Air Rifles for Small Game Hunting

Air Rifles for Small Game Hunting

When a lot of hunters think of air rifles, they think of the old Daisy Red Ryders that hurled BBs so slowly that you could watch them leave the barrel. In fact, air rifles have been around a lot longer than the infamous weapon featured on the movie A Christmas Story. Modern air rifles are perfect for hunting small game.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition packed along a Girandoni Repeating Air Rifle on their trip across the American West in the early 1800s. It took about 1,500 strokes from an external pump to fully charge the cylinder, though once it was prepared it could launch up to thirty consecutive rounds of .46 caliber bullets.

Legality and Safety
There are plenty of air guns on the market today that are perfectly effective on squirrels, rabbits, and whatever game birds happen to be legal for that method of take in your state. California actually allows turkey hunting with air rifles! Rather than the BBs shot from a Red Ryder, they throw cone-nosed lead pellets.

You can’t get the same shooting distances from an air rifle that you can from a rimfire, but there’s still plenty to be said for them. They are quiet, there’s essentially no kick, and they are inexpensive to purchase and shoot. What’s more, they are safer to use in semi-suburban areas than longer-range rimfire cartridges.

Many air rifle shooters are able to work up delicious meals of small game by simply cracking the kitchen window and taking aim at rabbits or squirrels that have become garden nuisances. The neighbors never even knew it happened.

Shopping Considerations
If you’re looking into an air rifle that will be dedicated to hunting, consider the larger .22 and .25 calibers rather than the traditional .17 caliber. Excellent air rifles are offered by Gamo, Benjamin, Beeman, and RWS.

When shopping for a small game air rifle, you want to make sure you’re selected rifle can achieve at least 12 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. For a .177 caliber air rifle, that’d be a 7.9 grain pellet flying at about 830 feet per second. For a .22-caliber air rifle, that’d be a 14.3-grain pellet at about 615 feet per second.

Good air rifles are tapped for scope mounts, though be aware that dedicated air rifle scopes have different recoil tolerances than scopes intended for rimfire and centerfire rifles. They are built to withstand vibrations from the pistons and springs. Some are also built to focus clearly on much closer targets.

Shop

Men's Uncompahgre 2.0 Puffy Jacket
Save this product
First Lite
$200.00
Light and packable but warm and comfortable over a wide range of conditions, this is one of our favorites. It goes pretty much everywhere.
Shop Now
Bino Harness PRO-M
Save this product
FHF Gear
$125.00
Made with high-quality, durable Cordura, the FHF Gear Bino Harness is designed to be quiet, lightweight, low profile, modular, and easily operated with one hand.
Shop Now
Steep Country Knife
Save this product
Benchmade
$162.00
A versatile fixed-blade capable of performing throughout any season, on any species.
Shop Now
TAC MTN Rifle Case New
Save this product
FHF Gear
$355.00
The TAC MTN Rifle Case was built with two major goals in mind: to protect firearms with a low profile ultra-durable case; and to provide the user with unexpected yet intuitive features, both in and out of the field- including while traveling. Offered in three sizes, the TAC MTN Rifle Case isn’t your standard soft case. Not only will these cases fit INSIDE select hard cases for easy travel, but we’ve incorporated firm 1” marine-grade foam to mimic...
Shop Now
Transfer Pack
Save this product
First Lite
$325.00
The Transfer Pack is the Whitetail hunter’s workhorse. Purposefully engineered to efficiently pack and unpack every piece of gear you’ll need in the woods, including a tree stand, climbing sticks, and your bow. The Transfer Pack's versatility is perfect for anyone hunting out of a saddle or a tree stand, as its bucket-style design and multiple hanging configurations allow the hunter complete access to extra stowed gear and accessories throughout...
Shop Now
Diamondback HD Binoculars 10x42
Save this product
Vortex Optics
$249.99
Rock-solid optic that optically punches high above its class.
Shop Now
Save this article