A rifle to hunt squirrels and rabbits

by B.B. Pelletier

I got a good question to the August 19 post, Best pellet of all?

OK, great scoop on the pellets. What I need is some advice on the best rifle for hunting. I am looking for a rifle to hunt squirrels, rabbits etc and am having a hard time deciding between a .177 or .22 350 or GAMO 1250. I am also looking at the RWS Mendoza RM 2003 combo (interchangeable barrels .22 and .177) , but can’t find any info on this rifle. Any recommendations?

To answer this, I’m assuming the reader only wants a spring rifle of the approximate price of the Gamo 1250 or the Diana RWS 350 Magnum.

Picking the right caliber
I recommend only .22 caliber for hunting. I have found, along with many other hunters, that .177 pellets often pass through small game without immediate effects. Then, you have an animal seriously injured and possibly dying a painful, protracted death. I wouldn’t do that to a rat. A .22 pellet tends to stay inside the animal, plus the punch it delivers really moves the critter when it hits.

I’m not saying you can’t hunt with a .177. Many people do very well with that caliber, but their shot placement has to be near-perfect. I’m just saying that if you don’t already own the gun, go for the .22.

And the right pellet(s)
Since we’re considering only spring rifles, pellet selection is easy. If you can limit your shots to 30 yards or less, try the Beeman Crow Magnum and see if it is accurate enough in the gun you buy. If you can hand-hold five shots inside a one-inch circle at that range, I’d say the pellet is okay. If the Crow Magnum isn’t the one, try the RWS Super-H-Point.

Now, before I get messages asking why I didn’t include the JSB Predator in the list, I have tested these pellets and found them not to be accurate enough at distance. Remember, I’m talking 30 yards, here! If you have a different experience, go ahead and use them. I know they work really well when they hit! I think most JSB pellets are tops, but not this one.

For longer ranges – actually, for ALL ranges – domed pellets are my preferred choice. My number one choice is the JSB Exact domed pellet. It tends to be the most accurate pellet in many air rifles. A second choice is the Beeman Kodiak (H&N Baracuda). Sometimes this will be the most accurate, and both of these powerful rifles can handle this pellet’s extra weight. Finally, don’t overlook Crosman Premiers. Sometimes they will outshoot everything in a particular airgun.

Lastly, picking the right rifle!
The Gamo 1250 is Gamo’s finest air rifle in my opinion. It has the best finish, a very smooth firing behavior and is reasonably easy to cock for the power. You would be very happy with this rifle, I’m sure. I’ve also tested the Diana RWS 350 Magnum and it to be more accurate. Maybe it was just me, and maybe it was the particular rifles I tested, but the results were very clearly in favor of the 350.

Before I close…have you given any thought to the Diana RWS 48 or the fancier model 52? These guns are easier to cock than the 350 and have almost as much power. I find them easier to shoot accurately, and either one would be my top choice of all the rifles we have mentioned.

Keep in mind that this posting has a lot of my opinion in it. Nothing I’ve said is absolute; it’s just what I think. I’d like to hear what you readers think, and how you would advise the person who posted today’s question.

54 Responses to “A rifle to hunt squirrels and rabbits”

  • Denny. Says:

    I’ve always used pump up guns in .20 or .22 caliber. I’m a very patient man and most of my squirrels are killed well within 10 yards. However, i’ve been looking at the RWS 48 and like what i see. After all, one pump is better that 8.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Denny,

    Well, if you are coming over to spring guns, the RWS 48 is a great place to start. The cocking effort is about 33 lbs. which is about as heavy as one of the final pumps of a multi-pump, but as you say, there is only one!

    Aslo, the accuracy is an order of magnitude better than what you can get from a multi-pump. On the downside, though, you will have to learn the technique of shooting a spring gun.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    HI
    BB im thinking about the Air Force TalonSS.
    I think the 22 caliber for all small game up to racoon size?
    What are your thoughts BB?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    The Talon SS is ideal for your purpose. It is very powerful and accurate, yet not as noisy as most PCPs of similar power.

    Did you read my posting on August 30 about the SS?

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Yes that’s why im looking at the TalonSS.
    Also look at the TalonSS For indoor use too.
    And shoot with my girlfriend’s 14 year old son.

  • airgundoc Says:

    As long as you’re talking about the Talon SS, what pellet(s) would you recommend for that gun particularly for small game hunting?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    The SS is great for both indoors and out! Run it around 2 to 4 indoors (wherever you can hear that it is on low power) and on 7 to 10 outdoors.

    And the best pellet in .22 is the JSB Exact domed pellet. If the game is very large, like a woodchuck, maybe try a Beeman Kodiak.

    B.B.

  • airgundoc Says:

    Any virtue in using Login Penetrators at 20gr. or Eun Jin?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    I don’t have any experience with Logun Penetrators, but I hear lots of good reports about them. I’d give them a try.

    I think the Eun Jins are a little too heavy for either of the spring rifles in the post. I’d hold off until I had about 30 foot-pounjds to try them.

    B.B.

  • JPL Says:

    B.B.

    Appreciate the response. You are right, I am looking at spring guns in the 1250 – 350 price range. I started researching different spring guns to ensure that I make the right choice (don’t personally know too many air rifle shooters). Having said that I have not had any hands on time with a fixed barrel side cocking lever. If the 48 and 52 are as good as you say I’ll have one in the mail this weekend (.22cal).
    Do you know anything about the RWS Mendoza 2003 with interchangeable barrels, Seems as if this offers a versatile way to address the advantages of .177 and .22 cal with one gun. Having said that it also sounds too good to be true.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    JPL,

    No, I am not familiar with the RWS Mendoza 2003. I do know that Mendoza is a Mexican airgun maker of low to medium-priced airguns. Crosman carries one or two models, but I have no experience with them.

    My instinct tells me that the quality of the RWS exceeds that of the Mendoza. I do think an RWS sidelever is a wonderful spring rifle. Read the March 17 post, “A serious springer for serious airgunning.

    Good luck with your choice and please tell us how things turn out.

    B.B.

  • springerlover Says:

    I’d like to put my two cents in. I have a Gamo 890S (purchased from Pyramyd of course) that has given me great service in the .22 cal. It is a great hunter and plinker. I mainly use it to remove unwanted birds from my purple martin house. The house is about 25 yards from my deck and sits on a 20 foot pole. It took my some time to find the right pellet, but once I applied B.B.’s advice on trigger squeeze and how to hold the springer, I can pick off the unwanted sparrows and starlings with almost surgical percision. I found the Gamo Magnum and the JSB exact to work very well. B.B. explained how to split pellets with a K-Bar knife at 10 yards, and it really can be done. The Gamo 890 fires a powerfull shot that literally blows the bird off it’s perch. Most of the time, the pellet hits so hard the bird just drops to the ground. If it does fly off, it doesn’t go very far at all. My favorite shot is when a bird pokes it head out the hole (1 1/4″) for a look see. Quite the surprize for the bird when I squeeze the trigger. I have yet to miss the entrance and damage the house. The advice B.B. gives about hold, squeeze and non-level shooting is very valuable. Finally you can’t beat the value of this combo. The only thing I would suggest is a one peice mount or a second stop behind the front mount. However Gamo has cut their dovetail different so not all 11mm mounts and rings work. Ask B.B. for advice here. Also, this was my first air rifle and I’m hooked.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    That’s a great answer, because you give specifics. As for the Gamo 890, I don’t have enough personal experience with one to comment. I know it’s the second-largest gun Gamo makes, just under the 1250.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    why not 25 caliber?

  • D SMEDLEY Says:

    I’VE SHOT ALOT OF GROUND SQUIRRELS AND USUALLY USE A 22/250 OR 25/06. I,VE ALSO SHOT A FEW WITH .22 RIMFIRES AND HAVE FOUND THAT ALOT OF THESE ESCAPE TO THEIR HOLE UNLES HIT WITH SOLID LUNG-HEART, OR HEAD SHOTS. I’VE NEVER SHOT A SQUIRREL WITH A PELLET GUN BUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE TUFFNESS OF THESE LITTLE ANIMALS INDICATES THAT A .25 CAL. MIGHT BE THE BEST BET. I THINK THE WEBLY TOMAHAWK WOULD BE A NICE CHOICE, ITS SOMEWHAT COMPACT AND LIGHT. THE PATRIOT WOULD SUPPLY EVEN MORE PUNCH AND BOTH COME IN .25. I OWN 2 GAMO AND 2 RWS SPRING RIFLES. MY OPINION IS THAT THE RWS IS SUPERIOR IN ALL AREAS TO GAMO.
    THE RWS 350 IS A VERY LONG GUN BUT IT DOES HAVE LOTS OF POWER. MINE WAS HARD TO COCK, BUT AFTER 500 SHOTS HAS BECOME EASY. ALSO I NOTICED ACCRUACY HAS REALY COME ABOUT AFTER 2000 SHOTS. I REALY LIKE SPRING AIR GUNS BUT THEY DO REQUIRE MORE TECHNIQUE TO GET THEM TO SHOOT CONSISTENT AND ACCURATE.
    P.S. PYRAMYD IS THE BEST FOR THIS HOBBY AND SPORT.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi, I’ve really enjoyed this thread, some very good information. I haven’t used an airgun since I was a boy and used to hunt grouse with my webley vulcan. I’m looking at airguns now to see if there are any lightweight ones suitable for grouse (to take long-distance backpacking). Any thoughts on the best gun for that, (where lightweight is the most important thing?)

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    To the reader who asked “Why not .25 caliber.” I say – because the two rifles listed in the post were both not available in that caliber. The RWS Diana 52 is available in .25, but in .22 it produces the same energy, so I recommended that.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    If weight and portability are most important, I recommend the Talon from AirForce. It weghs 5.25 lbs and breaks down to a very small package, yet it has as much power as a Webley Patriot and will group under an inch at 50 yards.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Very interested in this disccusion as I need to eliminate some pest rodents and birds. Can someone recommend an inexpensive rifle for the job? I was looking at the Daisy 22 SG. Are there any other rifles I should consider?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    The Daisy 22SG is a great choice for an economical pest-killer. In .22 it packs the punch you need if the range is kept to around 25-30 yards or less.

    Not only is this the best buy I see at Pyramyd, I think it’s the best buy anywhere. Guns do come and go, but at present, this would be my pick.

    In fact, I’ll do a quick write-up on the 22SG tomorrow

  • jordan trombley Says:

    i have a gamo gun that gose 1000 fps and jsb predator pellets that are .177 cal. i am hunting rabbits i have not had a shot at one yet but i wont to no if it will be able to kill it and were should i shoot it.

  • jordan trombley Says:

    when i hunt rabbits should i hide in a tree and wait to get a shot or be on the ground and when i see one try to track one

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    jordan,

    Always shoot for the brain. You might want to do some internet research on the physiology of the animals you intend shooting, so you’ll know where the brain is located. It’s only a fraction the size of the entire head.

    B.B.

  • jordan trombley Says:

    if my gun is only 1000 fps and i have jbs predator pellets

  • Anonymous Says:

    What about a 22 rifle for hunting squirrels and rabbits?
    Katherine
    (age 11)

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Katherine,

    I think you are referring to a .22 rimfire firearm, rather than a .22 pellet rifle. Am I correct?

    If so, the .22 rimfire is perhaps the best-known of all cartridges for hunting squirrels and rabbits. But this blog is about airguns, so I don’t talk about firearms very much.

    Now, there are plenty of .22-caliber pellet rifles that are also fine for squirrels and rabbits. As long as the muzzle velocity is around 550 feet per second, a .22 rifle will be very effective on these animals.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    How about a recommendation for the novice user looking to shoot squirrels, chase seagulls and geese from a dock on a waterfront property.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    squirrels, seagulls and geese,

    Okay! I’ll do it this coming week.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    can a 840b grizzly kill a rabbit?

  • Anonymous Says:

    can it

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    B.B. is out of town. When he returns later this week, he’ll answer your questions if no one else has already done so.

    B.B.’s assistant

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    840 Grizzly,

    This would be the wrong gun to shoot anything but targets. The power is too low for any kind of hunting or pest elimination.

    B.B.

  • Bird Hunter Says:

    OK i have a PowerLine 1000Fps .177 Cal its a good gun……but i like to hunt bird and i feel it is to little cal.So i am thinking of buying a cheap .22 cal is a .22SG a good accurate hunting gun?

    PS.
    PLZ reply

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Bird Hunter,

    Yes, the Daisy 22SG is an accurate rifle. It will be shorter range than you are used to, however. Limit your shots to 30 yards, or so.

    You might want to consider a Benjamin 392, which is more powerful.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    i just got a rsw modle 2003 combo.this is the worst pellet rifle i have ever had.i had it for 2weeks.i have tried 3 diffrent scopes.2 scope mounts.4 types of pellets and at 30yards it has a 8 to 10 inch grouping.the pellets are all between 14 and 15 grams . i can not figure what is going on with it .should i send it back or try a heavyer 22 cal ?the 177 barrle shoot exactly identical

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    RWS 2003,

    What you have is a Mexican Mendoza air rifle. RWS is an importer who imports from Germany (Diana), Spain (Norika?) Mexico and China. The airguns they sell rank accordingly.

    B.B.

  • bob Says:

    Since the Mendoza RM-2003 has gotten a pass here, is there another springer with easily interchangeable calibers that you could reccommend in the same price range? I like the idea of one gun to do the targets in the backyard but ALSO swithch over to .22 in order to take the occassional rabbit or squirel.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    bob,

    There are VERY few airguns with interchangable barrels. The AirForce guns all have them, but they are precharged.

    If we have $245 to play with, I suggest a Gamo CF-X in .177. It’s powerful, accurate and can take to occasional squirrel or rabbit with a good shot.

    B.B.

  • dbarr Says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Jeff in Indy Says:

    I was wondering if someone could help me. I recently bought my son a Daisy Grizzly 840B and he put a pellet where the BB’s load. It got jammed and I took the gun apart, but now can’t get it together. Does anyone know where I can get directions or a diagram to help me.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Jeff,

    Call Daisy customer service.

    daisy.com

    B.B.

  • MossyOak squirrel hunter Says:

    Ihve a question. I have a .177 and use a pellet called Raptor by Gamo. This pellet increases your gun’s velocity by 25%. Is this a good pellet to hunt squirrel with?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    MossyOak,

    Not really. The Raptor doesn’t penetrate as well as a lead pellet and it doesn’t deform. Also, it’s pretty inaccurate.

    B.B.

  • tarsch@hotmail.com Says:

    Beeman’s site has a page that helps you in selecting pellet per game http://www.beeman.com/calselect.htm
    Add to this Pyramydair’s muzzle energy calculator page,
    http://www.pyramydair.com/site/articles/formulas/
    and short of actual experience and testing yourself, you might be a step closer to bagging dinner.

  • john in san antonio Says:

    We have some squirrels that have started pulling pieces of wood off our deck. I want to eliminate them, and was considering the purchase of an air gun. I found the Accu Air Force 1100 and the Crosman Quest 1000X locally. I’m not studied up on air gun stuff, but I want something reasonably accurate for as little money as possible. My questions:

    1) Of these two rifles, which would be the best buy? They’re both the same price.

    2) Which pellet would be the best for the rifle?

    3) If I get the Accu Air, what scope should I get? The Crosman comes with a scope, but I suspect that scope isn’t what you would call a premium item.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    John,

    The Accu Air Force is a cheap Turkish-made spring rifle. I cannot recommend this rifle for anything.

    The Crosman Quest is Chinese-made and a higher-quality airgun. You would be better of with that one.

    As far as accuracy goes, you have selected a breakbarrel spring air rifle – the most difficult rifle to shoot accurately. It requires a special hold to deliver all it is capable of, which for the Quest would be a 0.75-inch group at 20 yards. Use JSB Exact pellets.

    B.B.

  • john from san antonio Says:

    A special hold?

    Can you describe it?

    I’ll check out the Quest today on the way home.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    John,

    It’s called the artillery hold. Read about it here:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2007/07/artillery-hold.html

    B.B.

  • john from san antonio Says:

    Bought the Quest and some Crosman hollow-points on the way home from work. I had opened the box, and was fiddling with the site when my wife called out that the varmint was jumping from tree to tree (on his way home from work).

    I removed the trigger guard, gave the weapon a pump, and loaded a pellet. Next, I ran rear sight almost all the way down (the shot was about 15 yards).

    One shot, one kill. :)

    I hope I’m done – I don’t feel real good about killing an animal I’m not intending to eat.

    Thanks for the advice B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I own the RWS Diana model 34 177 cal.This gun is so accurate good shot placement is easy and i’ve tried it with all the pellets
    Manufactures produce. In otherwards
    Its very precise I consistently
    shoot pellet hole into pellet
    hole.I shot a fly at 75 yards
    my brother in law didn’t believe me
    until I showed him the blood.
    As far as squirrels go they are large targets. Pellet guns are by far the best practice. We shoot at very small targets. Like flys.

  • Anonymous Says:

    yeah…okay then…I shoot fleas with a daisy cub that I dug out of a lake bed. a little WD-40 and she was good as new. Sometimes I shoot the shoes off of lice. So I guess my shooting(or story)is better than yours. Pfffff!

  • Anonymous Says:

    my recomendation is save up for the beeman R1 in .20 cal.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi BB,
    I've seen off-hand mentions of air guns with interchangeable barrels. Beeman is selling one at a major retailer with .177 and .22 barrels included. I know some air guns have been sold that could accept either caliber, but is this the first case where a gun was sold with two barrels (other than the Lewis & Clark gun :).
    Dennis in Indy

  • Chris Says:

    .22 Dragon, RWS Superdome/hollowpoints
    £200 with scope, great rifle ..
    Anything within 35 yards, easy to hit/kill. 50 yards pushing it, but possible with pointed pellet

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