My father in law sent me a link to a site a while back that showed a man taking down a full grown hog using only a pellet gun. I thought, “this can’t be real…” how can something that isn’t much bigger than a grain of rice take down a feral hog?
I started doing a little bit of research and turns out it is completely true, when said pellet is traveling at 1250 feet per second (many .22 caliber rim fire rifles only reach around 1100-1200 fps). I decided to purchase one of these air rifles and give it a test.
After a few days of research I had settled on brand. From all of my research GAMO seems to be the top name in air rifles that are widely available. After choosing the brand I then needed to choose the caliber of ammo to be used. After a visit to a sporting goods store I opted for the .177 caliber based mainly on the price and the amount of ammo available.
The .22 caliber would have a slightly higher knockdown power but the .177 had more variations of ammo, higher rounds per box and a cheaper ammunition cost.
With prices ranging from $80- $800 I decided that I wanted to keep my budget at around $200 simply I couldn’t fathom paying much more for an air rifle.
I ended up picking the GAMO Big Cat as it fell right into my $200 budget, and headed out to my grandparents’ home for a little target practice. After several hours of testing, here is what I have found
The synthetic stock is rubberized and has a good grip, which since this is a break action style rifle it is imperative to not slip when you are loading it.
Cheap ammo (1250 rounds for under $15.00 on amazon)
Large variety of ammo. I found at least 10 different varieties of .177 caliber ammunition sitting on the shelf.
Low maintenance. This gun does not actually “fire”, and as such there is little to no residue and not much is required in the way of maintenance. The only thing you will need to do is add a couple of drops of oil every 100-200 shots fired and the occasional cleaning out of the barrel.
No waiting period. This is about the best pro I can think of, you can pick this rifle up off the shelf and buy it without having a 3 day waiting period (Check your local laws to verify this). There are currently no laws requiring a background check on an air rifle, at least here in Texas.
There are a few cons with this rifle as well:
Accuracy. The first 75-100 shots have very bad accuracy. This is a normal break in period for just about any air rifle and can be frustrating.
Stiff cocking mechanism. It takes about 40lbs of pull in order to break over the barrel and load the pellet. Make sure of your hands are out of the way when you cock it. I was unfortunate enough to rack one of my knuckles several weeks ago and it is still sore.
Single Shot. Unless you go with the more expensive PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic), your normal break action gun will only hold one pellet at a time. This can be very taxing on your morale when you are trying to take down a few squirrel and are forced to reload after each shot.
An air rifle like the GAMO Big Cat that I purchased is great for practice and small game.
Once the gun has been sighted in you should be able to kill any small game less than 20lbs with no problem. Just bear in mind that most small game has a successful kill spot of around 1” so you will need to practice. If you have the right ammo and a well-placed shot you could potentially take down larger game like a hog .
Even if you do have other rifles for larger game and self-defense, the inexpensive and highly available ammo will make this an extremely useful gun to have on hand in a survival situation. What do you think about using an air rifle for survival?