What Can You Hunt with a .177 Air Rifle? (Quick Answer!)

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Video can a .177 pellet gun kill a deer

With a .177 air rifle, there is a lot you can do including target shooting and hunting. Talking of hunting, what can you hunt with a .177 air rifle?

As a whole, a .177 air rifle can take on the small-sized game, pests, and birds. So, ethically, you can kill rats, pigeons, squirrels, rabbits, and co. In some special cases, a powerful .177 would even take down slightly larger animals like groundhogs.

While a .177 air rifle is popularly used for backyard plinking and target practice, they are certainly a good choice for hunting down small game. However, as a shooter, you need to be within the correct range and using more imposing pellets, aim accurately at the target.

Doing otherwise means you could mishit and end up only injuring the animal. Let’s look into this topic further.

What Can You Hunt with a .177 Air Rifle?

There are plenty of animals a .177 air rifle can down. However, they will only be small-sized although you can still kill larger animals with higher-end, powerful .177 air rifles.

The animals you can hunt with a .177 air rifle include most rodents like mice and squirrels, rabbits, both small and large birds, mongoose, chicken, among many other small game and pests.

Generally, .177 air rifles do not produce a lot of muzzle energy but you get enough to take on the mentioned animals. You can definitely kill game using very little power as long as you make the most out of the shot by preparing well.

Another thing you gain by shooting a .177 is top velocity. There are not many air rifles that shoot over 1000 fps more than this caliber. With top velocity like this, accuracy, which is a key quality of the best hunting air rifle is never going to be a problem.

Most .177 airguns have a minimum of 12 foot-pounds of muzzle energy and the maximum range you will engage a target with such an air rifle and get results is about 35 yards. Yet, there are certain .177 air rifles that can produce as much as 30 foot-pounds past 50 yards.

If you are looking for an efficient and effective air rifle in the .177 category, you can consider the Benjamin Trail NP XL air rifle, (View on Amazon) a gas piston break barrel that offers plenty of power in excess of 25 foot-pounds of muzzle energy and great accuracy.

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Alternatively, you can work with the Gamo Swarm Maxxim air rifle (View on Amazon) that offers a 10x magazine for non-stop shooting. Swarm Maxxim offers consistent power and great durability.

What is the Effective Range of a .177 Air Rifle?

When you are hunting or doing another activity such as target practice, it’s important to understand the air rifle’s effective range. This helps you to estimate how far your air rifle can go to get you reasonable results.

One pertinent question you can ask yourself about a .177 is what is the effective range of the pellet gun? Generally, with a .177 air rifle, you can shoot accurately at your target out at 60-80 yards.

The reason why the effective range of most .177 air rifles is such high is because of the faster velocities most of them come with. Take an example of 1000 fps. If you fire a pellet at this velocity, its trajectory goes flatter and this means more accuracy at longer distances.

Many .177 caliber air rifles offer velocities in the excess of 1000 fps. Look at this Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 air rifle (View on Amazon) that can send pellets downrange at 1420 fps and offers many other indispensable features of a proper air hunting air rifle.

Whether you are hunting for rodents or birds, the Whisper Fusion has the perfect effective range to get the job done always.

Is a .22 Air Rifle More Powerful than a .177?

There is no doubt that two of the most renowned calibers of air rifles feature .22 and .177. Oftentimes, many people think that they are the same in functionality and power but that’s not true.

You would probably ask: is a .22 air rifle more powerful than a .177? There is no straightforward answer to this but basically, a .22 air rifle would be more powerful than a .177 air rifle. On average, a .22 caliber air rifle is capable of producing over 18 foot-pounds of muzzle energy while a .177 about 15 foot-pounds.

If you consider the kind of pellets each shoot. The .177 pellets are lighter than the .22 pellets. What this means is that the heavier .22 pellets are hard-hitting more than the lighter .177 pellets.

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It’s true that a .22 air rifle will shoot pellets at a slower speed. But that’s probably due to the heavy nature of their pellets which is exactly the reason why the guns generate the extra energy compared to their .177 counterparts.

So, if you were looking for a perfect choice in an ideal hunting scene, you will definitely consider a .22 any time.

That, however, doesn’t mean that .177 air rifles are not powerful enough. In fact, there are certain .177 air rifle models on the market that offer serious power than .22 air rifles.

Can You Kill a Deer with a .177 Air Rifle?

Sometimes if you are just getting some foothold in the airgunning world, you think your air rifle can tackle almost every target on the way. Many newbie hunters keep asking the question; can you kill a deer with a .177 air rifle?

By and large, on paper, you cannot kill a deer with a standard .177 air rifle. This is because the pellets used are extremely lightweight and literally below 10 grains in weight. This means they generate less power on impact.

A deer is not the ordinary small targets like birds and rodents you’d easily knock down with that amount of energy. Deer is large and it takes a lot of power. So, you’d probably want to use a higher caliber like a .30 or above.

Nevertheless, there is a slim chance of hitting and knocking it down with a .177 air rifle. You need to be extremely close to the animal and make sure you hit it in the head or lung area.

Even with that, the size of the pellet used in form a .177 will not impound the deer on the spot. It may run off with the injury; which is unethical and irresponsible on your side as a shooter.

If using less powerful air rifles on large animals is going to be a personal trend in hunting, sooner than later the authorities will be on your shoulders. So, as much as you want to try out new things, it’s just cruel to engage a deer with a .177.

Can a 177 Air Rifle Kill a Fox?

A fox is a fairly large animal. And if you have only a .177 air rifle in your possession, you’d likely ask whether a 177 air rifle would kill a fox or not.

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In general, there are very few .177 air rifles that can humanely kill a fox under normal circumstances. Not unless you close into about 10-15 meters and aim the pellet right through the fox’s head.

Of course, it has to be a more powerful .177 air rifle with a minimum of over 30 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. If you are not sure about your air rifle, you simply get a higher caliber and work with it rather than making the animal suffer due to a mishit.

One thing you have to remember about foxes is their tough skin that takes an awful lot of energy for a pellet to penetrate.

What .177 Pellets Are Best for Hunting?

When you go out hunting for squirrels and rabbits or other small game, you definitely need proper hunting pellets. For the record, not all pellets you find on the market are meant for hunting.

The best .177 pellets for hunting weigh much higher. They are supposed to hit hard and leave some massive impact on the target.

Ordinarily, a 177 pellet is lightweight, weighing in at 7.5 to 10.5 grains on average. With this weight, it’s hard to knock down most animals and birds.

But, it’s possible to still get .177 pellets weighing in the region of 14.5 grains. These are practically heavier pellets and provide some serious knockdown power, which is what you need for any hunting activity.

The shape of the pellet is another big factor in its effectiveness. The best shapes for hunting include hollowpoint, wadcutters, and domed pellets.

You can consider the Crosman Premier Super Point .177 Cal pellets (View on Amazon) that come in a 500 ct tin.

Final Thoughts: What Can You Hunt with a .177 Air Rifle?

You can hunt a lot of small-sized animals and birds in the wild and in your backyard. These could include rodents like rats and squirrels and birds like pigeons and swallows.

Different .177 air rifles come with different power capabilities. This offers shooters a chance to even extend their list from just small game and pests only to some fairly larger targets as well.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>