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Should I get an air rifle or a rimfire?

Bruce Potts advises

Hatsan Escort 
.22LR rifle

The Hatsan Escort .22 rimfire is a cheap, accurate and lightweight vermin gun, which is ideally suited for pest control

Air rifle or a rimfire

Q: I am thinking of buying an FAC-rated air rifle for pest control. Would this be better than a .22 rimfire?

A: I like FAC-rated air rifles for certain pest control duties. They offer a significantly higher energy rating over the legal standard 12ft/lb energy. While this does not increase the range potential, the higher velocity will flatten the trajectory so that a hit is more certain.

It also means that if you are shooting an airgun pellet at half the weight of a typical .22 rimfire, then ‘overkill’, by which I mean expansion on impact, is less. This also means it’s a bit safer to shoot around barns, equipment and so on, whereas a .22 rimfire would be prohibitive. But safety is still vital and correct backdrops mandatory.

Most pre-charge air rifles of 30ft/lb are about right, because at this rating the heavier air gun pellets are still accurate. Lighter ones tend to deform. You can achieve much higher 
energy figures but this means fewer shots per charge. I have used the Daystate .30 at 
100ft/lb, which is an effective pest control tool.

Q: I’m looking to buy a rifle for general pest control around the farmyard, anything from rats to rabbits and crows. I’m stuck with the dilemma of whether I should buy a .22 rimfire or an air rifle. Which one would be better?

A: If you are not a firearm certificate (FAC) holder, a decent sub-12 ft/lb air rifle is ideal for close-range vermin with well-placed shots, without the need to obtain a licence, gun safe and the hassle of renewals. On the other hand, if you already have an FAC, a .22 rimfire is a brilliant tool for shooting anything on the ground, including foxes. They are accurate and inexpensive to run. The downside is that shooting them skywards is extremely risky with their ability to travel long distances, making them unsuitable for shooting birds in trees. An FAC air rifle, however, is an excellent tool, although an initially expensive outlay compared to a rimfire. Some precharged air rifles on the market have the ability to vary the power, allowing them to be adjusted to suit the situation and might be better around the farm.