Can I Hunt Raccoons with an Air Rifle?

snarling raccoon

Hunting raccoons can be both a challenging and rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

With their agile climbing abilities, keen sense of smell, and nocturnal habits, raccoons can be difficult to find and track.

One tool that has gained popularity among hunters looking to pursue raccoons is the air rifle.

Air rifles offer many advantages over traditional firearms, such as reduced noise, less recoil, and no need for a gun license, making them an ideal choice for hunting these elusive creatures.

Air rifles are effective and versatile weapons for hunting raccoons, as long as the right caliber and pellet type are used.

When properly equipped, an air rifle can provide the power and accuracy necessary to take down a raccoon in a humane and effective manner.

In order to ensure success in your raccoon hunting endeavors, it is essential to understand the basics of air rifle operation and maintenance, as well as choosing the appropriate rifle and pellets for the task at hand.

Key Takeaways

  • Air rifles can be effective tools for hunting raccoons when using the right caliber and pellet type.
  • Familiarize yourself with air rifle operation, maintenance, and proper pellet choices to ensure humane and effective hunting.
  • Legal considerations and safety precautions should be addressed when pursuing raccoons with an air rifle.

Air Rifle Basics

Air rifles are versatile weapons and can work effectively for hunting small game, including raccoons.

The key factors to consider when choosing an air rifle for this purpose are its caliber, velocity, power, accuracy, and recoil.

There are several calibers to choose from, such as .177, .22, .25, and .30 caliber.

The .177 and .22 calibers are the most popular choices for raccoon hunting due to their adequate power and accuracy.

A .177 air rifle has the advantage of being more accurate and can penetrate thick raccoon fur, making it effective for hunting these small mammals.

On the other hand, a .22 caliber air rifle is a preferred option for many hunters as it offers both power and accuracy.

When it comes to velocity, a good air rifle for raccoon hunting should have a minimum of 650 FPS (feet per second).

This allows the pellets to have enough penetration power to take down these small animals effectively.

Air rifles use pellets as their ammunition, which are made from either lead or non-lead materials.

It’s essential to choose the right pellet type and weight to ensure optimal performance from your air rifle.

The power of the air rifle is typically measured in ft/lbs (foot-pounds), with a minimum of 35 ft/lbs being suitable for raccoon hunting.

Accuracy is crucial for effectively hunting raccoons.

An ideal air rifle should be able to print sub-1-inch groups at 50 yards, ensuring better chances of hitting your target.

Recoil plays a significant role in determining the accuracy of your shots.

Air rifles have a lower recoil compared to traditional firearms, making it easier for a hunter to maintain their aim on target.

In conclusion, hunting raccoons with an air rifle is a viable option if you choose the right caliber, velocity, power, and ensure good accuracy from your gun.

Choosing the Right Air Rifle

When hunting raccoons with an air rifle, it’s crucial to select the right kind of air rifle for the task.

There are several factors to consider, such as power, accuracy, and the type of air rifle you’d be most comfortable using.

Air rifles come in different calibers and power sources.

One option is a spring piston air rifle, which is easy to use and maintain.

However, to hunt raccoons effectively, you’ll likely need a more powerful air rifle, such as a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) model.

PCP air rifles are known for their accuracy, power, and ability to deliver multiple shots without recharging.

The Benjamin Marauder is an excellent example of a powerful and accurate PCP air rifle suitable for raccoon hunting.

Benjamin Marauder BP2264S .22-Caliber Pellet PCP Hunting Air Rifle
  • BALANCED ALL-WEATHER SYNTHETIC STOCK - Adjustable raised comb cheek-piece and reversible bolt handle
  • RIFLED STEEL BARREL - Shrouded, with integrated sound suppression

This air rifle features a 10-round magazine, making it easy to take multiple shots when needed.

Another popular option for raccoon hunting is the Umarex Hammer, which boasts a high power output and is well-suited for hunting larger critters.

Umarex Hammer .50 Caliber PCP Pellet Gun Air Rifle
  • The most powerful production air rifle on the planet; Dumps a ton of energy into its target instead of carrying the energy with it through the target
  • One full tank delivers 4 full power regulated shots + 1 finishing shot (4 shots total)
  • Ultralight 4500 psi, 24 cubic inch carbon fiber air tank; Modern stock design with M-LOK locations for accessory mounting and a Picatinny rail for optics mounting
  • Very quiet shooting; Includes two 2-shot linear mags; Straight pull bolt with a 2-pound pull weight and 2 inches of travel; Two safeties: mag lock-out (won't fire without mag) and trigger block safety
  • Shoots .50 caliber pellets at up to 1130 fps; Compatible with spare magazine part number: 2252637

The Hatsan Factor BP also offers great power, making it an excellent choice for raccoon hunting.

Hatsan Factor BP PCP Air Rifle, 30 Caliber
  • Caliber - .30 cal; Repeating, side-lever, pre-charged pnuematic (PCP) air rifle
  • QuietEnergy technology with integrated sound moderator; Quattro Trigger - 2-stage fully adjustable match trigger
  • Externally adjustable hammer preload; 5-position telescoping stock with 9-position elevation adjustable cheek rest
  • 580cc detachable carbon fiber bottle - spares bottles available; Black metal trigger with vertical and angular trigger shoe adjustment
  • Max Velocity* Lead Pellets - 956 FPS; Max Muzzle Energy** - 140 FPE; * Velocity results may vary due to pellet weight, pellet shape, pellet material, temperature, elevation, as well as other factors** Energy results may vary due to pellet weight, pellet shape, pellet material, temperature, elevation, as well as other factors

When considering an air rifle, it’s essential to think about the caliber and the pellet type.

A .22 caliber air rifle, or above, is often recommended for raccoon hunting, as it provides more energy than a .177 caliber air rifle.

Keep in mind that you should use a gun with at least 650 FPS for optimal performance.

In summary, selecting the right air rifle for raccoon hunting involves considering factors such as power, accuracy, and the type of air rifle you feel most comfortable using.

With numerous options available, such as the Benjamin Marauder or Umarex Hammer, you’ll be able to find an air rifle well-suited to your raccoon-hunting endeavors.

Hunting Raccoons with Air Rifles

Raccoon hunting can be a fun and challenging outdoor activity that attracts many enthusiasts.

Air rifles, with their power and accuracy, make a fitting choice for hunting these small game animals.

In this section, we will discuss the essentials of raccoon hunting using air rifles, as well as the ideal rifles and shot placement to ensure a successful hunt.

Air rifles with a power generation of 35 ft./lbs. or better and capable of producing sub-1-inch groups at 50 yards are recommended for raccoon hunting.

A good example would be the Umarex Hammer PCP air rifle, known for its outstanding power and performance.

When it comes to caliber, a .22 or higher is considered appropriate for furry animals like raccoons. On the other hand, a .177 caliber may not be enough for a clean kill.

Precharged pneumatic guns (PCP) are a great option for airgun hunting, as they can be used for small to large game with impressive accuracy.

They are available in various calibers, ranging from .177 up to .50. Just be sure to verify the airgun hunting laws in your state before you set out on a raccoon-hunting expedition.

Shot placement is crucial when hunting raccoons with air rifles.

To ensure a humane and clean kill, aim for the raccoon’s head or heart.

A well-placed shot to these vital areas will cause the least suffering for the animal and yield a quicker kill.

Legal Considerations

When it comes to hunting raccoons with an air rifle, it’s important to be aware of the legal considerations in your area.

Laws regarding air rifle hunting can vary widely depending on the state or country you’re in.

Some places may require a specific permission or license for using an air rifle, while others may have more lenient or restrictive regulations.

Before heading out for raccoon hunting, it’s essential to obtain the proper permits or licenses to comply with your local regulations.

Some areas may also have designated hunting seasons for raccoons, and it’s crucial to stay within those periods to avoid breaking the law.

Additionally, bag limits may apply to raccoons in certain states, which means you can only harvest a certain number of raccoons per day or over the entire hunting season.

Another important aspect of raccoon hunting is bait usage.

Some areas may have regulations on the types of bait you can use, so be sure to check your local laws and guidelines to ensure you’re in compliance.

In terms of trapping, different regulations may apply for different locations, so always verify the rules for raccoon trapping in your area.

As you’re planning your raccoon hunt, don’t forget to consider any protected areas near you. 

Trail and wildlife reserves might prohibit hunting altogether, so be sure to plan your route accordingly.

Also, keep in mind the importance of protecting other species in the area.

Avoid accidentally targeting non-raccoon, possibly protected species during your hunting trip.

In summary, to embark on a raccoon hunt using an air rifle, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the appropriate laws, permissions, licenses, hunting seasons, bag limits, bait and trapping regulations, and protective measures.

By doing so, you’ll ensure a responsible, ethical, and legal hunting experience.

Just remember to always consider the welfare of the raccoons and their environment, and enjoy the great outdoors while abiding by the local regulations.

Safety Precautions

When hunting raccoons with an air rifle, it is essential to take certain safety precautions to ensure a successful and secure hunt.

In this section, we will discuss important measures to consider while using an air rifle for raccoon hunting.

During nighttime raccoon hunting, adequate lighting is crucial for spotting your target and ensuring a precise shot.

Consider using a good-quality scope with illuminated reticles for better visibility. Adding a headlamp or flashlight for additional light can make it easier for the hunter to navigate through the dark.

Hunting requires patience and appropriate equipment.

While preparing for your hunt, use rigid targets to practice shooting and familiarize yourself with the air rifle’s characteristics.

This practice will help you gain confidence and improve your aim before the actual hunt.

The windage, or wind’s effect on your shot, should also be considered.

Take note of the wind direction and adjust your shot accordingly to account for any inconsistencies it may cause.

Lastly, always remember the basic safety precautions associated with using any firearm, including keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot and always pointing the muzzle in a safe direction.

Additionally, wearing eye protection when hunting or practicing with an air rifle is highly recommended (ask me how I know).

Effective Shot Placement

A well-placed shot can make the difference between a clean kill and a wounded, suffering animal.

In this section, we will discuss the best places to target for a successful raccoon hunt.

One of the preferred shot placements is a headshot.

Aiming for the raccoon’s head, specifically the area between the eyes and ears, can result in an instant, clean kill.

This is because the brain is located in this region, and a direct hit with a pellet will cause immediate unconsciousness and death.

Keep in mind, however, that a headshot requires great precision and skill, especially considering the small target area and the possibility for the raccoon to move suddenly.

Another effective shot placement is targeting the raccoon’s vital organs, such as the heart and lungs.

To achieve this, aim for the area just behind the front shoulder in the upper chest.

A shot in this region is more likely to strike the heart or lungs, causing massive internal damage and quick death.

The vital region provides a larger target area compared to a headshot, making it a more accessible option for many hunters.

To increase the probability of a successful hunt with your air rifle, consider using a high-quality air rifle generating at least 35 ft./lbs. of energy and capable of printing sub-1-inch groups at 50 yards.

This level of performance will increase your chances of hitting the desired target area and achieving a humane kill.

Remember that hunting raccoons with an air rifle requires precision, patience, and practice.

Take the time to hone your skills and become familiar with your equipment and the animals’ behavior to ensure an effective and ethical hunt.

Pellet Choices

When hunting raccoons with an air rifle, it’s essential to choose the right pellets to ensure a humane and effective shot.

There are various types of ammunition available for pellet guns, and selecting the best one for raccoons depends on your specific air rifle and hunting preferences.

.22 caliber pellets are a popular choice for hunting raccoons due to their larger size and increased energy transfer, leading to a more effective shot.

Lead pellets are also commonly used because of their density and ability to maintain accuracy and energy over longer distances.

However, it’s important to note that using lead ammunition comes with some environmental concerns, as it can be toxic to wildlife and water sources if not used responsibly.

Hollow-point pellets are another option worth considering for raccoon hunting.

These pellets expand upon impact, causing more significant damage and increasing the chances of a humane and ethical kill.

The Gamo Varmint Air Rifle, for example, is a reliable option that uses .177 caliber pellets, offering both power and accuracy to take down raccoons effectively.

Gamo Varmint Breakbarrel .177 Caliber Pellet Air Rifle
  • caliber: 0.177
  • velocity: 1250.00 ft/sec
  • Spring-piston
  • Includes 4x32 scope & mount
  • Steel barrel with fluted polymer jacket

While using BBs might be suitable for target shooting or plinking, they are generally not recommended for hunting raccoons.

This is because they lack the necessary power and accuracy for a humane kill.

In summary, it’s crucial to understand the different pellet types available for air rifles and choose the right one for your needs.

Whether you decide on .22 caliber pellets, lead pellets, or hollow-point pellets, make sure they are compatible with your pellet gun and have enough power and accuracy to humanely hunt raccoons.

Raccoon Behavior

Raccoons are fascinating nocturnal creatures, known for their intelligent and curious nature.

Their foraging habits often bring them into close contact with humans, as they tend to search for food in our gardens and trash cans.

As a result, they can sometimes be considered pests that disturb wildlife and even cause damage to property.

Being mostly active at night, raccoons have developed remarkable adaptability, allowing them to thrive in a variety of environments.

Their diet mainly consists of fruits, nuts, insects, and small animals.

Their presence in urban and suburban areas is partly due to the easy access to food they find there.

One reason why raccoons are sometimes seen as pests is because of their potential to carry and transmit diseases like rabies.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that although they may appear cute and innocent, raccoons are still wild animals, and caution should be taken around them.

As predators, raccoons are not only skilled hunters but also excellent climbers and swimmers.

Their strong limbs and nimble hands allow them to navigate complex environments and easily escape from potential threats.

In addition, they have a sharp sense of hearing and smell, which assists them in finding food and avoiding danger.

Whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast or a homeowner looking to protect your property, understanding raccoon behavior is essential.

By learning about their habits and preferences, you can take appropriate action to deter them from your area and ensure that both humans and raccoons coexist harmoniously.

Hunting Techniques

raccoon in water at night

When hunting raccoons with an air rifle, it’s essential to use the right techniques to increase your chances of success. First and foremost, ensure that you have the appropriate license to hunt raccoons in your area. This is important for both legal and ethical reasons.

One popular method of hunting raccoons with an air rifle involves the use of spotlights at night.

This technique, also known as lamping, consists of covering large areas in a truck while lamping the treetops, brush, and agricultural areas.

Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, and spotlights allow for better visibility when searching for them.

Another factor to consider when hunting raccoons is elevation. Raccoons often climb trees or hide on high ground, making it crucial to adjust your shooting angle accordingly. Be prepared to change your position to get a clear shot at the animal.

When it comes to air rifles, accuracy and power are key factors.

A .22 caliber air rifle is a popular choice for hunting raccoons due to its quietness and sufficient power to take down the animal.

It’s essential to use a pellet gun with a velocity of at least 650 FPS to ensure a quick and clean kill.

Additionally, practicing your shooting skills regularly can improve your accuracy.

In summary, hunting raccoons with an air rifle requires a combination of the right tools and techniques.

With a proper license, effective use of spotlights, consideration of elevation, and an accurate, powerful air rifle, you can increase your chances of success in hunting these elusive creatures.

Post-Hunt Considerations

After successfully hunting a raccoon with an air rifle, there are some important post-hunt considerations to be aware of.

First and foremost, make sure to properly dispose of the raccoon carcass.

If you plan to eat the raccoon, field dress and clean it as soon as possible to ensure maximum freshness and to avoid any potential for disease transmission.

Raccoons can carry parasites and other pathogens, so it’s crucial to handle the carcass with care and take necessary precautions.

It’s also important to consider the energy required during the hunt and the possible effects on the environment.

Try to use the minimum necessary force to kill the raccoon to prevent unnecessary suffering.

Air rifles, especially those with adequate power, can provide a humane and efficient way to control raccoon populations without causing excessive harm to the animal or the environment.

As a hunter, it’s essential to minimize the suffering of the raccoon during the hunt.

Make sure to aim for vital areas, such as the head or heart, to ensure a quick and clean kill.

To maximize accuracy and minimize the raccoon’s suffering, use a pellet gun with suitable power and precision.

In conclusion, when hunting raccoons with an air rifle, always remember to:

  • Properly dispose of the raccoon carcass
  • Be mindful of the energy used during the hunt
  • Minimize the suffering of the raccoon

By following these post-hunt considerations, you can enjoy a responsible, friendly, and effective raccoon hunting experience.


Airguns can be an effective tool for hunting raccoons when used responsibly and within legal guidelines.

They provide power, accuracy, and terminal performance, making them suitable for dealing with these critters.

Selecting the right air rifle for raccoon hunting will depend on factors such as the size of the animal, the distance you plan to shoot from, and the power and accuracy of your chosen weapon.

As with any humane hunting practice, using a powerful enough air rifle that can take down raccoons without causing unnecessary suffering is essential.

As a friendly reminder, always practice responsible hunting, be mindful of your surroundings, and ensure that you’re following local laws and regulations.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an air rifle powerful enough to kill a raccoon?

Yes, an air rifle can be powerful enough to kill a raccoon. The power, accuracy, and terminal performance of air rifles makes them suitable for hunting raccoons and other small game animals. The key is choosing an air rifle with sufficient power and the right caliber.

What caliber air rifle is recommended for raccoon hunting?

For raccoon hunting, a .22 caliber air rifle is generally recommended. A .22 caliber air rifle offers the right combination of power and accuracy for effectively hunting raccoons. Some hunters also find success using .177 caliber air rifles, but it is essential to consider the potential for suffering before using this caliber.

What pellet type is most effective for hunting raccoons?

There are various pellet types to choose from, but some of the most effective options for raccoon hunting include hollow-point, pointed, and domed pellets. Hollow-point pellets provide good expansion and energy transfer, while pointed and domed pellets offer better accuracy and penetration. Choosing a proven and reliable pellet type is crucial for successful raccoon hunting.

Are there any legal restrictions on hunting raccoons with an air rifle?

Laws regarding hunting raccoons with air rifles vary by state and jurisdiction. In some places, it is illegal to shoot raccoons with an air rifle, while in others, it is allowed with specific regulations in place, such as licensing and seasonal restrictions. Always check local laws and regulations before engaging in raccoon hunting with an air rifle.

How can I ensure a humane kill when hunting raccoons with an air rifle?

To ensure a humane kill, aim for the raccoon’s head, specifically the brain or spinal column, which will cause instant death. A well-placed shot is crucial for minimizing the potential for suffering. Additionally, using an air rifle with adequate power and practicing shooting skills will help increase the likelihood of a clean, humane kill.

What safety precautions should be taken while hunting raccoons with an air rifle?

Safety is essential when hunting raccoons with an air rifle. Some precautions to consider include:

  • Always treat the air rifle as if it is loaded, and never point it at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  • Wear eye and ear protection while shooting.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and know your target, as well as what is beyond it.
  • Practice proper trigger control and follow-through for accurate shots.
  • Store your air rifle securely when not in use.
  • Follow all local laws and regulations regarding air rifle use and hunting.


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.

Recent Posts