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Pellet Gun Hunting 101

One of the reasons I fell in love with pellet guns is because of how many different uses they have. Pellet guns can be used for all types of activities from plinking, to competition shooting, to hunting. Pellet gun hunting in particular is an interesting sport when it comes to using a pellet gun because there is so much information you need to take into account before you start pointing your pellet gun at ANY animal.

Shooting Humanely

Nothing gets me more angry than seeing an animal get shot with a pellet gun which is inappropriate for hunting. In the majority of cases, pellet guns really shouldn’t be used beyond simple pest control (Birds, iguanas, marmets, ETC) and at times some very small game. And even in the case of pest control and small game, you want to be using an air rifle which has enough power to provide a one shot kill.

How Much Power Do I Need?

When determining how much power you need to hunt with your pellet gun, you want to look beyond the statistic of FPS (Feet Per Second). Essentially, it really doesn’t matter how fast the pellet is travelling if the pellet been fired is light it can’t inflict damage. Instead, you want to consider the FPE (Foot lbs. Of Energy) which actually will change based on how far away you are from your target. The FPE however is calculated by the caliber of air rifle and the velocity of the pellet.

.177 Caliber pellet guns are never recommended for hunting as the pellets used are just too light. Instead, look for .22 caliber pellet guns and even better, .25 caliber pellet guns as the pellets fired are much heavier and if shot with a good amount of velocity, will have enough FPE to take down your intended target.

What Targets Are Appropriate?

Small Game

Medium Game

Large Game

Rat

Woodchuck

Turkey

Pigeon

Prairie Dog

Coyote

Squirrel

Bobcat

Hog

Crow

Raccoon

Rabbit

Fox

Small Game are appropriate targets for pretty much all .22 and .25 caliber air rifles. In some cases, depending on the air rifle, you can even hunt small game with .177 caliber air rifles but you need to make sure it provides enough velocity.

Example of a .177 Caliber Air Rifle appropriate for Small Game

Benjamin Trail NP All Weather Air Rifle

With an FPS of 1200 and en FPE of 25.2, I would have a tough time telling you it’s not appropriate to hunt with the Benjamin Trail .177 caliber. This is one of the few .177 caliber air rifles I really recommend using for hunting small game and to be honest, it’s even appropriate for some medium sized game as well. Plus, it also makes for a great plinking and range rifle!

With its durable all-weather synthetic stock, it will also last you thousands of shots so it’s definitely worth the investment. Consider giving yourself about 100 or 200 hundred shots to break this air rifle in before you start shooting as hitting your target is just as important as power.

Medium and Large Sized Game

When hunting larger targets, you’ll want to consider higher caliber air rifles as they will provide the power to take down your intended targets. Generally this includes pellet guns in .22 and .25+ caliber range. Their pellets are much heavier than .177 caliber air rifles and will be able to do enough damage to provide an instantaneous kill.

An Example of a Pellet Gun Suitable for Medium Sized Game

Benjamin Discovery PCP .22 Air Rifle

One of my favorite .22 caliber pellet guns available, the Discovery will have no problem taking down small and medium sized game any day of the week. With a velocity of 850 FPS and and FPE of 22.9, you definitely have the power you just need the distance. From 25 yards and in, you’ll be able to provide enough force to take down your targets effectively.

Dave

Hi! I'm Dave - an air rifle enthusiast and a bit of a geek to be honest. When I'm not out at the range or on a hunting trip, I enjoy writing about different air rifle products and accessories.