Can I Shoot Slugs In My Air Rifle?
Can I shoot slugs in my air rifle? This is one of the most commonly-asked questions in the world of airgunning today. Let’s find out…
Everyone’s talking about slugs, so many people are excited and want to try this new ammunition technology in their air rifle. But, before you rush off to buy a ton of new ammo, let’s try to understand if it would be a good idea. You might even be wasting your money buying slugs…
So What Are Airgun Slugs?
Slugs are “bullet-shaped” projectiles that are fired from airguns. Compared to traditional “shuttlecock-shaped” airgun pellets, they have no waist. Below we see some example .22 caliber slugs from the H&N range.
Compare these to a range of traditional airgun pellets.
Generally, slugs are relatively heavy. The typical airgun slug is heavier than a pellet and many are MUCH heavier than the average pellet. For example, the weight of an average .22 caliber airgun pellet is around 14.5 Grains. In .22 caliber, the lightest slug is about 20 Grains and the heaviest are 40 Grains.
Slugs are manufactured from lead. As lead is an expensive material, you’d expect slugs to be heavier than pellets, simply because more is used for every round.
Why Are Airgun Slugs Good?
The main value proposition for slugs is that they have a better Ballistic Coefficient than pellets. This means that they hit harder downrange than pellets. That’s an important consideration if you’re a hunter aiming for an ethical, one-shot kill. And let’s face it – most airgun shooters are also interested in hunting.
What Are The Problems With Airgun Slugs?
As slugs are new technology in airgunning, improvements are being made all the time. But this is the current state of play in the market…
1. Slugs are made of lead only. There’s no lead-free slugs available. That may be a deal-breaker if you live in a State with limitations on lead ammo.
2. Currently there’s a relatively limited range of slugs available. For example, the new Pyramyd Ammo Almanac lists only 14 SKUs of slugs in .22 caliber, compared to 95 pellet SKUs. There’s very, very few slugs available in .177 caliber. In fact Pyramyd’s new 2022 Ammo Almanac lists precisely zero .177 caliber slugs, as we can see from this chart.
3. As airgun barrels have historically been designed for use with pellets, slugs may not shoot as accurately as pellets in your specific airgun.
4. Because slugs are heavy, they require a powerful air rifle to shoot them well.
5. Slugs are expensive. But for money-saving slug buying options, check out this HAM story.
OK, But Can I Shoot Slugs In My Air Rifle?
Basically, the answer is yes – if you have a powerful PCP (Pre Charged Pneumatic) air rifle in .22 caliber or larger.
It’s well known that muzzle velocities in the 850 – 950 FPS range are generally best for accurate airgun shooting. That means an air rifle with at least 30 Ft/Lbs of muzzle energy – even for the lightest slugs as we can see from the chart below.
But if you have a break barrel air rifle of any type, it’s no. They just don’t have enough power. Likewise, if your air rifle is in .177 caliber, the chances are that – even if you can find slugs for it – it may not work well. If you’re in a State than mandates lead-free ammo, you’re also SOL.