5 Best .22 Cal Pellets: Hunting & Target Shooting

.22 cal pellets are the ammunition of choice for serious air gun hunters and competitive target shooters.  The best pellets combine accuracy, knock-down power, and deep penetration.  Of course you can use almost any .22 to hunt squirrels, but with the right gun a the right pellet can take down much bigger game including skunks, racoons, hogs, and even deer.

Pellets come in many shapes and designs, so how do you know what’s right for your needs?  Our Best .22 Pellets list will point you towards the right ammunition that can make all the difference in the performance of your air rifle.

5 Best .22 Cal Pellets List

PictureNameShapeMaterialRating (1-5)

1. Crosman Copper Magnum Domed PelletsRoundLead+Copper4.7

2. Haendler & Natermann Hornet Pointed Airgun PelletsPointedLead+Brass4.7

3. Gamo RED FIRE .22CalPointedLead+Polymer4.6

4. Haendler & Natermann H&N Baracuda Green Lead-Free Airgun Pellets.22 CaliberRoundLead Free4.6

5. Gamo WHISPER Pellet .22CalRoundLead4.4

How to Pick The Best Pellets for Your Needs

What is the best pellet shape?

  • Head Design. Pellets are separated into four main categories according to their head design. Some head designs work better for different shooting scenarios. Each has a set of advantages and disadvantages.
    • Wadcutter. The wadcutter head has a slightly beveled edge. Lightweight and economical, this head design is often considered to be the most accurate pellet design available.  Wadcutter pellets are capable of carving large wound holes and are therefore a favorite choice of small game hunters. Since this design loses power and accuracy at long distances, they are most effective for close range hunting and target shooting.
    • Pointed. Designed specifically for hunting small game, the pointed head creates deep wound penetration. The design is incredibly accurate, and many experienced hunters recommend them as the best pellet choice for small game.  A variation of the pointed design that is also deigned for penetration includes a steel or brass BB or disk attached to the pellet head.
    • Round Nose. The round head of these pellets helps resist wind deflection, especially when firing at long ranges. They are accurate out to 50 yards or longer, making them a smart choice for target shooting or hunting where distance may be an issue; this is the design most often used in target competition.  They can also be an excellent choice for hunting at longer distances.
    • Hollowpoint. The lightweight hollowpoint pellet is designed to expand upon firing. Because of the design, they have a lower level of penetration; this is a useful design option for pest control within city limits, where a stray pellet could do unintended damage.  The mushrooming effect creates dramatic damage and knock-down power when fired at high velocity.

What are the best pellets made out of?   Traditionally pellets are made of lead.  The combination of malleability and weight have made it an excellent material for rifle projectiles for hundreds of years.  It is still the standard.  Some pellets will incorporate additional materials including copper jackets for accuracy or steel or brass tips for penetration.  Today, there are an increasing variety of lead-free options.  They tend to be lighter.  This gives them higher velocity, but less knock-down power.

Purchase Considerations

Check the Factory Recommendations. Since manufacturers know their guns better than anyone, it’s a good idea to start with the specific pellets recommended in your gun’s owner’s manual.  Not All Guns Are Created Equal. While one brand or style of pellet may shoot well out of one gun, it may not work as well in another. You’ll need to find which pellet works best in your particular gun.  Many pointed pellets will not cycle well in semi-auto guns and your gun’s magazine may not hold other shapes well.

Our 3 Best .22 Cal Pellets Reviews

1. Best Pellet for Hunting:  Crosman Copper Magnum Domed Pellet

Crosman Copper Magnum .22Accuracy, range, and compatibility with most guns, the Crosman Copper Magnum Domed Pellet is a terrific all-around pellet.  The substantial weight of these pellets provides excellent knock-down power, while the copper provides superior accuracy.  That makes these pellets a great all-around for both target shooting and and hunting small game.

Excellent for squirrels, birds, and rabbits, these pellets are also capable of taking down much bigger prey including skunks, racoons, and even hogs with a high-powered rifle.

With long-range accuracy over 50 yards, we highly recommend these for more powerful, high velocity airguns, but they will work in just about anything.  We love these so much they made our .177 cal list too.

  • Accuracy = Excellent
  • Knock down = Excellent
  • Penetration = Good

Rating: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor


2. Best Pellet for Hard Targets:  H&N Hornet Pointed Airgun Pellets

Hornet Brass Pointed .22 Pellet Haendler & Natermann’s Hornet brass pointed pellets (video) are an excellent pellet for larger prey and varmints such as skunks, raccoons.  They are also recommended for tough-skinned game like iguanas and other reptiles.

They are at their best against hard targets.  They have the weight to delivery solid knock-down power, but what sets them apart is the brass tip that holds a point after impact to create amazing penetration.  Precision crafting creates a snug and consistent fit in the barrel resulting in reliable accuracy at middle distances.  This pellet has one-shot kill capability even for larger game and varmints.

  • Accuracy = Excellent
  • Knock down = Good
  • Penetration = Excellent

Rating: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor


3. Best Small Game Hunting Pellet:  GAMO RedFire

GAMO Red Fire Pellet

Great for plinking, but also able to take down small game, GAMO Red Fire pellets have a unique polymer tip that delivers aerodynamic and penetration improvements over a traditional hollow point pellet but still expands on impact.  They have great velocity, which lends itself to good knock-down and damage when combined with the mushrooming head.

The RedFire is one of the more popular pellets on the market.  It is one of the best squirrel pellets we’ve used and is also great for birds and general short-range pest control.

  • Accuracy = Good
  • Knock down = Excellent
  • Penetration = Fair

Rating: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor

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