Tips For Selection Of Air-Guns, Calibres And Pellets

Air-guns are a popular as target shooting sports and even small game (Rats, Squirrels, ducks) hunting sports. Air guns are simple mechanical guns which use the stored energy of coiled spring or compressed air or other gases (Nitrogen, Co2 etc) to throw a projectile (typically lead pellets and BB balls) through a finely crafted barrels. Air-guns are crafted with great amount of precision for accurate and comfortable shooting. Air-guns are legally allowed without any license in India and many other countries. You must check your country specific laws before you acquire one.

Air Guns have been around a while, but emerged as a serious sports after the world war-II.  The Air-gun manufacturers and engineers from world over developed many different models with different technology. The beginners may find it really confusing when it comes selecting their first air-gun. Nowadays, there's a huge availibilty of various types of airguns online India.


Let us now discuss why you must settle for model, caliber and pellet for your shooting needs.

Air-gun Selection

We recommend that you should read our blog on different types of air-guns to understand the types, differences and performance comparison. Here are a few tips to help you select the most suitable for your needs.

  • There are air-guns for target shooting and other models for hunting. You must be clear about your objective.
  • Target shooting air-guns are .177 calibre, very precise, but slow. For a 10meter shooting practice, you don’t need a very powerful air-gun. Extra power also results in extra jolt after firing and cause inaccurate firing. Precihole Club .177 and  IHP national 35 are ideal target shooting.
  • 3D Field shooting and Hunting air-guns require a heavier pellet for delivering powerful punch when it hits the target. In India, .22 calibre air-guns are very popular for long distance (50Meters) shooting. Precihole Orion .22 Calibre is a good air-gun for this purpose.
  • When it comes to selecting the powering mechanisms like coiled spring, compresses gas, Liquified Co2 powered air-guns. We recommend Precihole Nitro piston NX 100 series as these models are very accurate, easier to cock, less noisy and easier to maintain.
  • Another important feature to keep in mind is to check whether the air-gun is “Smooth-bore” or “Rifled”.  “Rifled” air-guns are made by creating spiral like machining of the barrel inside, so that when the pellet is fired, it imparts spin to the pellet. A sipping pellet is more stable in flight, so can be fired more accurately. “Smooth-Bore” air-guns are cheaper, these may be slightly less accurate that “Rifled” air-guns but add more speed to the pellet as energy transferred by the air-gun is used only to propel the pellet in linear forward motion. “Smooth-Bore” are better suited for hunting game sports.
  • Some people seem to think that higher power and shooting velocity is always preferable. I suggest think again. When the shooting speed for certain pellet weight, exceeds 1080 fps (Speed of sound at sea level), your shot will be much noisier and shakier. Not only that a pellet travelling at supersonic speed will tumble wildly and may even break apart as sonic boom created at such high speed will closely follow the pellet and will shake up the pellet as pellet slows down because of air resistance. While some air-gun manufacturers claim such superfast firing speeds for their model, it makes sense to use slightly higher weight to reduce speed to lower than the supersonic level for more accurate and easier firing experience.


Calibre Selection

.177 calibre (4.5mm) is the most popular pellet calibre for air-guns, as being light weight, it can be propelled for longer distance without falling down much due to gravity, hence following a flatter shooting trajectory.  All International target shooting competitions allow only .177 calibre pellets.

The air-gun pellets are also available in .20 Cal. (5 mm), .22 Cal. (5.5 mm) and .25 Cal. (6 mm). These pellets calibres are used in 3D Field targets and hunting with high-powered air-guns for effective knock out punch.


Pellet Selection

Air-gun pellets are very different from the cartridges used in firearms. The most common design of pellet is known as “Diablo” or “Wasp Waist”.  The pellet has round head, a thin waist in the middle and a skirt at the bottom.  The pellets are made with very soft metals like “Lead” and also with tin and plastics. The head of the pellet is slightly undersized to reduce friction.  When an air-gun is fired, the skirt of the expands due to sudden pressure and seals the barrel.

Pellets are made in different head shapes, weights and calibres. The choice of calibre should match with that of barrel calibre of your air-gun.

You should calibrate weight of the pellets after trying various options available before deciding the best suited for your air-gun and shooting need. For example, if you are firing using a .177 calibre air-gun an want to shoot long range impact shooting, you should go for a higher weight pellet as lighter pellets tend to lose speed exponentially in their flight because of higher resistance (Resistance increases in proportion to cubic power of the velocity, if velocity is twice, the resistance is 8 times). If you have a very power air-gun and can propel a light weight pellet at supersonic (Higher than speed of sound 1080 fps), you msut select a higher grain weight pellet to reduce speed to below supersonic for better accuracy.

All air-guns treat different shapes and weight distribution of a pellet differently. You must fire different shapes to check the best for your shooting need. The standard method to know which shape and weight is the most suitable, set up your air-gun in a fixed position and shoot at some target at your desired distance without particularly aiming with precision. Check which pellet gives you the best grouping of shots. The smallest spread (Group) of your shots should be the ideal pellet for your air gun and need.

Wadcutter Pellets

Flat head wadcutter pellets are the most preferred in target competitions, as these pellets are designed to hit paper targets in neat round hole at a distance of 25Meters or less. Wadcutters are not used  for long distance as these tend to buckle due to higher air resistance.

Dome Shaped Pellets

These are the most popular shape for pellets for their excellent aerodynamic properties and higher ballistic coefficient (higher knock down power)  at longer distance shooting.

Pointed Pellets

Pointed pellets are designed for higher penetration and are very effective for light and medium power air-guns. Pointed pellets have large waist and shorter skirt. The bands near the waist increase contact with rifling bands in barrel and add higher spin to the pellet, thereby increasing their accuracy and range. Avoid using pointed pellets for indoors shooting as these can cause higher damage to your targets.

Hollow Point

Hollow points combine the efficiency of round dome shaped and wadcutters. These pellets are considered a good choice for hunting at short ranges and reduced velocity.


Leave your comment
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