Rabbits with air rifle


Well-Known Member
Oct 29, 2008
What are the minimum specs for hunting rabbit with an air rifle? In terms of pellet weight and velocity? I am specifically interested in air rifles as I will be using it in my yard. Are there laws restricting where I fire an air rifle? I am in CT. Obviously I will still be sure of whats behind the target etc.
I shot 30 rabbits in my back yard during one 12 month period.

Ranges were as far as 22 yards.

.177 caliber, 8.4 gr, 1,000 FPS

Many cities do not allow air rifles.
My immediate neighbors are thrilled that I prune the population to protect all our gardens. But...I am very careful who I let know I am dong it.
Hi Jerico
Whilst I cannot tell you about local laws I can offer you my knowledge of Airguns & Rabbits.

I´ve only shot them with .22 airguns. Never tried .177 since they are not allowed for hunting in Denmark.
And with my experience of more than 100 bunnies I never will. Its too light for my taste.

Trying to read between the lines of your post it seems you are looking for knock down power that stops them in their tracks. I´ve always been partial to the same ethics. So the next unit I will pick up for this exciting sport is a .25 Benjamin Marauder with shroud. It is a 10 shot repeater which is excellent because some bunnies die hard. So a rather quick follow up shot is a nice thing. And that should be possible with that kit.

BTW: If your go for a pcp airgun, always get a shrouded model. They make a loud report allmost like a rimfire .22

Next is the most important thing. Shot placement.
I Always go for the spot right between the eye and the ear. It works best if the shot has a little angle forward. That knocks them down and if they move more, it is more of a "funky chicken" dance then a coordinated effort.

Thats my thoughts on the subject. I know your post isn´t new, but perhaps you would like to give us a update?

Have a nice one

When much younger I cut my rifle shooting teeth on an Original 45 and very early Theoben .177 air rifle's shooting rabbits. Over here (UK) we are limited to 12 ft lbs of energy without a firearms certificate, this means about 850fps with a something like an .177 Eley Wasp.

I took rabbits to 40 yards on a regular basis, occasionally in perfect conditions a bit further, most were at about 25-30 yards. The secret as others have said is to only use a head shot placing the pellet through the space between the eye and the back of the head, kills cleanly every time. I found the 177s flatter trajectory made it a far easier round to place accurately than the .22.

Just practice until you can put all your pellets into a half inch group, then you are good to go at that range.

Over here we are allowed a maximum of 12 ft lbs energy at the muzzel without a license. I have shot rabbits out to 60 yards with a 12 ft lbs Original 45 in .177, secret is head shots only and accurate range finding. In my day with air rifles we did not have rangefinders but the fence posts were 10 yards apart !!. Knowing your drops is also essential but at 20 yards not an issue.

I shoot prairie dogs out to 100 yards with my BSA Lonestar .25 cal PCP rifle. I use JSB Exact and H&N Baracuda pellets. JSB are the most consistent, but are lighter in weight. H&N pellets need to be weighed and sorted. Have no trouble with complete pass through out to 100 yards on rabbit, prairie dog, squirrel, etc.

The minimum rifle for rabbit hunting is the Benjamin .20 cal or Benjamin .22 cal multi-pump PCP air rifles. Around 15 FPE and close to 700 FPS at the muzzle. JSB pellets have been the best in my rifle.

The BSA .25 cal runs about 800-950 at the muzzle. JSB pellet is fast enough to start getting noisy. Inside of 50 yards you have to consider it as deadly as a .22 rimfire. Not to be shot in town, and it is LOUD without a suppressor. Neighbors WILL think you are shooting a .22 rimfire.

You need a $300 pump to pump up the BSA. It can take considerably more pressure than the Benjamin Marauder, up to about 3700 PSI if you adjust hammer spring on the Lonestar. Marauder pressure range 2000-3000 PSI. BSA factory set for about 3400 PSI fill. My FX brand pump is only designed for 3700 PSI max.
100 yards is far to far for an air rifle, I dont even push subsonic hollowpoints that far in 22LR. Pellet must be falling like a brick at that range but I suppose with rangefinders, dialable turrets and ballistics charts you could shoot a tidy paper group but the risk of wounding is far to high for me at that range.

80 yards upwards then I am looking at something faster and flatter.


Here in Montana we mainly shoot prairie dogs, with rabbits, skunks, porcupines, and coyotes being the other major varmints. Of course, eagles carry off lambs, but they are not "legal" to shoot, being the national bird and all that....

Some Montana sheep ranchers seem to be short sighted, though.....

The smart eagles stick to grabbing fish out of the river.

However, I have a Hawke 3-12x50 Nite-Eye scope with SR6 ballistic reticle and a Bushnell 1000 Scout rangefinder. I used the Hawke ballistic program to set up my scope relative to the two pellets (.25 H&N Baracuda and .25 JSB Exact King) that I use. Drop at range out to 100 yards is not a problem, the limiting factor being wind, as this is the Montana prairie. The kind of wind you have to lean way back in order to stand up at times.

An ex-police sniper looked at my groups at the 100 yard shooting range and said, "That would be really good for a centerfire sniper rifle".

Enough said.

BTW, I use a BSA Lonestar .25 as my chosen air rifle, so as a Brit, you should be proud.
Fair comment, air rifles and optics for them have moved on since my time with them. Pre charged pneumatics have undoubtedly been a major leap forward in accuracy.

England has been a (the !!!) centre of gun making excellence of all types for well over a century. BSA make good solid rifles, always have done, their centerfire rifle actions ( if you can find one !) are an excellent base for a custom rebarrell. Air rifle wise we have people like Theoben, Air Arms, Daystate etc who are always pushing the boundaries of what can be done. BSA these days IMHO tend to be more of a company who perhaps look to see what is working in the market then seek to emulate it, it seems to work for them.

I hate shooting in wind and greatly respect anyone that shoots well in those conditions, wish I could !!.

Warning! This thread is more than 12 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Recent Posts