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I've often wondered with all the new stuff and equipment for air rifles if they are a viable alternative to a .22 or shotgun for squirrels and other pesky small critters. It makes sense that something much quieter than the forementioned would be good in not scaring off game in the vicinity. Gamo and RWS certainly make a wide variety of such "weapons", some of which cost as much or more than a good deer rifle. A couple of years ago came along an air rifle with the Winchester brand. Remington and Ruger have jumped on the bandwagon. For under $200 you can get a pretty good lookin' apparently well made rifle with .177 caliber projectiles meeting or exceeding 1000 FPS. I went to Bass Pro to restock my tackle box with gift certificates received for Father's Day and my b-day. While browsing the store with a friend we stumbled onto the air rifle section and there it was.... a Ruger Air Hawk, and for just over $100 it also came with a 4X32 scope. Well, you guessed it. My tackle box didn't get restocked. For less than 200 I got the rifle, an RWS cleaning kit, and enough "ammo" of different variety to keep me shooting for weeks. It had nice fiber optic iron sites that work well and the scope works well enough for a cheapie. It even has an adjustable 2-stage trigger and decent hardwood stock. This is no kid's air rifle but an 8 pound adult sized one. I'm pleased with accuracy and amazed at how much penetration it has with hardened hunting pellets. This is perfect for those of you who live in town and have squirrels stealing from your fruit and nut trees. I've already proved it on a squirrel and a feral cat. I'm going into town to my brother-in-laws to see what it will do to the groundhogs coming in his backyard.
 

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It depends

Air rifles are great for target shooting. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania it is illegal to shot any game animal with an air rifle. Not sure of the game laws in you area, but it might be a good idea to check them out. All the best...
Gil
 

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Friend of mine has a GAMO air rifle, replete with scope. VERY accurate. So far, he's killed some vicious maurauding gophers and some attack squirrels. Mean critters both. He gets 1200 fps from it ... about what a .22 LR gets.
 

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I've always thought an air rifle would be great for a survival situation. Everyone says to stock up on .22s, which is a good idea, but an air rifle could provide lots of small game using very cheap ammo. If I had to live off the land there are lots of squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs, birds, etc. that would be easy pickin's with an air gun.
 

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Depending upon size of the air rifle you can harvest most common critters in the USA. Lewis and Clark's expedition had a large caliber (over 50 caliber) air rifle that was capible of harvesting deer and elk. Large caliber air rifles are still available today including shotguns.

I have one that you pre-charge from a scuba tank (over 3300 psi) that will give up to 100 shots dependant on the velocity. Normally get around fifty-sixty shots at +1200 fps from 5mm bore (20 caliber). This air rifle is extremely accurate and has accounted for varmits up to fox size. Gophers, pigeons, blackbirds, *****, cotton tail and jack rabbits have fallen to this air rifle. Shot placement is critical when using any air rifle for humane dispatch.

One day another individual and I were experimenting to determine penatration potential with this air rifle. We were comparing it to 22 long rifle using wood as the medium. This particular air rifle and I would surmise most in general are no slouch when it comes to penatration. Several inches was the norm at around twenty yards.
 

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In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania it is illegal to shot any game animal with an air rifle.
Actually, Gil, it's not legal to shoot any wild animal with an air gun.

No starlings, no English sparrows, no rats or mice, no skunks, 'possums, coyotes or groundhogs. Nothing. Brilliant bunch, our Game Commission is. :mad:

You are permitted to shoot pigeons due to them actually being classified as domesticated birds.
 

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Suspect that has more to do with young boys, BB guns and shooting at them. Probably passed decades ago with good intentions but in todays climate maybe not so bad an idea.
 

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I have used a pellet rifle for squirrels ever since the late 40's, and still have my old Crossman pump up air rifle in .22 cal from back then. (All Brass Construction.) I recently purchased a .17 cal. Benjiman Marauder Pre-Charged Pneumatic rifle, and it is quite a lot eaiser to use due to not having to pump it up, plus it has a 10 shot rotary clip for faster repeat shots. with a 3-9 X 40 scope it will group into one raggad hole at 25 yards all day long. just refill from scuba tank or CO2 bottle after ten shots to keep the velocity up, or shoot untill accuracy drops off. (Usually around 25 rounds.) Just remember that if you are using one of the Springer models that you need to get a scope designed for an Air Rifle. I ruined a real nice Burris after just a few rounds. It would not take the double recoil that a Spring powered Air Rifle puts out. (They recoil both forward and back as well.)

If your state does not allow an Air Rifle for hunting small game, they are still nice for quiet practice in the back yard. Just be sure to check with local law enforcement prior to using it in the back yard, as some cities have local ordanances against shoot them in the city limits.

(Added ) They are also great for training the youngsters in safe handeling of firearms.
 

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I've always thought an air rifle would be great for a survival situation. Everyone says to stock up on .22s, which is a good idea, but an air rifle could provide lots of small game using very cheap ammo. If I had to live off the land there are lots of squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs, birds, etc. that would be easy pickin's with an air gun.

I've never had any air gun last more than a few months. My 10/22 has several hundred thousand rounds through it and is still reliable and accurate. With my suppressor attached, its actually quieter than most airguns.
 

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The forever problem with the more common sized air weapons is the size of the pellet. My Gamo Shadow performs handily with .177cal 7.9 gr Crossman copper heads, rabbits, magpies and rats have all fallen to it. As a forage tool it would be pretty fair. The muzzle report is a quite loud 'splat!' when fired, plenty loud enough to scare stuff.

Matt makes a good point in the above post, I also tend to use subsonic .22lr and a suppressor in favor of the Gamo, much quieter and the 27 or 40gr bullet (depending on which subsonics I'm using) hit much much harder over a usefully longer distance. Check out Winchester's Zimmer .22lr round, 27gr bullet and a tiny charge that sounds like a click of the fingers when fired through a suppressor. I've killed dozens of magpies high up in trees with them. Useful.
 

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I didn't know about the Zimmer round, I've been using CCIs Subsonic Segmented HP.
 

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He gets 1200 fps from it ... about what a .22 LR gets.
That may be the velocity but it is achieved with a very much lighter "bullet" - your garden variety .22 does it with a 40 grain bullet, many .22 pellets are down around 11 grains.
Pete
 
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