Hello everyone. This month I am taking a quick break from the Beginners to Winners series to talk about a very interesting subject. Do you just need a sub-12 ft.lbs air rifle, or would you be better off with an FAC air in a large calibre, or maybe just go for a 22LR instead? 

A few months back, I was lucky enough to spend a few days with AGW writer, Mick Garvey. Now Mick is an amazing shooter, hunter, conservationist and a fount of knowledge. The thing is, whilst we were shooting and making some fun videos for Shooting and Country TV, it got me thinking. If I had to choose just one rifle, what would it be and why? So, with this in mind, I thought I would delve into the world of FAC air and bullets and see if we could come to a conclusion. 


This is what I know and what I shoot, and for me, there is nothing better. If you are over 18 years old and have not spent time in prison, you can walk into a gun shop, grab a rifle, scope and a tin of pellets and if it’s a spring gun, get shooting straight away. You can shoot at a club, in your garden or anywhere you have permission. Spring guns and PCPs are capable of insane accuracy out to 40 yards and my TX200HC can shoot a thumbnail-sized group at this distance with ease. PCPs can be fitted with a bipod, and even if you are an inexperienced shooter, with minimal practice you will be knocking down targets very quickly – and before long, you will be able to hunt, compete and have a huge amount of fun.  

Shooting is very different with a sub-12 ft.lb. gun, though. You are required to be pinpoint accurate to ensure a clean kill every time and because of this, if you are a hunter, your stalking will be more important than your actual shooting ability. Also, an 8.44grn .177, or 18grn .22 will be heavily affected by wind at distances over 30 yards. 

The good side is that sub-12 ft.lbs. limits the chances of over-penetration, and if you are taking a shot at a target or animal in a tree, if you miss, the pellet will only have limited range before it falls to earth, but you must always know what is behind the target before you shoot. Also the ammo is cheap and you can buy a great gun and scope for under £700 


FAC air is a different beast altogether. When we were shooting at Mick’s place in Penrith, we had a selection of rifles from FX, and a 30 cal Alpha Wolf from Daystate. This Alpha Wolf was my first foray into shooting an FAC air rifle, and the thing is a beast. Shooting 30 cal pellets and at just under 100 ft.lbs., there was definitely a kick when it was fired, and to be honest, nothing more than my TX200, but we could hear the pellet hitting the target downrange. We were aiming at ‘Shoot and See’ targets attached to a 1” plywood board, and every time we fired, we could see splinters flying up into the air as the target was getting absolutely destroyed. 

The sheer thud of the large pellet slamming into the wood reverberated, and you could tell that this rifle was carrying all its power downrange, barely slowing down. We had brought a few blocks of homemade ballistic gel with us, and both the Alpha Wolf and the FX zipped straight through the block. When we watched the footage in slow motion, we could see that it barely seemed to slow down, and the pellet left a devastating wound channel. We also shot a tin of tomatoes, and the impact tore the tin apart. I’d recommend that you watch part three of the video series to see this because it’s a mixture of fun and scary. 

Air Gun 2
The Alpha Wolf was amazing to shoot.


We then moved on to the 22LR and this was a Rimfire Magic, which is a variant of the Ruger 10/22. Now, this is a bullet gun and even though we are now using powder instead of air, I felt that the 22LR had less power. It was more of a surgical instrument, a bull pain hammer as opposed to a sledge. Both Mick and I settled into to shooting the Rimfire with ease. With virtually no recoil, no need for ear protection, and the consistency of the Ely ammunition, we were getting great groups and this is why 22LR is probably the most popular calibre on the market. 

We were using Ely Subsonics, and as these were hollow points we decided to shot a new block of ballistic gel. The FAC air just zipped through, but the 22LR got caught right at the end, and when we dug out the round, it had mushroomed over perfectly and left a wound channel that was larger than the FAC air. So, for hunting, this would be more devastating and when we shot the tomatoes, it did more damage to the can – almost peeling it in two. 

Air today 1
Mick setting up the Rimfire Magic 22LR.


So, where does that leave us? Well, it is something that I have gone over and over in my head. Personally, I love my sub-12 ft.lbs. air rifle. If I was ever going to use it for recreational hunting, then that is what I would go for, but I can see the benefit of FAC air and 22LR. 

If you have been given permission, like Mick, and it is now your duty to keep that permission clear of rabbits, squirrels etc, then FAC air or 22LR is a real advantage. The sheer power of the FX and Daystate shooting pellets and Wildman Slugs is so much more than a sub-12. For a bit of fun, we shot an HFT target at 60 yards with both the .22LR and the .30 cal Daystate, and even though the target survived, we dented the metal and slightly bent the paddle. 

If you watch the slow motion of the 5ltr ballistics gel getting hit with both, you can see the gel being lifted, and this amount of power will kill a rabbit instantly even if you miss the brain. 

So, what would I go for? I love my TX200HC, but would I go for FAC air or 22LR? Well, the FAC air has a party piece. The Daystate can be adjusted; you can shoot at 100 ft.lbs., 50 ft.lbs., or many other powers – you can tune the gun to what you want – but you still need a bottle and a whip, and probably a home compressor, and FAC air rifles are expensive. The 22LR can be purchased cheaply, bullet, pellets and slugs are very similar price, and the 22lr is totally self-contained. 

I was blown away by the Daystate and the FX, but I think I fell in love with the Rimfire Magic and I am now probably going to get sacked from Airgun World. It is worth mentioning, though, if you are thinking of getting your first FAC rifle. The police do look favourably on shooters who go air first, and trust me, you won’t be sacrificing any levels of power and that 30 cal is very seductive.