Recently, I received a response to the blog from Sean, who said:
“I need an air rifle to kill some roosting pigeons and feral cats at a commercial property in Tucson. I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.
Any suggestions for an appropriate rifle would be helpful.
Thanks for the question, Sean. I’ll do my best to provide a useful response.
Your first big concern should be to determine the legality of your situation. Is it legal for you to be discharging an air rifle at this commercial property and is it also legal for you to be killing pigeons and feral cats? The last thing you want is a legal hassle because someone saw you terminating pigeons or feral cats and decided to make an issue of it. That is not the time to discover that you are on the wrong side of the law. So check it out first. If legality is a problem, you might want to see what your options are with a pest control professional.
You mention “I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.” Safety is your second big concern. You really have to take a critical look at the area where you intend to shoot. What, indeed, will happen if you miss your shot? Where will your shot go? Will you hit adjoining properties, possibly critical or sensitive equipment, or will your shot go into the air and you have no idea where it will land? (Understand, Sean, that I am not getting on your case here, but simply pointing out that it is your responsibility to be sure of the background where your shot is going to land.)
Study your field of fire and look for alternative shooting positions. If you can arrange a position where you are shooting downward into the ground or into a backstop you devise, that could be very helpful.
One of the unknown variables in the question you pose is the distance at which you will be shooting. That will influence what type of air rifle you choose. You also don’t mention what type of commercial property is involved, and that may make a difference as well.
Some years ago, I did a profile on pest control professional Alan Becker. He is called frequently to kill birds in grocery stores, and one of his concerns is over-penetration. “If he pellet goes through the bird, I have to find it. I don’t want to take the risk that it might be in a food product.” For that reason, Becker uses a Beeman R9 in .177 that launches .177 pellets at 875-900 fps, and a CZ630, also a .177, with a velocity around 600 fps (a readily available equivalent would be the Beeman R7 or HW30). With an HW30 or R7, you should be able to kill pigeons out to about 25 yards.
If you are forced to shoot upward at roosting pigeons and don’t want to risk damaging the roof, you might consider a Benjamin 392 pump-up rifle. By varying the number of pumps, you can vary the power and velocity of the shot. At as little as 3 pumps, you might be able to kill the pigeon without “killing” the roof. The 392 can be difficult to scope, but can be outfitted with a peep sight or a pistol scope mounted out on the barrel in “scout rifle” fashion.
Another good candidate is the Benjamin Marauder pistol/carbine, the power of which can be adjusted, but it’s a bit of a hassle.
Another consideration is noise. Some pest control situations require the utmost in stealth. The .177 Marauder rifle is very, very quiet, and the power can be adjusted, but it isn’t quick and easy. If you want a PCP rifle that offers a lot of shots per fill, power that is adjustable at the flick of a switch, very muted report, and excellent accuracy, the FX Gladiator Tactical is an outstanding choice.
Finally, Sean, whatever you choose, be certain that you practice, practice, practice until your shot placement is precise and sure.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott