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Are pump-action rifles really a valid vermin tool?

Bruce Potts gives his views on classic .22 rimfire pump-action rifles for pest control

shooting rabbits

Q: I see quite a lot of classic .22 rimfire pump-action rifles at auctions. Are they really a valid vermin tool? (Read move to ban pump action shotguns fails.)

A: They certainly are! Your first choice would be a newer bolt-action or semi-automatic rimfire for rabbits, but some older model rimfires are tremendous value for money and have several advantages too.

Winchester Model 61 pump-action rifles for vermin

Bruce likes the Winchester Model 61

Pump-action rifles for vermin

Old Remingtons, Browning or Winchester.22 rimfire are all fine pump-action rimfire that are capable of some good accuracy at normal vermin ranges. I like the Winchester Model 61. I use one for feral pigeon because it can handle all the 22 rimfire cartridge lengths due to the pump-action design with a tubular magazine instead of a magazine-fed system. You can use the rifle for short- or longer-range work because it can shoot .22 short and .22 long rifle cartridges.

Also, these classic rifles can be scope mounted, but best of all is the quality of workmanship — everything is made of metal; there is no plastic at all. But you still need to check it functions correctly and the trigger is safe.

If in doubt I recommend a second-hand .22 bolt action, but as fun, alternative vermin tool a pump-action can be useful.

Tips for buying guns at auction

  • Remember that you will need to provide proof of identity and have your firearms certificate to register at the auction.
  • You don’t have to be present. You can register a bid before the auction, bid over the telephone or online.
  • If the gun looks as though it has been well-used it then it probably has been.
  • Stick to your budget, don’t get into a bidding competition.
  • If you want to take the gun home with you afterwards you’ll need to bring a gun slip.
  • Don’t bid for a gun that you haven’t carefully examined at the viewing.
  • Don’t bid for a gun that doesn’t fit you.
  • Don’t buy at auction if you are buying your first gun.