What are the differences between the biathlon rifle and the pellet rifle ?

Biathlon is a winter sport that combines two complete disciplines: cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. There are 4 types of individual events (individual, sprint, pursuit, mass start) and 3 types of team events (relay, mixed relay, team race). Popularized by Martin Fourcade, the most successful French sportsman at the Olympic Games since 2018, biathlon requires high standards, technical skills and experience. The biathlete trains in a club that has the required infrastructure: 50-metre shooting range and a ring for wheel skiing. In addition to training at the club, he regularly practices walking, sheathing and rifle shooting. Its equipment consists of a special suit, skis, gloves, poles, glasses and the essential rifle.

biathlon rifle

What are the differences with a traditional pellet rifle? Four-point answer.

The calibre

The biathlon rifle is a 22 Long Riffle 5.5 mm calibre. It is specially manufactured for this test and weighs between 3.5 and 6 kilograms.


The ammunition used to load the rifle is 22 LR rimfire bullets. They are made of a lead alloy and have no copper shell. Their speed must not exceed 380 m/s.

The rifle is loaded manually using an external loader or by inserting the bullet directly into a breach of the breech.

The equipment

• It is equipped with an adjustable sight that adapts to the wind power and a handlebar tunnel at the end of the barrel. It is the alignment of the sight, handlebar and target that makes it possible to achieve a precision shot and reach the desired location !

• The rifle also has a flap which, when closed, prevents snow from entering through the mouth of the barrel and at the same time from reaching the sight.

• The front of the stick is equipped with a rack that allows 4 loaders to be transported and thus saves time when the biathlete arrives on the shooting range. A magazine includes 5 bullets, the exact number of shots to be fired during the shooting event. 

• A harness consisting of two padded shoulder straps is attached to the side of the stock. It allows the athlete to carry the rifle on his back during the cross-country skiing trip.

• The addition of magnification systems, such as a sighting scope, is prohibited in biathlon.

The price

The biathlon rifle is much more expensive than a conventional air rifle. Some specialized brands such as Anschütz, Rossignol or Eko, offer models that can reach 3000 euros. To avoid breaking its piggy bank, clubs can lend rifles to licensees.