Air Rifles – not just for kids anymore
So I was watching Revolution the other day, the TV series about the world after all electric power has been snuffed out. In one episode, in a world where the self-appointed militia make the rules, one of those rules was that gun ownership is illegal. So the militia hears a gun shot and then find a dressed out deer hanging in front of a man’s house – bad day for him but it does emphasize the point that in a survival situation, you may not want your hunting activity to be heard by other people. The sound of gunfire may attract unwanted attention with negative effects.
It also reminded me that I had looked at several air rifles over Christmas and was considering the purchase of one specifically as a post-SHTF hunting rifle.
Fun Facts: silencers for weapons were first designed to allow people to shoot their weapons in their backyard and not disturb the neighbors. Of course, other people quickly figured out that they have application in military and some not-so-legal activities.
You need an ATF license to manufacture (or own) a silencer or suppressor for your weapons. There are three ways noise is produced when discharging a firearm: muzzle blast, the sonic boom of the round as it passes the speed of sound, and the mechanical noise associated with the action of the weapon. Ideally, a suppressor eliminates the first one but you have to use sub sonic ammunition and then all that remains is the sound of the weapon parts moving.
Ok, let’s get back to air rifles. I want to emphasize that air rifles can augment your survival kit but they don’t replace owning a real firearm. So what are the benefits
Noise – you don’t have to worry about giving your position away when you fire.
Light weight – some models are 3 lbs, easy to carry, and perfect for the younger members of the family.
Little recoil / easy to shoot – while there is some, the weapon is easy to fire and still replicates the action of a firearm. Could be a good starter rifle for the novice (crawl, walk, run) but certainly easy to learn and be fairly accurate quickly.
Low maintenance – little to no maintenance required.
Affordable – even the top end models run under $250.
Ammunition - .177 or .22 pellets are very cheap, so you can spend plenty of time practice shooting. The pellets are also light-weight, you can carry plenty of ammo on a foraging trip. Don’t need a fancy round, just one that is aerodynamic and will cut through the air.
Not regulated – and who can forget that you don’t need a license to purchase an air rifle?
Drawbacks- the air rifle doesn’t replace your need for firearms. Smaller caliber rounds also mean….
Limited range – depending on the model but plan for 30m. Although some air rifles can get over 1000 feet per second muzzle velocity, the lighter round will not be as accurate as an equivalent caliber firearm.
Limited knockdown – the air rifle is really for small birds (pigeon, dove, etc) that are large enough to eat, small animals (squirrel, rabbit, etc) and varmints and pests (rats for example). But that takes me back to an advantage – you don’t want to be wasting valuable firearms ammo on small game if you don’t have to, use an air rifle in these cases.
Types of air rifles: there are spring loaded, pump action, and gas reservoir. Pump action can be multi pump (my first Crosman air rifle was a multi pump), single pump, break action but they all are mechanically primed to release compressed air. There is another type out there called a ram-jet but it is essentially a pump action. Gas reservoirs fire from compressed CO2 cartridges or a pneumatic tank that eventually has to be re-charged. If you don’t have the power to re-charge the reservoir or an endless supply of CO2 cartridges, then I would exclude these models from your prepper kit.
I have seen some websites recommend a scope but at these limited ranges, I think that is unnecessary. You should be able to hit your target with iron sights, no need to add weight to the air rifle and make it harder to carry or handle. If you insist on squeezing some extra range out of your air rifle, you could just practice firing it more…. Training matters!
If you have young children in your family unit, this might be a good Christmas or birthday gift. Get a model that fits your budget.
But a couple of air rifles are an excellent addition to your survival kit. If you are operating out of a base, people can go to excursions around the base to forage and use the air rifle to kill small game without alerting someone traveling nearby to your presence by the sounds of gunfire echoing through the woods.
De Oppresso Liber