Short Version:

Is .22 or .177 Quieter?

In general, a .22 caliber airgun is likely to be quieter than a .177 when it comes to the muzzle report.

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The Long Version:

In the UK, where airgun shooting is a popular pastime, one of the common questions among enthusiasts and newcomers alike is whether a .22 or .177 caliber airgun is quieter. The answer to this question is nuanced and depends on several factors, including the mechanics of the airgun, the type of pellet used, and the shooting environment.

Understanding the Caliber Difference

The .177 caliber is the smaller of the two and is widely used for target shooting and competitive shooting due to its flat trajectory and higher velocity. The .22 caliber, on the other hand, is larger and often preferred for hunting and pest control because of its greater impact and stopping power.

Sound Dynamics of .177 and .22 Calibers

  1. Velocity and Sound Barrier: A key factor in the noise produced by an airgun is whether the pellet breaks the sound barrier, which is approximately 1,125 feet per second at sea level. Generally, .177 pellets are more likely to reach speeds that break the sound barrier, resulting in a loud ‘crack’. In contrast, .22 pellets, being heavier, typically travel at subsonic speeds, making them quieter as they don’t create this sonic boom.
  2. Mechanics of the Airgun: The internal mechanics of the airgun also play a role in the noise level. Spring-piston airguns, for example, can be quite loud due to the mechanical noise created by the spring and piston. Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) airguns tend to be quieter, as they lack the mechanical noise of spring-piston models.
  3. Pellet Impact: The impact noise of the pellet hitting the target can also contribute to the overall sound. In this regard, the .22 caliber can be louder due to its heavier pellet and greater impact force.
  4. Environmental Factors: The shooting environment can amplify or dampen the sound. Shooting in an open field, for instance, may produce less perceived noise than shooting in a backyard surrounded by buildings that reflect sound.

Conclusion: Which is Quieter?

In general, a .22 caliber airgun is likely to be quieter than a .177 when it comes to the muzzle report, primarily because .22 pellets typically travel at subsonic speeds, avoiding the sonic boom associated with supersonic speeds. However, this can vary based on the specific airgun model, the type of pellets used, and the shooting conditions.

For UK shooters who are particularly concerned about noise, it’s advisable to consider not just the caliber, but also the type of airgun (spring-piston vs. PCP), the pellet weight, and the shooting environment. Additionally, using sound moderators or silencers, where legally permissible, can significantly reduce the noise level of both .177 and .22 caliber airguns.

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