Ethical airgun hunting

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Below is a discussion about how a big bore airgun kills game. If your interests are in smallbore airguns and appropriate game for those calibers, scroll to the end of this article for links to another article and a couple videos.

If you’d like to comment on this, please go to the current day’s blog to do so — more people will see it, and we welcome off-topic comments.

What constitutes a big bore?
The one unified law
Respect for game
Big bore airguns are very different
There are exceptions
A big truth about big bore bullets
Hydrostatic shock
Why you need to know this
Other airgun hunting resources

This will be a detailed discussion that may not be suitable for people who feel uncomfortable reading about or talking about killing animals.

What constitutes a big bore?

I’m asked this question all the time. What makes an airgun a big bore? I started answering this question before many others even knew what big bore airguns were, and I’ll continue to answer it in this same way. There are 4 common smallbore calibers — .177, .20, .22 and .25. Anything larger than a .25 is a big bore. Sounds simple, but it invites the barracks lawyers to chime in. There are airguns today that shoot .257-caliber conical bullets, and isn’t a .257 technically a .25? Yes, it is. This is where my simple definition breaks down a little.

But there’s more to it than that. A hundred fifty years ago, hunters had no difficulty understanding that a rifle that shot .40-caliber balls or larger was suitable for hunting whitetail deer. In a pinch, they would even use a .38-caliber rifle, but .40 caliber was the place they wanted to be for large, thin-skinned, non-dangerous game. You won’t find this written in any book that I know of; but if you read a lot of shooting history, it’ll come out.

So, the hunters of old knew that the bottom line for a rifle for larger game (the smallest you could use and expect success) was around .40 caliber. And .45 caliber was even better. When the ball got that large, there was no mistaking where things stood.

Then, conical bullets came along (1860?) and muddied up the water. Suddenly, a .32-caliber rifle shooting a heavy conical bullet (like the .32-40 in 1884) was sufficient for deer, but a .38 caliber shooting conicals (the .38-55, about the same time) was even better. And, just when that was being digested by the sporting public, smokeless powder came on the scene and bullet velocities doubled. At that point, .30-caliber rifles (like the .30-30) could take deer; and, soon, even .25-caliber rifles (such as the .25-35 Winchester) were considered marginal.

The one unified law

Many of today’s shooters don’t even know what a .25-35 Winchester cartridge is. Yet, they want one unified definition for a big bore airgun, but none exists. No single definition can be applied — especially, if the people applying it refuse to understand basic ballistics. If they think that the title “big bore” conveys some mystical killing power to any airgun, they’re sadly mistaken. Yes, I can tell you what a big bore airgun IS, but that, by itself, tells you very little about what it can DO. To know that, we have to understand how game is killed.

In the olden days, a .40-caliber ball was considered big enough to take deer — not because of its energy, which was almost nil, but because of its size. And projectile size is what I’m talking about here.

Respect for game

When I studied for my German hunting license in the 1970s while serving there in the U.S. Army, I learned how much the German hunters respect the game they kill. Besides learning a specialized vocabulary of German words that apply only to hunting and demonstrating proficiency with a rifle, we had to know how to treat game with respect. For example, whenever I killed a roe deer, I put a sprig of pine in its mouth as a ceremonial “last bite.”

Sure, such things are for the hunters and not for the game whose lives have already been taken, but what they do is remind the hunter that this was a living being that enjoyed life until the end. I think these small ceremonies keep most hunters from becoming crass. That has everything to do with this discussion.

Big bore airguns are very different

Most hunters are surprised when they shoot a game animal with a big bore airgun. They’re surprised because the animal doesn’t fall down at the shot. Typically, they stand for several minutes where they were hit . . . as they slowly expire (die) from blood loss. It’s so different from anything they may have experienced while hunting with modern firearms.

When a large game animal is hit with modern expanding bullets traveling at supersonic speeds, it can drop instantly in its tracks. Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. At the very least, a well-hit animal that’s hit with a modern expanding bullet runs only a short distance before piling up. Thirty seconds is usually the longest you have to wait before it drops — when the animal has been hit well. Modern centerfire bullets have caused hunters to expect quick results that big bore airguns do not and cannot give.

Hunting with a big bore airgun is very similar to hunting with a muzzleloading rifle that shoots lead balls or bullets — not one shooting modern jacketed softpoints with sabots. It’s also similar to hunting with a bow. The game often stands in one place, looking around like it hasn’t been hit. Or if it does run, it runs fast and far and has to be tracked. The secret is to not follow the game right away. After the shot, wait about 10 minutes for the animal to stop running and start stiffening up. They’ll usually bed down at this point and won’t be able to get up again.

There are exceptions

Of course, there are exceptions to what I’m saying about modern bullets and game. I’ve had them happen to me — animals that appear to be hit well, but last much longer than they should. The hunting archives are full of stories about game that refused to die. But you have to recognize these for what they are — exceptions to what usually happens. In general, a modern bullet of the correct size and power will very quickly dispatch an animal that is hit well.

A big truth about big bore bullets

Here’s a truth that escapes many modern hunters. A .45-caliber lead bullet generating 250 foot-pounds of energy will kill a medium-sized animal such as a whitetail deer just as dead in the same amount of time as a .45-caliber lead bullet that generates 1,500 foot-pounds of energy. That’s because most of the more powerful bullet’s energy is not expended in the animal — it slips right through and keeps on going! Most of the energy is excess to your needs.

Unless there’s a large bone in the way, or the animal has a particularly tough hide, you don’t need to hit it with a lot of energy. These heavy lead bullets don’t kill with their energy — they kill with blood loss. This is why relatively light round balls kill large game so effectively.

New big bore hunters are fascinated with hollowpoint lead bullets — thinking that the expansion of the bullet inside game transfers more of the bullet’s energy to the animal. But it isn’t the energy that kills — it’s the loss of blood. So, a .45-caliber solid bullet kills just as fast as a hollowpoint bullet that mushrooms out to .75 caliber. Once the hole in the animal is big enough, it doesn’t make much difference if it grows any larger. The damage has been done.

What I’m leading up to is this: A 405-grain .458-caliber bullet is fine for the largest game. If I think I need it to penetrate a heavy bone or a thicker hide, the 405 is the way to go. But if I’m hunting thin-skinned whitetails or something similar (javelinas, coyotes, mountain lions, etc.), I want a much lighter bullet that has the advantage of a flatter trajectory.

The 405-grain bullet would be perfect for American elk (wapiti), red deer and bison. We know from actual field experience that it will pass completely through even these massive animals when it impacts on one side, such as with a classic heart/lung shot. That happens even when the bullet is fired from a 500 foot-pound rifle. Then, the process of bleedout begins and the animal drops several minutes later, when blood loss has its effect. This is something archers understand all too well. But many who come into big bore airguns from the firearm side are used to hydrostatic shock.

Hydrostatic shock

Hydrostatic shock is the shock wave that passes through the liquid-filled tissues of an animal when hit by an ultra-high-velocity bullet. This shock wave is devastating to the animal’s nervous system and can sometimes cause near-immediate death. Many hunters are so accustomed to this effect that they cringe when they see how long it takes a bullet from a primitive rifle or an arrow to drop an animal. That slow performance is exactly what you can expect from a big bore airgun bullet.

Why you need to know this

Many people would like to learn to hunt, and big bore airguns are starting to look like an easy way into the sport. That’s fine — as long as you know what you’re getting into. At the end of your hunt, an animal is going to die and it’s going to take a long time to do it — especially if you’ve hunted only with modern centerfire rifles, or the only hunting you’ve ever seen is what’s on television.

Believe me, the hunting shown on television is heavily edited! If the game happens to drop instantly when shot, they show it — but if not, they edit in some tracking, along with conversation to get your mind off what’s really happening. If it takes 12 minutes for an animal to die, you will only see about 20-30 seconds of that. I happen to agree with that approach, because people don’t need to see the suffering in their living rooms.

But, if you decide to go out into the field to hunt, then I want you to know what you’re going to see. I hunted extensively when I was younger, and everything I’ve described here I’ve seen many times over. But I’ve also seen a first-time hunter confronted by the truth. And he was shocked. That wasn’t pleasant.

Just understand that when you do decide to hunt with a big bore, the results will probably look a lot different than you might have imagined.

Other airgun hunting resources

If you’re interested in hunting with smallbore airgun calibers, read Hunting with airguns, a general article that touches on the common types of pests and game usually taken with .177- to .25-caliber airguns.

A couple videos you may find helpful when selecting a hunting airgun are:

How to choose an airgun: Pest Control. Part 1 – Airgun Academy Episode 21

How to choose an airgun: Small Game Hunting. Part 2 – Airgun Academy Episode 22


  1. March 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Why are the on screen graphics so wrong in the 2nd video?

    1. March 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm


      Can you be more specific about what’s wrong?


      1. March 20, 2015 at 2:08 am

        The fps spoken are not the same as the graphic in the video

    2. March 19, 2015 at 5:25 pm


      Are you referencing the pellet velocities and the energy they develop? If you listen to what he’s saying, he’s telling you that the velocities he’s speaking are the ones that are gotten with lightweight alloy pellets. As he mentions those, the writing is showing you what that speed translates to when you shoot that same gun with medium-weight lead pellets. So, you’re not getting the velocities advertised by the manufacturers if you’re going to use good-quality lead pellets. I agree that it’s not clear. Tom, people at Pyramyd Air and I vetted this video. I can’t believe no one saw this might be an issue!


      1. March 20, 2015 at 2:12 am

        Then I read on and see you answered the question, lol

  2. March 19, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for the reminder about hunting and respecting the animal that is going to die. also having the right sized gun and shot placement is very important to me I don’t want the animal to suffer any longer than it has to..

  3. March 19, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I really appreciate the article on humane killing, especially the “last bite” story. I always acknowledge that I have taken a life, no matter the game.
    p.s. I didn’t have any problems with your video.

  4. March 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I agree with everything except the part about expanding bullets not being much more effective than a solid. An expanded bullet has a greater chance of cutting something vital on it’s way though than a solid. Human targets expire much faster when shot with hollow points than with plain jane bullets. I don’t know why it would be much different with our animal brethren unless there is something about airgun ballistics I lack understanding of.

    1. March 20, 2015 at 6:35 am


      Welcome to the blog.

      If we were talking about jacketed bullets I would agree with your statement about hollowpoints. And it is also true for smallbore lead bullets, such as rimfires. But when the bore size is large enough, getting even larger has little effect. Yes, you might nick a vital organ easier with a larger bullet, but if the wound channel is large enough, the damage is done.


  5. March 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    The single most important item in a humane kill is shot placement. Take your time and make a good well placed shot. It will pay off with a quick clean kill or a short tracking job. It’s amazing how much blood some small game drop when properly hit. Good luck and good hunting.

  6. March 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Ok, let me weigh in on “humane kills”. A head shot will almost always drop an animal in it’s tracks.

    No matter the caliber or velocity, as long as you have sufficient velocity to put the bullet completely through the brain, the animal almost always drops like it was pole axed!!

    So why would ANYONE take any other than a brain shot? Unless they were a vampire wanting to eat the brains?

    1. March 19, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      I have killed over 30 wild pigs in California with a .270 and never had a problem with 2 shot placements. Either the shoulder, if the animal is near deep cover or a steep canyon, or through both lungs when the animal is in the open and can safely run 50-75 yards before recovery. The one time I lost a pig was trying a head shot on an easy 125 yard pig. I hit the animal and it dropped. A second one ran and I shot it. I walked past the first to check on the second animal. Both down and I bleed the second. Walked back to where the first was and all there was was 2 large blood pools. The second pool had some more nasty stuff, but in essence, the animal had come to and wandered off into the night. An hour later I quit. Came back the next morning, marked blood trails, hands and knees work for over 3 hours including tunnel tracking into the brush and I never found it.
      I have killed 6 with a bow or crossbow and lost 2 of those that traveled too far into the County Park next door to recover. Even killed one with a spear and I will not do that ever again.

    2. March 19, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Brains are (in other than humans) rather small targets, and not located where most people think they are.

      If the brain is 2 inches tall, you probably need to keep your shot within a +/- 0.5 inch zone to ensure not missing. THAT will require either well computed hold over/under tables and accurate ranging, or a scope zeroed to maximize the 1″ radius point-blank range (and shooting only within that range) Also take into account your group size at that distance. A 1″ group size, and at the +0.5″ edge, puts your shot very close to missing the brain entirely.

      In contrast, that same shot configuration has no problem meeting a four inch circle for a heart/lung shot — and center of chest area is fairly easy to sight on vs “behind the eye, below the ear” or whatever…

    3. March 20, 2015 at 6:37 am


      I can’t tell you how many head shots I have seen go wrong, but it is more than half of all of them. If you miss the brain, the head shot is not a good shot to take, and some animals have very small brains.


    4. August 20, 2015 at 12:18 am

      Can I chime in on one point in the article and head shots. I’ve seen the larger animals drop due to accurate placement – but the lack of blood loss meant that death was a long ways off. I can’t help but think of the term “brain dead” – but the organs just keep on functioning. Pellets can be too small – I’m slowly narrowing my target to main, pulsing, arteries.

  7. March 19, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    pcp4me, don’t advocate the head shot, not everyone is that good. I had to dispatch a doe last year with a head wound, half of her scull was missing yet she was trying to feed, so sad she out ran her head shooter and lived. Take your shot at center mass, vital organs, make the humane kill.

  8. March 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I agree. I have seen hogs without snouts and during hunting season deer without lower jaws because some hot shot tried for a head shot.

  9. March 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm


    Some of those deer hunters are so busy looking at the rack that they shoot where they are looking. That leads to the head injuries, and some shot off antlers.


    1. March 20, 2015 at 2:12 am


      Thanks, you saved me a lot of aggravation by your post a few days ago concerning a Chrony. I never realized that the screen spacing on them was so short. Initially, I was leaning towards a PACT but was wary that the software for it is only compatible with Windows XP and Microsoft no longer supports it. That is not very reassuring that the company refuses to upgrade the software from an obsolete system to a current one.

      I believe that that would make for an interesting blog though (the Chrony), firing a ten shot string at close range with the bore of the barrel perfectly parallel to the sky-screens (as it should be). After that, tip the front of the unit down to a specific angle, maybe 5 degrees or so towards the muzzle and repeat. An inclinometer would probably be sufficient for this unless someone REALLY wanted to get anal, then a sine bar and precision level would be necessary.

      The only chronograph that I am familiar with is the Oehler 33 which I bought back in October 78, never had a problem with it. Had to make your own rail though, had a 4′ folding portable one made of wood and a 10′ non portable one made of aluminum which was never used. You could select any spacing from 1′ to 99′ CTC between screens. On my portable unit, I made two shields from 304 series SS 3″x3″x 3/8″ angle milled at 45 degrees, drilled, tapped and bolted directly in front of each screen, never hit one.


      1. March 20, 2015 at 8:29 am


        There are a lot of things about a chrono that make the readings they crank out less than precise. We can narrow down the inaccuracy to a considerable degree, but they will always be wrong to some extent.
        As long as we can keep problems narrowed down enough to obtain useful data, then the chrono is doing it’s job good enough for us. Maybe not good enough for NASA, but good enough for most practical purposes.


        1. March 22, 2015 at 4:37 pm


          Thanks for the reply. Can you tell me which Chrony models have the remote display that IS NOT permanently attached to the front of the case? Also, you have an unusual username, could you explain? Native American perhaps?


          1. March 22, 2015 at 4:53 pm


            I can’t tell you which models have a remote display that can be disconnected. When I want a remote for when the face of the chrono is shielded, I plug in the printer and get the reading on it. It uses a long 1/8 plug stereo cable.

            I chose my name based on the fact that I have two Talons. Seemed as good as any. I am half German and half Welsh. Let’s go invade France .



          2. March 22, 2015 at 7:37 pm

            Twotalon & Bugbuster,

            Please move your discussion down to the regular blog pages. We were unaware that this page on the banner would allow comments. I’ve also indicated that in the second paragraph by altering it a few days after publication.

            Thanks for understanding!


  10. March 19, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    This article could use more technical information regarding what types of caliber & level of energy is best for taking specific game animals. Shot placement is always extremely important but even so, it would be nice to see some insight into what calibers with what ammo at what velocities is recommended for various size game.

  11. March 19, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Very, very good article. I’ve been a very serious shooter for decades, but not a hunter to speak of. I really liked the hunting, but I hated the killing, it just wasn’t for me. So, almost all the information in this article was new and interesting to me. I still think it’s best for me to go to have fun shooting at the range, then stop by the supermarket on the way home and BUY my meat. Thank you for this article, really enjoyed it.

  12. March 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    I agree with J Octane. The videos are nice however they have a lot to be desired. The drop in energy per foot lb. per grain of weight, per feet traveled. The huge discrepancies in stated velocity from manufactures vs. real world pellet use, this in itself has an ethical issue.
    The only manufacture I know of that uses real numbers is Hatsan, and really to do anything else is misrepresenting the product and causing false expectations leading to inhumane shooting of animals.
    There has been enough testing (or not) to know what the down range energy is with every gun, and every pellet sold by PA. to even discuss a .177 for hunting other than rats or mice should not be happening, they are not a hunting caliber.
    .22’s so far in my experience with the RWS 34 is for very young racoons less than 6 month old (out of the den) at 12 lbs or less, once they are 8 months or older they cannot be taken with a .22 springer or gas piston humanly, and there is then the need to advance to a .25 magnum springer or gas piston. Even at .25 I have found the skulls of these older adolescent raccoons are difficult to breach and have taken 6 to 8 shots to put down let alone the adults in the same caliber, to me this is just horrific. When these details are not specified in the videos it’s just (sorry) wrong. I have experience with video production and enjoy this sport, I’m a stickler for the best presentation with the most information. I just think a lot more could be said in a better way and really be more forth coming with what not to do, and how to have a better experience. After all if you buy a gun like I did and find out it’s accurate sure, but I was horrified to find out it wasn’t big enough leaves you feeling sick. FYI I shoot for a dime not a quarter size area, at any range. There is very if any information as to the specific anatomy of the animals that would be / are taken with air rifles, this is again critical to humane hunting. Thanks all..

  13. March 19, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    I agree with some people knowing what caliber and type of pellet be it match,pointed,hollow point, ect. For specific game animals would be nice To know. But also what grain weight is recommended there is a whole plethora pellets at varying grains. Im sure i dont to be shooting a coon with same .22 Cal 10 gr pellet i was using for squirrels, or am i wrong? This is why this information would be nice. To know.

    1. March 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      And for the most part, there are too many variables to specify any single combination.

      I recall reading something that indicated 5ft-lbs AT TARGET for critters in the large squiddle range. Given that, you need to chronograph your gun with your pellets — and take into account pellet accuracy at target distances in making your choice, and use ballistic software (ChairGun) to determine what the terminal energy is.

      Based on ChairGun, my Gamo NRA 1000 Special with RWS Superdome 7.7gr (old supply, the ChairGun database lists them as 8.3gr), at 850fps still has 5ft-lbs out to just under 50 yards.

      My Marauder, with H&N Barracuda match 10.7, 870fps, is still 7ft-lbs out at 100 yards — 11ft-lbs at 45 yards, which is within my optimal point-blank range (42 yard zero, 1″ kill zone)

    2. March 19, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Oh, where would you find a “.22 Cal 10 gr pellet”?

      My LIGHTEST .22 pellets are 14 gr… 10gr is what my .177 pellets for PCPs obtain.

      1. March 19, 2015 at 11:35 pm

        Gamo raptors for one at 9.8 grains in.22…and some of the other led free pellets

        1. March 20, 2015 at 9:11 am

          Oh… those new-fangled things… spitwads and aluminum foil…

      2. March 20, 2015 at 12:38 am

        Baron Wulfraed,

        Actually, P.A. lists six .22 caliber pellets which weigh < 10 grains, I am sure that they give very impressive muzzle velocities but that would be about all they would be good for. I am shooting about the same weight pellets in my .177 RWS 48 as you. JSB 10.34 EXACT HEAVY, CROSMAN 10.5 ULTRA MAG'S and H&N 10.65 BARACUDA'S. At 50 yards, the JSB'S and H&N'S will literally blow 5/32" hole through a plate of .135" thick sheet lead, the CROSMAN'S will not. According to a chart that I downloaded from another site, the respective FPE at 50 yards from an identical rifle is as follows: JSB 11, CROSMAN 12 and H&N BARACUDA (KODIAK) 9. I am certain I would not like being hit by any of them!

        P.S. There were no other replies concerning the light .22 pellets when I started this one.


  14. March 19, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    In Michigan, it’s legal to hunt deer with an air rifle as long as it’s .35 caliber or bigger. Is this caliber enough for an ethical kill on white tail deer? I wasn’t able to open the videos (a problem with my tablet), so I’m hoping this wasn’t already covered there.

    1. March 20, 2015 at 7:09 am


      The Bulldog could certainly kill a deer, but because the caliber is so small (under .40) I would not recommend it for deer. I have seen several deer taken with a .22 long rifle round, so this gun is more powerful, but I wouldn’t say that it is ethical.


  15. March 19, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Raymond, I feel very similar about the hunting and killing. I don’t enjoy seeing something die even if I am responsible for the killing but when I go hunting my greatest enjoyment is being out in gods creation with people I enjoy sharing time with and who have the same respect for the animals we are hunting. If we are successful and are able to bring home some good meet, to me it is just a plus. The success was the enjoyment. I have hunted since I was in grade school and used BB guns, high powered Rifles, Archery, muzzle loader Rifle (the real kind that start the balls jurney with Flint&Steel) and now pellet Rifles and have allways aimed for the ribcage and had good success. Wild game meat is more healthy meat than what can be bought at the store so that is my preference if I can get it.
    I like to take responsibility for my actions if I can If we are going to eat meat, someone will have to kill it.

  16. March 20, 2015 at 10:15 am

    I like the comparison of airguns to archery, a clean kill allows for a humane bleed-out, not the animal dropping where it stands. Not a pretty sight but a fact of life and hunting. Modern airguns are more like primitive firearms and require hunting skills that get you closer to the animal and better shot placement. For the power needed to dispatch and animal, math is fine for the text book hunter, back in the day when hunting for food was a requirement, you would learn fast that bigger is better for your survival. As technology and power increased, smaller calibers became more effective with the addition of fragmenting bullets and hydro-shock, something you won’t have with a primitive type weapon “the modern airgun”. Before hunt, even in your own back yard, it’s good to take the “free” hunters safety classes put on by the states and local clubs. There is much more behind hunting than just the weapons used and the animals taken. Errors have been made in the past that we all need to be aware of to keep this sport alive for future generations.

  17. March 20, 2015 at 10:56 am

    So what is the artillery hold on a spring air piston rifle. The video did not show what the artillery hold is.

  18. March 30, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    On “Wood Chucks”, “Chucks”, or “Ground Hogs”, is there any illustrations that show frontal and side shot placement as being “ideal”. Done some searches, but had no luck.

    And since this is a hunting specific section of the blog, “Long Range Pursuit” on Direct TV is an awesome show. Lots of gun and scope set up demonstrations. Without zooming in, you can not even see the game they are hunting. And, real open range stalk and pursuit type hunting. Even with a zoom, game looks like a moving bush sometimes.

    If you got it, check it out. 604 PRST on my TV.


    PS……That’s the same channel that shows “American Airgunner” that has B.B. on it quite a bit.

  19. June 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I begin by saying … I’ve nothing against hunting or hunters. In my youth, my father subsistence hunted for our family and I was an enthusiastic participant. As an adult, I’ve hunted deer, killed vermin and took small game. Now, as a senior citizen, my hunting revolves around defending my bird feeders against non-indigenous and invasive avian. Or, small backyard pests. What troubles me the most about airgun hunting, that a shooter would knowingly select a weapon that would result “at the end of your hunt, an animal is going to die and it’s going to take a long time to do it — especially if you’ve hunted only with modern centerfire rifles ….” As ethical hunters, we should employ a gun/weapon that will ensure the quickest and most humane death possible. With the availability of modern smokeless and black-powder firearms, the decision to employ an airgun or bow-and-arrow to take big-game may not be the best choice for an ethical hunter to make. I know it is perfectly legal matter … but, to consciously use a less-lethal-method to kill an animal … a practice that would prolong the time for an animal to die and by extension its suffering … engenders the moral question of whether it is right to do so.

    1. June 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm


      Well said, sir!

      Welcome to the blog.


    2. June 21, 2015 at 5:26 am

      Mr. Martinez: I appreciate your comment and your logical perspective, but I believe some additional information might alter the latter. In my educated opinion as a life-long hunter, consultant and outdoors writer, there are almost as many reasons for using hunting implements that are not the most powerful or most lethal as there are hunters who use them. Consider your own situation — why don’t you use a 150mm howitzer to control your “backyard pests?” I suspect that the weapon you currently use is “less-lethal” than the howitzer… I use a .25 caliber PCP air rifle to remove problem coyotes in the urban setting. A precisely placed shot to the brain with this airgun drops coyotes instantly out to 50 yards. Certainly, a .30-06 centerfire rifle would be “more-lethal” but I’m certain that neither the neighbors nor the local law enforcement officials would consider this weapon a better choice. I have also used a comparatively quiet precision airgun to dispatch rodents and rock pigeon pests in a calving barn. I have no doubt that a 12-gauge shotgun would be more lethal, but it would also be a great deal more dangerous and disruptive to the residents.

      Now let’s consider the issue of arrows vs. bullets. I hunt with a bow for some of the same reasons that I hunt with airguns – because I find it more challenging to hunt with limited-range weapons than longer range, powder burning weapons. The “best-choice” weapon for me as an experienced hunter and outdoorsman with a passion for getting close to my quarry, may not be the best-choice for someone else. For the most part, arrows kill the same way that bullets kill – through blood loss. I would argue that a well placed arrow (through heart or both lungs) tipped with a quality broadhead creates a larger wound channel, as well as more and faster blood loss than most bullets commonly used by hunters, and it will kill just as quick, or quicker. It might surprise you to learn that I have taken animals like 200 lb. whitetail and 250 lb. mule deer, and even 500 lb. gemsbok in Africa, that expired in less than one minute from a well placed arrow. And, I have witnessed many more animals shot with “high-power” centerfire rifles that took considerably longer to expire, particularly during my time as a guide.

      Humane, “ethical” kills have every bit as much to do with the skills of the hunter as they do with the purported lethality of the weapon. A brain shot with an airgun that delivers enough kinetic energy to penetrate the skull of the animal is lethal instantly. BB suggests that brain shots are risky and that the lungs offer a much wider margin for errors in accuracy, and even though a poke through the lungs with a low-velocity airgun bullet will prove fatal (eventually), it may take awhile. The animal shot in the lungs with an airgun will almost certainly run off, which could lead to wounding loss. Personally, I take brain shots almost exclusively with airguns (and I own more than 20 and use them often), and if I am not 100% certain that I can make a quick, clean kill, I simply do not take the shot. I’m certainly not perfect, but I spend considerable time and energy continuously working on honing my hunting and shooting skills, and striving for perfection. So… who is more ethical?

      Respectfully submitted.
      TM in AZ

      1. June 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        As noted at the very beginning of this page, please make comments on the blog instead of this story. Very few people will see your comments on this page. Please make further comments on the current day’s blog.


        1. June 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm


          With the utmost of respect, I thought that THIS little side blog was created ( just for hunters ).

          Yes, more readers would see it on the main blog. But, if I were to guess, most readers are not avid hunters, but rather target shooters. And, as you well know, many regulars on the main blog do post hunting related comments from time to time. But, the focus is generaly more on air guns, tuning, targets, groups, pellets and getting the best accuracy from whatever it is you like to shoot.

          In my humble opinion, this is good. I say promote it, not discourage it. Just another outlet for info. on another type of airgun use.

          And you know what,….maybe some of those “wanna be” airgun hunters will give a serious second thought before actually hunting with an airgun. That’s always a good thing.


          1. June 22, 2015 at 9:48 pm


            You are mistaken. Survey after survey shows that the overwhelming majority of airgunners use their guns for hunting! I’ve conducted numerous surveys for Pyramyd Air since I started working with them in 2006, and hunting is the big dog. I might add that this is the reason .25 caliber has seen a resurgence, and big bores are being made by major manufacturers and bunches of custom shops. Hunting is IN.

            Also, this article was derived from another blog that was originally written about the AirForce Texan. That blog actually still stands in the lineup.


          2. June 23, 2015 at 5:32 pm


            Thank you for the reply. I stand corrected as your surveys have proven. So,…. as you said, bring the hunting comments over to the main blog.

            For those that do,….I have seen several “debates” and all were respectfull, even if views differed.

            Best of all, something is always learned and always new food for thought, even if you do not agree.


  20. June 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Mr. Martins, I took a long time to consider your post before responding. First, I admire your shot discipline and marksmanship. Second, allow me to elaborate a little more on “… the decision to employ an airgun or bow-and-arrow to take big-game may not be the best choice for an ethical hunter to make.” My comments were primarily directed at BIG-GAME hunters – perhaps, the intended user of a Benjamin ROGUE .357, buyer of a Crosman BULLDOG .357 or any larger-caliber airgun owner. Moreover, I was reminded of the old adage … “always bring enough gun” and was thinking of a GAMO pig hunting video – Hog Hunting with Gamo Hunter Extreme Air Rifle ( I think common sense and reasonableness should prevail in the decision to use an airgun or bow-and-arrow on a big-game hunt. The use of a less-than instantly-lethal weapon to kill an animal leaves even-less-room for error. With the fate of the intended target uppermost in-mind. If the shooter were to make a mistake, it will be the hapless animal that will pay the price in unintended pain and suffering. I repeat, even though it is perfectly legal to use a bow-and-arrow or airgun to hunt big-game, one should first contemplate the likelihood a quick, clean and humane kill will be the end result. This is what an ethical hunter owes his prey.

  21. August 11, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Ethical airgun hunting? Does pyramydair really know what this is? I say no! I will tell you why. I was just shipped a new .25 cal Marauder air rifle, rifle, looked good out of the box, but it was supposed to have been test fired and checked for leaks and scope put on all for $10 bucks. Well there was air in the rifle so it got pumped up and the scope was on, but was NOT TIGHTENED DOWN AND MANY PARTS WERE MISSING! Plus it was cocked and a pellet in the chamber and off safety! Good thing I look at those things first before I touch it. Also I was filming the unpacking for youtube which it will be useless to use on youtube!- Just with the pellet and cocked and off safety, do they really know what or how to do any kind of Ethical airgun hunting? I mean what kind of business would send you a loaded rifle and all through Fed-ex shipping? Anyone could have been killed, not to mention myself or anyone in front of the air gun at the time of unpacking it. Is that good Ethical airgun hunting? Of course it’s my word against theirs! I have sent them a complaint that I will be following up on in the morning. I also very much doubt that they will keep this post up for very long! They don’t like bad publicity, not good for there business. But I will not stop on this until they at least give me my parts that came with the gun! They know what I am missing because I e-mailed them! If I don’t get what is owed me I will make out a few reports, one being the BBB and both Governors offices from each state. The others would be to the feds for shipping a loaded rifle by a carrier, Fedex! Call it blackmail or what I do not care. All I want is the $10 bucks back and my well paid for parts!

    1. August 13, 2015 at 6:40 am


      Welcome to the blog.

      I brought this comment to the attention of the president of Pyramyd Air and he is taking steps to find out how it happened. I can tell you he is taking this situation very seriously.

      Thank you for bringing this to their attention.


  22. November 22, 2015 at 3:21 am

    I’m very seriously thinking about buying my first air rifle. I’ve settled on a .22 with a minimum velocity of 1000 fps. I will go with a break barrel rifle. I haven’t decided on a brand but would like to spend no more than $200.00 What can I expect for needs of replacement parts? What parts are normally in need of replacement and after how many shots. I do take care of my firearms but you can state your answer on average use and average care. Thank you in advance for any information you can give me. I”m sorry but I couldn’t find anywhere but here to ask this.

    1. November 22, 2015 at 6:46 am


      Welcome to the blog — though this page is not the regular blog. That is located here:


      I have to tell you that you are about to make a serious mistake that a lot of new airgunners make. You are picking a pellet rifle based on velocity, then you are constraining its price. All you can do is buy a gun that will never satisfy you. It will be harsh-shooting, hard to cock and not accurate. It would be like trying to buy a centerfire rifle that develops 4,000 foot-pounds, can keep 5 shots in an inch at 100 yards and costs less than $400.There aren’t any, as far as I know.

      I wonder why you want 1,000 f.p.s. in a .22? There are pellet rifles that can do it, but they all cost more than $200. Are you thinking of hunting? If so, think about accuracy instead of velocity. It’s better to hit something with 600 f.p.s. than to miss it with 1,000 f.p.s.

      Please come to the regular blog and ask your questions. We have hundreds of airgunners who will be glad to try to help you find the right airgun to fit your needs.


  23. November 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm


    What is your stand on using an air gun to kill a neighbor’s cat? I ask because I consider it not just unethical but an outright crime, the sort of thing a future serial killer might do. But even in 2017 some airgunners seem to think it’s cool, even “John Wayne-like.”


    1. November 11, 2017 at 4:07 pm


      It’s criminal. No different than killing any animal. It’s a subject I don’t like on this blog. If anyone responds to this I’m taking the entire thread down!


      1. November 11, 2017 at 7:17 pm


        Well, I do not want that, so please remove my post. Also, please honor a similar request from another blog responder/poster. “Old Geezer” responded to a couple posts of mine in the current 1 1/2 Years Later installment with a post requesting the removal of his (joking, he assured) post proposing a man with a large airgun shooting a neighbor’s cat because it was in his garden. He said he did not wish to offend anyone. His original post remains, however, although all of mine have been removed from the thread, along with his request that it all be deleted.

        Thank You,

        Michael (a devoted blog reader since the first few posts)

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