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Author Topic: Musings on caliber effectiveness  (Read 277 times))

Offline HOSPassassin

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Musings on caliber effectiveness
« on: May 13, 2022, 02:23:54 PM »
Given the facts that there are 7,000 grains to a pound, and a good-sized fox squirrel (the largest tree squirrel in North America, per
Wikipedia) weighs around 2 pounds or 14,000 grains:

An 8.4 grain Air Arms Field pellet is .0006 of the mass of a 2-pound squirrel. (8.4/14,000 = .0006)

I am a 200-pound man, or about 100 times the mass of that big squirrel. Therefore, a projectile that weighs .0006 of my mass hitting me
would weigh 840 grains (8.4 x 100). That's bigger than a .50 BMG (647-800 grains) and almost as big as a .600 Nitro Express (900 grains),
which is a highly specialized, very rare, and very expensive elephant cartridge! It's frankly horrifying to imagine what a .50 BMG would do to
me if I took one through the ribs, even if it was flying at typical airgun pellet velocity.

If this is so, then why do so many people consider .22 or even .25 to be the smallest viable caliber for hunting small game (squirrels,
rabbits, and similar)? By "so many people" I mean Tom Gaylord and others who write things for Pyramyd, or other recommendations you can
find at Airgun Depot, straightshooters.com, or crosman.com. In no way am I trying to pick a fight with anyone here on GTA over this. Has
anyone else thought this through?

I realize that I don't have fur (for which my wife sighs in relief), a really thick hide, or big, hard muscles like a tree rat. I also realize that the ballistic
coefficient of a .22 or .25 will help when ranges get really long (50+ yards). There is certainly a place for the bigger pellets. But for the ranges at which
the vast majority of critters like this are shot, why isn't .177 enough? Is there something I have missed?

HA
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Offline Struckat

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2022, 03:34:46 PM »
Interesting thoughts.

I have no good math skills, but I think that energy/fpe is missing from the comparisons.

We basically just poke fairly clean holes in the target, so as you know, shot placement is the 99% of the game.

If not, you just proved that squirrels are indeed tough critters.

I have both .17 and .22. Havenít whacked anything but paper with .22  as that caliber is new to me. All of my historical pesting has been done with a low power .177 pumper and wadcutters, at short range. I will not shoot a squirrel with that

When I got my HW30, I did whack a grey with a 7.33 dome to the dome. Pass through and dirt dance at about 25 yards.
Clearly demonstrating my lack of willingness to share my home must have impressed the rest of them as I havenít had any trespassing since.

Itís placement. Iíve made some less than perfect shots with 22lr that should have been effective, created a lot of destruction, but didnít anchor the target.

Shot placement.
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Offline Thane

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2022, 05:54:37 PM »
Arm chair hunting is no substitute for experience.

Using a singular metric, mass, to describe an ethical method of take lacks dimension. Speed, section, deformation, shot placement, range... and skill.

For my dispatches I prefer a .22 hades @ 600FPS with no exit, the resulting hit penetrates and concusses at the same time. A faster moving .177 could make more FPE,  and pass through, taking much of the force with it.
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Offline Blowpipe Sam

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2022, 10:16:02 PM »
Small pellets moving at airgun velocities do not have the same shock effect as heavier projectiles (ie. 40gr .22 LR solid) moving at supersonic velocities.  The effect of a small sub sonic pellet is similar to a puncture wound.  So pellets have to do their work by destroying vital organs or through blood loss.  A squirrel can do a lot of running while it is bleeding out.  .22 and .25 caliber pellets have more frontal area than .177.  They can also be significantly heavier  than .177.  That extra mass and frontal area means that the bigger calibers can do more damage to tissue and potentially cause more/quicker blood loss.  A good big uní will allus beat a good little uní. ;D
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Hatsan Mod 125  .25
Hatsan Mod 125  .22
Hatsan Mod  95.  .22
Ruger Impact Max .22
FDAR Xisico XS60c .22 
Crosman 1400 .22.  3rd model
Crosman 1400 .22.  2nd model
Crosman 1400 .22.  1st. Model
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Offline Blowpipe Sam

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2022, 10:37:59 PM »
I have several magnum springers that I hunt with.  The manufacturers advertising for these guns touts their ability at plinking, target shooting, and pesting.  It doesnít mention hunting.  It seems that manufacturers rarely advertise their air rifles as being for hunting.  I think Crosman is breaking some new ground by advertising their new model 362 as being an entry level small game hunting gun.
Conversely, nearly all pellet manufacturers advertise at least some of their pellets as being for small game hunting.

Why?

There is a lower ethical bar for pesting than for hunting.  Hunting has well known ethics for killing game.
Conversely, pesting is just exterminating vermin.  Pretty low bar there.
Ergo, no one associated with the airgun industry is going to recommend a lower powered gun for small game hunting even though professor Beeman said you only need 6 fpe to ethically kill a squirrel.
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My Battery
Hatsan Striker  .25
Hatsan Mod 125  .25
Hatsan Mod 125  .22
Hatsan Mod  95.  .22
Ruger Impact Max .22
FDAR Xisico XS60c .22 
Crosman 1400 .22.  3rd model
Crosman 1400 .22.  2nd model
Crosman 1400 .22.  1st. Model
Crosman 2240XL 14.5Ē Carbine .22
Crosman 2100 .177
Crosman 1377 .177
Industry B-3 .177

Offline river drifter

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2022, 10:57:21 PM »
I also think itís more of a hunting ethics issue with gun manufacturers, and ďexpertsĒ in the field.

People have been successfully hunting squirrels and rabbits with .177 for many years.

A hunter may have a slightly bigger margin of error with .22 or bigger.
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Offline nced

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2022, 11:05:34 PM »
Given the facts that there are 7,000 grains to a pound, and a good-sized fox squirrel (the largest tree squirrel in North America, per
Wikipedia) weighs around 2 pounds or 14,000 grains:

An 8.4 grain Air Arms Field pellet is .0006 of the mass of a 2-pound squirrel. (8.4/14,000 = .0006)

I am a 200-pound man, or about 100 times the mass of that big squirrel. Therefore, a projectile that weighs .0006 of my mass hitting me
would weigh 840 grains (8.4 x 100). That's bigger than a .50 BMG (647-800 grains) and almost as big as a .600 Nitro Express (900 grains),
which is a highly specialized, very rare, and very expensive elephant cartridge! It's frankly horrifying to imagine what a .50 BMG would do to
me if I took one through the ribs, even if it was flying at typical airgun pellet velocity.

If this is so, then why do so many people consider .22 or even .25 to be the smallest viable caliber for hunting small game (squirrels,
rabbits, and similar)? By "so many people" I mean Tom Gaylord and others who write things for Pyramyd, or other recommendations you can
find at Airgun Depot, straightshooters.com, or crosman.com. In no way am I trying to pick a fight with anyone here on GTA over this. Has
anyone else thought this through?

I realize that I don't have fur (for which my wife sighs in relief), a really thick hide, or big, hard muscles like a tree rat. I also realize that the ballistic
coefficient of a .22 or .25 will help when ranges get really long (50+ yards). There is certainly a place for the bigger pellets. But for the ranges at which
the vast majority of critters like this are shot, why isn't .177 enough? Is there something I have missed?

HA
Years ago I only hunted squirrels in West Virginia with .22 rimfires and over the years had more than a couple grey squirrels take a .22 slug through both lungs and still scamper quite a few feet to get into a "tree hole" after getting hit with over 100fpe. On the other hand I had more than a couple grey squirrels take a similar double lung hit with a .177 dome pellet, then fall from the bird feeder and move very little when they hit the ground after getting hit with about 10fpe.

After hunting squirrels with 13ish fpe springers (Beeman R9, HW77, HW95) shooting .177, .20 & .22 pellets in wadcutter, hollowpoint & dome configuration I came to the conclusion that at my springer power levels the actual fpe had little to do with effectiveness if both lungs or the brain is perforated. My stiffly tuned .20 R9 made very pretty "mushrooms" from inside grey squirrels and were effective with double lung hits however I ended up preferring a simple .177 dome pellet that created two holes with one shot, one hole in and another hole out.......
.20 Crow Magnum pellet extracted from a grey squirrel........


Two North Carolina grey squirrels, each taken with a single die lot marked and dated boxed 7.9 grain boxed .177 Crosman Premier pellet. One "double lunged and the other brain shoy..........


Larger "pests" were also dispatched with a single .177 cal dome pellet.........


I hunted with the .20 cal R9 for a full season then replaced the barrel with a chopped and choked .22 barrel which was used for only a half season before reverting back to .177 never to look back, The following season after the .22 cal test I sold both the .20 and .22 barrels.

Anywhoo..........I'm thinking that hitting a 3 pound squirrel with a .177 cal dome at 800fps would be similar to ME getting hit with a 30mm cannon slug if it could be slowed down to 800fps. :o
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Offline DanD

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2022, 12:37:19 AM »
I think if you can't kill a squirrel cleanly with .177, you won't do any better with .20, .22 or .25. And if you are successful with the bigger calibers, you'll also be successful with .177.
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Offline Firewalker

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2022, 01:20:00 AM »
Forensically, the matter of dispatch is simple, disallow oxygen to the medulla and all motion will cease.

However, when speaking of a DRT scenario, one must consider the nervous system and its control over the thalamus and it's rudimentary function.

That said, any mammal can withstand a certain amount of trauma, this varies with overall size but even an African savanna elephant can meet it's demise with a single .22lr but the resultant trauma may take weeks to cumulate in infection and ultimately, death.

There is a a phrase amongst SOCOM is, "A .22 will killl!.... Tomorrow."

There is no perfect scenario where a certain sized pellet/slug will kill a certain sized creature every time, take for example Phineas Gage. Even a head shot may not end in immediate death. IMHO, take away the O2 and the life function will cease... eventually.
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Offline huntr

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2022, 12:30:33 PM »
To repeat myself... and others, I'm sure... there is no such thing as overkill.
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Offline sicumj

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2022, 10:31:31 AM »
     I probably have killed more game with a .177 than any other caliber.  Years ago my father in law owned a pig farm filled with rats.  My best solution was a FWB 124 and a red light.  Shooting was from point blank out to 50 ft.  Most chest and head shots resulted in them dyeing right away or traveling only a few feet.  Shooting fox squirrels with the same rifle was a different story.  Chest shots were not very successful for me.  I soon turned to subsonic HP long rifle ammo for fox squirrels.  Today I use either 22 or 25 cal for hunting anything larger than black birds.
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Offline JimD

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Re: Musings on caliber effectiveness
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2022, 09:48:25 PM »
I think we kill game with holes through their brains or vitals.  Bigger diameter holes lead to more blood loss in a given amount of time so the animal dies quicker.  I think having both an entrance and an exit hole has a similar benefit but not all agree.  A hole through non-vital areas may kill but I doubt it will happen quickly enough for recovery - I try not to prove this theory.  My only airgun experience of significance is with a Prod, a low powered 22, and a couple 25s, a P35 tuned to 30-35 fpe and an Avenger tuned to about 48 fpe.  I think the 25s kill quicker but once I tuned the Prod up to about 18 fpe it put them down quickly too. 

My criteria is a minimum of about 600 pages of penetration in wet magazines.  From tests in dead squirrels I know that is roughly consistent with pass through on side shots.  Even expanding projectiles in my 25s will do this but they do not shoot them accurately enough for me to use them and the simple domed kill quickly.  Prod does not have the power to penetrate far enough with an expanding projectile.  I plan to buy and test a higher powered 22 and a ~20 fpe 177. 

I don't think it's the caliber, its the placement, depth and diameter of the hole we make.  Smaller caliber with expanding projectile should kill as effectively as a larger caliber.  Body shots tend to not kill animals as quickly as head/neck shots.  But many have still been DRT for me. 
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