Airgun Hunting Overview


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JohnKSa
September 22, 2013, 12:45 AM
Here's a video of a hog being killed with a Gamo airgun. Note that the range is kept short to insure a precise hit and the pellet goes into the brain--not just into the head.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUUCLc0ZHhQ

Here's a video of a hog taken with a Benjamin air rifle. Similar tactics are used. Close range and a brain shot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUEwxg32s6Y

Clearly conventional airguns (by that I mean airguns shooting typical diabolo style pellets of .25 caliber or less and at velocities in the vicinity of 1000fps or less) are not going to do any significant tissue damage except to tissue directly contacted by the projectile. Even the lowly .22LR has about 10 times more energy than a typical conventional airgun pellet does at the muzzle. Pellet expansion is nil or minimal at best and the shock value at impact is essentially non-existant on all but the very smallest animals.

That means that except when used on very small targets (small birds or very small pests like mice) airguns will provide clean kills only when the brain is hit.

A brain shot is NOT the same thing as a head shot. The brain of an animal like a hog, for example, is very small relative to the size of the head. Here's a link that has a picture of a sectioned hog's head showing the brain in blue. The picture is graphic, so don't click on it if you don't want to see a picture of a hog's head cut in half.

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/08/20/of-pig-brains-and-tea-cups/

All of this means that the typical ideas about energy and terminal performance that are generally discussed when firearms are involved are pretty much irrelevant when talking about conventional airguns. Conventional airguns don't kill with energy or with impressive terminal performance, they poke very tiny and generally fairly shallow holes. Those holes must be in precisely the correct locations to have the desired effect.

To make a clean kill, the hunter must know the anatomy of the target animal well. Extreme precision is required to make the hit once the aiming point is established. And finally, sufficient penetration is a must to get through the skull.

Airgun hunting is an extremely demanding sport, much more restrictive even than hunting with iron-sighted handguns. The hallmarks of a successful airgun hunter are the ability to make very precise shots and the discipline required to wait for the proper shot.

Trying to stretch the range, taking a shot from a bad angle or hunting animals without knowing their anatomy intimately is going to result in wounded animals that will NOT be recovered. There's virtually no chance that you'll recover a wounded animal after a blown shot. The damage done is far too minimal for the animal to be incapacitated or to bleed out in any reasonable amount of time.

The more powerful PCP airguns which shoot the equivalent of bullets at blackpowder energy levels are a different story. They can be used as blackpowder firearms (or handguns) would be used for hunting.

For those who are interested in learning more, Ron Robinson (aka the Manic Compressive) has written a couple of books that detail some of his airgun hunting experiences.

One other thing to keep in mind is that airgun hunting laws can be very illogical. In TX, for example, it is legal to hunt hogs and mountain lions with airguns since they are not game animals, but it is not legal to hunt crows, squirrels or any other game animal or game bird with an airgun of any kind.

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plumberroy
September 22, 2013, 02:09 PM
I am going have to agree with some of you points and disagree with others . First 99.8% of the people here know A headshot needs to hit the brain. We are not 4th graders . On body shots on small animals. A 7.8 grain pellet at 600 fps is 6.2 ft lbs of energy a mouse or sparrow will be lucky to weigh 4 oz that is 24 times the body weight in ft/lbs of energy, and extrapolated out is equall to something like a 338 winmag on a 150 lb deer, In my real life experiance I will take body shots with an airgun on squirrels and rabbit with a rifle over 700fps in a .177
I do agree that presise shots knowing the anatomy and not trying to strech the range is key to clean humane kills
Killing the hogs is a stunt to sell air rifles A hog is one of the few animals in the U.S.A. that it's first though if you hurt it is to eat you. I have never heard of a hog attack that, the person or some one close wasn't messin' with the hog Could I kill a hog with an air rifle? Yes but both video's show smaller hogs in the 40-60 lb range better eating and a whole lot less likely to try to eat you if you don't make a perfect shot
Video's like this are going to get some body hurt because what they don't show is the guy off camera with a 45-70 or a pump 12 ga loaded with slugs to stop the hog if the pellet doesn't get to the brain and just pi**es the hog off

Roy

JohnKSa
September 22, 2013, 07:32 PM
First 99.8% of the people here know A headshot needs to hit the brain. We are not 4th graders.I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone, and I realize that most people here probably have been past 4th grade. That said, I've seen people claim that some airgun calibers are more effective with headshots on squirrels than other airgun calibers are. Since it's indisputably true that a .177 pellet through the brain of a squirrel will kill it just as dead as a .22 or .25 pellet through the brain, the only conclusion I can draw from such a statement is that the brain isn't being hit in all cases.

Furthermore, even those who understand that brain hits are critical to clean kills of larger animals when using conventional airguns, may not appreciate how small the brain of some animals can be. It seemed appropriate to provide an example....both video's show smaller hogs in the 40-60 lb range better eating and a whole lot less likely to try to eat you if you don't make a perfect shot...If you poke around on youtube, you can find videos of much larger hogs killed with conventional airguns. I just picked a couple of videos that illustrated the point that it requires precision (and therefore close range and ideal shot angle).

Anyway, the goal wasn't really to encourage people to hunt hogs with airguns, it was to make the point that trying to think about airgun hunting in the same terms used for firearm hunting is going to result in some misconceptions in theory and disasters in practice.In my real life experiance I will take body shots with an airgun on squirrels and rabbit with a rifle over 700fps in a .177Rabbits are notoriously easy to kill, and they are probably an exception to using non-brain shots with conventional airguns.

Squirrels, on the other hand, are pretty tough, and those who make a practice of taking non-brain shots on squirrels using airguns will likely lose wounded animals more often than they'd care to. Given your real life experience with body shots on squirrels, I'm sure you will agree.A 7.8 grain pellet at 600 fps is 6.2 ft lbs of energy a mouse or sparrow will be lucky to weigh 4 oz that is 24 times the body weight in ft/lbs of energy, and extrapolated out is equall to something like a 338 winmag on a 150 lb deer...Well, you'll note that I said body shots on small birds and very small animals like mice are very likely to be effective.

But it has very little to do with energy relative to body weight and a lot to do with the fact that the pellet is very large relative to the target animal. Your comment about energy speaks to one of the points I was trying to make.

Trying to extrapolate muzzle energy figures of airguns to compare them to firearm performance is not sound science and will provide misleading results. A conventional airgun, especially a .177 in the 700fps class is not going to generate enough energy to expand ammunition nor to make a temporary cavity nor to generate significant "shock" to the target like a hunting rifle caliber can. The fact that the target is very small has no impact on that fact.

The reason that airguns can be effective on body shots on relatively small animals is that the projectiles are large relative to the targets they're intended to destroy. A hunting rifle hit to the heart of a deer will make a mess of the heart because of temporary cavity and expansion of the projectile even though the heart is much larger than the bullet. A pellet to the heart of a mouse won't generate any temporary cavity and probably won't expand noticeably, but it will make a mess of the heart because it's about the same size that the heart is.

The damage is done by direct contact only. And that's why once the targets get larger than small birds or very small animals such as mice, brain shots provide the only truly reliable method for achieving clean kills.

plumberroy
September 22, 2013, 09:41 PM
I did miss read on the small birds sorry. when talking squirrel body shots at above 700 fps I should specify I an talking gray squirrels and the small reds fox squirrels are tough, and premium pellets are a must the old beeman silver jet would shoot clean through a gray out of a crosman 2100 which shoots just over 700 fps in the real world. If you don't have a good understanding of anatomy of an animal you really should not be shooting with anything. But we do agree 100% on get close and aim small
I understand you were not supporting hog hunting . But the second video does say this gun could be (lawyers keep them from saying is) a quiet solution to hogs and, that could get some novice seriously hurt or killed because if you hurt a hog they ain't shy about returning the favor
Roy

JohnKSa
September 22, 2013, 10:40 PM
But we do agree 100% on get close and aim small.Right. The main takeaway from this thread should be that while airguns can be effectively used to hunt big game, it is an extremely demanding activity that can not be readily compared to hunting with firearms nor properly assessed in the same terms used to describe firearm hunting.

Louca
September 22, 2013, 11:01 PM
Rabbits are notoriously easy to kill, and they are probably an exception to using non-brain shots with conventional airguns. ... Squirrels, on the other hand, are pretty tough, and those who make a practice of taking non-brain shots on squirrels using airguns will likely lose wounded animals more often than they'd care to.
And it is really really tough to dispatch raccoons. In the same way bow hunting for deer is more challenging than rifle hunting for deer, air gun hunting is even more challenging. All shots have to be extremely well placed. I have found since you can't count on any pellet expansion at all (even with PCP guns), wad-cutter pellets seem more effective than domed or pointed pellets. I guess in one sense, you can think of wad-cutter pellets sort of as pre-expanded hollow points!:) They don't fly as well as round nose pellets at longer distances though.

One thing you did not mention is airgun hunting can make a person a more skilled hunter. Along with all the other things you need to do when hunting, when you have to have extremely well placed shots, you have to really be aware of wind, shooting angle, and pellet trajectory. You've got more to work on, especially when, with a lot of airguns, you only have one shot.

plumberroy
September 23, 2013, 06:15 AM
And it is really really tough to dispatch raccoons
I'm at 4 this year wifes little dog runs them out of the garden up on of the trees in the yard shot in the brain with a RWS 34 in .177 .
Don't skimp on pellets they make a differeance.
Roy

Speedo66
September 23, 2013, 02:44 PM
I wonder how many shots were taken, and hogs wounded, before they killed the hog with one shot in the brain?

I don't think many people (angry farmers excluded) would think that's a viable weapon for safely and humanely dispatching hogs.

JohnKSa
September 23, 2013, 10:29 PM
I wonder how many shots were taken, and hogs wounded, before they killed the hog with one shot in the brain?I can pretty much guarantee you that the people you saw hunting in those videos did none of the things you wonder about.

That's precisely the point of this thread. No one should get the idea that an airgun is interchangeable with a firearm. Humanely hunting even relatively small animals with an airgun requires a completely different level of dedication since the margin for error is so small.

If you aren't 100% sure you can hit the necessary target then you don't shoot. You can't shoot when the angle is ALMOST right or the range is ALMOST close enough or you're NEARLY 100% sure you can make the shot. There's just not going to be enough impact energy to bail you out if you miss the brain by a fraction of an inch.

plumberroy
September 23, 2013, 10:46 PM
I can pretty much guarantee you that the people you saw hunting in those videos did none of the things you wonder about.

Nope they good shots with the experiance to stay cool but, I would bet they are backed up off camera with a fire arm. They know their limits and their guns extremely well as John is rightly saying you need to do to to hunt with an air rifle. Suggesting it is a good way to hunt hog by a manufacturer to me is wreckless

Leadbutt
September 24, 2013, 10:05 AM
Read an article the other day, where the Nevada Fish &Game have approved the use of Air Rifles for certain game, interesting study done on caliber and force needed to do so humanly.

http://www.americanairgunhunter.com/airgun_hunter.html great site to read up on air gun hunting

craftsman
September 27, 2013, 05:37 PM
Big Bore, big game hunting airguns - Quackenbush: made to order - PCP, 2 shots per charge .458 cal. Starts at $600 +S&H

http://www.quackenbushairguns.com/

Pete D.
September 28, 2013, 07:48 AM
Big Bore, big game hunting airguns - Quackenbush: made to order - PCP, 2 shots per charge .458 cal. Starts at $600 +S&H
Yeah. Get in line. Be prepared to wait.
In fact, even getting in line is hard to do for these guns.

Pete

tallpaul
September 28, 2013, 07:52 AM
Big Bore, big game hunting airguns - Quackenbush: made to order - PCP, 2 shots per charge .458 cal. Starts at $600 +S&H


HAHAHAHAHAHAHA... quakenbush big bores are almost impossible to buy direct... he has a list once-twice a year and has a lottery system to get on the list. I have tried for several years as have others with no such luck.
His stuff does become available now n again used STARTING at a grand or so... going up from there.

The 458 LA is more than the 600 you state also... the bare bones .30 exile and .50 bandits are the 600 starters... from him.

There are other quality big bore makers out there and hey are 1200-1400 starting points.

The big bore airgun stuff is really not as practical across the board in my eyes as most think. It is expensive and even a 100.00 muzzle loader out performs them and takes less gizmos etc to run.

Having said that I have a quakenbush Bandit .50 I found used at a deal of a price and it resides here and has for a while. while it is not going anywhere soon it is more of a novelty than a necessity for me.

http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e44/pprudowe/DSCN0514.jpg (http://s36.photobucket.com/user/pprudowe/media/DSCN0514.jpg.html)

Jaymo
September 29, 2013, 05:48 PM
As far as hollowpoint pellets go, the Beeman Crow Magnum pellets work well for me, in .177 and .22 cal, on squirrels.
Then again, at close range, so do Diabolo and domed.
I actually get quicker kills with .177 and .22 airguns on squirrels than I do with .22 LR solids. I don't like .22 LR HPs for squirrels. Too much meat damage.
.22 LR HPs work great for pumphouse shots on rabbits. But, then, so do .22 Diabolos and Crow Mags.

The trouble with those lead free lightweight pellets is that they are hell on the spring and seals of a spring piston magnum air rifle. Lead or lead alloy is much better.
On hogs, I wouldn't even use my Marauder if I had a choice. Head shots with the .45 caliber Sam Yang or .50 caliber Sam Yang would be much better.
I don't have the .50, so I'd go with my .45 Sam Yang 909.
IF, GA would allow such. They won't, so I can't.
I can use it on beavers, armadillos, and those damned coyotes.
I've received several requests from family friends, to eradicate their problem squirrels.
Air guns are a must in their areas. I'll use the Mrod .22. Quiet, powerful, accurate, and NO special springer hold needed.
Being a 10-shot bolt action doesn't hurt, either.

tallpaul
September 29, 2013, 06:49 PM
I love my .22 marauder rifle! It is a critter gitter for sure!

Jaymo
September 29, 2013, 07:16 PM
Yep. Not my choice for hogs, though. Hogs get BIG in GA. I like .44 Mag and .444 Marlin for that.
For small game, I prefer my Marauder. It does the job reliably. What more could I ask?
I'd get a .25 Marauder, if GA would allow me to hunt small game with it. Alas, they won't.

craftsman
October 1, 2013, 03:18 PM
Agreed. I just got my marauder .22 - took some first target shots. Love it. I have the hand pump. About 20 psi per pump. PyramidAir delierd with 500 psi - 100 pumps to get to 2500. 10 shots to get back down to 2000 psi.

craftsman
October 16, 2013, 03:07 PM
So ... all that being said (air guns, especially smaller cal. and lower power) are not the ideal waepon of choice for hunting ... let's remeber back when our ancestors used thrown sticks (spears, atlatl darts, boomerangs) and stones (thrown, shepherd's sling, sling shots) to get meat on the table. Cherokee in NC claim to use a 6 ft. long barrel made from river cane as a blowgun with a 15 in. oak splint dart to take out deer.

I'm a newbie to air guns. Familiar with where shots need to be placed to be effective for a clean humane kill - but fill in the blanks from sitting in my easy chair to bringing home a squirrel, rabbit, duck, goose, grouse, turkey, etc. (No, air gun hunting is verboten in Pennsylvania - so it can't happen here), but what tips can you provide that might benefit others who have not done this yet, where it can be used?

Tracking vs wait for them to come to you .... what to look for to find a spot where the game goes daily .... what to do to track and dispatch in the event of a non fatal shot ... Best knife to carry to field dress ... etc. Thanks.

TimboKhan
October 24, 2013, 11:03 PM
So ... all that being said (air guns, especially smaller cal. and lower power) are not the ideal waepon of choice for hunting ... let's remeber back when our ancestors used thrown sticks (spears, atlatl darts, boomerangs) and stones (thrown, shepherd's sling, sling shots) to get meat on the table

I think this is a fair point to make, except for the fact that in modern times we strive for a quick, ethical kill. Thats not to say that our ancestors didn't learn to kill efficiently, but it is to say that the idea of putting meat on the table when hunting was the only option to do so doesn't always coincide with the ethics of the modern hunter.

Air gun hunting can be done, and it can be done well. As stated, it's not a matter of walking out and shooting something like you would with a .30-06 or something, just as bowhunting with a longbow requires a different (yet similar) skillset than it does with a modern compound. You have to want to do it, basically.

craftsman
October 25, 2013, 05:48 PM
Jim Chapman seems to agree in part ... As a novice, (I have read part 1 - need to do part 2) This is starting to get to what I wsa talking about.

Part 1 - gives you "everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask..." about the guns themselves, accessories, trajectories, some state regulations, aiming, calculations, etc., etc. sprikled with some personal stories.

http://www.airrifle.co.za/library/Practical_Guide%20To%20Airgun%20Hunting_PT_1_Jim%20Chapman.pdf

Part 2 takes it a bit further - (Only scanned - not yet read) - with tips for squiirrel skinning techniques, more personal stories, shot placement, tips for small, medium and big game, etc. Looking forward to reading this.

http://www.airrifle.co.za/library/Practical_Guide%20To%20Airgun%20Hunting_PT_2_Jim%20Chapman.pdf

So ... from you experinced guys to us novices ... more like file #2 - and what do you recommend?

craftsman
November 18, 2013, 05:53 PM
There are more than 20 changes in the 2013-14 New Jersey Game Code, but at the top of the list is that air guns are now legal for hunting rabbits, hare and squirrels.

But there is a caveat, you won’t be able to tote just any air-powered firearm afield this season and some models may even be illegal to possess according to the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and other sources.

According to a list of frequently asked questions regarding air guns, .177 caliber through .22 air guns can be used. BB guns are not allowed. You just need your basic firearms hunting license to use one, no special permit is necessary, but you do need a firearms permit card to buy one in the Garden State.

However, several models of air rifles are advertised as being quieter than others, “whisper” is used in some advertising. These guns have a noise reduction device on the muzzle, a “silencer” if you will. These are currently not legal in New Jersey.

Pete D.
November 19, 2013, 06:35 AM
Video's like this are going to get some body hurt because what they don't show is the guy off camera with a 45-70 or a pump 12 ga loaded with slugs to stop the hog if the pellet doesn't get to the brain and just pi**es the hog off
+1. Good point about the effect of that oft cited video. Impressive and irresponsible at the same time.
Pete

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