Can I Hunt Squirrels with an Air Rifle? A Beginner’s Friendly Guide

squirrel on a tree trunk. Staring

Air rifles have long been a popular choice for small game hunting, and hunting squirrels is no exception.

These lightweight firearms offer a quiet, affordable, and easy-to-use option for hunters looking to perfect their skills while racking up a few bushy-tailed trophies.

Air rifles provide an excellent opportunity for beginners and experienced hunters alike to engage in the sport effectively and humanely.

Hunting squirrels with an air rifle requires patience, precision, and knowledge of both the equipment and the animal’s behavior.

Selecting the right air rifle and pellets, learning proper shooting techniques, and understanding safety and legal considerations are essential components of a successful squirrel hunting experience.

With a bit of preparation and dedication, hunting squirrels with an air rifle can be both rewarding and enjoyable.

Air Rifle Basics

Air rifles are a popular choice for many hunters, and they can be an excellent option for squirrel hunting.

In this section, we’ll discuss the basics of air rifles, including the types of air rifles and the best calibers to use for squirrel hunting.

Types of Air Rifles

There are several types of air rifles to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some common types include:

  • Spring-piston: These airguns use a spring to compress air within the rifle, which is then released to propel the pellet. They’re generally affordable, reliable, and require minimal maintenance.
  • PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic): PCP air rifles use compressed air stored in a reservoir to power the pellet. They offer consistent power, high accuracy, and the ability to shoot multiple shots without needing to re-cock the rifle. One example of a great PCP air rifle for squirrel hunting is the Benjamin Marauder.
  • CO2: These airguns use CO2 cartridges as their power source, providing consistent power and accuracy. However, they can be less powerful than other options and their performance may be affected by temperature changes.

Calibers for Squirrel Hunting

When choosing an air rifle for squirrel hunting, the caliber of the pellet gun is an important factor to consider.

  • .22 caliber: This is one of the most popular choices for squirrel hunting, as it offers a good balance between power and accuracy. Many hunters find that .22 caliber pellets provide enough energy to take down squirrels humanely while minimizing the risk of over-penetration.
  • .25 caliber: Some hunters might opt for .25 caliber air rifles for more power, but it’s important to note that the pellets for these rifles will be heavier and may not be as accurate as their .22 counterparts.
  • Smaller calibers: While .177 and .20 caliber air rifles might be sufficient for small game like squirrels, they might not provide enough power for a humane kill, which is an essential consideration for ethical hunting.

When selecting an air rifle for squirrel hunting, remember to keep the firearm’s noise level in mind, as squirrels are easily spooked in the field.

Choosing a quiet air rifle, such as a PCP air rifle or one with a built-in silencer, can help you get multiple shots off without scaring away your quarry.

Additionally, be sure to consult your state’s regulations and hunting laws, as some states may have specific caliber restrictions for airguns.

Selecting the Right Air Rifle

Accuracy and Power

When hunting squirrels with an air rifle, accuracy and power are crucial factors to consider. A suitable caliber for small game hunting, such as a .177 or .22 caliber air gun, is necessary for a clean and humane kill.

The Benjamin Marauder Bolt Action PCP Air Rifle is an excellent choice for both bolt-action and semi-automatic varieties that can push a 14.3-grain .22-caliber pellet upwards of 850 fps.

Another option in a spring-piston category would be the Gamo 6110017154 Varmint air rifle, propelling .177 PBA platinum pellets at an impressive 1250 FPS muzzle velocity.

Choose an air rifle with a well-built firing mechanism for consistent accuracy.

PCP rifles are often more accurate than spring-piston or pump rifles, while a lightweight design allows for greater stability and control during shooting.

Scope and Features

Equipping your air rifle with a quality scope is essential for precise squirrel hunting.

Look for scopes with a minimum of 4x magnification and adjustable parallax settings to accommodate shorter shooting distances often encountered in squirrel hunting.

A good scope will not only improve your chances of success but also help you aim more accurately and safely.

In addition to the scope, consider air rifles with quiet operation to prevent scaring away squirrels, especially in highly-populated areas.

Some models, like the Benjamin Marauder PCP, offer built-in noise suppression technology.

Likewise, a rifle with an adjustable trigger allows for a smoother and more precise shooting experience.

When selecting the right air rifle for squirrel hunting, keep in mind factors like accuracy, power, scope, and additional features such as noise suppression and an adjustable trigger.

Opt for reliable and well-built options like PCP rifles in .177 or .22 caliber calibers to ensure a successful and humane squirrel hunting experience.

Hunting Techniques

Stalking Squirrels

When hunting squirrels with an air rifle, one effective technique is stalking.

This involves silently moving through the woods, observing squirrel activity, and positioning yourself for a clear shot. Keep a friendly demeanor when encountering other hunters or hikers, and be mindful of your surroundings.

In order to stalk squirrels effectively, it’s important to understand their behavior and habitat.

Look for signs of squirrels, such as nests or food caches, and pay attention to the noises they may make while moving through the trees.


Once you’ve located a squirrel, positioning is crucial for a successful hunt.

Find cover in a suitable location that allows you to approach the squirrel without being detected. This could be behind a tree, bush, or other natural cover.

Make sure you maintain a comfortable shooting position and have a stable rest for your air rifle.

When determining the best shooting position, consider factors like wind direction and angle to the squirrel.

If the wind is blowing towards the squirrel, it may catch your scent and become alerted to your presence.

Keep in mind that air rifles are generally most effective at shorter distances, so try to close the gap between you and the squirrel, while still keeping a safe, friendly distance from other hunters or hikers.

Shot Placement

A crucial aspect of squirrel hunting with an air rifle is proper shot placement.

The preferred shot for small game hunting, including squirrels, is a headshot.

This ensures a clean and humane kill, minimizing the risk of injuring the animal.

To achieve this, aim for the head, specifically the brain or eye area.

Using the right pellet for your air rifle is also important.

Choose a pellet that’s suited for small game hunting, such as a lead projectile with a good balance of weight and velocity.

A .22-caliber pellet with a velocity of at least 800 feet per second should be effective for squirrels.

In conclusion, hunting squirrels with an air rifle can be a fun and rewarding experience.

By practicing proper hunting techniques like stalking, positioning, and shot placement, you can improve your skills and enjoy a successful squirrel hunting adventure.

Preparing for the Hunt

When it comes to squirrel hunting with an air rifle, proper preparation is key.

In this section, we will cover understanding squirrel behavior and selecting the right gear.

Understanding Squirrel Behavior

Squirrels are a diverse group of animals, with many different species found across the world. However, they all have some similarities in terms of behavior.

Squirrels typically build their nests in trees, often close to a source of food and water.

During the winter months, they will seek additional shelter to stay warm and be less active outdoors. Keep this in mind when planning your hunt.

Squirrels mainly feed on nuts, seeds, and other similar food items.

Observing areas with an abundance of these, such as oak or hickory trees, can increase your chances of success.

Watch for signs of squirrel activity, like chewed nuts, scratch marks, or scat. Also, listen for the distinct sounds they make, like chattering or rustling in the trees.

Selecting the Right Gear

A quality air rifle, whether spring-piston or pre-charged pneumatic, will make a huge difference in your hunting experience.

Choose a rifle with enough power and accuracy to make ethical shots at the range you plan to hunt.

Additionally, a good scope or optic will help in identifying and targeting squirrels.

Along with your rifle, other essential gear includes:

  • Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars will help in spotting squirrels and nests from a distance.
  • Camouflage: Wearing camouflage clothing will help you blend in with your surroundings and avoid alerting your quarry.
  • Quiet footwear: Soft-soled shoes or boots will help you stalk your prey without making too much noise.

By understanding squirrel habits and equipping yourself with the right gear, you’ll be well on your way to a successful air rifle squirrel hunt.

Safety and Legal Considerations

Hunting Regulations

When planning to hunt squirrels with an air rifle, it’s essential to be aware of the hunting regulations in your area. Laws and regulations regarding squirrel hunting with air rifles vary by state.

Always check the local regulations before hunting to ensure compliance.

Licenses and Restrictions

A crucial factor to consider when hunting squirrels with an air rifle is obtaining the appropriate hunting license.

Most states require hunters to have a valid hunting license to hunt small game, suchBindingUtil

Popular Air Rifles for Squirrel Hunting

If you’re looking to hunt squirrels with an air rifle, there are several options available to you.

Some popular air rifles specifically designed for squirrel hunting include the Benjamin Marauder, the Hatsan Flashpup, and the RWS 34.

These air rifles boast features such as two-stage adjustable triggers, accurate and powerful shooting capabilities, and user-friendly design.

The Benjamin Marauder is a fantastic option for squirrel hunting.

This legendary line of air rifles is available in both bolt-action and semi-automatic varieties, and can push a 14.3-grain .22-caliber pellet upwards of 850 fps.

With its shrouded barrel, the Marauder is not only quiet and accurate but also powerful enough for this type of small game hunting.

Another excellent choice for squirrel hunting is the Hatsan Flashpup.

This air rifle is known for its compact design and sidelever action, making it easy to use while providing outstanding shot consistency.

It also features a gas piston, which provides a smoother and more reliable shooting experience compared to traditional spring pistons.

The EWS 34 is another reliable air rifle for squirrel hunting.

This spring piston-powered rifle is highly accurate and has a good reputation for its durability and dependability.

It also features a two-stage adjustable trigger that allows the user to customize the pull weight and travel distance for added precision.

Lastly, you might also consider the Benjamin 392, which is powered by a gas piston and features a multi-pump action.

This air rifle is well-suited for young or novice hunters, as its adjustable power allows the user to tailor the gun’s performance to their specific needs.

In summary, when looking for the perfect air rifle for squirrel hunting, consider options like the Benjamin Marauder, Hatsan Flashpup, RWS 34, and Benjamin 392.

Each of these rifles has features such as a gas or spring piston, two-stage adjustable triggers, and accurate, powerful shooting capabilities, making them ideal for this type of hunting. Happy hunting!

Air Rifles vs Other Hunting Tools

When hunting squirrels, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job. Air rifles are a popular option due to their precision and relatively quiet nature.

However, there are other types of hunting tools that you might consider as well, such as crossbows, shotguns, and rimfire rifles.


Crossbows are another stealthy and accurate choice for squirrel hunting.

They offer similar benefits to air rifles, like the ability to operate quietly and with great accuracy.

Some hunters may prefer a crossbow because it can also be used for hunting larger game like deer or boar, offering a versatile addition to their arsenal.


Shotguns are a powerful and effective option for squirrel hunting, especially for those who prefer the scattergun approach.

Using a shotgun offers more room for error and can take down multiple squirrels with one shot.

However, shotguns tend to be louder than air rifles or crossbows, potentially scaring away other squirrels in the area.

BB Guns

BB guns are similar to air rifles, but usually less powerful.

They can be used for squirrel hunting, but might not offer the range or accuracy needed to successfully take down the quarry.

pump-action BB gun, like the Benjamin pump gun, can provide a more reliable and accurate option.

Rimfire Rifles

Rimfire rifles are a tried-and-true method for hunting squirrels.

The .22 caliber is a common choice for its accuracy and ease of use.

While these rifles are louder than air rifles, they offer greater power and consistency.

Using open sights on a rimfire rifle can help hone shooting skills while still being effective for squirrel hunting.


Lastly, muzzleloaders can also be an option for squirrel hunting, although their effectiveness might be impacted by their more intricate loading process and reduced accuracy compared to other options.

Muzzleloaders can provide a unique hunting experience, but may not be the most practical choice for squirrel hunting.

In summary, air rifles offer a quiet and accurate solution for squirrel hunting, appealing to many hunters, especially those in close-quarter environments.

Other options like crossbows, shotguns, and rimfire rifles bring their own advantages, so it’s essential to consider your personal hunting preferences and priorities when choosing a hunting tool.


A gray squirrel perched on a tree trunk.

Hunting squirrels with an air rifle can be a great way to engage in small game hunting, while also dealing with any pesky overpopulation issues.

With the appropriate airgun and knowledge of your local laws, squirrel hunting can be a fun and effective pastime.

When choosing the right air rifle for squirrel hunting, it is important to pick one that is powerful and accurate enough to ensure a clean and humane kill.

Typically, a high-powered air rifle, such as the .177 or .22 caliber, is recommended for hunting squirrels.

These can effectively kill a squirrel from a range of 20-30 yards.

Before engaging in squirrel hunting with an air rifle, make sure to familiarize yourself with your local laws and regulations to determine if it is legal to shoot squirrels with an airgun.

The legality of squirrel hunting using an air rifle can vary depending on your state or jurisdiction.

In conclusion, using an air rifle for squirrel hunting can be an enjoyable and practical way to partake in an age-old hunting tradition.

With the proper equipment, knowledge, and respect for the animals and environment, you can have a successful and friendly hunting experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of air rifle is suitable for squirrel hunting?

A suitable air rifle for squirrel hunting should be reliable, accurate, and effective in taking down small game. The Benjamin Marauder PCP air rifle is an ideal choice for squirrel hunting, as it offers consistent performance and can quickly dispatch squirrels without scaring them away.

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

Yes, legal restrictions may apply when hunting squirrels with an air rifle. These restrictions may include ensuring that:

  • The shooter is of legal age to hold a firearm
  • The air rifle used is suitable for hunting small game
  • The air rifle meets the state’s minimum caliber requirements for hunting small game

What’s the ideal pellet caliber for squirrel hunting?

The ideal pellet caliber for squirrel hunting is .22 caliber. This caliber, when combined with a pellet velocity of at least 800 feet-per-second (fps), allows for consistently fatal shots on squirrels up to 55 yards away.

How to improve accuracy when using an air rifle for squirrel hunting?

To improve accuracy when using an air rifle for squirrel hunting, follow these tips:

  1. Practice regularly to build muscle memory and improve your shooting skills.
  2. Choose pellets that best match your air rifle’s specifications.
  3. Maintain your air rifle by cleaning it regularly and ensuring all components are in good working order.
  4. Develop a consistent shooting routine, including breath control, trigger control, and proper follow-through.

What are some helpful tips for squirrel hunting with an air rifle?

Here are some helpful tips for squirrel hunting with an air rifle:

  1. Be patient and wait for squirrels to present a clear shooting opportunity.
  2. Learn about squirrel behavior and habitat to increase your chances of success.
  3. Move quietly and cautiously through your hunting area, as squirrels can quickly detect noise and movement.
  4. Use a comfortable and secure shooting rest to stabilize your air rifle and improve accuracy.

Can you recommend any safety precautions for using an air rifle while squirrel hunting?

To ensure your safety and the safety of others while squirrel hunting with an air rifle, follow these precautions:

  1. Always treat the air rifle as if it’s loaded and assume it can fire at any time.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  3. Be aware of your target and what’s beyond it, so you don’t accidentally hit unintended objects or people.
  4. Wear eye and ear protection to safeguard your vision and hearing.


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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