Survey Says? Lack of 22LR Ammo Leads to Increased Airgun Usage

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As a (previously) avid 22LR shooter, I have bemoaned the continued lack of (relatively) affordable ammunition, principally CCI Mini Mags. As such, I have searched for a cost-effective replacement and air guns have been a natural fit for the thrifty shooter. It seems that I am not alone in this thinking.

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Hunter-Survey.com released the results of their latest bi-monthly questionaire:

f more than 4,500 shooters surveyed on ShooterSurvey.com, 40 percent reported shooting an air rifle in the past 12 months. In that same time span, 33 percent of those same sportsmen would have purchased more ammo had it been available and 17 percent said they were not able to buy all of the .22 ammo they wanted. So did those shooters stymied by the shortage opt to shoot air rifles more as a substitute for their rimfire rifles?

Interestingly, a sizable 75 percent of them said the limitation had zero impact on how much they shot air rifles. They would’ve shot air rifles the same amount. Eighteen percent, however, reported they would’ve shot air rifles less had they been able to buy more .22 ammo, while only 5 percent were moved to join the air rifle ranks noting they probably wouldn’t have shot air rifles at all had they been able to purchase all of the rimfire loads they wanted.

“It would appear the recent shortage of .22-caliber ammunition has some impact on increased air rifle use, but maybe not as much as some people would expect. Airguns, it seems, are popular among a portion of today’s shooters on their own merits,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. “

What do you think? Have you moved to airguns?

You can find the original press release here.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Vitsaus

    Not surprising, a lot of airguns get well up there into .22LR velocities and accuracy potential. If anything airguns make more sense for some of the basic applications of .22LR, with out the baggage of paperwork, keeping “ammo” stored properly, and dirty looks at dinner parties.

  • Herr Wolf

    Pyramyd Air must be lovin’ it

  • Lance

    Nope still use .22lr rifles for fun!!!

  • Shrek

    I would love to get into a air rifle but I could still buy 2 10/22 before I could afford a good air rifle.

    • Jeff Smith

      Even a moderately priced air gun can be fun and useful for target practice. $100 can buy you a very decent air rifle.

      • David Sharpe

        Hell, even a $40 Red Rider BB gun is fine for practicing in the garage.

    • allannon

      Yea, but you can make up the difference on ammo.

      I paid like $120 for my Benjamin-Sheridan 397, and while it’s not as sexy as Pyramid Air or such, it’s great for plinking cans and eliminating pests.

      • Southpaw89

        Had a lot of accuracy problems using the iron sights on my 392 (.22 version) but once I put a scope on it I could whack a starling at 40 yards, was very impressed with the accuracy, but not so much with the cheap iron sights.

        • allannon

          Huh, still rockin’ irons on mine. Maybe you got a bum set or something. I keep thinking about a scope for it, but it works as-is and I’m kinda cheap. 😀

    • DrewN

      Yeah, match rifles can be big bucks, but $1300 buy you a Feinwerkbrau 500, which unless you are preternaturally gifted will outshoot you for 20 years. But you’d be shocked at the groups you can shoot even with something basic like a Diana 34P.

    • Blake

      Try an IZH Baikal: http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/IZH_61_multi_shot_air_rifle/76

      5-shot repeater, impressively accurate, $130.

      http://cdn.pyramydair.com/images/IZH-Baikal-61_IZH61_rifle_lg.jpg

      Looks weird but does the business. & luckily, not a firearm & thus not subject to sanctions.

      • DrewN

        Sigh. “click”. Damn you internet! You make this way too easy.

  • Cameron Bissell

    You can also shoot in your yard if you live close to others.

  • Gabe

    Always been a big air gun fan. I think that every shooter should have one, they are great for introducing new shooters to the basics. Great for pest control that doesn’t disturb the neighbors. Also, I have found a quality air rifles will produce very accurate groups if you find the right ammo for the gun.

    Biggest problem with air guns today is marketing. Way too much focus on FPS, which in a air gun is not the best measure of performance.

  • DrewN

    Competitive airgun shooting will make anyone a better shooter. 10 meter running target is ridiculously difficult to master, and shooting competitive scores in regular 10 meter isn’t much easier.

    • ProdigalSon

      I haven’t tried running target, but air pistol, with a good quality gun, is the best thing I’ve done for my shooting from a pure technique perspective. Nothing highlights your own issues like seeing your sights without any recoil as the shot fires.

  • BearSlayer338

    Or you could get into reloading and shoot fun calibers all day instead.

    • tts

      The point of .22lr is it allows really cheap, quick, and easy but decent range plinking for nearly all gun ranges.

      Reloading costs more up front, has a significant time investment requirement, and you end up spending more over all too. If you reeeealy love to shoot, shoot often, and in particular, use uncommon or odd ball chamberings then yes reloading makes tons of sense.

      Many people aren’t like that though. I’d say most aren’t really.

      • BearSlayer338

        Still beats shooting boring and recoilless .22,which is not even slightly difficult to get great groups with due to the nonexistent recoil.I prefer to shoot a round with some recoil so getting a great grouping during rapid fire isn’t too easy. Also you can’t really ever expect .22 to be effective in a self defense situation unlike other calibers,not to mention if you mainly shoot .22lr you probably won’t be used the recoil of your CCW pistol unless it is also a .22,I prefer to stick to more practical cartridges that could put a man down or animal if need be in a timely manner.

        • tts

          But that is your preference. Not everyone is like you and .22lr is a very popular cartridge for a reason.

          Also the context I gave was plinking, which is mainly what .22lr is used for, and not self defense. I’d agree that .22lr is not a good self defense cartridge though.

          • maodeedee

            22lr WAS a very popular cartridge for a very good reason and that was cost. Before the presidentially induced panic, I could get bricks of 500 individually packed 50 round boxes CCI blazers for $25 dollars or less and individual boxes of 22 LR’s were about $2.50 a box.
            Now, only 2-3 years later, I might as well be talking about the “Old Days” when a box of 22 LR’s were 98 cents, because today the going price of a box of 50 22 LR’s is five bucks a box.

        • Jamie Clemons

          Maybe not the ideal choice for a self defense round. But if that is all you have it will kill you just as dead as the larger calibers.

          • BearSlayer338

            Only with proper placement,other wise an attacker might kill you after you emptied your .22 into them,they might die an hour later after the attack but when your life is in danger you want immediate results.

          • Jamie Clemons

            True but the same could happen with any caliber without proper shot placement.

          • BearSlayer338

            Yes but it is much less likely.

      • Dragonheart

        You made some good points, but what you fail to mention is reloading allowed me to shoot regardless of the ammo shortage (shortage? like none at all). I now cast my own lead bullets, powder coat them and have an almost endless cheap bullet supply. With a good stock of powder & primers I am good for years. And at a cost of 14 cents a round and up for 22, when you can find it, it is no longer a cheap trip to the range. Yes, I spend time with my hobby, but it’s just that, a way to relax, which beats sitting on my butt in front of the boob tube.

        • maodeedee

          Hey, I sit on my butt in front of the boob tube while I size cases with my Lee Hand press and prime them with a hand priming tool.
          And the Lee hand press only cost me 25 bucks abut ten years ago.

        • tts

          But that is still a personal preference that relatively few share though.

          The time investment and cost investment of reloading equipment isn’t worth it to most. A cheap blastin’ cartridge is what most want.

    • maodeedee

      “Or you could get into reloading and shoot fun calibers all day instead.”

      That’s about the size of it. Ballistically it’s extremely hard to equal the ballistics of the 22 Long Rifle with an Airgun or for that matter even to approach the ballistics of the 22 short. To get over 1000 fps in an airgun with a 22 caliber pellet rather than a 17 caliber pellet it’s necessary to decrease the pellet’s weight far below the standard 40 grains of an LR solid or 36 grains of an HP or even the 29 grain bullet weight of the 22 Short.

      For plinking the 177 caliber guns are fine and some people use them and other calibers of varmint hunting and Pest control. I decided I wanted a 25 caliber gun for this purpose and acquired a Benjamin nitrogen gas gun in 25 caliber for this purpose. But so far I’m a little disappointed in the accuracy and what I’ve heard is that both spring piston guns and gas piston guns aren’t as accurate as pre charged Pneumatics because the release of the spring or the gas shakes the barrel while the pellet is still in the bore.

      Bottom line is you have to spend more money on a pellet gun to even approach the accuracy and effectiveness of a Ruger 10-22 on sale at Bi-mart for under 200 bucks firing 22 LR ammo that now costs about five dollars for 50 rounds. So it’s kind of like you can’t win for losing. Ther are even large caliber pellet guns that approach the ballistics of magnum pistol rounds but the “pellets” themselves in 35 and 45 or 50 caliber cost almost as much as a box of magnum pistol ammunition.

      So yes, better to get a centerfire pistol caliber chambered carbine and cast your own bullets and reload for it. But pistol caliber carbines aren’t cheap either unless you go with one of the Rossi single shots. I wouldn’t recommend the new H&R or NEF’s though because now that Remington has taken over that company the quality control is horrible and customer service is worse. Better to spend twice as much and get a Thompson/center carbine and get what you pay for.

  • Southpaw89

    I went the opposite direction and chased down a 9mm carbine, cheap to reload and I can once again take a rifle and a handgun into the hills and only need one kind of ammunition. Of course most airguns would be a more budget friendly option, and I have kept my eye out for a fun little air rifle for even cheaper plinking.

  • Kevin

    I have firearms and airguns but I enjoy airguns more because I can have more trigger time with them without the fuss of having to drive to the range. Also keeping 100.000 pellets is a lot easier, safer, and less expensive than 100.000 rds. of .22 lr. Quality match airguns are amazingly accurate, extraordinary works of art that can rival and even beat the most expensive rimfire guns out there.

  • Jeff Heeszel

    I found that going to a 9mm carbine is one alternative to using. 22lr. It’s more reliable, has more of a punch, and really isn’t that much expensive. But we also had fun using Home Depot .22 nail gun blanks to send .22 lead pellets at speeds over 2800 fps.

    • Porty1119

      Taofledermaus, is that you? 😉

      • Taofledermaus

        Are you kidding me? That stupid American redneck who can’t aim and has terrible HS cameras and whose dad my dad can beat up?

    • maodeedee

      Be careful with those nail gun blanks. Some of them are loaded to pressures far beyond that of 22 LR ammo. The nail guns themselves have very thick chambers compared to the average 22 rimfire rifle barrel.
      People have been blinded and maimed when firing rifles with over-pressure loads. In case you never realized it a rifle’s chamber is VERY close to your face when the rifle is being fired. Ingenuity is sometimes the mother of invention, but other times it’s the father of disaster.,

      • Taofledermaus

        Another channel did a lot more testing with them than I did, putting multiple pellets in the rifle, using a pulled .22lr bullet etc. When it failed, it just blew the back of the case off. (weakest link) Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it to others still.

  • Paul White

    I’m shooting a lot more 9mm and 223.

  • Herr Vogel

    22LR: The most boring cartridge on the market. I got a 91/30 for my first gun. I can find ammo for my Mosin; nothing for the 22 my friends screamed endlessly at me to buy. I’m shooting. They aren’t. This is what happens when you tell everyone to get 22’s and stockpile ammunition — everybody hoards and then nobody can shoot.

  • Cea

    It’s the (un) natural progression. Like in England, when firearms are outlawed here, we will be left with only airguns. Then, also like England, we will be only allowed neutered versions of them as well.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have many airguns. Only a few are domestic brands, most being Webley, FWB or Theoben brands. I think that they make for excellent practice for shooting cartridge rifles.

  • Adam

    Off the top of my head i can think of 4 x 22 Lr manufacturers in Asia, 2 x in the middle east, 2 x in South America and 4 in Europe. Theres 2 major shipping lines that carry Explosives….And they all go too these countries… So form a company and start importing 22Lr by the 40 ft container load…. Problem solved….

  • Jamie Clemons

    They are a bit expensive, but I should mention that some air rifles are capable and even legal is some states for taking down large game. They make .357 and larger air rifles. Although most of us will just get the cheaper air rifles that are only good for small game and target shooting.

  • joeyskylynx

    What this world needs is some form of .22LR or .32 Air Rifle which also allows you to handload paper cartridges or brass cartridges. It should also be a weapon which can be built with relative ease in order to have a SHTF design.

  • The president of sales for C.C.I. made a statement on an NRA forum when asked why there was a shortage of .22 caliber ammunition; he said that it is not hording or the government buying up the ammo, but the drastically increasing interest in .22 caliber firearms; they just can’t keep up with demand. If you look around you can see that numerous clubs and other firearm organizations are now offering competition shoots for all ages and configurations.

    Another reason is the ignorant hoarders that, as stated, in a panic buy all the ammo they can get their hands on.

    C.C.I. recently stated that they are building an additional manufacturing plant in order to try and keep up with the demand of .22 caliber ammunition.

    As in most cases of equipment shortage arising, it is generally due to the dunder-head that goes into a buying panic thinking that a day is coming when they will no longer be able to buy it again. STUPID is very difficult to overcome.