Best Air Rifles For Squirrel Hunting – 2021 Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated February 24, 2021

Squirrels. Some people find it an adorably cute creature, some find it a nuisance in their backyard and some can’t forget their delicious taste.

This review will concern the latter two categories of people who want a decisive solution for their ‘squirrel issues’ with some thrill and excitement. We’ll be talking about the usefulness of air rifles for squirrel hunting and also the best models available on the market today. 

Our Top Picks for Best Air Rifles For Squirrel Hunting

  • Inert gas technology piston
  • Adjustable 2nd stage trigger
  • Patented noise reduction tech
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  • Solid and accurate air rifle
  • Quality camouflage pattern
  • Adjustable sights with scope
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  • Cocking effort is 30 lbs
  • Standard fiber optic sights
  • Shoots .177 up to 1200 fps
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Comparison of the Best Air Rifles For Squirrel Hunting

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Shoots .177 pellets up to 1300 feet per second
  • Gas piston air rifle for smoother shooting recoil
  • Equipped with 4x32 scope & a one year warranty
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  • High power spring piston operated air rifle
  • 18-inch rifled barrel and fiber optic iron sights
  • 4x32 fixed power scope and ergonomic grip/stock
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  • Most affordable high-quality air rifle today
  • 4x scope mounted on the 11mm dovetail grooves
  • Ambidextrous all-weather polymer checkered stock
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  • Full hardwood stock and basic springer design
  • Adjustable fiber optic sights and automatic safety
  • Shock absorber system, and a 3-9x32 mounted scope
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  • Integral nucleus rail on an all-weather stock
  • Nitro piston rifle with 5-chamber sound dampener
  • Matched sling studs and an adjustable nylon sling
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What Makes an Air Rifle Great for Hunting Squirrels?

This question itself is quite self-explanatory. Squirrels are small furry rodents that are very wary of potential threats. Their small size and close hunting range requires a gun that’s quiet, inexpensive to shoot, and don’t have too much power to decimate the meat into shreds. 

Air rifles are lightweight, easy to handle, and shoot cheap ammo. Plus, their effective range extends only to 150 or 200 yards with the most powerful air rifles. Squirrels are also hunted in backyards and populated areas, so you don’t have to worry about overpenetration or hurting someone in the backdrop. 

Air rifles pack just the right amount of energy to kill a squirrel humanely. Talking about economics, a pack of the best 500 match grade diabolo pellets in .22 caliber costs an average of $20. That’s almost $ 0.04 per shot. That’s way less when compared with the cheapest .22lr ammo on the market, which costs you around $0.10 per shot. Plus, there are lesser legal implications associated with owning an air rifle in most states. 

Quick Take | Best Air Rifles For Squirrel Hunting

Just looking for the three best air rifles for squirrel hunting? Here they are:

  1. Gamo Wildcat Whisper
  2. Bear River Pellet Gun Air Rifle
  3. Ruger Blackhawk Combo

Review of the Best Air Rifles For Squirrel Hunting

If you need more information on these rifles, check out our detailed reviews below: 

Gamo WildCat Whisper Air Rifle .177 Cal , Black

PROS

  • Available in .177 and .22 variants
  • Includes a good 4 x 32 mm scope
  • Tough all-weather stock with recoil pad
  • Trigger is adjustable at the second stage
  • Patented WHISPER noise reduction technology
  • One of the fastest and smoothest break barrel today (1300 fps in .177)

CONS

  • Scope isn’t great

What Recent Buyers Report

The rifle shoots amazing fast as advertised. The silence is optimal and has mixed reviews on it. Some like it and some don’t. Although, there is a consensus on the scope being low quality. Mist buyers are successfully using it as a hunting gun.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Gamo Wildcat is a pretty fast shooting rifle that delivers an amazing value for money. The barrel is shrouded and comes with a silencer with patented noise dampening technology. Silent rifles are great for squirrels. 

This is a gas piston air rifle and not a spring. Hence already reducing many issues. The included scope is a very novel addition from Gamo and may or may not be useful depending upon what you like. The one-year warranty cover is a useful addon and the rifle is already loaded with features.

Bottom Line

The Gamo Wildcat is the best you can expect from a break barrel air rifle. The high velocity, lightweight design with a fluted barrel, and all-weather stock are some amazing features to count upon. 

Bear River Pellet Gun Air Rifle For Hunting Scope Included TPR 1200

PROS

  • Mixed camo finish
  • Six-inch Picatinny rail mount
  • Very accurate and well-built rifle
  • Fires .177 pellets up to 1350 fps
  • Includes adjustable fiber optic iron sights and a scope

CONS

  • Somewhat loud due to spring action
  • Scope isn’t very clear and needs replacement

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers like the build quality and camo finish on the rifle. The initial performance is good and has been seen to improve as it breaks in. This gun is very powerful and the advertised fps values are certainly not exaggerated. The adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight offer co-witness with the scope. But it may be annoying. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The build quality, sheer power, and the inclusion of a camo finish made us induct this rifle on our list. This airgun is a break barrel and built like a tank. You have the option to use a scope or the iron sights. The six-inch Picatinny rail offers ample rail-estate. It feels solid when held and shoots pellets very accurately. The best part is that it eats what you feed it. 

The charging handle on the side is a design facade. But the ergonomic pistol grip and curved cheek weld are very useful when handling the rifle. 

Bottom Line

The Bear River rifle is a powerful gun that can shoot pellets at supersonic speeds. The accuracy is satisfying and the included features are great. Plus this is a .177 caliber air rifle that’ll be very effective at close ranges. 

Best for the Money:
Ruger Blackhawk Combo

Ruger Blackhawk Combo air rifle

PROS

  • Scope and mounting rings included
  • Smooth, crisp, and adjustable trigger
  • Standard fiber optic sights (rear adjustable)
  • Ergonomic and checkered all-weather stock

CONS

  • Slightly heavy break and overall weight
  • Dovetail mount. Doesn’t work with weaver/Picatinny mounts

What Recent Buyers Report

The build quality feels rugged and the scope adjusts well. Groups get tighter as you use the rifle. Scope included in ok for the price and so are the iron sights. The trigger pull is very light for a break-barrel. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

First of all, it is a very popular air rifle and that too from Ruger. The build quality is impeccable, and the rifle is very durable. The power range is good enough to knock down squirrels and other similar games and up to Eurasian Doves. The included scope is not a mere frolley but a feasible scope. 

The rifle’s max hitting distance is about 70-80 yards with good accuracy. The recoil is not an issue unless you are holding it like a standard rifle. The rifle is also covered by a one-year limited warranty.

Bottom Line

The Ruger Blackhawk is a dependable and accurate rifle that can be used out in the woods or your suburban backyard. The noise signature is quite low and the included scope is good enough for the money. This rifle is for you if you’re a fan of Ruger’s quality. 

Editor's Pick:
Hatsan Air Rifle

Hatsan Model 95 Combo .22 Rifle, Walnut Stock

PROS

  • Two-stage adjustable trigger
  • Includes 3-9x32 scope with mount
  • Integrated sound moderator on muzzle
  • Available in .22 cal and .25 cal variants
  • Saas shock absorber reduces felt recoil
  • 1000 fps max velocity and 22 ft-lbs max energy
  • Very rugged design. Requires very less maintenance

CONS

  • Trigger is crisp but a bit heavy
  • Take quite some cocking effort

What Recent Buyers Report

The gun is solid and well-built. The accuracy is great right out of the box and the gun is incredibly powerful. The two-stage trigger feels a bit heavy on the second stage but is crisp. Many users reported the cocking effort to be too much for kids or women. The included scope had mixed reviews. But there was an absolute consensus on quality and value for the price. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Hatsan 95 is a tough air rifle. All its components have been manufactured from the best high-grade materials. The gun is tough to the point that you can beat a hog to death with it and the barrel won’t even flex (But never try that anyway !). 

The gun is simple and exceptionally easy to maintain. The included scope is a hit or miss addon. But it certainly adds to the value. The trigger is amazing and by far the best in class. The shockwave absorber system (SAS) reduces felt recoil and is necessary for this springer rifle. The front and rear sights are equipped with truglo fiber optics for a better view. 

Bottom Line

The Hatsan 95 is a tough gun. It isn’t perfect, but it’s absolutely the best springer you can find for under $200. The sights are very clear and the rifle is powerful and easy to maintain. This is the kind of air rifle you can pass on to your grandchildren. 

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Gun Air Rifle with Scope

PROS

  • Two-stage adjustable trigger
  • Light cocking effort of around 34 lbs
  • All-weather lightweight stock with adjustable sling
  • Red/green fiber optic open sights, and a 3-9x scope
  • Non-removable suppressor greatly reduces muzzle noise
  • Nucleus rail platform and checkered rubber inserts on butt

CONS

  • Very selective with pellets for accuracy

What Recent Buyers Report

The reviews for Umarex Tigris are very mixed. Some people like its accuracy, whereas some like its weight balance and ergonomics. But one thing everybody agrees upon is the amazing build quality and extra features. The gun looks cool and the packing is just awesome. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Umarex Targis conforms to high-quality standards set by Ruger and is a very ergonomic and accurate rifle right out of the box. Especially if you’re using the right and high-quality pellets. The speed and power are as advertised. Plus, the cocking power and noise are significantly less compared to other rifles in its class. 

The in-built rail setup, fiber optic aided iron sights, and grooved rubber pads for recoil greatly improve the overall function and handling comfort for this rifle. 

Bottom Line

The Umarex Tigris is a well-built, affordable, and cool-looking air rifle that will be best used for small game hunting and range use. The rifle comes with a sling, good stock, silencer, and a great pair of iron sights.

Can You Really Find a Quality Air Rifle That’s Affordable?

Yes. A majority of the air rifles reviewed here are quite affordable. The affordability of an air rifle is in question when you are talking about PCP versions. Since they use gas pressure to operate, the cost of an in-built cylinder and gauge setup, air filling tank, and a few other accessories add up. 

Some minor trade-offs you have to face when buying affordable, or as we may call it, inexpensive air rifles are a basic design with a lack of semi-auto or PCP capability and lesser accessories. However, all the rifles mentioned here in this review offer great value for money. 

Squirrel Hunting Laws

Squirrel hunting laws differ from state to state across the US. For example, one of the most protected species of squirrels across the country is the fox squirrel. It is illegal to hunt off-season in most states. 

Red and gray squirrels are classified as game animals in most states and require a hunting license. As always, California is the toughest state with a gun and hunting laws. Where you need a permit to even trap squirrels. 

On the other side, many states allow you to shoot down squirrels on your private property if they are causing any kind of damage. But some states have limits on this. For example, Alabama only permits you to trap 1 squirrel per incident. 

Again, these laws vary from state to state and also depend upon the exact species of squirrels in question. Generally speaking, a species may be in open season throughout the year in one state, and it may be legally protected in another. So it is better to always check with your local authorities to ensure you comply with the respective hunting laws. 

Squirrel Hunting Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Success

Squirrels are extremely cautious and guarded animals. Not that most small animals aren’t. But squirrels are very wary and will run away if they even hear the sound of a twig falling. 

Hunting squirrels is a quite challenging sport and requires utter patience, silence, and attention. 

Track, Stop, Look, Repeat

Finding squirrels to hunt can be simple or hard depending upon where you are. If it’s a piece of a property infested with them, you’ll find them around every corner. But if you have to scour the terrain for them, move very slowly. 

Cover no more than 20 yards on foot at a time, then stop and look around yourself for any signs of squirrel activity. If you don’t find anything reasonable, repeat. Look for nest trees. These are old dead trees with cavities that squirrels use as shelter.

Bear River Pellet Gun Air Rifle

Wearing Camouflage

Avoid bright and reflective gear when hunting for squirrels. Those living in the wild are not very used to human presence and will run away if they spot you. Wearing well-camouflaged attire will help you with hiding. Keep your head, face, and hands covered. 

Know Your Game

Decide what kind of squirrels are mostly found in your area and their behavior. For example, red squirrels are tree dwellers and gray squirrels are mostly found on the ground. 

Squirrels are mostly active during the day, especially during dawn and dusk. Fall is the best season for hunting these rodents as they are busy collecting food for long winters. 

Photo Credit: DeerAssociation.com

How to Clean an Air Rifle

Cleaning an air rifle can be a very simple and straightforward procedure if you don’t try to mess around. Since all rifles in this review are break-barrels. We’ll talk about them first. 

The most important and probably the only part you’d want to clean internally in your air rifle is the barrel. You see, air rifles aren’t very modular like an AR-15. You disassemble too much, you’ll find yourself standing at the door of a gunsmith the very next day. 

The typical cleaning frequency for an air rifle is after shooting one tin of pellets through it. That’s about 500 shots. However, it also depends upon your personal preference. 

Talking about the barrel, the two most important things you need are cleaning oil and a boresnake. A bore cleaning rod can also do the trick. But a bore is easier. 

You may also use a rifle cleaning kit (if you already have one) with appropriate bore size brushes and tools. 

When cleaning the barrel, make sure you don’t mess around with the air seal around the breech. 

Talking about PCP air rifles. The cleaning process is the same. Using a bore brush will be more effective for these rifles as the breech area is very congested and may be difficult to handle. 

Conclusion 

Squirrel hunting is often taken up as a sport, and sometimes as an initiative to protect crops and property. These little rodents are cautious creatures and require patience and accuracy to bring down. Both .177 and .22 caliber air rifles work very well for squirrel hunting. But the .22 has a better punch. Such rifles must be silent, have a low recoil and be very accurate at close range.

People Also Ask

Clear your doubts and learn some new info about squirrel hunting with air rifles. Especially with .22 caliber pellets. 

Can a .22 Air Rifle Kill a Squirrel?

Yes. A .22 rifle will kill a squirrel. It is one of the most popular calibers of air rifles used for hunting small game. 

What FPS is Needed to Kill a Squirrel?

A good velocity for a .22 air gun pellet to kill a squirrel will fall in the range of 800-900 fps. Additionally, your pellet must deliver at least 5 fpe (foot-pounds of energy) to kill squirrels even when hitting vital body organs other than the head. 

Gamo Wildcat Whisper

Can I Kill Squirrels on My Property?

It depends upon which state you live in and what are your local laws about backyard hunting. If squirrels (some species) are classified as non-game animals in your state. You may trap and hunt them as you wish. 

When is Squirrel Hunting Season?

Again, this depends upon the state you are in. Since the exact season states differ from state to state. Some states (like Texas) offer year-round open season on squirrels. However, the most common beginning point is from September. 

When is the Best Time To Go Squirrel Hunting?

Fall months are the most common time of the year to hunt squirrels. Since they are busy foraging for food and preparing for the long winters. Some squirrel species also hibernate during the winter months. 

Gamo Wildcat Whisper

What to Wear Squirrel Hunting?

A good pair of camo pants and a camo shirt along with a hat and face mask are the best gear for squirrel hunting. Camo clothing helps with easy hiding. You may also use a light camo jacket and gloves for cold weather. 

What Choke For Squirrel Hunting?

Modified and Improved Modified are the go-to chokes for most squirrel hunters. The #6 shot is the most common pellet size for hunting these small rodents.

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.