So, is faster better? The simple answer is no. But, it truly depends on the caliber you’re shooting. In terms of speed, we’re talking about “feet per second,” or FPS for short. You’ll find most rifles boast about their FPS, but what does this actually mean?

Defining FPS

When a pellet leaves the chamber, the speed at which it travels will be the FPS. This number can reach as high as 1600, but most are in the 800 – 1000 range. Now, lighter pellets will have a distinct advantage in this case.

For example, when shooting a .177 caliber rifle, you’ll achieve a much faster FPS. Why? Because even a .22 is double in weight when it comes to pellets. Does this make a .177 superior? Not at all. A .177 is not a great choice for hunting, but it’s a great choice for target practice. If all you want to do is practice your shot, the .177 will be ideal.

Energy

Energy is a very complicated factor to explain. Without going into too much detail on the technical end, larger pellets will require more energy to travel. Think of it this way:

  • A .177 pellet going 1400 FPS may have energy of 20 ft. lbs.
  • A .22 pellet going 1000 FPS may have energy of 32 ft. lbs.

It takes far more energy to push out the .22 caliber pellet, so a lot more energy will be needed to make it travel. Even though the pellet won’t travel at the same speed, it will have a much higher impact thanks to the energy needed out of the chamber.

A good rule of thumb is that a larger caliber will always have a higher energy.

It makes sense, right? You wouldn’t expect a deer to fall to the ground when shooting a .177 unless you had one heck of a lucky shot. If you hit the deer with a .357 caliber, you would expect the deer to fall to the ground, or in the very least, be injured.

Faster is Faster

In terms of speed, yes faster FPS is faster to hit the target. If you’re shooting small game, you’ll want to choose a faster .22 over a larger caliber. However, you wouldn’t use this same caliber in another situation.

What it all comes down to is your needs. When you need a greater impact, faster will result in less overall energy from a shot. If you’re target practicing, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re trying to kill game, the biggest factor will be energy. You need a strong impact. If you have the choice between a .22 that goes 900 FPS or 1200 FPS with the same pellet, you’ll always want to choose speed in that case.

Unfortunately, even different materials in the pellet can make a big difference in FPS. So, just because a rifle says it can reach 1600 FPS, you may not get the same results because you used a heavier pellet.

Faster is only better when the caliber meets your shooting needs. Otherwise, energy is most important.