The Best Caliber for Hunting Small Game with an Air Rifle?

The Best Caliber for Hunting Small Game with an Air Rifle?

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked, is what is the best caliber for hunting small game with an Air Rifle? As with most questions of this type, there is not a simple answer. It depends on what you hunt, where you hunt, the type of guns you use, regional laws, and access to gear. However, what I can answer is what my personal preference is, and why.

My situation is that I have access to any guns and gear that I want, I have compressors and tanks, so air production/storage/consumption is not an issue, and I hunt a wide variety of game under a broad range of conditions. I am often in situations where a small game hunt can turn into a predator or hog opportunity.

In this video I will give you my favorite caliber selection and explain why it is the best caliber for me. You might apply the same set of criteria for your particular situation and come up with a different answer, which is why it’s good we have so many options of guns and calibers available to us!


  1. Boom Stick on January 27, 2023 at 4:12 am

    I ditched the .177 because my scoped .22 Stoeger S-4000-E works so well. I later bought a Hatsan Model 95,Vortex .25 air rifle. In my opinion, it doesn’t outperform the Stoeger .22,, far from it, but I keep the .25 around with iron sights just for blasting armadillos.

  2. មាស​ហេង​ on January 27, 2023 at 4:13 am

    Which springer is the best Jim

  3. Mike Byrd on January 27, 2023 at 4:15 am

    Sir, great content in this vid. Thank you. I’m a newbie to the PCP airgun world, but not to firearms in general. Have you had a chance to fire the new JTS Airacuda? I’d like to get my feet wet with an entry level lower-budget platform…hone my PCP skills…then perhaps step up to a more expensive setup. I see you have experience with the AV Avenger models–a very capable gun. I hope to do some range/bench shooting to develop accuracy…but ultimately go to the field to hunt. Any suggestions you may have about a capable entry-level gun is truly appreciated. Thanks!!

  4. Glenn Lewis on January 27, 2023 at 4:17 am

    What happens when you stay in a country where only .177 is permitted what pellets would you use ?

  5. BERT BCCFU on January 27, 2023 at 4:18 am

    .22 is great I have a couple of them , but once I went to 25 for small game hunting I would never buy another 22, about the only reason I don’t get a 30 cal is just the price of the pellets is a lot higher and sometimes availability is tough

  6. BKn on January 27, 2023 at 4:20 am

    Definitely “too much power” allows for slightly misplaced shots on game with positive outcome.

  7. wildrangeringreen on January 27, 2023 at 4:20 am

    35" barreled .32, a ball weighs 53gr which throttled back with a 800 psi regulator still yields over 100 ft.lbs…. and you can sling 250gr+ bullets with 4500 psi for over 544 ft/lbs (it’s a timed valve) lol

    Second would be a 30" (.22 barrels over 30" get surprisingly expensive lol) .22 barrel on the same gun, which with a 17gr ball and 800psi yields 38 ft/lbs, or you can sling 55gr with 4500 psi for 200 ft.lbs.

    Otherwise, a .177 Crossman "Airmaster 77", which I’ve used since I was 7 to take up to Groundhog with 10.5gr dome pellets (it’s my go-to for up near the house, since it’s not as likely to go through a bunch of stuff). Pellets for calibers over .177 get expensive quick, and I don’t see the point. For pigeons and rabbits, I use 8.5 gr balls I cast myself. I think it’s like 14 and 11 ft/lbs.

    I might make a new air gun with a shorter valve time in .22, and retire my Crossman from hunting duty around the house (.223 balls are easier to deal with than .180)

    Air guns are not toys, don’t do things with them you wouldn’t do with a firearm of similar power.

  8. មាស​ហេង​ on January 27, 2023 at 4:21 am

    Which springer is the best Jim

  9. Tiger King on January 27, 2023 at 4:22 am

    I was just wondering, do people eat squirrels? We eat the rabbits, hogs, and deer. Never shot a squirrel because I just can’t see eating one. Are they just pests that people put down like groundhogs and prairie dogs and coyotes?

  10. elma fudd on January 27, 2023 at 4:24 am

    In the uk fac stands for fire arm certificate which you need for air guns OVER 12 ft lb.

  11. quadsman11 on January 27, 2023 at 4:24 am

    As the .30cals. become more previlent in the marketplace, the more I have to say I prefer it for all the small, to medium game I am able to take with it, and the energy levels are continuing to get better and better as well !
    Would I say the same thing if we were talking about a powder burner, of course not !
    But as far as airgun application is concerned, I’m totally convinced that the .30cal. is the most effective pellet for the quickest possible dispatch of my prey, that includes anything from a squirrel, or rabbit, up to a pig, or coyote !
    Straight up, the most effective pellet caliber for the job !
    Had it been a few years ago, when .30cal. availability wasn’t quite as previlent, then I’d have said the .25cal.
    But in my opinion, the bigger, and the harder hitting the better !

  12. Nazareth434 on January 27, 2023 at 4:24 am

    Very Informstive video. I bought the .25 but eishnimhad bought the .30 instead. My seneca eagle claw has a pr e tty impressive 70 fpe but even that doesn’t seem enough to drop even Grey squirrels sometimes despite using barracuda hunter extreme hollowpoints if the shot isn’t perfect. You would think the massive fpe and energy dump of the hollowpoint would,even if shot isnt perfect, but I’ve had a number drop, then get up,and run for cover. Red squirrels no problem, but the grays seem a lot tougher. Don’t wanna get too graphic, but I domed one, (won’t describe the damage) and it got up and ran up a tree. I think we have iron man squirrels around d us.

  13. Bruce Leroy on January 27, 2023 at 4:25 am

    Man, you dump a lot of knowledge in a short span. Sub

  14. StarMan Norm on January 27, 2023 at 4:25 am

    Thank you for the MOST professional, intelligent & informative presentation on this subject that I have seen.
    Great job … Keep up the good work!

  15. Hog’s Soutions Pest Control on January 27, 2023 at 4:27 am

    Thank you for that information was berry helpful for me to buy my next rifle God bless

  16. John on January 27, 2023 at 4:27 am

    If you only can afford one gun, 25-30 cal would be best. More versatility. I own a couple .177. won’t buy another one. Not worth it, unless you can afford 100 different guns. Most can’t. A .25 – 30 is the minimum.

  17. DJW on January 27, 2023 at 4:28 am

    .25 cal is my favorite for hunting small game as well. Have a AEA HP SS, a Hatsan sortie and a Hatsan Jet all in .25 cal.

  18. daniel desimonedanny on January 27, 2023 at 4:28 am

    .22 is all I need. 14.3 to 22 grains.

  19. Wing Nut on January 27, 2023 at 4:30 am

    25 hands down for small and medium game

  20. Kelvin Wilson on January 27, 2023 at 4:30 am

    i have always thought from day 1 .25 or .30 was best i started out with 1.77 then .22 just thought they were too small. For me i have 3 guns 2 are .25 and one ,30 wow you said you have 100 pcp wow…lol

  21. Jezz C on January 27, 2023 at 4:30 am

    I use .177 in the uk cuz a head shot is a kill and I can be more accurate due to the faster velocity

  22. Phillip Weaver on January 27, 2023 at 4:32 am

    The way the media prevented you from becoming UK prime minister in 2019 was a disgrace. I’m glad to see you’ve reinvented yourself. Convincing accent by the way. 😉

  23. Douglas Borgaro on January 27, 2023 at 4:32 am

    Amen! The .25 brings airgun hunting to the right level. It stands in place of 22lr for small game. It will knock them stiff!
    A woodchuck, or rockchuck if you will, is a pretty strong small game animal comparatively. A poorly placed 22 lr won’t do well. The 25 will take them down with one properly placed shot beyond 50 yards.

  24. Skank Hunt on January 27, 2023 at 4:37 am

    Uhhh ehhh errrrr derrrrr

  25. d Rodriguez on January 27, 2023 at 4:41 am

    .25 is the way to go over the .30 Cal simply cause nobody makes .30 Cal Pellets😂 (there’s)Jsb Diablo, Jsb hades, predator polys … however I lova my Hatsan mod 135 qe👍🏽

  26. BERT BCCFU on January 27, 2023 at 4:42 am

    I think you’re confusing fac rules, in the United Kingdom if it’s under 12 foot pounds for a rifle 6 ft pounds for a pistol then you can own them without an fac certificate if you have an fac certificate which isn’t easy to obtain you can shoot any foot pounds I watch some of the YouTube guys in the United Kingdom that are shooting 303 rifles in 100 ft pounds plus

  27. Bill Kline on January 27, 2023 at 4:42 am

    Thanks for a very informative video! While I would love to have a 25 or even a 30, for my conditions I think my .22s are a superior choice, and a .177 might be even better. And that condition is: back yard pest control. Even with a fairly big yard of 3/4 acre, I still have to be very careful regarding my neighbors, and jump thru various hoops to insure their safety. Like shooting down towards the ground rather than up into the trees, along with a back stop. I could still take these precautions with a 25 or 30, but it is just that much more power to be stopped. I would be more nervous about shooting a neighbor or damaging their property than I already am. And my 22 PCP has proven to be plenty for taking out about 20 of the rascals so far, no more have been seen for a while. So it might be all I need.

  28. Bhavani Shankar on January 27, 2023 at 4:42 am

    S ok gun is very good. How much buying rate?. &Target range.?

  29. Andre Meinert on January 27, 2023 at 4:43 am

    Thanks , great Information Video !

  30. AAA+Mindset on January 27, 2023 at 4:43 am

    I’ve no preference,I really enjoy all of the caliber’s, they all have a time and place. I will take any size, as long as I get to shoot.

  31. Bayou Flats on January 27, 2023 at 4:45 am

    I found very helpful. I’m just exploring the air gun universe since childhood and I don’t want to spend $200 or more several times before resting on a caliber and platform that with some homework, I can make a reasonable choice for my needs. This info was worthwhile. Thanks

  32. Grumpy G on January 27, 2023 at 4:48 am

    Great video great information. Just wish you had talked about barrel length.

  33. iPsychlops on January 27, 2023 at 4:49 am

    I have the .25 avenger. I love it. Some day I’ll get an FX or maybe the Skout Epoch, but so far my longest kill shot on a ground squirrel is 103 meters. I’m glad you included it in the mix (:

  34. ilangKumaran Kandasamy on January 27, 2023 at 4:49 am

    Hi i like all your videos, very useful in filed for me. In this video clip at 6.10 the is a caliber error, instead of .22 you have mentioned .322. Please check sir. Thankyou

  35. John Minger on January 27, 2023 at 4:50 am

    Did you ever make a video of you shooting a poor man’s Break Barrel, or a co2 gun, you’re way over my had and wallet.

  36. Bud Scott on January 27, 2023 at 4:52 am

    Sorry Charley it’s 177 or nothing.

  37. tom hecht on January 27, 2023 at 4:56 am

    If you ask the animal they would prefer the higher caliber.😃

  38. The TRAVELOR on January 27, 2023 at 4:57 am

    I choose a .177 springer for pest and small game, which it excels at to proper ranges. Also for economy everything is less expensive. I can easily put thousands of pellets away, not to mention the pump bb guns that are also great for the pest/sg field also. Not that 22 is much more, but it is. In that case I have firearms. Do I love the hard shooting pcps- you bet I do. They are incredible engineering and plain fun to shoot at even firearm distances. I taught my kids to shoot, as I did, on bb/pellet guns and starting to get gkids to take out to learn. I believe the air rifle field has something for everybody these days and only getting better. *I was happy with fps of 400 ish w bb gun, then all the way up to 1,000fps with a spring and now my rather inexpensive springer can do 12-1400fps! And they are ALL still just a ball to shoot!!! great points and inclusion of calibers and power in your video. Thank you for the info and keep them coming my friend.

  39. edstimator1 on January 27, 2023 at 4:57 am

    I don’t believe it is possible to kill an animal too fast or too dead. .30 cal. for me.

  40. dingpuia kh on January 27, 2023 at 4:57 am

    give me one of your guns🙏🏻🙏🏻

  41. Chris Bourke on January 27, 2023 at 4:58 am

    Thanks so much for your sage wisdom. I’ve been focussed on .25 cal with my FX Crown over the last few years and find it’s met my needs. However, more recently I’ve purchased a FX Impact in .25 cal, but after your video I’ve invested a .30 cal change kit for it. I’m hoping for similar results across pellets and slugs with .30 as the .25, especially with the Impact’s larger plenum, high flow transfer ports, slug pin probes and heavier hammers that are now available. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration Jim. Best regards, Chris

  42. Today Let's on January 27, 2023 at 4:59 am

    Good vid. I don’t agree with everything you said; but most. All of my PCP’s are .25 and they are perfect for "me" and what I do. I have an M3 so I was thinking of going to get a .30 barrel kit. After shooting it, there is no need. A dead squirrel is a dead squirrel. For the most part accuracy is more important than cal size to me. Again, good vid man.

  43. Bayou Flats on January 27, 2023 at 4:59 am


  44. James O'Malley on January 27, 2023 at 5:01 am

    Have both 22 + 25 use the 22 more in the back yard.

  45. Bombs Away on January 27, 2023 at 5:02 am

    Would you use a Texan .257 for small game? What would be your first choice for .25 pcp for small game?

  46. Karl Schulte on January 27, 2023 at 5:03 am

    The .20 is a great compromise. Heavier and slightly bigger than .177 yet faster than .22 in same class springer. For short range rabbit and squirrel cant be beat.

  47. មាស​ហេង​ on January 27, 2023 at 5:05 am

    What’s the best springer Jim?

  48. John S on January 27, 2023 at 5:06 am

    Great explanation and very good points. (From real world hunting expertise)

  49. Roy Public on January 27, 2023 at 5:06 am

    .25 for me. And my hatsan 125 chucks the .25 pellets out to 60-70yards very well, and I can accurately shoot 34.9gr slugs out to 25 yards. My origin pcp on the other hand is good out to 100yards easy.

  50. Steve Burlingame on January 27, 2023 at 5:07 am

    Wats your big bore preference

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