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Bug bustin’!

By B.B. Pelletier

First of all, today marks the anniversary of the day Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. There!

What is a bug buster?
A bug buster is a pellet rifle or pistol used to kill insects at close ranges. It’s a lot of fun and very few people mind, as long as you pick the insects carefully.

You don’t need a lot of power
Bug bustin’ doesn’t require magnum power. All it takes is pinpoint accuracy at close range. I shot an old Diana model 27 breakbarrel for many years, and I still love the way that gun shoots. It’s sighted-in for carpenter bees at 20 feet, so let me tell you the story.

Carpenter bees are like bumble bees on steroids – big & aggressive!
They look like bumblebees, except larger and more aggressive – and very loud! If you walk into an area where they are, they will fly up into your face and dive-bomb you. Their bodies are half furry and half beetle-like. Many of them have white dots on their faces, but it’s their aggressive behavior that identifies them.

Carpenter bees love to hover and turn in all directions to see where the next threat is coming from. I used to stand about 20 feet away and draw a bead on them as they hovered, then blow them away. Sometimes they flew far, but usually the pellet shot through the body, and they fell where they’d been hovering.

I shot them with my Blue Streak!
Before switching to the Diana (because it was faster to load), I used my Blue Streak, also sighted-in for 20 feet. Another type of bug I blasted was a type of weird wasp called a cicada killer. They’re about three inches long and dominate a particular spot. In my case, it was the front of my house! People were afraid to come to the door, so I would open the door and pick off the bugs wherever they had staked out territory. I didn’t know they were killing cicadas when I first started shooting them; but after I found out that was their mission in life, I stopped shooting them because they were getting rid of a worse pest!

Here are some good bug bustin’ guns
Have fun with this. Use something like Daisy’s 177X or a Crosman 1077. Bug bustin’ is perfect for these guns, and they’ll surprise you with their accuracy at close range. If you have a Benjamin or a Gamo, they’ll work, too. Just be sure that what you pick has enough power to do the job. I would say at least 500 f.p.s. in .177 and 450 in .22 is the minimum.

What’s the best ammo for bug bustin’?
Probably anything will work, but I like wadcutters for this sport. RWS Hobbys are a good choice, as is any premium target wadcutter you can find.

There’s ONLY ONE scope for bug bustin’!
If you use a scope for this, the ONLY one to have is the Bug Buster from Leapers. It focuses as close as nine feet! Read about it and see for yourself.

If you can shoot outside, try bug bustin’ and tell me what you think. Just remember not to go after a nest of hornets! They have short tempers and good eyesight.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

31 thoughts on “Bug bustin’!”

  1. Bug busting. Now there’s a sport even armchair hunters can enjoy. Some time ago, when i lived in my own house, i discovered bug hunting. I did mine by sitting in the shade against a building and picking off flies that landed on the side of a garbage can about 12 feet away. My gun was an old Crossman pump .22 pistol and wadcutters. One or two pumps was enough. That old Crossman accounted for a good share of rabbits and chipmonks also.

  2. Denny,

    That’s the spirit!

    Other guy – which Gamo and which Benjamin? It doesn’t matter that much. Read Denny’s comment and you’ll see what I mean..

    You want a gun that will be easy to cock/pump and easy to shoot. Bug bustin’ is a relaxed sport.


  3. Hello

    I think this is going in line with what you have been saying

    I just put a bug buster scope on my 1377 with carbine stock. To shoot at 25 to 30 feet I am doing 8 pumps. When I shoot at 10 feet I only do two pumps. by varying the power I can shoot closer or farther.

    So the only adjusting i do with the bug buster is the parallax and just adjust the power.

    seems to work great. Your information is great at understanding airguns.

  4. I have a Dian 34 (RWS). I put a variable scope on it. at 50 feet my groups are within in a 4″ circle. With my other guns I have a group about the size of a quarter. Should I suspect the scope or the air gun?

  5. Zonker,

    Maybe neither. Are any of your other airguns springers, too? What other models do you have?

    Maybe we can try an experiment with your 34 that will shrink that group size down to where it should be. At 50 feet, an RWS 34 should shoot five shots into a group that can be entirely covered by a quarter.

    Talk to me and I’ll see if I can help you. If so, I get a blog out of it.


  6. I’ve got rats in my barn and I set up a blind 8′ off the ground and the target area illuminated with infrared lights. It is difficult to see my crosshairs through my gamo varmit hunter scope even with this red light especially against a dark background. I’ve read reports that the bug buster may has some flairing of the illuminated reticle. Has this been your experience too? And how about the image clairity? Is it user friendly? Sounds like the parralax adjustment might be kind of a pain. Is that correct. Would I have any regrets using this scope in this application?

  7. BjR,

    I don’t know where you heard all that about the Bug Buster, but all of it is untrue.

    There is minimal flaring because you can control the light intensity. And you have either red or green light, so you can flip to the one that works best.

    Clarity is superb with all Leapers scopes. That’s why they are so popular.

    The parallax adjustment could not be easier. just rotate until the target image becomes sharp and shoot. No problem.


  8. Joe,

    What you need is a base to accept scope rings that have 11 mm dovetails. Crosman B272 intermounts are designed for this, but some readers have comp;lained that they slip in use.

    Another possibility is to have two holes tapped in your receiver to accept the B-Square 17010 mount base for the Sheridan Blue Streak.

    I would call Pyramyd AIR and exploe these optrions and possibly others with them. They do this kind of work all the time and can tell you what is possible.


  9. Joe,

    Because the intermount is located on the barrel, there is nothing to drill into for the scope stop. Also, when I say slip, I don’t mean from recoil. The intermount clamps onto the barrel and people say it slips sideways – as in twists on the barrel.


  10. i was just reading back at old interesting topics of discussion and i noticed, you recommend at least 500 fps in .177 to kill a bug. if you ask me, that’s way excessive. 500 fps with a pellet can easily be used to dispatch mice. i actually went back and read the posts on the marksman 2004 and you admitted that that, which fires 410 is ok for mice and marginal for pigeon hunting, but for a puney bug 500 fps is needed. i don’t know, i mean if i hunted i want to ensure humane kills. i never thought of killing a bug in a humane way though. i mean an airsoft gun with 200 fps could probably do it. thats just my 2 cents for killing a bee. of course though, im an amateur and would like your input.

    ps. for some reason i feel that when 500 fps is recommended it makes airguns appear less powerful. i mean, 500 fps is FAST, and the fact that it is recommended to kill a bug is like no matter what type of airgun or velocity your shooting, their child toys.

  11. Red Ryder i killed this ENOROMOUS green fly mustve been 2 inches long with a head shot, i mounted that in my cabins game room (i had a spare plack and needle:) )

  12. I generally feel that shooting things to eat is ok…isn’t bug busting more on the side of ecological vandalism that normally gets airgunners a bad name. Also shooting bugs out of the air would make it more difficult to ensure an appropriate backstop – I suppose using a lower powered gun makes this less of a risk.

    I dont wish to appear a [sic] buzzkiller, but aren’t there enough edible targets to shoot at?

    Ed – UK

  13. Ed,

    So, what’s stopping you from eating the bugs you take out with your airgun?
    Seriously, you must be trolling with your post, because if you are not, you REALLY need to get your head examined.


  14. BB, I am so glad to have found this blog! I have been toying with the idea of developing and marketing a “bug-gun” for awhile. I love the concept! I bought the Leaper scope you mentioned, now I need a gun. I looked at the ones you listed but don’t really want a CO2 powered option. I also am very curious about ammo. One of the things I like about the idea is being able to shoot horseflies inside my garage and I would be interested in knowing if there’s a plastic pellet alternative anywhere that can be accuratley shot through a rifled airgun? I have scoured the internet and found ZAP plastic saftey rounds on a british website, but could not find anything else to suggest how well they worked. I assume BB’s won’t be as accurate? Though about using an airsoft sniper rifle, but I don’t know how accurate they are. I would love to come up with a set-up that can shoot with a great deal of precision out to 50 feet and shoot a round that will kill bugs but not totally destroy drywall. Any advice would be fantastic! Thanks!

  15. Horsefly,

    Anything that kills horseflies is a good thing!

    Skenco has some all-plastic wadcutters that are heavier than the British ones and I think more accurate. Ten meters will be about your limit, I would think.

    They aren’t listed on this website, so cocntact this guy:


    I think you need an accurate spring rifle that’s easy to cock and doesn’t shoot those light pellets faster than about 700 f.p.s. or so.

    It will be interesting finding out.


  16. Thanks BB! I will check those out. I’d still like your a recomendation from you on the spring rifle. There are so many to look at. Would the Daisy Avanti 853 be a good choice? I like the idea of being able to modulate distance by decreasing the velocity as mentioned above but don’t know how many pumps many of the guns on this site require to get their advertised f.p.s. Guess I don’t know enough about these yet. You are clearly a gold mine though. Any advice would be awesome! Thanks again. Randall


  17. Randall,

    The reason I didn’t give you a recommendation for a spring rifle is I haven’t tested most of what’s available. That’s on my “to do” list.

    The 853 would be a good choice. As a single-stroke pneumatic it would be almost as fast as a spring rifle. Because it is a single-stroke, however, it’s all or nothing. Additional strokes don’t increase the power. For that you need a multi-pump like the Daisy 880.


  18. All,
    It never occured to me that bug busting could be a sport. But.. why not.

    I’ve been bust’n bugs almost my whole life. Used sit on the front porch in the evening and bust the June Bugs that were attracted by the light. On a good evening you could kill a few hundred.

    Used my Benji 22 multi pump pistol. Since a lot of the shots were on the wall of the house a pellet would be a poor ammo choice.

    Solution was paper wads. Just like the ones we used to shoot through plastic staws in school. At close range they were effective and accurate enough.

    Thank for the trip down memory lane.


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