Air rifles and pellet guns are becoming increasingly popular among preppers and survivalists, and with good reason. Whilst in the past some people have been a bit skeptical about the usefulness of these weapons in a survival situation, there are many reasons why a good air rifle or two should be in your bug-out kit. Today, I’ll explain why you should have an air rifle for survival situations, take a look at the different types available, and then give you our recommendations of the best air rifles and pellet guns to choose.
Why An Air Rifle?
A lot of people point out that an air rifle can never have the power of a full-sized rifle. This is certainly true, but in reality you are not going to need an AR-15 all the time. A reasonably powerful air rifle will be able to take down most types of small game – think rabbits and small birds – with no problem at all. In a survival situation, being able to collect game like this will make all the difference. In addition, air rifle ammunition is cheap, easy to carry and store, and much, much lighter than traditional rifle rounds. A coffee tin full of pellets is going to cost you less than $50, and will last for years with conservative shooting.
Types Of Air Rifle
There are several types of air rifle available, and not all of them are good for survival situations. First, stick with larger caliber air rifles: whilst it’s certainly possible to hunt with a .177, a .22 is much more effective.
Second, stay away from CO2-powered rifles. While these rifles generate a huge amount of power, the canisters that they require to function are going to get pretty hard to find in a survival situation. In addition, these canisters are pretty bulky, and essentially eliminate one of the air rifle’s biggest advantages, its lightweight, compact design.
To my mind, the only serious contenders for a survival situation are spring and pneumatic air rifles. Both of these types of air rifle make use of a simple design that is reliable, but also generate a good amount of power. In addition, a good pneumatic (i.e. ‘pump-action’) air rifle gives you the ability to vary the power generated by the rifle, so your pellets don’t over-penetrate small game.
There are a huge number of high quality air rifles available, but to our mind the most important features in an air rifle for survival is reliability. What you’re looking for is a rifle that has built up a great reputation in the field.
For that reason, one of our favorites is the Diana RWS 34. This is a relatively inexpensive air rifle that has a great reputation for both accuracy and reliability. If you’ve got a bit more to spend, it might be worth considering a ‘gas-ram’ rifle, which generates even more power than the traditional spring mechanism. Our choice here would be the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat, which offers huge power in a compact design.
Written by Sam Bocetta