.22 LR (Long Rifle) vs. Air Rifle

The .22 LR (long rifle) vs. air rifle debate is something I ponder a lot, but somehow never seems to come up in conversation…so i’m going to post my ramble here.  When you think about it, the two are really not that different. They both share same basic principle of expanding gas which propels a projectile.  The difference is that a .22 uses a combustible compound (gun powder) to create expanding gas, while an air rifle uses charged gas (air). We are not comparing a large caliber like a .308 vs. air rifles because at this level, air rifles just cant compete with the explosive power of gun powder.  At a smaller scale, this comparison of .22 vs air rifles makes more sense.


The days of $10 for a brick of 500 .22 bullets are long behind us.  These days, you are lucky to find 500 rounds for less than 25$  That is, if you can even find them in stock.  More and more often there are .22 shortages that continue to plague us sportsmen, for reasons that are beyond our control. Pellet ammo for air guns are simpler to manufacture and are only made out of a single material (lead or aluminum).  They are literally stamped out by the thousands.  In a survival SHTF scenario, pellets would be far easier to make.



At all ranges, the .22 simply has more power.  At closer ranges, the power difference isn’t all that big.  At under 100 yards, you can hunt many of the same small game with both .22 LR as you can with a powerful .22 or .25 caliber air rifle.  Beyond 100 yards, a .22 LR begins to really strut its stuff. A .22 caries more mass, and therefore caries that mass a longer distance.  A pellet is shaped like a badminton ball, and has a relatively blunt front.  This means that the pellet slows down quickly after a short amount of airtime.


Laws governing firearms vary from state to state.  In general, firearm laws are more strict as to where you are allowed to use them.  There may be other laws which dictate whether your firearm is even legal. It’s important to check with your local laws, as you could easily get in trouble for the smallest perceivable infraction.  Air rifles are not classified as firearms and are therefore exempt from the same laws.  This is why its often okay to shoot an air rifle in your back yard but not a .22 LR.

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