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A POWEIR Gary Lewis


When a well-placed shot is required, when stealth and quiet are called for, an air rifl e may be the best option.


“O


h, you might bring a pellet gun. There are rats in the horse barn and if you kill one or two, I’d appreciate it.” With those words ringing in my


ears, I bid goodbye to the landowner as he and his fam- ily left on vacation. The next day, I loaded the handgun with six .177-caliber


pellets and made sure I had a full CO2 cartridge. At the barn door, I paused to let my eyes adjust to the low light. Something skittered on the corrugated tin roof, stopped, then skittered again. I slipped from stall to stall.


There. He stepped out from behind


a sheet of plywood and froze when he saw me. At less than 10 yards, he was mine. I eased back the hammer and put the front sight on his shoulder. The lead wadcutter anchored the rat in his tracks and I chalked up another kill for my Crosman. Over the years, whether I employed


that CO2 revolver or various variable- pump and break-action rifl es, my air- gun has accounted for numerous star- lings, sparrows, rodents and snakes. They have helped me drive off roving dogs and encourage crows to keep a respectful distance. Like it or not, ours is a world gov-


erned by the use of force. At a personal level, that’s why crime rates drop when free men and women carry concealed, when any citizen is likely to be armed and prepared to defend themselves. There is a place for a self-defense


fi rearm and there is a reason to keep guns for hunting big game to feed your family. But when one well- placed shot is called for, when it must be delivered at close range, perhaps in a neighborhood or an industrial


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area, when it must not be noticed or commented upon — that’s when the airgun comes into its own. Airgun targets are likely to be


small, feathered pests such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows and crows, or var- mints like ground squirrels, skunks, raccoons and coyotes. But the airgun is also useful for administering the last rites for food animals — rabbits, woodchucks or tree squirrels. There is little margin for error. If


there is such a thing as knockdown power, most airguns don’t have it. Instead, the tiny lead projectile dis- rupts brain function or destroys a vital organ. Because the targets are small —


the vital areas on a squirrel are about 1" in diameter — the effective range should be considered about 40 yards. Although the projectile is dangerous at hundreds of yards, most airgun shots at varmints, as well as poten- tial protein, are taken between 15 and 35 yards.


Small Game And Varmints The biggest segment of the airgun


market is in the $50 to $100 range, but there are also buyers for airguns that start in the $600 to $700 range and handle like the fi nest fi rearms. In between are air rifl es and handguns built with performance and price point in mind. Never has the consumer had more


options. Beeman, Gamo, RWS, Cros- man, Benjamin and other companies now make spring piston, gas spring, pneumatic and pre-charged pneumat- ic (PCP) rifl es that shoot up to 1,600 fps and beyond when paired with pre- mium, high-speed pellets. Four main calibers are offered:


.177, .20, .22 and .25 calibers. Most common are the .177 and .22. If the primary pests and protein sources are small and feathered, the .177 might be the best choice. That little pellet deliv- ered at over 1,000 fps, is a proven per- former. If an occasional rat, snake or squirrel might be contemplated as a target, the .177 is still a worthy option. If, on the other hand, the pest in


question is furred, a .22-caliber bul- let brings the energy required to put woodchucks, rockchucks,


feral cats, REALITY CHECK • 2012 SPECIAL EDITION


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