The Browning 800 in .22 — for survival?

Monday, March 22, 2010


Every once in a while someone on one of the airgun, survival or preparedness forums raises the question: “What would be a good choice of airgun for a survival-type situation in which you need to shoot small game for food?”

I love to watch disaster movies and read books about people suddenly thrust into survival situations (when I’m in this mode, my wife just looks at me, shakes her head, and sighs), and I’ve thought about the question of which airgun would be best.

For a survival airgun, here are the characteristics that I would prefer:

1. Portability. That means either a pistol or a rifle than can be readily broken down. That eliminates many air rifles.

2. Self-contained. I want to reduce the need for ancillary equipment and consumables. That eliminates all CO2 airguns (which don’t work well in cold weather) and pre-charged airguns which require a tank or pump for recharging.

3. Sufficient power for taking small game. Target air pistols won’t get it done. Some springer pistols make 6 foot-pounds of energy, which is sufficient if you skills allow to stalk within 10-15 yards on small game. Some multi-stroke pneumatic pistols make 8-10 foot pounds of energy. Most air rifles generate enough energy to do the job. I have reliable reports of one shooter killing a feral goat with a multi-stroke pneumatic rifle, and another shooter inadvertently killing a deer with a cheap Chinese spring-piston rifle (he was trying to chase it away from the plants in his yard and caused a pneumo-thorax).

4. Stealthy report. I don’t want to be noticed. Spring-piston powerplants are inherently quieter than most others because of the smaller quantity of air used to drive the pellet. Multi-stroke pneumatics tend to generate more noise than springers, but can be quieted with barrel shrouds or by reducing the number of pumps (which reduces the power).

5. Easy to shoot well. Spring-piston powerplants are the hardest to shoot well because of their whiplash forward and back recoil. Multi-stroke pneumatics are easy to shoot well.

6. Reliability. Airguns dealers tell me that springers are the most reliable powerplant. You can usually put at least a couple of thousand rounds through one before a rebuild is needed, and some are far more reliable.

7. Ease of maintenance. Spring piston powerplants typically require a spring compressor for assembly and disassembly. MSPs usually can be taken apart with hand tools.

The careful reader will have noticed that sometimes these characteristics are at odds with each other, so you have to make your gun selection based on what’s most important to you.

Recently, the folks at UmarexUSA sent me a sample of the Browning 800 pistol in .22 caliber and it appears that it meets many of the criteria above. The 800 Mag is a large air pistol. It stretches 18 inches from the muzzle to the end of the receiver, weighs 3.9 lbs., and has an anti-recoil rail system that reduces felt recoil and makes it easier to shoot well. For a more detailed physical description of the Browning 800, please check out my blog on the .177 version here.

What makes the .22 version of the Browning 800 of particular interest is that launches .22 cal Crosman Premier 14.3 gr. pellets at an average velocity of 501 fps (516 high; 485 low), for just about 8 foot-pounds of energy, which ought to be sufficient for dispatching small game at modest ranges. Further, the .22 version seems to shoot much smoother than the .177 model, making it easier to hit what you’re pointed at. From a Creedmore position outdoors with a red dot mounted, I shot a .65 inch CTC 5-shot group at 13 yards with Gamo Hunter .22 pellets. Because of the energy transmitted to the sighting system by the anti-recoil setup, you will still need a high-quality scope or red-dot if you plan to mount one.

In all, I found the Browning 800 in .22 has a lot going for it: portability, self-contained, sufficient power for taking small game, stealthy report, easy to shoot well (for a springer pistol), and probably highly reliable (although only time will verify that). I keep one with a Bushnell Trophy red dot handy by my desk in case the bird feeder needs defending.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight,

- Jock Elliott

m4s0n501

17 Comments

  1. Shivam Sharma says:

    Hii.. I just went through your blog, and found it really useful. Well I am planning to buy an air gun, but for 'protection' purpose. Idea is to shoot at the thief entering your house, and injuring him in a way he doesn't die but gives us 20-25 mins of time to call cops. Which air gun would you recommend for that? Again, it should be something that you don't require a license for and nor should it Kill the person.
    Thanks Jock!

    Shivam Sharma
    http://twitter.com/shivamsharma

  2. Jock Elliott says:

    Shiva,

    I really don't recommend an airgun for shooting humans or for personal defense.

    Further, assuming you live in the USA, I very much recommend taking the NRA Home Personal Defense course before making any decision when it comes to personal defense.

    I did, and it was a real eye-opener when it comes to the legal ramifications of self-defense.

    Further, there are a number of "less lethal" options that you might explore, including tasers, mace or pepper spray, as well as guns that launch capsaicin-filled balls.

    I applaud your decision to think about how to protect your family, but PLEASE do some careful research and take the course before you make a decision.

    I did extensive research on less lethal options for an article and I can tell you two things for certain: under the worst circumstances, even non-lethal options can become lethal, and there is no single solution (including firearms) that will reliably stop an intruder in all cases.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Shivam Sharma says:

    Thanks for the reply Jock, really appreciate it!
    Well I think that was a valid point you made, under the worst circumstances, even non-lethal options can become lethal .
    I will keep that in mind!
    I think I should check out other options too, like stun guns and pepper ball guns. Btw, Can you suggest any good ones?
    Well, I put-up in New Delhi, India, sorry forgot to mention that in my first comment, so I don't think there are any NRA courses available here.. is there any website that offers it online?
    I'll do some more research on it, & I hope its fine if later I have any more questions?
    Thanks again, & cheers!

  4. Jock Elliott says:

    Shivam,

    I think the very first thing you need to do is get clear about your options in New Delhi. I really don't know what the resources are for doing that, but perhaps there is an Indian equivalent of the NRA or perhaps the local police department can help.

    In the meantime, I suggest online research for "non lethal weapons" or "less lethal weapons" or "non lethal self defense."

    Good luck. Remember: be sure to check out your legal status; it matters.

  5. m. a. says:

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  6. Conor K. says:

    Hello Mr. Elliott,
    I just found your blog after I searched Browning 800 mag. Great stuff!

    I’m considering getting the .177 cal but have a few questions first, (1) how long “roughly” does it last? (2) what’s the fps that you achieved with 7.9 grain pellets? (3) would it kill say a robin at 20 yards?

    Thanks,
    -Conor

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Conor,

      I can’t really answer the longevity question, but this blog http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/08/brownings-800-mag-air-pistol.html may help with your other questions.

      And yes, I think it will kill a robin sized bird at 20 yards, but I don’t believe it is legal to hunt them.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  7. terry says:

    Jock,
    I recently purchased the Browning 800 mag .177 and it won’t latch in the cock position. I have the safety off but when I cock it the safety is not being set and the barrell won’t cock past say 90 deg. Am I doing something wrong??
    thanks,
    Terry Rockwell

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Terry,

      I don’t believe you are doing anything wrong. I recommend sending it to UmarexUSA to have a look at it.

      1. terry says:

        Jock,
        thanks, the UPS man delivered it yesterday (Christmas present to myself) and I am disappointed to say the least. I was reading on this forum and sounds like there’s a screw that engages the safety that may be out of adjustment or missing.
        thanks,
        Terry

      2. Jock Elliott says:

        Terry,

        Sent it back. That’s my best advice.

  8. OldMan says:

    The only thing that really puts me off is the weight (of ~4lbs+ w/optic).
    I currently purchased a Henry (AR-7) US Survival Rifle, to fill this role ..
    Of course, the weight of the ammo may offset the weight ot the Browning 800.
    (It depends on how much ammo you need to carry and your total weight budget).
    So … I am ambivalent, on if I should stick with the Henry, using subsonic ammo or to go with the Browning …
    … This would be for a “never coming home” situation, so … Hmmm …
    I could certainly carry lots more pellets, but might be able to scavance 22LR, in the very long term. … There’s always the option of loading up with more RAT TRAPS !
    (cheap and effective).

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Oldman,

      Thanks for your comments. Rat traps . . . interesting . . . and you don’t have to aim them!

  9. Dan Bringhurst says:

    I recently bought the Browning 800 in .22. My question is this: if I jumped up to a wopping 26 grain pellet (big boy) how much would that affect my ft pounds? It will probably drag my fps down to 400, but a pellet that heavy should do more damage, right?

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Dan,

      Springers, such as Browning 800, generally produce less power as you increase the weight of the pellet. (Pneumatic airguns such as PCPs, generally do just the opposite, increasing power as the weight of the pellet increases.) My advice would be to do some testing and pick the most accurate pellet. After all, it doesn’t matter power much power you are generating if you miss.

  10. Jp says:

    I am debating on whether to sell my crosman 1322 with carbine stock and get the browning 800. I wish the browning had a carbine stock. I like the browning’s one stroke pump, increased energy, and better sights. The tipping point would be a confirmation in improved accuracy and reliability. Any thoughts?

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Jp,

      You haven’t told me what your intended usage is for your pistol . . . is it for hunting, target shooting, a survival tool take with you backpacking?

      You might try posing your question on the Yellow forum http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/ I remember that a while back, some folks were reporting reliability issues with the Browning, although I have not experienced them.

      I think you’ll find the 1322 easier to shoot well, because it is not a spring-piston powerplant and is virtually recoil-free. It is also easier to fit a shoulder stock. Of my spring-piston pistols, I find myself shooting an RWS LP8 http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/rws.html#LP8 fitted with a red dot the most, but it is more expensive than the Browning and more difficult to shoot well than a 1322 or 1377.

      Both the Browning and the LP8 are significantly larger and heavier than your 1322, and that is another consideration.

      I hope this helps.

Leave a Reply