Why Every Prepper Needs a Survival Pellet Rifle

“Need” might be a strong word, but every prepper should certainly consider purchasing a pellet rifle, and I’m gonna tell you why. But first, for those completely unfamiliar with pellet rifle awesomeness, I’m NOT talking about a Red Ryder style BB gun as made famous in A Christmas Story. Who else had the Red Ryder as their first “firearm”? It was mine.

No, I’m talking about a PELLET rifle, .177 or .22 caliber (not to be confused with a .22lr bullet). While these rifles shoot pellets by air only, they have the potential to be very dangerous. Think I’m kidding? Check out this recent news article I noticed:

A nine-year-old Maine boy was fighting for his life Friday after his uncle accidentally shot him in the head with a pellet gun while trying to shoot squirrels. Investigators from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office said the pellet from the .177 caliber gun entered the victim’s head and lodged in the front of his brain.

I read another article on the incident where police thought alcohol may have been a factor. The uncle scuffled with the cop (he must be wicked smart). But that’s besides the point. The point is, pellet rifles don’t shoot BBs, they shoot these:

I know, the picture of a BEAR along side a package of pellets is a little comical, but forget about that. Below is a pellet closeup “shot.”

The top pellet is a .22 caliber “hollow point” pellet, in the middle is a .177 caliber target pellet, and at the bottom is a .177 caliber “Master Point” pellet.

Would YOU want to be hit with one of those traveling at 1,000 feet per second? Of course not. Am I suggesting pellet rifles make great self-defense tools? Of course not.

So why should preppers consider buying a survival pellet rifle? It’s a survival pellet rifle. It will quietly dispatch small critters like birds, squirrels and rabbits. You could stock A TON of hunting pellets for a long-term TEOTWAWKI situation.

Are there other reasons? Yes, five of them:

  1. Convenient Shooting Practice – I can’t legally target practice with a firearm in my yard. I know, I know, Rawles at SurvivalBlog.com would probably call me a prepper poser for not living somewhere that I can unload 30 rounds off my deck, but whatever. I like where I live, it’s convenient to everything and there’s a strong sense of community. Are there downsides to Maine suburban living? Sure – I can’t unload 30 rounds off my deck. I’d have to travel to a gravel pit or a shooting range, which makes target practicing more of an event, which means I don’t go as often as I should. IF, however, I can fire a pellet rifle off my deck while enjoying an evening iced tea – I can get daily practice, and daily practice is what makes shooting second nature, which makes for a good shooter.
  2. Low Cost Shooting Practice – if I swing on over to my homeboys (and girls) at Lucky Gunner, I see they have .22lr ammo at about $21.00 for 500 rounds. That’s pretty cheap, but what’s even cheaper is 500 pellets for under 10 bucks.
  3. Quiet Shooting Practice – I can put a sub-sonic .22lr cartridge in this single-shot rifle and it’s very quiet, but it’s not pellet rifle quiet. I can practice shooting a pellet rifle any time I want, morning, noon or night. The loudest sound heard would be the *ping* of the aluminum cans I’m hitting.
  4. Regulation Friendly –  no laws regulating pellet rifles, no background checks, no nuthin’.
  5. Save Wear and Tear on Firearms – you can get a TON of low-cost shooting practice in and not reduce the life of your more costly, “real” firearms.

I can hear some of you now, “Target practice on a pellet rifle – pfffft. Practice on the firearm you’re going to use!” I won’t argue that you shouldn’t practice on the SHTF survival rifle you’d reach for first, but I will certainly argue that a pellet rifle makes good shooting practice for any rifle. The principles are the same. You need to hold the rifle steady. You need to sight the target quickly. You need a smooth trigger pull. You need breath control. It’s easy to gain (and maintain) the fundamentals of target practicing on a pellet rifle, which you can then successfully move to “real” firearms.

Have I convinced you to consider buying a pellet rifle? If so, you might want to wait for Thursday’s post. I’ll be reviewing THESE five pellet throwers:

Until then …

– Ranger Man

29 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 31, 2011, 8:55 am

    Amen, a couple of springers like those shown above and even pnemuatics like Crosman 397 / 392 are well worth having in your corner. Close range vermin control, target practice and even inexpensive ‘tweety bird’ shooting to add to your boiling pot, its all good.

  • Presager Buddy May 31, 2011, 9:17 am

    I’ve been thinking of getting a pellet rifle for some time. I, too, live in a suburban New England community and I intend to stay here. Your post makes sense. Since I have never owned a pellet rifle, I’m curious to know if they will dispatch a woodchuck. I’m eager to read your reviews on the pellet rifles.

    • mainerinexile May 31, 2011, 9:49 am

      there are some .22 pellet rifles with over 1200 fps, and should do a job on a woodchuck… there are PCP (pre-charged power) pellet guns that can pack a wallop… there are even .50 cal PCP air guns out there capable of taking down bison! Koreans, and others in SE Asia have hunted with air guns for many years, and companies that build then from that part of the world have built a reputation for quality…

      • lonesuvivor June 2, 2011, 9:31 pm

        Check out the TV show airgunner. They have talked about 50 caliber air guns and show them blasting through a side of beef! Wow.

  • Prepared N.D. May 31, 2011, 9:20 am

    Don’t underestimate a high quality air rifle like a RWS. It will kill a squirrel or rabbit very easily and beats the heck out of announcing to the neighborhood that it’s dinner time (although I’d probably share anyway).

    You also forgot #6 lol. Unruly neighborhood dogs. I don’t want to drop the kid next door’s dog with a 12 gauge just because it got in my garbage. But a pellet in the ass will quietly (besides the yelping) get my point across and fido lives to lick his crotch a few more days.

    I’m also an advocate of having a good compound bow. They’re fun to shoot, quiet, and can drop large game without wasting defensive rounds. Arrows aren’t cheap though.

    • T.R May 31, 2011, 12:36 pm

      I agree about the bow . I have a decent crossbow , if you can shoot a rifle , you can get good with a crossbow in a very short amount of time . Feels more natural as well .

    • Chefbear May 31, 2011, 2:13 pm

      A cheaper option to the compound bow, would be a re-curve bow. You don’t need NEARLY the same maintenance, basically as long as you store it under good conditions, monitor how the string and arms look (cracks in the arms are bad and can cause serious injury, frayed bow-strings, etc.); I have had my Fred Bear “Little Bear” 45lb re-curve for 22yrs, I still use the original bow-string that it came with, and I shoot it AT LEAST every-other month. With a re-curve there is not as much force exerted on the arrow as with a compound, which means that you can use wooden arrows; I have been making my own arrows since my dad and grandfather taught me how to as a kid. With my compound bow, I have tried to use wooden arrows… most of the time they snap, which can cause some pretty nasty injuries, the only arrows I know of that are capable of withstanding the stresses from a compound bow are those fancy, modern aluminum/carbon-fiber/composite arrows that tend to be VERY expensive. Last time I bought some carbon-composite arrows they cost about $45 for 6, plus you have to get them cut to size (some places charge for that), and you have to purchase tips (field points, broad-heads, etc,). My re-curve has taken down more deer over the years than my compound, it’s lighter, cheaper to shoot, quieter (believe it or not), easier to maintain, and if you look around you may be able to find a re0curve cheaper than a compound. The only problem, if you can consider it a problem, with a re-curve is that they don’t have a sighting system like most modern compound bows do. This can be a benefit though, all the friends I have taught to use my re-curve say that what they learned from the experience of figuring out the proper way to aim has significantly helped their compound bow skills.

      • Prepared N.D. May 31, 2011, 4:41 pm

        I’ve only shot one re-curve, I still like compounds better because of the let off. I don’t use sights, my dad taught me to shoot bare/instinct.

        LOL, I know all about the “injuries”. I had a nock that was damaged and it blew under the pressure and my bow came apart and wrapped around my arm and got me in the back. Left some extremely nasty bruises. I also accidentally bumped the release as I was drawing a 90lb bow and smashed myself in the nose with the butt of the release. That hurt like hell too.

        When I was little, there was an indian that sold arts and crafts at a store I frequented and he taught me how to knap flint and fletch arrows with hawk feathers. I have no idea how to straighten/choose wood to make the arrows or make a bow.

      • Jarhead Survivor June 1, 2011, 8:06 am

        @Chefbear – I used to shoot compound bows exclusively. About five years ago I sold my bow because I was busy doing other things and didn’t shoot for a few years. (I used to be damned good too.) Then I saw a recurve sitting at my dad’s house this spring and I’ve been shooting bare bow with it a couple of times a week and I love it.

        You’re right about how much compounds cost too. Between the bow, arrows, quivers, arrow rests, and all the other items that make up a compound bow system you can easily dump $750 to $1000 in no time.

        I still love compounds, but shooting the recurve has taught me how to be more instinctual and helped me to really sharpen my skills. I’m not as accurate (yet) with a recurve, but I’m getting there.

  • Rev. Lawrence May 31, 2011, 9:21 am

    Another suggestion, if you consider the “rule of threes” (i.e. have a back-up for your back-up) is a Wrist Rocket Slingshot. They fold up nicely; can be carried through an airport; require no ammo stockpiling; no regulations; and with practice can be deadly. I practice with ball bearings and marbles. When I run out, I just pick up a rock. It’s not super-macho, but a slingshot fits nicely in a pocket and can be carried anywhere; even on long marches through rough terrain. Firearm ammo can get pretty heavy.

    Just my two-cents worth. Great post!

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 31, 2011, 1:34 pm

      Check out that wrist rocket / bow design shown on Dave Canterbury’s website – way cool! Attaches an arrow rest (called a bisquit) to the prongs of the slingshot, allowing an arrow to be used.

  • mainerinexile May 31, 2011, 9:45 am

    I have both a .177 and a .22 pellet rifle. in ill-annoy, land of criminal politicians (you know the state), .22 cal pellet rifles OR anything over 1000 fps requires a 24 hour wait and paperwork (to make sure you’re not a criminal -ironically, it’s the politicians who are the real criminals – but i’ll get off my soapbox). my son and i use the .22 with a scope, at an indoor range [fairly] locally. i’m in an apt complex in a community where it would be “frowned upon” to fire, even a pellet gun, in the town limits…
    i agree – a .22 pellet gun would make a suitable small game survival gun… where the faster .177 might just go through the animal, the heavier, slower, .22 has a better chance of stopping the animal, and is a better choice. it has more of a “gun” feel to it. i have about 6000 pellets for each gun, the .177 and the .22.
    we recently got a couple mosin nagant 91/30’s, and popped off 20 rounds each yesterday (in honor of those fallen in battle) at the range as well.. i think my son’s new favorite is the mosin, now, though!

    • Chefbear May 31, 2011, 2:19 pm

      mainerinexile I to have a pair of 1891/30 Mossin/Nagant’s… They are great rifles, fairly cheap to shoot/maintain, rugged, accurate and aside from the weight the only rel “downside” is that they only hod 5 rounds in the magazine. There are quite a bit of aftermarket parts you can get for them, not nearly as much as for SKS’s or AK’s, but there is a market and the parts for the most part are reasonably priced (if you shop-around).

  • wsc1964 May 31, 2011, 10:44 am

    I bought a Gamo VH whisper from Cabelas Bargain Cave. It was a return, I got it for less than half price and it is accurate and powerful. I live in the city but use it to shot rats off the powerlines in my backyard. It is quiet and plenty powerful enough to kill squirrel or rabbit. The bargain cave had at least 10 different air rifles, all returns. No box but substantially discounted.

  • gat31 May 31, 2011, 11:08 am

    You know this is a perfect solution for me and l thank you for the suggestion. My fathers side of the family is Iriquois indian. l grew up with the belief that if guns had never been invented and brought over here, we would have a very different world today. Because of that belief, l never played with guns and never let my children and grandchildren play with them. (not even water guns shaped like sea animals mom sent and labeled water projectiles)
    Then one day someone woke me up to what’s going on around me. l started watching news for the full story instead of hearing the sound bite and forming my own opinion. l found talk radio because every station had commercials on and it didn’t. A friend gave me a video to watch (The Obama Deception which sat in the house for 3 months before l actually watched it) Finally something clicked in my head and l realized that l had to be prepared for whatever/whenever. Thankfully l found this site by shear accident and it’s been a God send. So now after 44 years, l realize that l need to change and be ready to fight fire with fire to protect me and mine. Last time we had arrows and lost, so this time l plan to be ready. Though the idea of a full powered gun still bothers me, l like the idea of a pellet gun. Will it stop an angry mob trying to raid my house? Probably not, will it slow them down while l get the lock box down, load the pistol/rifle and prepare to take care of business? Maybe. l also like the OPSEC of the pellet gun for yard/game shooting. (And if it keeps my neighbors cat from dumping my garbage cans every day all the better)
    So like pot is supposedly the gateway drug, maybe a pellet rifle will be my gateway to something bigger and better :)
    Good luck out there and happy prepping!

  • Novice May 31, 2011, 11:15 am

    I just recently purchased a cheap Daisy BB / Pellet gun combo from Wally World for all of the reasons mentioned above. I take it into my basement for target practice at 10 to 15 yards. With one pump it won’t even penetrate the medium size phone book I use as a back stop. My wife is upstairs and has no idea I’m even firing it! I got it after reading an article about a guy who lived in a national forest for awhile with a similar gun supplying most of his food. It is good practice but now I find myself sneaking down to fire off a few rounds just because of how much fun I’m having.

  • Jeff May 31, 2011, 11:45 am

    I love my air rifle, I’ve had it for years. It has been a very fun (if not completely effective) form of pest control. Pigeons be warned, if you mess in my yard, you might end up dead or at least with a few fewer feathers.

  • T.R May 31, 2011, 1:06 pm

    I love Pellet guns ! My pump pellet gun is as powerful as a .22 I would say . I use it a lot more than my .22 , which will probably get sold soon as Im not a big fan of that cal. The pellet gun is lot quieter too . Would definitely want to have it to help get food and have . Its a fantastic birder and downed a few rabbits with it as well . Personally think its more versatile than a .22 is . You could probably even fish with it if you had to in shallow water ( never tried ), powerful as you want it , being able to control with how much you pump it up , ammo that is light , easy to carry , and quiet . Its perfect for pest control when you dont want to waste a real bullet or is too dangerous to . Most small game can be taken with it , If i need something bigger than it can handle , Thats what my Ruger Mini 30 is for ( another good general purpose gun ) . Personally , I would rather get stuck in the woods with a pellet gun than a .22 ” any day of the week and twice on sunday ” lol .Great article

  • Jarhead03 May 31, 2011, 3:09 pm

    I have owned air rifles and BB guns since I was 13 when my dad said if I want to hunt rabbits I had to learn to get close with a BB gun and later dad volunteered. Me to “get rid of” pigeons at our church.

    While in the Marines we used to hunt rabbits and squirrels on base when on guard duty on those late weekend duties where the chow hall is closed and too late for Domino’s Pizza to deliver.

    I have used air rifles to dispatch skunks, opossums and a couple bobcats in the city because of construction in the foothills that was once forrest like area. On one camping trip I had to use my RWS to put down a feral dog that threatened a family next to us where the 45 or shot gun just would not have been as clear of a shot.

    I love my air rifle and BB guns. The sling shot as mentioned prior is also a great tool to have and always in my vehicles GHB.

  • Chefbear May 31, 2011, 3:35 pm

    I had a “pump-master” 760 .177 (I think it’s made by Daisy) when I was younger (around 12-13). I have to admit that thing was rugged as hell! I must have dropped it at least a million times, it got dropped into the creek several of those times, was run-over by my dad’s car, got dropped off a bridge (about 2 stories high), and fell out of the back of my Uncle’s truck going about 30mph on an old logging road (we found it the next day when we left our hunting camp). After all that abuse it still worked flawlessly! I used it on many occasions to dispatch squirrels, rabbits, and all sorts of birds, it even made an effective snake-killing weapon. It was powerful enough, with about 75 pumps, to kill one of my Aunts ducks… still get fussed at for that one! (but at least it was delicious!)

    For somebody looking for a little more *oomph*, there are large bore/high caliber options available, though they are pretty expensive. Here is a website where you can find a few of these monster pellet rifles http://www.quackenbushairguns.com/ I was looking at them, because although they wouldn’t make a very good defensive arm (long reload/single-shot/etc.) they could be a viable hunting arm long after the ammo for a standard firearm has been exhausted. They even have kits for manufacturing your own ammo, all you need is heat and lead! There are examples of air-rifles being used throughout history, did you know that Louis & Clark used an air rifle in their expedition to the Pacific Coast of the US? There is a pretty good article on Survival Cache that discusses pellet-rifles that I found interesting, there are also some good comments on there for anyone who is considering purchasing one http://survivalcache.com/pellet-guns-not-just-for-kids-anymore/

  • JohnDoe1999 May 31, 2011, 4:15 pm

    I’ve had one of these for a while for these exact reasons. My only complaints are that the spring does wear down (especially on cheaper models), that they can weigh more than an AR15, and that people tend to be too relaxed about them. I tried to institute some safety rules while shooting with a couple friends, and as soon as I make progress, their father comes out and breaks every rule I put down in about 10 seconds. I’m a guest, and I’m not gonna go against a man decades my senior. 20 minutes later his 14 year old son runs into the cross hair as he puts about 4 -5 pounds of pressure on what i guess is a 6 pound trigger (estimation is probably off, but you get my point.) The man later laughed at my Blow Out Kit. If a pellet can penetrate the skull, it sever an artery. I would never bother carrying it in a bugout, when a .22LR packs more punch; but as was said, if we had been shooting .308’s the local SWAT team would’ve kicked our door in.

    • T.R May 31, 2011, 7:44 pm

      LOL I laugh my ass off every time I see footage of a “door kicker ” and his 3 compadres getting blown away by a claymore or similar devise back the way they came in .

  • lumberjok May 31, 2011, 6:09 pm

    High quality air rifles go back at least as far as the 1790 Girardoni which Lewis and Clark carried on their Corp of Discovery journey (1804 to 1806). See the link for a look back in history:


    I’m looking forward to your review on Thursday. I bought a rifle with scope from Sportsmans Guide a year ago….it carries the Ruger label….but I’m sure it is some kind of Chinese rifle that the importer paid a licensing fee for the use of the Ruger name. The $99 price tag should have been a clue. There is no zeroing this turkey….at 50 feet you can fiddle with the scope all you want, and the best you can expect is to pepper rounds into a 3 inch circle.

  • EZE May 31, 2011, 6:39 pm

    I started w/ a Red Ryder too! At only 350 fps it was only good on frogs at 3 paces. In comparison, a medium powered Crosman 2100 at 750 fps will take out a swimming muskrat at 30 yards. These newer 900 fps + models are fine for hunting small game at upwards of 50 yards.

  • No ME Preppy May 31, 2011, 7:48 pm

    I’ve used a few different rifle and some pistol models, including a few of those in the above photo. The adage still applies: You get what you pay for. Granted you can make a $15 Big-Box clearance do pretty good within about 30 yards, but the $120 + pieces will get you to that good, much quicker. It mostly has to do with the workmanship. Rifle A is almost always made in China. Rifle B, is more likely to have been made in the USA.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. June 1, 2011, 8:54 am

    The last time I was at Mom’s house, I saw my old 880 looking really neglected and sad. I should try and get it fixed up again – just needed a seal, and maybe the current model’s would fit this old guy, its a metal receivered mid 70’s version. Well worth the effort.

  • Jumbo June 1, 2011, 11:32 am

    RE: .177 vs. .22 caliber pellets

    The .22 has more weight and striking power, but the .177 will shoot normal copper BB’s (which are usually .171-.173), of which you can buy 6000 for $6 vs. 1000 for $6 of .177 pellets. BB’s aren’t as good as pellets, but will still kill some small critters, drive of cats/dogs, are good for arming the kids to overwatch the survival garden, and would be good for close in target practice/weapons familiarization.

    I’m not saying go with BB’s exclusively, I’m saying that a .177 pellet rifle will be cheaper and more versatile to use if you have both pellets and BB’s vs. getting the .22 pellet gun.

  • RandyR June 7, 2011, 10:12 pm

    Excellent preparedness tip!
    Another advantage is the lack of richochet. Little worry about a pass-through and taking out a window of a neighbor!

  • Andrew November 8, 2017, 3:16 am

    I bought a umarex surge under a year ago for my self for my birthday, for this very reason and the fact I have loved shooting air guns since I was a child and it was a red Ryder lol.


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