a projectile using gas pressure. Therefore Airsoft/Paintball = firearm, Air Rifle = firearm, Rimfire and centrefire = (obviously) firearm. I have a firearms licence that allows me to own a Class A or B firearm. Class A is air rifle and rimfire (yes a 6ftlb air rifle is in the same class as a 17 hmr!) and shotgun, class B is centrefire (everything from 17 hornet to 50bmg). No semi auto is allowed until you get to class C and good luck providing a ‘genuine reason’ to get your licence approved. We are allowed handguns though, but only for sanctioned target shooting.

    Funnily enough even Nerf guns are power restricted in the australian market as technically they come under the legal definition of a firearm. Nothing removing the restrictors and preloading the springs doesn’t fix though!

    There is a movement to get Airsoft legalised in Australia. Even though it is currently under the A class of firearm there is no genuine reason to own one, plus they don’t have individual serial numbers and don’t pass the ‘drop test’ where a cocked bolt cannot release when dropped.

    Always interesting to see how other countries fare on laws. I think the UK/France has got it right when it comes to air guns.

    • Welcome.
      I’d read the Australian gun laws a while ago. And sighed.
      Then I went out shooting for the table and came back, as usual, with a decent meal, and didn’t disturb a soul!
      I’m not too worried about owning a long arm again as in the UK the stupidity of the law is more of a pain in the butt than the pleasure of owning one.
      As the the air rifle. Now that’s a different story as I use that to make money!

      To keep my skills up on a pistol I have to travel abroad and was REALLY unhappy to have to sell my babies way back due to the milksop UK government but hey, that’s life.

      If I wanted to you can still buy 9mm’s on the black for around £600 (and a £1 a bullet) but why take a chance that the weapon has a “history”. Incidentally I read a folding stock AK47 went for £1100 plus 4 full mags recently. The arms trade is there if you want it.

      Ho hum, back to restringing the bow. LOL

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