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Are Pellet Guns the Solution?

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by ‘Above Average’ Joe

My father in law sent me a link to a site a while back that showed a man taking down a full grown hog using only a pellet gun.  I thought, “this can’t be real…” how can something that isn’t much bigger than a grain of rice take down a feral hog?

I started doing a little bit of research and turns out it is completely true, when said pellet is traveling at 1250 feet per second (many .22 caliber rim fire rifles only reach around 1100-1200 fps).  I decided to purchase one of these air rifles and give it a test.  If these could work in hunting scenarios, I would imagine they would be a weapon that could be used for self-defense that is currently flying under the Second Amendment attacks.

After a few days of research I had settled on brand.  From all of my research GAMO seems to be the top name in air rifles that are widely available.  After choosing the brand I then needed to choose the caliber of ammo to be used.  After a visit to a sporting goods store I opted for the .177 caliber based mainly on the price and the amount of ammo available.

The .22 caliber would have a slightly higher knockdown power but the .177 had more variations of ammo, higher rounds per box and a cheaper ammunition cost.

With prices ranging from $80- $800 I decided that I wanted to keep my budget at around $200 simply I couldn’t fathom paying much more for an air rifle.

I ended up picking the GAMO Big Cat as it fell right into my $200 budget, and headed out to my grandparents’ home for a little target practice.  After several hours of testing, here is what I have found


The synthetic stock is rubberized and has a good grip, which since this is a break action style rifle it is imperative to not slip when you are loading it.

Cheap ammo (1250 rounds for under $15.00 on amazon)

Large variety of ammo.  I found at least 10 different varieties of .177 caliber ammunition sitting on the shelf.

Low maintenance.  This gun does not actually “fire”, and as such there is little to no residue and not much is required in the way of maintenance.  The only thing you will need to do is add a couple of drops of oil every 100-200 shots fired and the occasional cleaning out of the barrel.

No waiting period.  This is about the best pro I can think of,   you can pick this rifle up off the shelf and buy it without having a 3 day waiting period (Check your local laws to  verify this). There are currently no laws requiring a background check on an air rifle, at least here in Texas.

There are a few cons with this rifle as well:

Accuracy. The first 75-100 shots have very bad accuracy.  This is a normal break in period for just about any air rifle and can be frustrating.

Stiff cocking mechanism.  It takes about 40lbs of pull in order to break over the barrel and load the pellet. Make sure of your hands are out of the way when you cock it. I was unfortunate enough to rack one of my knuckles several weeks ago and it is still sore.

Single Shot. Unless you go with the more expensive PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic), your normal break action gun will only hold one pellet at a time. This can be very taxing on your morale when you are trying to take down a few squirrel and are forced to reload after each shot.

Bottom Line:

An air rifle like the GAMO Big Cat that I purchased is great for practice and small game.

Once the gun has been sighted in you should be able to kill any small game less than 20lbs with no problem. Just bear in mind that most small game has a successful kill spot of around 1” so you will need to practice. If you have the right ammo and a well-placed shot you could potentially take down larger game like a hog .

Even if you do have other rifles for larger game and self-defense, the inexpensive and highly available ammo will make this an extremely useful gun to have on hand in a survival situation.  What do you think about using an air rifle for survival?




  • Wayne says:

    As a kid, I hunted for years with a pellet rifle and was very successful with rabits, squirrels, pigeons, quail and dove. Almost 40 years later and I still enjoy taking my newer .177 out. Mostly quiet, doesn’t disturb farm animals or wildlife. You learn to be a much more silent stalker of your game because you have to get closer to them than with a firearm.

    The new pellets also have much better take down power than the old ones.

  • Gavin Ramirez says:

    just bought the 21 primitive book.can anyone help???

  • John Hammel says:

    Great info!! Corp. of Discovery / Lewis & Clark – 50 Cal. air rifle. Check it out!!

  • Frank says:

    I grew up in southern manitoba ca. We lived on the outskirts of a small town. We were within the city limits where air rifle use was legal but powder arms were not allowed to be used. There was prairie, bush and rivers there. I hunted trapped and fished as did many of my friends. I used a .117 break action pellet gun a lot of the time while trapping or hunting rabbits, squirrels etc. It has many advantages. They are inexpensive to purchase and as you pointed out ammnition is cheap, readily available and in various forms. There used to be 177 darts but I’m not sure if they are still readily available. Target practise is cheap and a real necessity as most are single shot – it is noisy, cumbersome and slow to reload and get in a second shot. You mentioned a 1″ area target and that is similar to the eye of many mammals which may have some implications re its usefulness for protection of oneslf should the need arise. Many were dovetailed for a scope and there is always the possibility of drilling and tapping the receiver for other scope mounts. Mount a sling and its easily carried as many are long and somewhat heavy. The possibilities are endless as it requires good stalking abilities and the concern for a suitable backdrop is not as much of an issue as when using a rimfire or centrefile rifle. There are even some good choices of air powered pistols as well.

  • Peggie Tejada says:

    Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat, while in modern times, its main use is that of a recreational activity. A person who participates in archery is typically known as an “archer” or “bowman”, and one who is fond of or an expert at archery can be referred to as a “toxophilite”.^

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