The best pellet for hunting is the type and brand that is the most accurate used in your air rifle. I have .177, .20. and.22 caliber air rifles. I have a portable bench rest set up in my den and a target set up at 10 Meters in a storage room . I have had some good accuracy using Crosman Premier, Beeman Crow Magnum, and Polymag pellets. Pellet rifles , like 22 RF rifles need to be tested with different types of ammo to find out what the rifle likes. Test fire the best pellets at 15, 20, 25 ,and 30 yards so that you can adjust the rifle site at the best point blank range for you pellet rifle. Tell us about you air rifle and if you are using open sites or a scope.
I have to agrre with above. From multiple experience with tree rats, you can slow them down with a body shot from a .177 and eventually cause expiration. For a good solid humane kill, head shots are the order of the day. With a good solid head shot, a standard wad cutter will KO a tree rat within reasonable range assuming a good degree of accuracy.
Ok, I stepped out in the woods for a few minutes to confirm the current batch of pellets Iv'e got on standby for squirrell. Real world, I screwed up, the head shot turned into a neck shot which anchored the critter, but needed finished off. The pellet was the Gamo Hunter. Distance was approx 25-30 yards. The second pic, a bit blury shows the penetration through the hide into the meat on the neck. Again, this anchored it, but not as clean as I like to see. Take a head shot, but use a pellet that will still penetrate hide if off by an inch or two. My RWS is 1000 fps with lead, 1200 with PBA. I practice at 50 yards routinely, makes the 25 yard shots a lot easier. Aim small miss small.
I say that, because .177 caliber is a poor choice to use on small game.
Before you nay sayers bash me, I am not saying you can't kill them with a .177, but I AM saying you will wound more with a .177, and any thing less than an instant one shot kill is inhumane, and to me inexcusable.
Some have correctly pointed out that a .177 requires a head shot. Imho, so does a .22 or .25, but you have more lee way for an off shot with the bigger calibers.
I am not talking from theory either! I have over 30 years experience hunting small games with pellet guns and over 55 years total experience hunting small game with rimfires, bow and arrow and shotguns.
My first squirrel ever shot with a pellet gun was probably over 30 years ago with a scoped .177 break barrel which was highly accurate and shooting chp at around 800 - 850 fps. I settled the cross hairs on the heart at around 10 yards and squeezed the trigger. The impact lifted the squirrel off the log and threw it about 10 feet through the air. It failed to anchor the target. There was blood all over the ground and a huge blood trail going to the tree where he had disappeared into a hole.
Fortunately a couple minutes later he climbed back out the hole onto a limb and a shot from underneath through the throat and skull finished the job. There was actually blood dripping from the nose to the ground just before I fired the fatal shot.
Subsequent experience on thousands of squirrels over the next 10 - 15 years taught me that nothing but a well placed head shot would reliably anchor these tough critters. Also, do NOT use wad cutters. The only acceptable pellet for these imho is pointed, even in the larger calibers. Multiple decades of experience and multiple of thousands of kills with pellet guns of all types have taught me this.
Btw, as another reader noted, neck shots with a .177 usually did not result in a clean kill. Often a follow up shot was needed. Not so with a .22. All shots in a vital area, head, neck, or chest have produced one shot kills for me!
What you need is a .22 or larger producing at least 500 fps with a 14.3 grain or heavier pellet. Guns shooting in the 750 fps to 900 fps are simply the best in my experience if the gun is accurate with your chosen pellet.
The least expensive I know of which meets my criteria is the Crosman 2289 "Backpacker". The only way I know you can still get them is in the "Doomsday bug out kit" and they go for $70 - $90 shipped from most places.
Do not buy the 1322. It is in all ways inferior to the 2289!
This kit comes with a basic back pack which holds the broken down gun, and has a tin of it's preferred pellets, some targets, a "medical kit" and a water bottle, all of which also fit in the backpack with enough room left for sandwiches, a knife, some candy bars and other small items.
My 2289 is insanely accurate and has killed lots of squirrels already in maybe last 2 - 3 months. So far, no misses and none wounded! Out to 25 yards it is simply wicked!
The Crossman 2289 (previously mentioned) does not have the ability to mount a scope, according to the Reviews.
I have an old Crossman pump style pellet/BB rifle that is stone cold accurate, but the velocity is low. I've been looking around for a new air rifle, and the Crossman Phantom seems to be what I am looking for.
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