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Air Rifle for small game

1293 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Tu_S
I'm looking at spring powered air rifles for emergency small game hunting. They're usually quieter than .22lr and usually cheaper to shoot. I also know that PCP are more powerful, but one needs a fairly serious compressor (or a classroom full of 7th graders) to charge the air tubes. Springers are easier to operate, IMO, in emergency situations. So I'm posting in the caliber zone because I want to know if I should be looking at .22 or .177 caliber. .177 is the most common and it will kill squirrels or rabbits BUT the shot has to be near perfect. .22 pellets are a bit harder to find, but make bigger holes. Anyone here actually do any hunting with either? If it makes any difference, I'm looking at one of the $150 - 250 Gamo guns.
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AGD was my go to when I coached an air rifle team. Pyramyd is also pretty good in their selection. I know what you mean about the springers - they recoil forward, or feel as if they do. I have no real problem with them, but you do have to shoot a little different than conventional guns. Thanks for input.
Actually springers have a double recoil. They first recoil forward, then when the piston hits the stop, it recoils rearwards. This is why they destroy scopes that are not specifically designed for them. A high dollar scope that will last forever on a diet of level 2 45/70 loads will give up the ghost fairly quickly if put on a springer.

Also because of the unique recoil of a springer you should familiarize yourself with the artillery hold. It’s exactly what it sounds like. If you have ever watched a howitzer fire, that’s exactly what a springer does. And it’s how you need to let your springer operate when it is in your hands. A springer locked into a lead sled usually gives poor accuracy.

As to caliber, it really depends on what you are hunting. I have taken many squirrel, rabbit, and starling with the 177. But you are correct, a misplaced shot can leave a critter to run away and become lost. I think you will be happier with something between 20 and 25 caliber. Before the great fire of ‘99, one of my favorite small game rifles was the Benjamin Sheridan Blue Streak in 20 caliber.

Today, I have no pneumatic air rifles, mine are either gas or spring / piston driven. And I stick with 177 or 22 caliber. Simply because of supply. I can get the .20 and .25 pellets, but I have to go to a dedicated sporting goods store to get them. That means at least a 1 1/2 hour round trip drive for me. (Yes, I know I can order on line) I can pick up .177 and .22 pellets at the local Wally World ( 30 minute drive round trip) or the local hardware store that’s literally within walking distance.

As to velocity? I look for at least 1000 fps with the 177 and 800 fps with the 22 if I am going to seriously hunt with them. My favorite today is the RWS 48 .22 caliber which is rated at 900 fps. I have taken everything from squirrels to whistle pigs and raccoons very effectively with the rifle.

FWIW, the RWS 48 is a springer, but it’s not a break barrel, it is a side lever. Much easier to use than a break barrel. I would suggest you look into a side lever rifle.

Finally, the springers are known for dieselling. Be sure to use oil to keep the seals supple, but a dab will do you. Too much and the spring piston guns act just like a cylinder of a Diesel engine. The compressed super-heated air will ignite the excess oil and produce a report not unlike the Winchester Rim-Fire cartridge.

hope this helps @histed
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That's 700 fps for .177 caliber pellets and 500 (?) fps for .22 caliber pellets.
No, those are oft quoted figures, and no doubt many squirrels have wound up in the stew pot because of those figures. Never put my 20 caliber over a chrono, but I suspect it was maybe 600 fps. My point is that when velocities are that low, shots must be almost perfect, and I prefer something larger than .177
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