HUNTING WITH AIRGUNS

by Jim House

Chapter 9: Match the gun to the game

A .177 caliber air rifle in the hands of a skilled, patient hunter is an effective tool for harvesting small game and eliminating pests. However, a powerful .22 or .25 in those same hands is an even more effective tool and is also an appropriate one for taking larger species. A .177 caliber pellet weighing approximately 8 grains is no match for one of .25 caliber weighing about 25 grains. The higher velocity of the .177 may give flatter trajectory, but it does not make up for the difference in pellet weight and diameter. Some argue that the flatter trajectory of the .177 makes “hits” easier. However, the object is not to “hit” game, it is to dispatch it quickly and humanely. Game must be taken ethically, and powerful air rifles of larger caliber are simply more appropriate for that use. A .177 caliber can be used for hunting, but it should be used at shorter range and on smaller species than a .22 or .25 might be. Such species as squirrels are very tough and they will come out of the tree much quicker when hit with a .22 or .25 caliber pellet unless they are hit exactly right with a .177 pellet. On safari, Robert Ruark used the phrase which became the title of his famous book, Use Enough Gun which I would paraphrase as use enough airgun.

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