Caliber or Power  


Charlie Sierra
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 79
2019-04-26 22:30:46  

I've been watching a lot of videos where there’s a common graphic about the difference in calibers. The effectiveness of a .25 caliber round over the .22 caliber pellet as a hunting round seems to be attributed to the 50% increase in area. 

I don’t really buy this. To me it seems more likely that the heavier and slower moving pellet is dumping more energy into the target because it has....more energy to dump. 

I assert that if I shot a squirrel with a .22 caliber bullet/pellet weighing 30 grains and a .25 caliber bullet/pellet weighing in at 25 grains and they deliver the same energy to the target, the caliber difference will be deminimis in the “knockdown” equation. 

Knockdown is more a function of energy delivered to target, how one gets there is less important 

Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 184
2019-04-26 22:58:50  

Both are true.  It's not strictly the larger size of the pellet nor the energy it's carrying when it arrives at the target.  The larger caliber operates on a larger area of tissue, thus has more opportunity to transfer a larger amount of energy.

With that said, I don't find "knockdown power" to be particularly useful predictor of hunting efficacy.  With airguns, shot placement is vastly more important than energy delivered.  Granted, making a bigger hole through the lungs or heart will more quickly stop them from doing the thing they're meant to do.  I'm just saying a .25 cal at 50fpe that misses the vitals is far less effective than a .177 at 10fpe that goes through the fusebox.  I've tried numerous hollowpoints and expanding pellets that propose to have tremendous knockdown power, and indeed some of them work very well...when they connect.  The issue I have with them is that they rarely have adequate accuracy at distances beyond 30 yards or so to be able to hit the small kill zone of a squirrel.  Meanwhile although a domed pellet does little more than icepick through the critter, I can put it into the brain and it's instant lights out.

Charlie Sierra
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 79
2019-04-27 00:38:55  

If the shot placement is exactly the same, and the fpe delivered to the target is the same the caliber is inconsequential between .177, .22, and .25. 

Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 184
2019-04-27 03:23:09  

I agree with that premise.  However for it to be possible, the .177 (or the .22) will have to create a wound channel the same size as the .25.  Otherwise the smaller calibers cannot produce as much tissue damage, which is a necessary condition for being able to impart the same energy to the target as the .25.  So in theory that's valid but it isn't very realistic in practice.  

Several reasons why:

1.  It's not easy to drive a smaller caliber to the same energy level as a larger caliber because the air doesn't have as much area to push against to accelerate the projectile.
2. There is the problem of getting the smaller caliber to expand sufficiently to create the same wound channel as the larger caliber.  And if we can use a .22 that mushrooms to a .25, why wouldn't we instead use a .25 that mushrooms to a .30 and be even more effective with a wound channel that is larger still?  
3.  We also still have the problem that pellets which expand well are rarely accurate enough for small game at longer distances.  No problem if the distances are modest but that seems like a pretty significant limitation.

Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 1
2019-05-16 14:24:49  

I skinned a gray squirrel my Dad shot with his 177, I do not recall the gun make at the moment. 


Shot it must have been a quartering away shot as entry was in the back of the ribs and I found the pellet just under the skin of her throat.  


If if the picture attached, you will see that there was zero expansion and near zero deformation of the pellet.  Pellets were the Benjamin domes at Walmart.  


The lead ear in the air gun pellets my father and I commonly get are too hard for any real expansion against a soft target.  So I will have to go on the presumption that wound channel is going to outweigh power.  


Power will I’ll be needed for penetration on larger game, that is larger than cotton tails which he has shot many of and are through and through shots.  


Pellets do do not really deliver any hydro static shock like a powder gun bullet does, the velocity is insufficient.  

Power will help get range and penetration, but wound channel and shot placement will win.

Joined: 2 months ago
Posts: 2
2019-07-14 20:00:17  

What of the necessity of penetrating a harder target?  In my case iguanas.  Some of the larger specimens will have pellets bounce off their skulls at a distance.  Tough, leathery skin is tough.  Would a pellet with a steel point be better?  I have two .22's right now, and don't think moving up in size is the trick.

Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 49
2019-07-18 04:24:51  

Yupp, GiveEmLead, I think you’re right..., going up in size increase the area of impact, and thus distributes the force over a larger area, and that might mean it's not enough to break through the skin and/or skull....


I just had a pesting assignment with very hard-to-penetrate skulls.

Here's some thoughs and info I went over before I selected the H&N Baracuda -- because it was more accurate than several of the other options below when I tested them. At a ME of 32FPE and ranges of 20 to 30y, the Baracuda worked great for me (not quite as great on the pests).  


For penetration you might just try a harder pellet.

JSB Exacts are soft. Instead:

Try H&N Baracuda (21.14gr, 0.035BC), or

H&N Sniper Magnum (17.9gr, 0.032BC), or

H&N Hunter Extreme (18.52gr, 0.026BC).

All these have some antimony or other substance mixed in to make them harder (and shinier! 🙂 ).



The hollow points with a metal tip should also be both hard and better penetrating:

JSB Predator Metalmag (17.0gr, 0.028BC),

H&N Hornet (expensive, 16.2gr, 0.024BC),

Crosman Premier Gold Tipped (expensive, 17.4gr).

(The Crosman Premier Destroyer and the H&N Terminator don't have much of a pointy tip, and are more of a hollow point.)



The pellets that are covered in a copper coat are also harder than normal lead:

H&N Field Target Trophy Power (14.66gr, 0.026BC),

H&N Baracuda Power (21.14gr, 0.036BC),

Crosman Premier Copper Magnum (14.4gr, wrongly labled as 15.9gr; 0.023BC),

SIG Zero Point (expensive, 18.06gr),

H&N Rabbit Magnum Power (there are few barrels that seem to like this one, 25.31gr, 0.039BC).


Happy shooting!!




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