Squirrel hunting is ideal for hard-hitting air rifles. The nearly non-existent report allows you and a friend to work on a tree plot together without waking up every bushytail. But you shouldn’t just go out into the woods with your old Red Ryder. To neatly take squirrels, you’ll need an airgun with at least 10 foot-pounds of energy, which eliminates many of the airguns available at your local big-box store. Here’s a selection of the greatest, ranging in price from reasonable to aspirational. As an added benefit, these make excellent plinkers, so you’ll want to practice whenever you get the chance—without bothering your neighbors.
Best Air Rifles For Hunting Squirrels: Pump Guns
You most likely grew up with a pump-action BB gun. Fill a BB with ammo, pump the fore-end 10 times, then aim for the cans you’ve put up downrange. Benjamin has an adult version of the pump, complete with enough oomph to dispatch squirrels in your favorite hole.
The is the. The 22 caliber Variable Pump appears to be an upgraded version of Benjamin’s fan favorite Silver Streak, which has been in production for nearly as long as I have been alive. The new model replaces the wood furniture with a synthetic Monte Carlo stock and coats the metal in a matte black finish, but the rifled brass barrel, single-stage trigger, bolt action, and manual safety are all retained.
The power output is controlled by how many times you pump it, as the name implies: Three pumps deliver up to 500 feet per second; six pumps, 650 feet per second; and a maximum of ten pumps, 800 feet per second. The latter generates 15 foot-pounds of energy, which will consistently drop squirrels at the range you can connect with them with the pin-front and adjustable rear sight. There’s also a.177 caliber variant, but it only has 11 foot-pounds of energy, which is probably the minimal minimum for ethical hunting.
CO2-Powered Guns Are The Best Air Rifles For Hunting Squirrels
Air Gun Maniac, the CO2-powered pellet pistol is another kid’s favorite. These pistols have quick action since the 12-gram CO2 cylinder eliminates the need to pump or cock the rifle between shots. Although it makes plinking more enjoyable, most CO2 weapons lack the energy required to ethically take game.
The Hammerli 850 AirMagnum, an 8-shot repeater that propels, is an exception to the rule. Bushytails can handle 22-caliber pellets at 760 fps with around 13 foot-pounds of energy. The AirMagnum, unlike your childhood CO2 pistols, uses a large 88-gram cartridge that lasts roughly 225 shots before needing to be changed. Pellets are stored in a cylindrical magazine that may be readily replaced.
The 850 AirMagnum has fiber-optic sights that are ideal for squirrel hunting, as well as a conventional 11mm dovetail rail on the receiver for scope mounting.
Best Air Rifles For Squirrel Hunting: Break Barrel Machine Guns
The simplicity of a break-barrel airgun is hard to top. To cock the air gun, simply fold it in half, insert a pellet, and close it again. Spring propulsion was employed in the first generation of break barrels. That works, but as the metal in the spring wears out, the power decreases.
The modern equivalent employs a piston carrying an inert gas, such as nitrogen, that stores energy when compressed and releases it when the trigger is pulled, allowing for speeds of up to 1,500 feet per second. The gas piston has a substantially longer service life and can be safely compressed for lengthy periods of time. Cocking is also smoother, with none of the rough places that a spring usually has.
The Gamo Wildcat Whisper air rifle puts gas piston technology in your hands at a very low cost. It can shoot a.22 caliber pellet at 975 fps or a.177 caliber pellet at 1,350 fps. For additional knockdown force, choose the larger pellet. The package also includes a usable 4x32mm scope, so you can go hunting right away after a fast sight-in session.