Can You Hunt a Rat With a BB or Pellet Gun?


You are having rat problems. The little things are swarming your barn or your yard, and you wonder if you can hunt the things with your pellet gun.

BB and pellet guns are commonly used for hunting rats and other pests.  While some airguns may not have enough power to ethically kill a rat, many other airguns are ideally suited to this purpose.  Varmint hunters recommend .22 or larger caliber airguns that can accurately shoot a pellet at least 700 feet per second

Rejoice! There is a way to hunt pests using your BB or pellet gun, which are known together under the umbrella term airgun. Read on to learn some helpful tips about using your airgun to control those pesky varmints.

Pest Control With Airguns

As we said earlier in the article, airguns can be used to hunt pests like rats. There are a few things that you need to be aware about when deciding if your gun is up for the task. Some good airguns to use are:

  • Precharged pneumatics (especially ones with variable power controls)
  • Springer airguns

Kind of a short list, but there are reasons you would not want to use just any airgun.

In order to kill a rat humanely, you need a gun that will put out more energy than your Red Ryder BB gun. If your gun is too low-powered, then you risk only injuring the animal and leaving it to die slowly, and that is what we call rude. Your goal should be to kill the pest quickly.

Because of this, a .22 caliber airgun would work best. In fact, there is a saying in Europe, “.22 for fur, .177 for feathers.” This is for a number of reasons, and is a good rule of thumb.

If you plan to drop a rat humanely, the increased surface area combined with the greater weight of a .22 will deliver more energy faster to the rat, and usually drop it in its tracks, and while most .177 pellets will kill the thing, it won’t do so as quickly.

So choosing an airgun in .22 caliber with at least 700 fps will be great, and most springers in .22 are able to do that.

A lot of newer PCP’s also come with a handy-dandy power control dial, which does exactly what it sounds like it does and allows you to control the power of your shot to avoid over penetration of the animal. PCP’s are by far the more expensive option, though, and almost always require extra equipment to keep them operational, but will work exceptionally well.

You might also find it to be noteworthy that shooting a BB around concrete is much more likely to cause a ricochet than a pellet gun would be, and rats are often in areas that have lots of concrete around.

What Pellet Should I Choose?

When choosing a good pellet to use, you should value accuracy over anything else, because this next part won’t count if you can’t hit the thing. Using flatter head pellets, or pellets designed to deform, like hollow points, help to deliver the energy better to the animal.

You can play around with which pellet you choose, and there are hunter’s sampling kits that allow you to look for the best pellet in your gun without dropping money on pellet you will never use again.

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