You might think that air rifles are nothing more than toys. You had one when you were a kid right? You’d shoot cans in the backyard are practice target shooting to improve your aim but you would never hunt with an air rifle right? You’d be surprised what air rifles today are capable of.
A friend of mine recently told me about a hunting trip he took to South Africa. The unique aspect of this trip was that it was an airgun only hunting trip. They were going to South Africa to hunt big game with air rifles. The modern airgun is capable of much more than was once possible. On this hunting trip to Africa the group had several different types and calibers of air rifles ranging from the awesome .50 caliber Dragon slayer to 9mm and .45 caliber air rifles.
When I first heard that there was a .50 caliber air rifle on the market I didn’t really believe it until I saw it. The bullet is massive and can easily take down big game in the right situation. Air rifle hunting with big bore airguns poses some unique challenges over regular hunting. The first being distance. A .300 win mag (standard cartridge used in deer hunting) has an effective range of around 1200 yards. That means you can get off a kill shot without the animal even knowing you are there. With a big bore you are limited to around 100 yards and even 100 yards can be pushing it.
Hunting big game at these distances requires a lot of stealth. Some hunters find the thrill of hunting with an airgun more appealing than that of a regular firearm because of the considerable skill it takes to track and stalk an animal to get into range.
You can also hunt smaller game and pests such as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and birds with the smaller .22 caliber air rifle. There are many affordable options in this caliber and recently Crossman has introduced the new Benjamin Discovery and Marauder series of pcp air rifles. The Marauder and Discovery have a built in compressed air tank and can propel a .22 cal pellet up to 1000 FPS. The nice thing about these hunting rifles is that you can shoot up to 40 full power shots before having to refill the compressed air chamber with a hand pump or scuba tank.
If you enjoy hunting take a air rifle with you on your next hunt. In you down time you can target shoot or hunt small game. It’s cheaper and makes less noise so you wont’ have to worry about scaring game away.