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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?

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  • Taalar says:

    I agree. I actually have a less expensive one I picked up for 89$ that I have used to kill a rabbit with at about 30' away with open sights. Quiet too.

    • rock says:

      I shot a javelina with one shot to the liver at about 15 yds. It ran off and died about 60 yds. from where I shot it. Not bad! I used a reg. htg. pellet .177 cal.

  • Joe Jones says:

    You're going to fend off four angry thugs with a pellet gun? GOOD LUCK with that. If you want to shoot squirrels and rabbits, this is fine, but if you're going to bet your LIFE on a break action pellet gun or even one of the PCP units, just remember that the guy(s) assaulting with the intent to KILL you may ALSO be on PCP.

    • Marc says:

      Using this as protection against human pests was never mentioned.

    • Gordon says:

      It is obvious that Joe is one of the "movie watchers". Reality= One guy can't fend off 4 even if he has an AK. Ever been in a real situation that you would have literally given $50,000 for a loaded 22LF revolver? "An eyeball hit with a 22 is better than a miss with a 44 magnum."

  • Robert says:

    give me anything Kriss makes. 45 cal semi-auto. Let my opponents use the pellet gun.

  • Richard Sitz says:

    The pellet rifles used for hog hunting is not the kind you get at the local Wally-World. They use .45 cal and larger pellets. They are under very high pressure. Most use a hand pump or compressor to charge it. They are not cheap! You will spend as much or more as you would for a high end sniper rifle set up. But for small game such as rabbits and squirrels and practice the Gamo and similar brands are great

  • joe says:

    In a gun restricted society the best bet is archery equipment - a takedown recurve with about a dozen arrows and some really sharp broadheads - After the arrows do their job you retrieve your arrows and pick up additional weapons from the bad guys.

  • Bill says:

    I think it quite unsporting to use to little gun to do the job. A high speed .177
    pellet at 1000' per second will most likely penetrate or go through a rabbit
    but the small size projectile will more likely cause a serious wound. The rabbit
    will run, the hunter will not find him. The rabbit will die a death of of pain
    and suffering.
    Always use a gun big enough to do the job with quick dispatch be it a rabbit,
    elephant or water buffalo. You owe that to the creature.

  • CAJUNMAN69 says:

    I bought a GAMO Whisper Silent Cat in 22caliber to use for small game if TSHTF. You don't want to to use a firearm to hunt where the noise will draw attention to your location and what you are doing, unless you are willing to share with everypne.

  • Eugenia Taylor says:

    They also make ammo for pellet guns which are said to penetrate thin metal. I have a GAMO co2 pistol that I carried on a friend's ranch basically for small rodents and snakes. I do not know if I had come across a rattlesnake if I could have killed it or not, since I likely would have dropped dead of a heart attack if it was even close to me. I once was driving down the gravel road to the ranch and the road was maybe 8 feet wide, and ran over a rattlesnake stretched from side to side - felt like I'd gone over a massive speed bump, and the damn nasty thing just kept going. Still get duckie bumps just thinking about it.

  • Eugenia Taylor says:

    Forgot to add, I am a 65 year old woman with nerve damage in both arms due to spinal injuries from my one attempt at sky diving around 1970 while in the Army. I had purchased a GAMO air rifle which was one of the break barrel things, I literally do not have the physical strength to cock it.No matter how hard I tried. Ended up giving it away and buying the air pistol. The air rifle I bought had interchangeable barrels for both .177 and .22.

  • Mike says:

    Have a Benjamin nitro piston hunter in .22 caliber. This is an awesome pellet gun. It has tack driving accuracy at 25 yards. The good thing about the nitro piston mechanism is that it is not affected by cold temperatures like the spring operated pellet guns. Has close to the same velocity as a 22 rmfire. Saw a guy on one of those hunting shows drop a coyote with one like it so I believe it would be capable of dropping small game without a problem. In my testing it did damage to page 646 in a Houston area yellow pages. I am planning on using it to declare war on the squirrels that have been eating in my garden and the pecans from my tree.

  • 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".^

    Take a look at our very own web page as well

  • maliha wani says:

    Use of pellet guns is not the solution.According to doctors pellet guns are lethal.These pellet guns are humungous resulted in the injuries in eyes and other parts of the body.Stop using of pellets in the valley.


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