Home Essentials Food Air Rifles for Post-SHTF Hunting

Air Rifles for Post-SHTF Hunting

I know many people are capable of hunting. Most of us have factored firearms into our plans but in a post-SHTF scenario, stealth may be the difference between life and death. I don’t want the report of a rifle tipping off anyone, where I am, or where my family is. That’s where air rifles come into my plan.

Air rifles for SHTF food procurement

A few months ago, I found a sale on the Crosman Pumpmaster 760s for $19.99.

I have fond memories of this rifle. It was my constant companion through my boy hood. While there have been many air rifles in my life, the Pumpmaster 760 will always have a special place in my heart.

This is all it took to start me down the path of incorporating air rifles into my post-SHTF hunting plan.

air rifles crosman
Crosman Pumpmaster 760

Silence is Golden

Air rifles can range from almost silent to louder than a .22 rifle. If a pellet is pushed faster than the speed of sound, it produces a very loud “Crack” when it breaks the sound barrier.

To avoid breaking the sound barrier, you need to use a lower powered air rifle, or use a heavier pellet (lead, instead of light weight metals).

I am confident that the Pumpmaster 760 will not break the sound barrier, even with 10 pumps, and Gamo makes the Gamo Whisper and Gamo Silent Cat , which are supposed to be quiet also, but I’ve seen reports that vary. You’ll want to do your own research before trusting manufacturers claims.

Dual Caliber Air Rifles

Dual caliber rifles,  like the Beeman RS-1 or the Beeman Silver Kodiak, come with 2 barrels, a .177 cal and a .22 caliber, allowing you to utilize ammunition for either caliber. A single air rifle that can shoot 2 calibers of pellets, gives you some real advantages!

beeman silver kodiak dual caliber air rifle
Beeman Silver Kodiak dual caliber air rifle


.22 caliber pellets are heavier, and even if they travel slower, than .177 caliber pellets, they will do more damage. Don’t fall for arguments or comparisons based soley on FPS (Feet per Second).

If you compare two identical airguns, with the only difference being caliber, there shouldn’t be a substantial difference in power. This is because the air rifle’s power-plant and not the ammunition, produces the energy. The same amount of energy is applied to the pellet regardless of caliber. The lighter the pellet, the faster the muzzle velocity. The heavier the pellet, the slower the muzzle velocity. A .177 caliber air rifle that gets “1000 fps” and a .22 caliber rifle that gets “800 fps” should produce roughly the same amount of energy, about 15 ft-lbs of muzzle energy once you factor in the inevitable exaggeration companies make in their velocity claims.

.177 Caliber Pellets
A .177 caliber air rifle shoots a lighter, smaller pellet, so they produce a higher muzzle velocity. This gives them a flatter trajectory, which makes it easier to accurately place a pellet under normal conditions. However, because it is a smaller diameter round moving faster, .177 pellets may over-penetrate on small animals and produce a narrower wound channel.

I remember taking down squirrels, rabbits and birds as a youngster, I also remember not taking down an equal number. I will be first to admit that sometimes the .177 Cal pellets leave something to be desired. This led me down a tangled road of .22 cal vs .177 cal and all the investigations in between. I’ve realized that if I ever have to rely on the .177 cal air rifle, then I would need to switch to a pellet with a superior ballistic design.

air rifles pellets
7.9 Grains of .177 caliber power!

This research led to the discovery of the Crossman Destoyer Pellets! They are 7.9 Grains of .177 caliber power (also available in .22 caliber)! This revolutionary pellet combines the best attributes of a pointed pellet with a hollow point, resulting in complete expansion and energy transfer. Compared to traditional pellets, these will sometimes expand to twice their size.

In my independent, soda can tests, they cause considerably more damage than traditional flat tipped pellets, pointed tip pellets and even the hollow point pellets.

If I’d have had these pellets as a youth hunter, I firmly believe we’d have eaten a lot more rabbit and squirrel.

.22 Caliber Pellets

.22 caliber air rifles shoot a larger, heavier pellet, so they are less likely to over-penetrate and will produce a larger wound channel, which makes them more effective with a body shot. They also have a lower muzzle velocity, which produces a more pronounced trajectory. This means that its harder to accurately place pellets, since range estimation is more critical.

Getting Pellets Post-SHTF

You can make a Pellet mold out of a pair of cheap pliers, and with some molten lead, you can produce your own ammunition.


Both .177 and .22 caliber airguns can take small game, which is better depends on you and your preferences. If you need a silent or quiet solution, some of the rifles mentioned in this post might be right up your alley.


    • If an extended warranty is an optuon, GET IT! My Benjamin last 2 years and replacement parts are impossible to acquire. The spring Latch snapped so now it is worthless.

  1. Some years ago , Dr Beeman (Beeman Air Rifles –the classic hunters gun) stated that an air gun which puts out 5 to 7 ft pounds of muzzle energy (which your 760 does Only if Fully Pumped) is sufficient for a humane kill on a squirrel out to 15 yards, (3 car lengths ) and a rabbit , can be killed humanely with such a gun at no more than 5 yards (1 car length) ..And,, those are IF the shooter places the pellet in the hearts or brains,, which means you Must be capable of reliably and regularly hitting a target dot of 1 inch or less at those ranges.. A shot anywhere else MAY kill an animal.. or disable the animal enough to go finish it off with a head shot up close , or break its neck with your hands .. but may more likely not kill it rapidly, and the shooter may assume he missed entirely, but in reality the creature ran off to die slowly and miserably from bleeding or infection, A reasonable Minimum velocity is 800 with .22 pellets and 1000 with .177. A muzzle speed less than 1100 will not break the sound barrier and will not make that loud crack.. A 1200 FPS Air gun is rated with light pellets,, if you use heavy hunting pellets.. the speed will be about 1000 fps and therefore meet your need for quiet shots.. I suggest a Gamo, ($150-$200+, or the lesser known Hatsun Air rifles about $110… in .22 cal. Also please do not shoot squirrels and rabbits in the spring,, if you kill a female,, there will be about 6 less critters to shoot next year, as the babies will die inside her or starve in the nest.

  2. John, my daddy gave me a crossman for perfect attendance in the third grade. I harvested squirrel and other small game with it even after I ‘graduated’ to rim fire rifles. Love it.

    Lost it somewhere in a one of my moves. I was heart broken! Now I have a .22 cal Benjamin that my nephews used growing up. Makes a great back yard squirrel slayer!

    Great article, man!

  3. Nice collection of guns you have there. I bought one of the Tempest several years ago from Doc Beeman, and regretted selling it but needed to finance some other airgunning projects. Have fun shooting!

  4. There is a whole complete market place for airguns. They can teach marksmanship and accuracy for a lot less money than bullets. There are numerous forums. Calibers range from .177 up to . 50 caliber, pumper a, break barrels and pcp that need bottles or pumps to fill.good article!

  5. Ok if anyone interested I would check out Youtube air gun revievs…I like the Hatsan mod 95 in 22 cal its at about 800 fps I would go with a springer or a gas piston (check out airgunweb channel on youtube)….

  6. I really liked your post! I’ve been thinking about buying an air rifle, and after reading your post I think that I’m going to do so! I liked that you mentioned how air rifles are a fantastic option to hunt small game, because of how quiet they are. Since I love to hunt small game when I go camping, I think that an air rifle would be great to bring along! I’m going to start looking for a rifle right away! Thank you for the information!

  7. A good story about .177..My next door neighbor called me on the phone at 8 in the morning. In the woods in front of my house a coyote (which I have had a run in with my dogs) had her and her dog pinned against a tree and she calling for help. I grabbed my Gamo Whisper Fusion, one pellet and hustled to intervene. The coyote was so caught up in them it didn’t hear me coming. At 20 yards I put a round right behind his ear. His feet went up and he hit the ground. Graveyard dead. This rifle shoots at 1300 fpm. Some of the new ones are faster. If you know how to shoot, and where to shoot, this is an awesome air rifle.


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