Friday, January 15, 2016

Guest Post: Air Rifles

by George Groot
Firearms are awesome. But unless you have a silencer, or are using a very low power rimfire cartridge, firearms are loud. Firearms are also expensive to feed, even rimfires.

For sake of argument, let's say that after the (insert apocalypse here) you have a nice plot of potatoes, carrots, other root vegetables, but need some meat for the pot. Odds are good that if you live in a city you can find some pigeon or other bird, and if you live in the suburbs you can find squirrels. It doesn’t take much meat to keep all the essential amino acids in your diet, and hunting small game quietly is preferable to hunting small game loudly.

To choose an air rifle for the taking of small game (and let’s be honest, there is a lot more small game than big game out there) your choices are effectively limitless for squirrel and smaller. For rabbit or raccoon, you’ll want bigger pellets and stronger energy levels, and enough accuracy to make headshots if you can for instant kills.

Types of Air Rifles
There are four basic types of air rifle; break barrel, single stroke, multi pump, pre-charged pneumatic.

Break Barrel Rifles
These provide good power pretty cheaply. They are also “hunting accurate”, but have been replaced by precharged pneumatics in competition because the spring action induces vibrations which are not good for accuracy. These are relatively easy to tune and repair for most people who are mechanically inclined. There are lots of manufacturers and lots of options.

Single Stroke Pneumatic
These are accurate, but you are stuck with the power level given. I don’t recommend them for hunting, but they are great for marksmanship practice. In fact I highly recommend them for marksmanship practice.

Multi-Pump Pneumatic
These can be very accurate. People have been using Sheridan Blue Streak (now called the Benjamin 397) or Silver Streak (now Benjamin 392) air rifles for hunting small game since the 1950s. They can be pricier than break barrels, and trickier to repair.

Precharged Pneumatic
The ones regulated for competition are in the same league as most single stroke pneumatics. But you can get these in .17, .22, .25, .35, .45, or .50 caliber if you want to drop a lot of money. These are the fastest for follow up shots because there is nothing to do but put in another pellet. These can get very pricey, and are not easy to repair on your own.

If you are a prepper and you don’t already own an air rifle for hunting, I recommend a break barrel .22 caliber. While not as common as the .17 caliber ammunition, .22 caliber pellets will reliably dispatch squirrels in trees and knock them down to the ground for recovery. The .17 caliber rifles, even high powered ones, don’t always knock the squirrels down.

.22 caliber pellets are more expensive than .17, but still less than $10 per 100 (some are $10 per 500), which is a pretty good price considering how much a 500 round “value pack” of .22 LR is going for lately.

I also recommend getting a low powered air rifle scope in the 4x range to put on your hunting air rifle, because most air rifles come with not much to write home about in the way of factory sites. Not that you need one, mind you, just that it isn't going to hurt to have glass on a rifle.

My recommended air rifles for Blue Collar Preppers are:
Should you go out and sell your rimfires to buy air rifles? No. But if you have squirrels and rabbits getting into your garden, or a raccoon making a nuisance of themselves, a hunting power .22 caliber air rifle is going to be a good addition to your preps.

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