Air Rifle for small game


March 23, 2005, 10:54 AM
I have been seeking out an air rifle for small game/varmints (sea gulls, crows, et cetera) around where I live. Though I do not have any neighbors close by (nearest is 1/3 of a mile away) and good shooting lanes, the repeated report of gunfire, even from a .22, is something that I am looking to avoid.

With that said, I do not know much about modern air rifles. I am used to the old Red Ryder's and kids pump BB guns. The little bit that I have discovered brings me to the following that I am looking for:

Pneumatic Air, not precharged/CO2 powered.
Price of $200-400.
A kit in this price range, with a functional scope would be best.

If anyone has any feedback on such a setup, as well as additional advice (pellet type/weight selection, certain brands to avoid, et cetera) it would be greatly appreciated.

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Dave Markowitz
March 23, 2005, 10:58 AM
It's illegal to hunt with an air rifle in PA, unfortunately.

El Tejon
March 23, 2005, 11:02 AM
Beeman Crow Magnum in .25. Great on crows. :)

March 23, 2005, 11:56 AM
Well, crap. Thanks for pointing that out Dave. Back to the drawing board.

March 23, 2005, 11:56 AM
I don't know of any place it's legal to shoot seagulls, and if it's not legal to hunt with an air rifle in PA then it's also not legal to shoot crows. You could shoot unprotected species with an airgun, but that list is usually pretty small. Starlings, perhaps some species of blackbird, maybe some types of rodents, etc.

Try posting your question here-->

But let me warn you ahead of time, you won't get many helpful replies if you tell them up front you're going to use the gun for illegal purposes.

March 23, 2005, 02:02 PM
Shooting seagulls is a no-no. They're classified as a migratory bird, IIRC. Some guys my dad knows almost got in big trouble, good thing they were bad shots.

I got my Grandpa a Crossman Quest 1000x for Christmas. Cots about $120 with a scope, and it shoots pretty good.

March 23, 2005, 02:08 PM
It was never my intent to do anything illegal.

When going through my 2005 hunting handbook when I got my license, I saw that it was fairly open on crows. Encountered some articles on hunting with air rifles, it seemed appropriate to pursue, given the number of crows that come and perch about the house.

As for the gulls, had no idea they were not fair game.

Thank you all for the information.

bad LT
March 23, 2005, 02:22 PM
I don't know if it is legal where you live but I have had great success "defending" my mother's tomatos with an RWS model 54 in .177 caliber:

Although any air rifle of at least .177 caliber pushing the pellet > 1000 fps should work very well on rabbits and squirrels. :evil: :evil:

lee n. field
March 23, 2005, 03:22 PM
RWS 34 if airpowered is OK for crows.

Lever action .22, with CB caps otherwise.

W Turner
March 24, 2005, 11:27 AM
This sounds like a prime opportunity to buy a Romanian trainer .22 and use either Remington subsonics, Aquila Super Colibri's or CCI CB's

This would run you about the same as a decent pellet rifle (Romanians sell for less than $100 in my area)

Looking at your price range though, you could probably get a CZ 452 in .22LR and use the same ammo and have a heckuva .22 bolt gun as well.


March 24, 2005, 12:44 PM
Beeman Crow Magnum in .25. Great on crows.

I use the .22 version of the Crow Magnum, works great too.

AND you will get a pretty good workout cocking it -- about a 65 pound cocking force required. ;)

But it is definitely a little higher than your stated price range.

El Tejon
March 24, 2005, 01:48 PM
TheEgg, good point. I did not take into account his price range.

How about the Beeman HW77? It runs about $450. In .22 that should be great on crows.

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
March 24, 2005, 03:08 PM
I've 'hunted' cotton rats in my backyard for years with an RWS 45. It anchors them quite nicely. Keeps my cats from bringing so many of them into the house, too...well, let's suffice it to say they don't bring as many cotton rat halves in.

When I bought the thing back in '82 or so I paid about $120 USD for it, IIRC (mail order from Ron Shirk, I think). Paid about 50 for a scope mount from RWS and maybe $40 for a decent Bushnell air rifle scope at the same time. I don't know what became of the scope and mount as I've moved a couple of times since then, but I'm sure it's around somewhere. Use it for true pests and vermin and the informal target work and it'll force you into being a much better rifleman.


March 24, 2005, 03:28 PM
You're not really hunting, if you're shooting crows in plain view on your property, are you? :)

March 24, 2005, 04:02 PM
Any serious airgunner will tell you to stay away from the .20, .22, or .25 models. They just don't penetrate as well as the .177s do. I know because I had a nice RWS .22 and a nice RWS .177. The .22 was not nearly as good for getting a clean kill on crows/woodchucks/foxes past 50 yards like the .177 was. A .177 pellet at 1000+ fps out of a finely tuned German airgun will do wonders for any pest, including cayotes (if you can get a head shot). I kept track and I got 163 ground squirrels in one summer with my RWS .177, at ranges from 5 feet to 75 yards.

I had an RWS .177, model 36 with a Bushnell 3x-9x airgun scope. I spend about $400 on the package and got 6 years of fun out of it. The gun was still running strong when I traded it for an AK47.

I spent almost every day from ages 14 to 20 (I met the girl who's now my wife at 20, and moved to TN where I can shoot real guns) shooting my RWS and would not be as good a shot with a rifle as I am if I had not had that airgun.

A few things to remember about your airgun....

1. with a spring piston rifle, do NOT rest the gun on anything hard. This causes the barrel to vibrate and your target will look more like a pattern than a grouping.
2. Despite what bad shots say, a good .177 spring piston air rifle WILL give you sub-1" groups out to 50-60 yards, maybe farther. I have killed crows a measured 75 yards away with 1 chest shot.
3. If you are serious about accuracy/power get a .177, velocity is the name of the game when it comes to 17 grain pellets and those .22s don't move as fast.
4. Don't clean your rifle every time you shoot it. Air rifles don't need to have their barrels cleaned because there is no corrosive gun powder to make it rust. The lead actually makes your groups a bit tighter than it would be if you cleaned it every time you shoot it.
5. If you get a nice RWS airgun, smile while you shoot thousands of rounds for around a penny a shot, not even a .22lr is that cheap to shoot
6. Oh yeah do NOT put a regular rifle scope on a spring piston air rifle. I tore apart two nice scopes before I found out that air guns recoil backwards which tears apart regular scopes. Find a $100ish airgun scope and you will be set.

March 24, 2005, 04:33 PM
.357wheelie, some good points -- however, I think that

Any serious airgunner will tell you to stay away from the .20, .22, or .25 models.

is way overstated. There are horses for courses after all. In other words, depends on your application. Check out the link below for a good treatise.

March 24, 2005, 04:56 PM
Any serious airgunner will tell you to stay away from the .20, .22, or .25 models.

That is completely false.

If you're referring solely to spring piston airguns, it may be said that "given the same model of gun, the heavier .20, .22, or .25 projectile will typically move more slowly." You would need to add "if you're talking about spring piston airguns" to the end of your sentence if this was the basis for your above sentence.

However, if you're talking about PCPs...

The upper limit of airgun power exists at just below the speed of sound because anything higher will often cause severe decreases in accuracy.
Thus, a smaller caliber (.177) can only be pushed so fast, while the larger diameter of a .22 or .25 allows much heavier pellets to be pushed much faster.

Compare an 8.8 grain .177 caliber Crow Magnum (hollowpoint) and an 18.2 grain .22 caliber Crow Magnum (hollowpoint) both pushed at 1000 feet per second.
Who freaking cares which one penetrates more?
The .22 has 40 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle compared to only 20 foot pounds for the .177 version.
Given that each pellet is placed in the same location on intended game, the .22 version would mushroom to create a much larger and more lethal wound channel in the quarry.

This isn't a 9mm vs. 45 debate (small and fast vs. large and slow). This is a small and fast vs. large and fast.

You would be utterly and completely wrong if the above consideration of high-powered PCP guns was contemplated before posting your aforementioned sentence.

March 24, 2005, 05:55 PM
I was referring to identical model spring piston airguns in .177 and .22.

And lead pellets do not expand like rifle rounds do, at least not in an animal.

And none of the critters I killed cared whether or not the .177 had less "energy", they did die faster with the .177 rounds than the .22s. The .177s just work better for me and everyone I've shot with who shot a lot and did a lot of pest control. .177 is king for pest control with spring piston air guns.

Bear Gulch
March 24, 2005, 07:13 PM
.22 rifle with cb shorts makes hardly more noise than a air rifle. Good for larger things like skunks and coons as well.

30 cal slob
March 24, 2005, 07:20 PM
I have a German-made Beeman R-9 (pump) that I bought to dispatch some pigeons that were creating a nasty mess on my doorstep. I shoot RWS .177 hollowpoints through it. It wears a cheap rimfire scope.

Inside of 40 yards, I have successfully taken pigeon, crow, squirrel, and even woodchuck (!) with it. If I recall correctly, it was a few hundred dollars brand new. It works great and is a lot of fun (but the clunky recoil takes getting used to) for plinking too.

Great tool to have when a .22 LR is a bit too much.

Sorry to hear you can't hunt with an airgun in PA. That surprises me.

Can't you just call it "pest control?"

The other option is to get a suppressed Ruger 77/22 (AWC offers a very nice model for about a grand not including transfer tax) and swap out the factory sear with an aftermarket one.

March 24, 2005, 11:45 PM
Any serious airgunner will tell you to stay away from the .20, .22, or .25 models. Not true. In fact, most serious airgunners will tell you just the reverse. The general rule of thumb I've seen written and posted in various forms over and over is ".177 for paper & feathers, .22 for fur".And lead pellets do not expand like rifle rounds do, at least not in an animalAlso not true. There are several expanding pellets available. The best is the Bisley Pest Control, sold in the U.S. as the Crow Magnum. I can tell you from experience that a Crow Magnum pellet from a .20 caliber R1 will do a very effective job on crows..177 is king for pest control with spring piston air guns.I know people who use the .177 for pest control and do quite well. However, I think that saying it's the "king for pest control with spring piston airguns" is quite a dramatic overstatement.

These days it's possible to get bigger caliber springers that will shoot as fast as a .177. Even an R1 which is almost considered outdated will get you over 850fps in .20 caliber and 750+fps in .22. The new RWS 350Magnum gets over 1000fps even in .22, and the Beeman Kodiak/Webley Patriot will kick out a .25 caliber pellet at around 750fps. Given that the BC of the larger caliber pellets is often better than the .177 offerings, it follows that when driven at the same velocities they'll penetrate better.

March 25, 2005, 10:56 AM
Given that the BC of the larger caliber pellets is often better than the .177 offerings, it follows that when driven at the same velocities they'll penetrate better

I thought penetration was more often associated with sectional density. :confused:

March 25, 2005, 09:32 PM
BC and sectional density can be considered the same thing for practical purposes.

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