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Once upon a time, all the rodents lived together and shared their meals. Rats, squirrels, and all the rest. The squirrels had a taste for nuts and wanted them all for themselves. So they met, like squirrels do, to discuss how to hoard the nuts without being noticed.
They are known to be crafty and will do all it takes to find food. They can even find nuts hidden one foot deep in snow. So the hunt began. To spice things up, the squirrels decided to cheat the other rodents. They got a camouflaged sack and stored all their nuts.
But they were hit by shock when the rats called them out. They were thrown out of the house and forced to live in the nearby bushes. But they still keep coming back for more – using their acrobatic, intelligent, and adaptable means.
Squirrels are cute little critters in some ways, but disastrous if you let them hang around en masse around for very long. They dig holes in the lawn, chew on tree bark and outdoor furniture, and also nibble on your flowers.
Table of Contents
- 1 Let’s look at some of the methods that can aid in getting rid of the squirrels:
- 2 Top ten rifles for squirrel hunting
- 3 Before the detailed review of these air rifles, allow me to disclose what it takes to hunt squirrels.
- 4 How to choose an air rifle for hunting squirrels
- 5 Detailed review of squirrel-hunting air rifles
- 6 Air arms TX 200 MkIII Air rifle – best .177 air rifle for squirrel hunting
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Final words
Let’s look at some of the methods that can aid in getting rid of the squirrels:
If you visit any pet store you can be sure to get a repellant that gets rid of squirrels. Apply them on the bark of the trees in the backyard for the squirrels to sniff as they come to steal your birdseed.
Trapping the squirrels
This is used in situations where the squirrels are not high in population. The traps work easily because the squirrels are curious once they spot anything that resembles a hole. They want to go through and that’s how you catch them.
This acts as an augmentation of other methods. If you hang ammonia bags or use cotton balls soaked in ammonia you are likely to keep the squirrels from approaching your house.
Shooting the squirrels
You only require some pellets and an airgun. The hunting method helps you get rid of the squirrels, all sizes considered, and at any time.
In the opinion of many, shooting squirrels is great because it does not involve the use of chemicals that additionally pose danger to other animals and people. Also, shooting directly eliminates the squirrels, rather than keeping them away.
You also get to treat yourself to a sumptuous meal if you’re feeling adventurous, provided you ascertain that the squirrel meat is safe. Their meat is easy to prepare and could certainly make up a part of your diet.
An air gun is your go-to weapon for squirrel eradication. Read along to find out which are the best air rifles to hunt squirrels.
Top ten rifles for squirrel hunting
A perfect squirrel rifle is one that guarantees you an accurate target at your main aim. Based on the hunting methods you choose, your rifle needs to be accurate, consistent and powerful enough. Here is a quick list of ten of the best squirrel hunting rifles you should invest in.
- Benjamin Trail NP Air Rifle
- Weihrauch HW50S break barrel rifle
- Air Arms S510 XS Regulated Xtra FAC PCP Air
- Hammerli 850 air magnum
- Gamo whisper-silent cat
- SIG Sauer Mcx CO2 Rifle, Black
- Air Arms TX200 MK 11 air rifle
- Hatsan MOD 130s vortex QE Break Barrel Air rifle
- Benjamin Marauder PCP air rifle Synthetic stock
- Diana 350 Magnum Striker Combo
Before the detailed review of these air rifles, allow me to disclose what it takes to hunt squirrels.
Squirrel hunting tips
You will not see a squirrel until you take them seriously. Once they notice you, they will likely scarper. You therefore need to aim at the squirrel without them noticing you. Here are some squirrel hunting tips you need to have at your fingertips.
Understand your quarry
Don’t confuse bush squirrels for park ones. Squirrel hunting can be a pain in the neck. These masters of evasion will by all means avoid detection. Their places of abode are wooded areas.
Here is a little trick they easily fall prey to. If you find your way slowly and stealthily under an oak tree you might lure them to you. With your hand, you can rustle the leaves a little.
Your hand imitates the sound of a feeding squirrel which attracts others and they follow suit. Boom, you will notice several of them coming your way.
The master of scent – the dog
You must have noticed most wood hunters have their hunting dogs. The dogs hunt by scent and smell as well as sight. Once they spot the squirrels they sound barks to the hunter and the squirrel is aware you are around.
Here is the twist: the dog, having been trained, circles the place which encourages the squirrel to move around the branches and the trunk.
Whoa! You have already arrived by now. Paying closer attention gives you an exert location for you to pull the trigger.
If you are good at making clear shots, this is your golden chance. Better still, if you wound the squirrel, your dog can help you avoid losing your prey.
Spot and stalk
This can prove very productive. The squirrels are most active during dusk or dawn. They will still continue to feed throughout the day so there is no rush. To avoid spooking them, move slowly, cautiously scanning the treetops.
The squirrels will be busy with their nuts but the shuffling of leaves and rustling of twigs will get their attention instantly. If the woods get so silent, calm down – they already know you are nearby.
Give them a moment of peace because once the coast is clear, they show up. Be ready with a cocked rifle. Make your move and thank me later.
The leaves are down
During the fall, focus on the low lying nuts. The squirrels will look for the nuts that have fallen and are covered by the leaves. The squirrels will hardly be visible during the day.
Plan to be in the woods early enough. They love to sit and gnaw as they watch out for the danger of predators. You can use the sign of premature chewed nuts and piles of shavings as your indicator they were here. They are most likely to come back.
So sit still, let them dig through and find the hickory nut. Now it is still and fully concentrated on the meal. That should be an easy shot for you.
By the creek
You know how cool and rejuvenating the stream or creeks are. Believe you me, the squirrels find them sweet too. In fact if the creek runs by an oak or a hickory tree you will find the lazy squirrels here.
Tired from the day runs, they will be settled here as they expect no danger coming from the water. Spot one and aim right at that because if you miss, you will have none to shoot at.
And now into the main business for the day – How do you choose an air rifle for hunting squirrels?
How to choose an air rifle for hunting squirrels
As a buyer, you often face confusion when it comes to identifying the best hunting rifle. The market is large and every rifle is better than the other in some way. Next time you go rifle shopping, consider the following factors.
The right caliber rifle boosts your shooting confidence. A wrong caliber rifle will result in bad shooting habits.
Experts have proved that a squirrel needs only 9 FPE to fall dead. This is achievable by the .177 caliber. You can, however, opt for bigger calibers to increase the killing power.
How many shots per fill do you need for squirrel hunting?
Go for a fatter cartridge if you are hunting deep woods and thickets. Something that offers about 50 shots per fill is worth looking at. Having to refill the air rifle after every 5 shots may feel hectic.
The environment dictates the kind of rifle you get to use. If it rains a lot in your hunting area, you run the risk of getting your rifle wet. The metallic parts of the rifle may start rusting. Wooden stocks may absorb moisture and swell – affecting the bedding quality of the barrel. This may tamper with the accuracy of the air rifle. You can rather choose the synthetic stocked rifle with a waterproof finish.
Do you love the rifle you are using? Think about the rifle for a moment. If the rifle you took out for hunting doesn’t bring you that warm glowy feeling, then it may not be your ultimate rifle. If you are into hunting, you must have your best air rifle. It only gets better with upgrades.
Can you happily pass the rifle down the family line? If yes is your answer, then you found your best rifle. With that, you can carry the toy to all your hunting trips and I can guarantee you will make the kill. Who doesn’t love playing with their favorite toy?
What is your preferred hunting style? One shot at a time or several shots in quick succession?
We have the single-shot and multi-shot rifles. Choose accordingly.
If you are thinking of including a dog in your hunt, weight is a consideration.
Better still, you also will likely not enjoy the hunting if your rifle is heavy. Weight determines the extent of grounds covered while hunting.
All in all, if you are the type who sits somewhere and waits for them to show up, you can as well bring your 12-pound air rifle.
Detailed review of squirrel-hunting air rifles
Benjamin Trail NP XL Air Rifle – Quiet air rifle for squirrel hunting
This airgun will surprise and delight you with its quietness. But that is if your ammo is heavy enough not to exceed the speed of sound. The maximum velocity achievable by the .177 caliber is 1500 fps, while the speed of sound is 1125.33 fps. You get the difference.
But if your shot is well aimed, the squirrel will have died long before it ever interprets the sound to be that of a rifle.
Here is a velocity graph for the .177 model tested with 4.7-grain Gamo Platinum Pellets.
Air arms TX 200 MkIII Air rifle – best .177 air rifle for squirrel hunting
This lethal weapon by Air Arms adds to your chances of smacking that squirrel fast. It is a perfect combination of power and accuracy in hunting. Its sliding breech, revealed only after you cock the underlever, allows you to load ammo smoothly.
The TX 200 Air rifle features the coveted Lothar Walther Barrel plus an enhanced richly finished Monte Carlo stock.
It shoots at 930 fps in the .177 model and 755 fps in .22.
See this graph of the average muzzle energy you achieve with the .177 model tested with different pellets:
Gamo Whisper silent cat air rifle – Best air rifle for shooting squirrels
This air rifle costs less than $200, but don’t judge a book by its cover. You can rightly label it powerful, effective, and comfortable.
It is a .177 (4.5mm) caliber that gives you a maximum muzzle velocity of 1200 fps. High velocity rifles are known to be more accurate as the ammo pierces the air without much resistance.
This gun is not heavy – weighs only 5.28 lbs. You can carry it for quite some time without tiring.
Look at the muzzle velocities you are likely to achieve with with two different pellets:
- 4.7-grain Gamo Platinum
- 10.65 grain H&N Baracuda Match
And here the groupings at 25 yards.
Benjamin Marauder PCP air rifle – best PCP air rifle for squirrel hunting
This is one of the most popular precharged pneumatic air rifles. At least numbers are something to count. Look at how people love it – based on orders completed at Pyramyd Air between 2015 and 2018.
|1||Benjamin Marauder||Benjamin Marauder||Benjamin Bulldog||Benjamin Bulldog|
|2||Benjamin Bulldog||Benjamin Bulldog||Air Arms T200 Sporter||Benjamin Armada|
|3||Airforce Texan Big Bore||Benjamin Armada||Seneca Dragon Claw||AirForce Texan Big Bore|
|4||Air Arms T200 Sporter||AirArms TX200||Airforce Texan Big Bore||Air Arms TX200|
|5||Benjamin Armada||Airforce Texan Big Bore||Benjamin Armada||AirForce Texan SS|
|6||Sam Yang Dragon Claw||AirForce Condor SS||Airforce Condor SS||Benjamin Marauder Filed & Target|
|7||Air Venturi Wing Shot||Air Arms T200 Sporter||Air Arms TX200||Seneca Dragon Claw|
|8||Sumatra 2500||Hatsan Gladius||Seneca Sumatra 2500||AirForce Condor SS|
|9||Air Arms TX200||Sam Yang Dragon Claw||Seneca Wing Shot II||Seneca Wing Shot II|
|10||AirForce Condor SS||Air Venturi Wing Shot||Airforce Texan SS||Air Arms T200 Sporter|
With a loudness rating of ⅖, we can say it is quieter than many other PCPs.
Crosman Corporation kicked it a notch higher with the synthetic stocked version. This advanced version comes with a vertically adjustable comb.
The .177 model gives you an incredible 1100 fps muzzle velocity. The .22 is rated at 1000 fps maximum muzzle velocity.
Hatsan MOD 130S Vortex QE Air Rifle – pocket, friendly squirrel, hunting air rifle
The manufacturer labels it with a “Serious, Solid Impact” slogan. There’s no doubt about that. Breaking the barrel and loading up your .30 caliber gives you a chance to hit high speeds as high as 590fps with an average energy of 34ft/lbs. Sounds too much for squirrels, but at times they simply deserve a good hard shot.
The rifle has an integrated suppressor to limit sound and features a shock absorber system. Though the gun is long it is easy to control. You get to set your Quattro trigger to your preferred pull.
Diana 350 Magnum Striker Combo – best spring piston air rifle for squirrel hunting
This gun comes as a .177 as well as a .22. Being a springer, it can send rounds at speeds of 1000- 1250fps. This means you can get that squirrel from a long-range. If you are the spring piston lover, this is your ultimate hunting air rifle.
Below is the manufacturer’s comparison for different Diana air rifle models.
Air Arms S510 XS Air Rifle – high-end air rifle for shooting squirrels
She is such a combination of beauty and accuracy, thanks to the English manufacturer. Perfect if you want to spend slightly over 1000 bucks.
The XS Xtra tag tells you it is the full-size version. Additionally, you get more shots per fill with the longer air cylinder.
It’s magazine houses 10 rounds for quick repeat shots. Here is a breakdown of its performance:
- .177” caliber – 4.5 mm – 1035 fps – 20 FPE
- .22” caliber – 5.5 mm – 950 fps – 32 FPE
- .25” caliber – 6.35 mm – 815 fps – 44 FPE
Hammerli 850 air magnum – best CO2 air rifle for squirrel hunting
This German-made gun will present squirrel hunting in a completely different light. It is so far the first CO2 air rifle in our list. And perhaps the last one! Two more to go. Keep reading.
To dissolve your doubt on its capabilities, have a look at the muzzle energies achieved with different .22 pellets.
Additionally, the all-weather property is top of the must-have reasons for this rifle. The 88-gram cartridge guarantees you not less than 200 shots per fill. To mean you can spend like 5 days hunting without a need to refill your airgun.
Weihrauch HW50S break barrel rifle – pocket, friendly airgun for shooting squirrels
This spring-piston break-barrel rifle weighs 6.8 lbs. It is available in the .177 (4.5 mm) caliber and .22 (5.5 mm) caliber.
Here are typical velocities you can expect with the Weihrauch HW50s using 8.18-grain H&N Match Rifle pellets:
Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle – cheap air rifle for hunting squirrels
Finally! We close with the Blackhawk Combo distributed by the Arkansas-based Umarex USA. After all, who said hunting must be so expensive? With less than $150, you can get this powerful air rifle for squirrel control.
It is a .177 caliber with maximum muzzle velocity of 1000 fps. As expected of its price range, it features a black synthetic stock and weighs only 6.95 lbs.
No need to complain about the single-shot capability as you will most probably be using this in your backyard. Both front and rear sights are of the fiber optic type. It additionally comes with 4×32 airgun scope and mount.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a .22 air rifle kill a squirrel?
Certainly, yes! A .22 is enough to kill a squirrel. The caliber is directly related to the killing power. This is given in foot-pounds of energy. The punching power varies with the weight of the pellet used.
For instance, the .22 Hammerli 850 Air Magnum gives the following results:
|Pellet||Grain||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum||9.7||674 fps||9.8 FPE|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green||14.66||668 fps||9.9 FPE|
|RWS Hobby||11.9||640 fps||10.8 FPE|
|Crosman Premier||14.3||606 fps||11.7 FPE|
|JSB Jumbo Exact||14.35||610 fps||11.9 FPE|
|H&N Field Target Trophy||14.66||609 fps||12.1 FPE|
|H&N Baracuda Match||21.14||519 fps||12.6 FPE|
And as said earlier, it only takes 9 FPE to kill a squirrel.
How many FPS does it take to kill a squirrel
It is considered inhumane to shoot an animal using an unpowered pellet gun. The recommended FPS is anything around 1000 fps. This value can, however go as low as 500 fps depending on 3 things:
- Pellet caliber
- Pellet weight
Heavier pellets have a harder punching power even though their velocity may be low. The same is true with higher caliber pellets. If the squirrel is only 10 yards, even 500 FPS can do.
Can pellet guns kill a squirrel?
Definitely, yes! Only note that killing a squirrel using a pellet gun requires skill and patience. The first step is identifying what pellet works best with your rifle choice. Ensure the pellets fill tightly in the chamber before you use the air rifle.
With over a dozen pellet brands to choose from, it will take practice to settle on your “holy grail”.
Should I kill grey squirrels?
It is ironic that in most states and countries, it is illegal to kill the grey squirrels. Think of how invasive and threatening they are. They even feed on the red squirrels. What does your local law say about the grey squirrels?
If I were the governor or president, I would legalize the hunting of squirrels. Because of 2 reasons:
- They are a very delicious species
- They destroy food farms
Can a .177 kill a squirrel?
The .177 that produces more than 9 ft-lbs can take out a squirrel. This of course depends on the weight of the pellet used and the muzzle velocity. What you may need to consider is the range. If you shoot from very far, the ammo may lose quite a deal of punching power before striking the squirrel. Also, depending on the velocity, the ammo may veer off the intended trajectory and miss the squirrel.
What is the best pellet gun to kill a squirrel?
The best pellet gun is the one you have perfectly mastered. Be it a .22 or .177. Most of the hunters argue that .177 is good for feathers and .22 best for fur. They both work! Either way, the hunter is as good as the rifle. The key factor for both guns is pellet placement.
From the 10 air rifles we just discussed, think of closing your eyes and randomly selecting one. Damn! They are all good. But if you need a particular suggestion from me, purchase the Air Arms S510 XS Air Rifle.
How should I handle my squirrel air rifle?
Please take note of the following before hanging up.
18 years and above
The principle rule is that you can own an air gun, but only after you’re 18. For kids’ airguns, check what your local authority says.
When taking your kid for a hunt, your kind nature may result in the kid handling the air rifle. Ensure you monitor closely.
Never should you allow your kid to go hunting alone with your air rifle. If you really care, you should always be there. The risk of accidents can never be underestimated.
Storing your air rifle
Everything can go wrong when an air rifle falls on the wrong hands. It is not a wise idea to store the rifle where everyone has access to. Ensuring your rifle is in a safe protected space is paramount. That said, it is vital for you to keep your rifle in a lockable cupboard.
Make sure no unauthorized person gets access to your rifle. You will be held accountable in case of any accidents occurring.
If you are shooting in the open field, mark your territory and ascertain that no one is within. You can easily avoid fatal accidents if you inform people.
Airguns are low powered in comparison with other types of guns. This makes them safe for backyard practice. But people can be scared of guns. You should not use your hunting activity as a means to disrupt your neighbors.
If you are hunting in your backyard you should ensure you have limits for your pellets range. You can also use pellet backstop to keep the pellets within limits.
You can also target the clang your metal makes to avoid noise pollution.
Handle with caution
You should always treat a rifle as loaded. To be human is to err. You might think a rifle is not loaded and cause the worst mistake of your lifetime.
Never point a gun at any person. Air rifles can cause considerable damage if not well handled.
Before storing your airgun, ensure it is not loaded. This helps to avoid indecisive decisions before your hunting begins.
You can even hurt yourself if you mishandle a rifle. Once you are out there, never load a rifle until it’s time to fire it. Before firing, ensure that you have a safe shot and no one is around or in the direction, you aim at shooting.
Ensure you follow the right procedure to acquire a rifle. You must also own a hunting license for you to be allowed to go hunting outside in the hoods. Owning one holds you accountable for all the hunting the rifle can be used for.
If you lend out your rifle and an accident happens, you are likely to be answerable. Yes, rifles can be borrowed. Only ensure that the borrower is an adult fit to use the rifle.
You can as well caution them before lending them the rifle. Prevention is better than cure.
To wrap it up, the air rifle is as good as the hunter. Your rifle is just a helping tool. You need skills and strategies to hunt squirrels. Veteran hunters will tell you a squirrel is harder to hunt than a deer.
And that shows you how much time you may need to spend out there. It is a worthwhile pastime activity. The tougher it gets, the better at the job you become. If you maintain a noise-free move on the squirrels and have enough patience, you will be sure to have a successful hunt.