Yes, a bone stock .457 Airforce Texan is delivering handgun firearm levels of power, but if we are being honest with ourselves, we are still far far far away from delivering the performance of a .458 SOCOM powder burner rifle. So what about smaller calibers? How close are we getting?
.30 cal gives big FPE numbers for an Airgun but is no where close to the .30 caliber family of cartridges in powder burner land. .25 and .257 are an awesome caliber selection but it’s laughable to think we are even close to getting the power of a .257 Roberts powder burner rifle. If we want to get creative in our argument .25 caliber Airgun slugs can equal .25 ACP pistol rounds, but again that’s creative accounting and who the hell would ever carry a .25 ACP?
That brings us to the .22 caliber Airgun slug as compared to .22LR firearm rifles. This is where things are starting to get interesting! I’ve been watching from the sidelines what our South African friends have been doing with 34 grain to 40 grain slugs pushing their FX Impacts and Mavericks hard and reaching levels of performance that has got my wheels turning!
So why this interests me is two fold. One, testing is showing that the very HIGHEST BC you can get from any slug that can fit into an FX magazine is going to be in .22 caliber. I think my Americanized BIGGER IS BETTER mindset can often cloud my judgment.
Yes, we can get relatively big FPE numbers pushing .30 cal slugs from an Airgun, but if we think objectively about those stats, this might just be flawed thinking. Why you ask? Like Matt Dubber showed in his most recent video about high power tuning the BC you can get out of a .22 can get over the .13 BC mark where a .30 cal is gonna barely hit the .09 BC mark. For long range shooting I’ll give up some FPE in favor for BC all day long.
But where things start getting intriguing to me is in how I’m seeing real world examples where we are able to push 40 grain slugs up to 975 FPS / 85 FPE! If you look at the match grade ammo .22 NRL competitive shooters are slinging, you’ll see a lot of shooters running Eley and Lapua Center-X subsonic 40 grain ammo in that 1000-1050 FPS range. They sling subsonic ammo because they know what airgunners know when it comes to pin point accuracy. Transonic and Super sonic bad. Subsonic Good! See where I’m going with this?
The .22 caliber performance out of regulated FX Impacts and Mavericks is getting pretty darn close to real world high precision competitive rifle performance! Yes, you can get big numbers from unregulated .22 Airguns for raw power, but my focus is on power and precision and you’re only going to get that with a properly tuned regulated Airgun. So I’m embarking on a journey to see how close we can get in both power and performance.
I’ll need a little help from my friends and for my early testing, Roelf Vorster from Air Hunters designed a 3D printable magazine lid so I can fit long 40 grain slugs in a standard FX Impact magazine. Huge shout out to Bob Abbott for printing these lids for me and Dale from Varmint Knocker Slugs for making me some 40 grain .22 monster in both Hollowpoint and Dish Nose formats. I can't wait to get my hands on Patriot Outdoors Javelin slugs in 34 grain - those look nasty good!
With innovations thought up by Ernest Rowe with his dual transfer port and other go fast mods like the FX pin probe and slug kit, this is gonna get really interesting. So if you’re a long range obsessed airgunner like myself, the FX family of .22 caliber options needs some serious consideration! Bigger isn’t always better. Stay tuned!