Can I Hunt Coyotes with an Air Rifle?

Western Coyote (Canis latrans) howling in Yellowstone National Park

Coyote hunting is a pretty popular method of controlling their population and protecting livestock. Traditionally, firearms have been the go-to choice for hunters, but air rifles have emerged as an alternative option for those looking to hunt coyotes. These powerful, accurate, and comparatively quiet weapons have grown in effectiveness, giving hunters a viable option for taking down these resilient predators.

The variety of air rifles available on the market today makes it possible for hunters to choose models specifically designed for coyote hunting. A key consideration when selecting an air rifle is the caliber, as it determines the power and effectiveness of the weapon. A proper caliber not only ensures a quick and ethical kill but also aids in adhering to any legal restrictions surrounding air rifles for hunting in various states. Keep in mind, researching your local regulations and focusing on proper shot placement is crucial for a successful and responsible hunting experience.

Types of Air Rifles

When hunting coyotes with an air rifle, there are several types to choose from. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and hunting style.

Break Barrel Air Rifles

Break barrel air rifles are quite popular among hunters due to their simplicity and ease of use. These rifles use a spring-powered system, which allows for powerful and accurate shots. Simply break open the barrel to cock the spring, load a pellet, and close the barrel to be ready to fire. The Gamo Varmint Air Rifle is an example of a break barrel rifle suitable for hunting coyotes.

Precharged Pneumatic (PCP) Air Rifles

Precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles are another option for coyote hunting. These rifles use compressed air as their power source, providing consistent shot-to-shot accuracy and power. PCP rifles can be filled with a high-pressure air pump or from an external air tank. Although they require additional equipment for charging, PCP rifles offer excellent performance and can be a great choice for hunting coyotes.

Pump Air Rifles

Pump air rifles use a multi-pump system to pressurize the air in the rifle. These airguns are typically less expensive and quieter than other options, but require more physical effort to pump the rifle for each shot. While pump air rifles may not be the ideal choice for long-distance coyote hunting, they can still be a viable option for those on a budget or who prefer a quieter air rifle.

Spring-Powered Air Rifles

Spring-powered air rifles are another affordable option for hunting coyotes. These rifles use a spring that is compressed when the rifle is cocked, which then drives a piston forward to compress air and propel the pellet. Spring-powered rifles are typically easy to maintain, but may not provide the same level of power and accuracy as PCP or break-barrel air rifles.

Choosing the right air rifle for coyote hunting depends on your personal preferences, budget, and hunting style. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each type of air rifle, including break barrel, precharged pneumatic, pump, and spring-powered options, before making your decision. Happy hunting!

Choosing the Right Caliber

When it comes to hunting coyotes with an air rifle, one of the most crucial factors to consider is the caliber of your airgun. While there are various calibers available, some are more effective than others for coyote hunting.

The most common calibers used for hunting small game are .177 and .22. Although these calibers have a faster muzzle velocity, they are less likely to deliver a lethal shot to a coyote. Keep in mind, a non-lethal wound could result in a slow, painful death for the animal over a period of days or weeks.

A popular choice among hunters is the .25 caliber, as it provides a good balance of power and accuracy. This caliber has enough energy to take down a coyote within a reasonable range, as long as the shot placement is precise. However, if you’re looking for even more power, you might consider the .30 caliber, which offers greater impact at the expense of reduced pellet velocity.

For those seeking the most powerful option, the .50 caliber air rifle could be the ideal choice. With immense stopping power, a .50 caliber airgun is capable of taking down not only coyotes but even larger game, such as wild boar.

The best caliber for hunting coyotes with an air rifle depends on several factors, including your personal hunting style and the intended range for your shots. Keep in mind that while power is essential for a successful hunt, shot placement and accuracy remain paramount.

Coyote Hunting with Air Rifles

Air rifles can indeed have the necessary power to kill a coyote within a reasonable range. The key is to find the best gun for the job which takes some research and shopping around. Many hunters who have successfully hunted coyotes use air rifles with a .25 caliber or higher, but .30 caliber is more common for greater energy compensation.

One factor to take into account when hunting coyotes with air rifles is the optimal range. This will depend on the type of rifle, caliber, and the shooter’s skill level. A well-placed shot should be enough to take down a coyote, but it’s essential to practice and improve your accuracy before heading out on a hunt.

It is important to take care when hunting in urban environments (if allowed), as coyotes and other predators are often found in these densely populated areas. Some of the best airgun rifles for hunting urban predators are designed specifically for this purpose, offering the power and precision needed to safely and humanely control these animals.

Advantages of Air Rifles for Hunting Coyotes


Air rifles come with a number of advantages when hunting coyotes. They offer a quiet shooting experience, which is essential for maintaining stealth during coyote hunts. Traditional firearms can spook coyotes, causing them to run off before you have a chance to take a shot. Thanks to the air rifle’s whisper-like operation, hunters are able to position themselves closer to their targets for a more accurate and successful hunt.


Another key benefit of using air rifles for coyote hunting is their lightweight design. Carrying a heavy firearm during hunts can be tiresome, especially when covering long distances or navigating difficult terrain. With air rifles, hunters can enjoy a more comfortable experience without sacrificing power or accuracy. This is particularly important when hunting coyotes, as it allows you to be more agile and stay on the move.


Air rifles are also known for being affordable when compared to traditional firearms. High-quality air rifles can be found at a fraction of the cost of a traditional firearm, making them an attractive option for both new and experienced hunters. The cost-saving extends to the ammunition as well, with pellets being far less expensive than bullets.

Variety and Versatility

A major advantage of air rifles in coyote hunting is their variety and versatility. Air rifles come in different calibers and power levels, allowing hunters to find the perfect option for their needs. It’s essential to choose an air rifle with a larger caliber and higher velocity for coyote hunting, as it ensures a quick and humane kill. Some excellent pellet guns for coyotes hunting include Gamo 610017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal or other larger caliber options.

Air rifles offer a distinct set of advantages for coyote hunting, making them a popular choice among hunters. Their quiet, lightweight, and affordable nature allows hunters to better track and target coyotes while enjoying a more comfortable and cost-effective experience.

Legal Aspects and Restrictions

When it comes to hunting coyotes with air rifles, there are legal aspects and restrictions that one must consider. Air rifle hunting laws vary by state, so it is crucial to understand the specific requirements and regulations in your area before attempting to use an air rifle for coyote hunting.

First and foremost, some states allow hunting coyotes with a .22 air rifle, while others might impose restrictions on when and where it can be used. For example, certain states may only permit the use of air rifles during specific seasons or in designated areas.

Moreover, the type of air rifle used for coyote hunting must often adhere to specific caliber requirements. In Colorado, for instance, hunters can only use a .25 caliber or larger PCP rifle for hunting coyotes and bobcats. Meanwhile, other animals such as ground squirrels, feral hogs, and opossums can be hunted with different air rifle calibers.

In some states, air rifles are considered firearms and might require a special license or permit for use. Therefore, it’s essential to verify whether your state has such conditions and obtain the necessary documentation before embarking on a coyote hunt with your air rifle.

Finally, bear in mind that airgun regulations can also differ depending on certain factors like age or the type of property where the hunting activity will take place. So, it’s always a good idea to double-check legal requirements and restrictions before venturing out.

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the legal aspects and restrictions concerning coyote hunting with air rifles in your state to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and compliant hunting experience.

Effective Range for Coyote Hunting

When hunting coyotes with an air rifle, one crucial factor to consider is the effective range. The effective range is the distance within which a projectile can accurately hit the target and deliver sufficient power to incapacitate or kill the animal.

The velocity and muzzle velocity of an air rifle are critical in determining the effective range. These factors affect both the accuracy and the impact energy of the projectile. In general, air rifles with higher velocities and muzzle velocities tend to have greater effective ranges.

For hunting coyotes, a reliable air rifle should have a muzzle velocity of at least 900 feet per second. The Seneca Recluse 500 CC, for example, is a precharged pneumatic air gun that fires a .357 caliber round, with a muzzle velocity of approximately 900 fps and 136.66 foot-pounds of energy.

When it comes to distance, the effective range for hunting coyotes with an air rifle is usually between 50 to 100 yards. Within this range, the projectile can maintain adequate energy and accuracy to humanely dispatch the animal. It’s essential to practice shooting at different distances to become familiar with your air rifle’s capabilities and limitations.

The effective range also depends on the skill and experience of the shooter and the specific air rifle being used. As you gain more experience and skill, you may find it possible to extend the effective range slightly. However, remember that it’s crucial to consider the ethical aspect of hunting and ensure accurate shot placement for a quick and humane kill.

When hunting coyotes with an air rifle, selecting one with a suitable effective range and adequate projectile velocity is essential. Keep in mind that practicing at various distances and understanding the limitations of your air rifle will help you make ethical and effective shots during your coyote hunting adventures, resulting in a fulfilling and successful hunt.

Pellet Selection for Coyote Hunting

When it comes to hunting coyotes with an air rifle, the right pellet selection plays a crucial role in making a successful and humane kill. As coyotes are a relatively large game, you need to consider a pellet with sufficient weight and muzzle energy to ensure a clean shot.

One popular option is lead pellets as they tend to have a higher weight, which helps maintain accuracy at longer distances. Moreover, they are known for delivering more foot-pounds of energy (FPE) upon impact, ultimately resulting in better penetration and lethality.

In terms of caliber, many hunters prefer using .25 caliber pellets for coyote hunting, while others opt for .30 and up to compensate for potential shooting errors with greater energy. Keep in mind that pellet weight and caliber both have a significant impact on the FPE and muzzle energy exerted on your target.

It’s worth mentioning that lighter pellets such as the .177 caliber may not be the best choice for coyote hunting. Though they may achieve higher speeds, they tend to lose energy quickly and may not be as effective at taking down larger game.

To improve your pellet selection:

  • Choose a heavier pellet for better accuracy, penetration, and energy retention.
  • Opt for a larger caliber, such as .25 or .30, for increased power and effectiveness against coyotes.
  • Avoid lighter pellets that may not have enough muzzle energy to effectively take down your target.

Ultimately, the best pellet for coyote hunting with an air rifle is one that combines appropriate weight, caliber, and muzzle energy. Experiment with different pellets to find the optimal balance for your air rifle and hunting style.

Shot Placement and Techniques

A coyote walks in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota

When hunting coyotes with an air rifle, it’s crucial to prioritize shot placement to ensure a quick and humane kill. As coyotes are quick-moving and intelligent animals, they can be challenging to hunt. However, using the proper techniques and making the right decisions can significantly increase your chances of success.

One of the best options for a kill shot on a coyote is aiming for the head, specifically the brain or the base of the skull. A well-placed headshot, especially with calibers such as .25, .30, and above, can result in an instant and humane kill. Keep in mind that headshots may require more shooting skills and experience due to the small target area. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with your air rifle and develop your shooting skills by practicing on targets before attempting this in the field.

Another effective shot placement is aiming for vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, which will cause the coyote to die quickly due to internal bleeding. The chest area is a larger target than the head, making it a more straightforward shot for hunters, even at distances up to 100 yards. Be aware that a slightly misplaced shot may not lead to an immediate kill, so you must be prepared to follow up in case the coyote moves after being shot.

To increase your chances of success, consider scouting the hunting area beforehand to find suitable spots for an ambush. Exploit the coyote’s habits and behaviors, such as their natural attraction to cattle pastures and their tendency to approach from downwind to catch scents. Staying quiet, hidden, and downwind when stalking coyotes is also essential to avoid alerting them to your presence.

Scopes and Accessories for Air Rifles

When hunting coyotes with an air rifle, it’s essential to have the right scopes and accessories to ensure a successful and humane hunt. A good scope is crucial for accurate target acquisition, especially when dealing with coyotes at range.

Choosing the Right Scope

Selecting a scope with variable magnification can help you adapt to different shooting distances. An adjustable objective can help with parallax correction, while illuminated reticles can make it easier to see your target in low-light conditions. Remember to choose a scope with sturdy construction to withstand the recoil of your air rifle.

Essential Accessories 

Some accessories can improve your hunting experience significantly. A bipod can provide added stability and accuracy when shooting from a prone position. A sling can make it easier to carry your rifle while walking long distances in search of prey. A quality carrying case will protect your air rifle and its accessories during transport.

Trigger Pull Adjustments 

The trigger pull of your air rifle can have a significant impact on shot quality and accuracy. An adjustable trigger can allow you to set the pull weight to suit your preference, providing a crisp and consistent shot. Some air rifle manufacturers offer models with adjustable triggers, so consider this feature when selecting your hunting air rifle.

In conclusion, investing in the right scope, accessories, and a rifle with an adjustable trigger pull will enhance your hunting experience and increase your chances of success when hunting coyotes with an air rifle. Remember always to prioritize the animal’s welfare and aim for quick, humane kills.

Other Game Animals to Hunt with Air Rifles

Air rifles are not just for hunting coyotes, they can be used to hunt a variety of game animals. When it comes to small game, air rifles are a popular choice for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and various bird species. They offer a quiet and accurate alternative to traditional firearms, making them an excellent option for controlling pests and furbearers in suburban or urban environments.

Big game hunting with air rifles is also becoming more popular. In some states, it is legal to hunt white-tailed deer and wild hogs with air rifles, as long as the air gun meets minimum caliber and energy requirements. For example, Alabama allows the hunting of white-tail deer and wild boar with air rifles greater than .30 caliber.

For those interested in predator hunting, air rifles can be an effective tool for raccoons, foxes, and other similar-sized animals. Using a powerful air rifle with the appropriate ammunition can result in clean kills. Not only are air rifles quieter than traditional firearms, but their lower power generally results in less damage to fur and meat, making them a preferred option for furbearer hunting.

It’s important to note that not all air rifles are suitable for hunting larger game, so be sure to check the specifications of your air rifle and local hunting regulations before heading out. With a myriad of game animals available to hunt with air rifles, it’s easy to see why they have become an increasingly popular choice among hunters.

Popular Air Rifle Models for Coyote Hunting

If you’re looking for an air rifle to hunt coyotes, there are several models on the market that offer power, accuracy, and reliability. Let’s take a look at some popular options to consider.

The Daisy 880 Powerline Air Rifle Kit is a versatile and well-rounded choice for both fun and competition. It’s a top pick among air rifle enthusiasts that provides the necessary power and accuracy for coyote hunting.

Another great option is the Hatsan Hercules. Available in multiple calibers, including .45, it offers impressive power output, with 142 ft lbs in .357 and an astonishing 290 ft lbs in .45. This airgun model will surely help you take down coyotes effectively.

For those on a budget, the Gamo 610017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal is a fantastic choice. This powerful yet budget-friendly air rifle from Gamo is specifically designed for varmint hunting and is suitable for coyotes as well.

A powerful and reliable model, the Seneca Recluse is also worth considering. It offers excellent accuracy and delivers a strong shot, making it a superb option for coyote hunting.

Finally, the Gamo Swarm Maxxim provides a smooth shooting experience with its unique 10X Quick-Shot technology, allowing for fast follow-up shots if needed. This air rifle from Gamo has gained a lot of positive reviews for its reliability and effectiveness in the field.

When selecting an air rifle for coyote hunting, it’s crucial to go for power, accuracy, and reliability. These models offer a mix of great features and can help you succeed in your hunting endeavors. Happy hunting!

Safety When Coyote Hunting with Air Rifles

Coyote hunting with air rifles can be a useful method for controlling populations in certain areas. When hunting coyotes, both the hunter’s safety and the animal’s welfare should be taken into consideration.

First, always choose an air rifle with sufficient power and the appropriate caliber for taking down a coyote. It is possible to kill a coyote with an air rifle, but using a firearm that cannot guarantee a quick, clean, and humane kill would be unethical. A .22 caliber air rifle might not provide enough stopping power, whereas a .25 caliber or higher rifle would likely be more effective.

Next, be sure to practice your marksmanship skills and aim for vital areas to ensure a swift, clean kill. A poorly placed shot can lead to a slow death for the animal, which you want to avoid. Take the time to familiarize yourself with a coyote’s anatomy and practice shooting at targets to improve your accuracy.

When it comes to hunter safety, always treat an air rifle as if it were a more powerful firearm. This means following basic gun safety rules, such as always pointing the muzzle in a safe direction, keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and wearing eye protection.

Finally, familiarize yourself with your local laws and regulations regarding coyote hunting and air rifles. Some states have specific legalities and restrictions for hunting coyotes with air rifles, such as required hunting permits or restrictions on hunting seasons.

Practice and Skill Development

Practicing your skills with an air rifle is essential for a successful coyote hunt. One of the best ways to develop your skills is through regular target practice. Engaging in activities like plinking can help you get familiar with the rifle and improve your aim and accuracy.

When choosing an air rifle for coyotes, consider selecting one with an appropriate barrel length. This attribute will have a significant impact on the rifle’s accuracy and shooting range. A longer barrel typically provides better accuracy since it increases the bullet’s velocity, ensuring that your shot hits its target effectively.

To effectively shoot coyotes with an air rifle, it’s crucial to develop a good understanding of the animal’s behavior and habits. This familiarity will help you anticipate their movements and make the crucial shots when necessary. Keep in mind that coyotes are elusive creatures, so practicing under various hunting conditions, such as different times of the day or weather conditions, can prepare you better for the real experience.

Additionally, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with local regulations surrounding air rifle hunting, as some areas may have specific restrictions or guidelines. In some places, hunting larger game like bear with air rifles is permissible, but practicing and honing your skills on smaller animals like coyotes is a great way to build the necessary experience.

Remember, consistent practice and skill development are vital to becoming a successful coyote hunter with an air rifle. The more time you spend practicing and experimenting with different techniques, the better your chances are of making the perfect shot and enjoying a successful hunt.


In summary, hunting coyotes with an air rifle is possible, but there are several factors to take into consideration. The power and accuracy of the air rifle play crucial roles in determining the effectiveness of this hunting method.

Practicing your shooting skills is essential, as a well-placed shot is necessary for a successful hunt. Some air rifles are powerful enough to take down a coyote at 100 yards. However, be prepared to spend some time honing your skills to reach this level of proficiency.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the effectiveness of using an air rifle for coyote hunting. A small caliber air rifle can cause a prolonged, painful death for the coyote. Choosing a larger caliber air rifle with more powerful specifications is likely to provide a quicker, cleaner kill.

Always comply with local regulations and laws regarding air rifle hunting and follow proper safety guidelines to ensure a responsible and enjoyable hunting experience. With the right air rifle, proper technique, and adherence to ethical hunting practices, it is possible to successfully hunt coyotes using this method.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a .22 pellet gun powerful enough to kill a coyote?

Yes, a .22 caliber pellet gun can be powerful enough to kill a coyote with a well-placed shot, but it might not always guarantee a quick and humane kill. It’s essential to choose a powerful air rifle and practice accurate shot placement to ensure an ethical hunt.

What are some quiet air rifles for coyote hunting?

Several air rifles on the market are designed to reduce noise and maintain stealth during coyote hunting. Some options with integrated suppressors or noise-reducing technology include the Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 and the Benjamin Marauder. When choosing a quiet air rifle, it’s crucial to find one that’s still powerful enough to efficiently hunt coyotes.

Which air rifles are best for hunting coyotes?

The best air rifles for hunting coyotes are powerful and accurate options with calibers appropriate for the task. Some popular choices among hunters include the Benjamin Bulldog .357 PCP and the Umarex Gauntlet PCP. It’s important to research and test different models to find the best air rifle for your specific needs.

Can a .177 pellet gun effectively take down a coyote?

A .177 pellet gun may be able to take down a coyote if the shot is well-placed, but there are concerns regarding the ethical and humane aspects of using such a small caliber. Larger calibers such as .22 or higher are generally recommended for hunting coyotes to ensure a quick and humane kill. Even with a .22 it takes a very accurate shot and you should consider larger calibers.

What is the top pellet pistol for hunting coyotes?

Hunting coyotes with a pellet pistol might not be the most effective method due to their limited power and accuracy compared to air rifles. However, if considering a pellet pistol for secondary use or close-range situations, the Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker .22 PCP Air Pistol is a popular choice.

Is an air rifle suitable for varmint hunting?

Yes, air rifles can be an excellent choice for varmint hunting, targeting animals such as rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. The right air rifle for varmint hunting will have sufficient power, accuracy, and a suitable caliber for the intended game. It’s essential to check local laws and regulations regarding airgun use for hunting various species, as they can differ between states.


Colby has been involved in the outdoors for over 30 years. Part of his problem is that instead of focusing on one specific outdoor hobby he spreads his time over a multitude of outdoor adventures. This has provided him the opportunity to have varied experiences across a broad spectrum of outdoor activities. Jack Outdoors has provided him an outlet to share the things he has learned as well as his successes and failures.

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