If you are overrun by rats on your property, then you may want to consider keeping numbers down. One of the best ways to do this is to control them through shooting. Now, I appreciate that this is not a solution for everyone – especially those who are faint hearted – but when executed successfully with an air rifle, it is a highly efficient form of pest control.
Reasons why you should use an air rifle for shooting rats
Air rifles are, without doubt, the best device for shooting rats. Not only are they safer to use then shotguns (as they use pellets and not bullets) but they are quieter which means that you can creep up on your counterpart relatively discreetly.
Air rifles are also great for those who are not used to handling guns, as they tend to be smaller and lighter to hold and therefore have limited power and range – although I would always recommend practicing your skills in your backyard beforehand.
Another reason that air rifles are so popular is because the requirements for owning one are way more relaxed than if you were to purchase a shotgun. In most regions of America; according to the federal government; you simply have to be 18 years or older to use an air rifle, however it is always worth checking the legalities in your area as some states may regulate differently.
5 things to consider when purchasing an air rifle for pest control
Depending on your skill level, budget, expectation and usage, you should always consider the following when purchasing an air rifle: –
1. Size of the barrel
A general rule of thumb tends to be that the longer the barrel, the more accurate your shot (although this does not take into consideration your level of experience!). Therefore, if you are a beginner, I would suggest looking at an air rifle with a total length of between 40-50 inches as this will allow you more accuracy without having to lug around a cumbersome gun.
2. Weight for the rifle
Air rifles have become lighter over the years as they have evolved, however, that does not mean they are all lightweight. If you add on extras such as a gun lamp or night vision equipment you could end up with a heavy and bulky rifle to carry around. I would therefore suggest looking for an air rifle that does not exceed 10lbs.
3. Pellet caliber
You are able to buy 4 different pellet sizes for air rifles but the most popular tend to be the .177 and .22. The .177 caliber was thought to have been created shortly after the start of the 20th century. It is the smallest of all the pellets so is lighter in weight making its exit from the rifle quicker and some might say more accurate. The .22 hits harder, transmitting more of its energy to the target. I prefer these pellets as they are bigger, so increase your chances of hitting the target.
4. Firing mechanism
They are numerous air rifles which use different mechanisms in order to fire. Some use spring pistons using compressed air, whilst others such as nitrogen pistons use gas in order to fire.
5. Loading mechanism
Depending on whether you want to be continuously loading your air rifle one pellet at a time or use it for continuous shooting, will be a major factor in selecting your gun. Break action rifles tend to be easier to use but involve constant restocking whilst bolt actions allow multiple fire but are slow to load and difficult to maintain.
Best air rifles for pest control
When it comes to finding an air rifle that is right for you, the more you spend does not always guarantee you a superior product. Below I list a selection of my favorite air rifles and state why they could suit your pest control needs.
1. Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal
This is without doubt, the best air rifle on the market for targeting rats and pest control. The Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 caliber has a single cock breaking barrel, so you will need to reload the rifle after each shot. But its powerful spring piston ensures a clean hit nearly every time. I personally find that it is more accurate when targeting rats at close range, as its long range can be limiting.
The trigger can be adjusted, and this air rifle comes equipped with additional features such as fixed magnification and a fog-proof scope. It is made of hard-wearing materials so can be taken out in all weathers and its steel barrel even comes with a 1-year warranty.
This air rifle is great for beginners and robust enough to kill rats. If, however, you are after larger pests then you may need to invest in something more powerful.
- Sturdy and fit for purpose
- Not too heavy
- Great value for money
- Easy to operate
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Equipped with magnification and fog-proof scope
- Not ideal for hunting larger pests
- Relatively noisy
2. Crosman M4-177 Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle .177Cal
This gun is lightweight, compact and recoilless and when you are holding it whilst its professional design makes you look like you mean business – so rats beware. I like this air rifle because it not only looks good but fires great, making it one of the most sought-after guns on the market.
The Crosmans M4-177 allows you to build up confidence as it uses a multi-pump pneumatic system. This allows you greater control over the power of the gun. Therefore, the more you pump, the higher the velocity and the greater the power. Alternatively, the less you pump, the lower the less power you’ll produce.
Just like the Gamo above, this air rifle fires single shots and at just over 33 inches it is easy to carry and looks pretty good on the arm too.
- Looks professional – modelled on an AR15
- Safe due to its child-friendly features
- Easy to operate
- Some of this rifle is made from plastic
- Relatively noisy
3. Crosman Fury NP Piston Pellet Gun
If you are looking for something that literally gives you more ‘bang’ for your buck, then the Crosman Fury NP Piston Pellet Gun is a great choice. This gun is powerful and shoots .177 caliber rounds. Using a nitro piston instead of a spring, it is quieter than most other air rifles – allowing you to sneak up on those scampering fiends.
This air rifle is durable so is perfect to take out in all weathers. That said, this gun is tricky to get to grips with and the break barrel does require a certain amount of force. Practice makes perfect for all aspects of this rifle.
- Excellent value for money
- Tricky to use
4. RWS .177 Cal Pellet Model 34 Combo
After much deliberation, I decided to add this air rifle to the list. It is expensive in comparison to the others, but if you don’t mind splashing the cash on some serious rat catching kit, then this is the gun to purchase – see on Amazon.
Its straight wooden stock is made of hardwood, which makes it look nice, feel lightweight and fire fantastically. For the price, you will be pleased to know that this is an “all signing, all slaying” air rifle and comes with a scope, dust covers and lifetime warranty.
- Well-built rifle
- Comes with extras and a lifetime warranty
- Its wooden frame makes it a little heavy
Wrapping up the best air rifles for pest control
In the right circumstances, environment and when using the right equipment (as stated above) I truly believe that shooting rats is one of the most humane ways of dealing with an infestation, although I do not condone it as a sport. That said, using an air rifle should never be considered as a standalone solution for pest control, but when you are overrun with rats on your property this is a great way of decreasing numbers.
When it comes to equipment it really is worth doing your research to find the best air rifle for your pest control requirements. And remember in this scenario, when you buy cheap it is likely to end up costing you dear!