An answer for Sean’s pest control question

Monday, February 21, 2011

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.

Scoped HW30.

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.

Here's an older Benjamin 392 set up Scout rifle style with a red dot sight.

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.

The Benjamin Marauder Pistol, outfitted with shoulder stock and scope.

Another good candidate is the Benjamin Marauder pistol/carbine, the power of which can be adjusted, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

The FX Gladiator offers tons of shots, super easy power adjustment, and a high degree of stealth.

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


  1. Robert from Arcade says:

    Jock: good advice on the legality of using an airgun for pest control. Not to come off like some internet game warden but, I often cringe when I see window sniping posts in areas where they are clearly illegal. It gives the sport a black eye ,in my opinion. Especially when it is posted for all to see. For shooting pidgeons and animals like rats and squirrels around ,and inside buildings. I have used the MSP rifles like the Sheridan and Benji for years now. I have also used pistols like the Benji HB in .20 and .22 cals, and the crosman 160 and 2240 CO2 rifle and pistol. I also recomend wadcutter pellets for short range pest elimination , to prevent over penetration of the target. Back in the day , the old ARH catalogs used to recomend target wadcutters in the HW 35, for squirrel shooting . The .177 cal HW35 was the big stick among airguns back then .
    As for feral cats’ I would use only a powerful PCP in .22 or .25. I would also use only a soilidly constructed pellet like a CP . For tactics ,I would use a bait and shoot set-up to control where a pellet would end up in the event of a miss, or pass-thru. A cats hide is VERY tough , especially a old toms. I would stress that you make sure you don’t wound the cat. If you do and it gets away , and it’s discovered, it will cause problems. A wounded, diseased and damaging, feral cat will be used as an example of an irresponsible shooters desire to just shoot something. It usually will be discovered by someone who hates shooting and guns, and a anti -hunting agenda. Personally , I use a firearm for such tasks. I like a shotgun loaded with duck and pheasant loads,utilizing #4or6 shot. BTW, I like cats and have three. I have also lost cherished pet cats ,that aquired diseases from feral vectors. Hope this post goes thru. I typed one earlier, and have typed others in the past, but they disappear into cyber space? I don’t know why I have trouble posting comments on here? Take care,Robert.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      This one made it. Thanks for your comments!

  2. Joe in MD says:

    Years ago I read of someone doing exactly this sort of pest control (birds, at least) and they used silvered sugar BBs that are sold for cake decoration as BBs. If you miss or pass through the target, the pellets will disintegrate when they hit something solid. Sounded like a clever solution to me. I assume this only works with a BB gun?



    1. Jock Elliott says:


      That sounds clever to me too. I’ll have to look into it. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Bill says:

    For pigeons and lightly built pests (NOT cats), how about a Daisy 953? The advertised velocity is 560 fps, and that’s with a single pump of power.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      At close range, and with great attention paid to shot placement, it could work.

    2. Orin says:


      I don’t know if I could recommend the 953 for even light pests at close distances. If you got everything just right, as Jock said, it could work. But the chance of something going wrong is overwhelmingly great, and then you end up with a wounded animal. I bought a 953 to protect my bird feeder from English sparrows, and at 18 yards, I could not reliably ensure humane kills.

      560 FPS will be about the top end for the 953 using light pellets, and that won’t give you very much terminal energy. There are some minor power mods you can make like filling in the pump head with epoxy, but I still wouldn’t use it for pesting. Accurate? Yes. But better suited for punching paper and plinking in my opinion.

      – Orin

      1. Jock Elliott says:


        Thanks for your input! Out of curiosity, what are you using now to defend the birdfeeder?

      2. Orin says:

        Mostly a TX200. But for some reason, the sparrows don’t come around much any more. 🙂

        – Orin

  4. nyhunter says:

    i don’t know what kind of budget you are on if any, but an rws48 in 22 caliber would fit your needs nicely. as would an rws34 in the same caliber st about 200 bucks less. both are relatively quite with ample power given proper shot placement. as jock said, please make sure you are legal in killing pests in your area. pigeons are usually not a problem, but shooting cats may be a crime even if feral in your area.the last thing we need is negative press about airguns. especially with pcps pushing the envelope of powder burners being mass produced now

  5. boohoo says:

    How can this person make thier kills legal? Hunter license? Exterminator license? If exterminator license, what kind?

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      You will have to check your local jurisdiction regarding the legality of pest control where you are and how to make sure it is legal.

  6. Niki says:

    It’s absolutely illegal to harm or kill a feral cat. Cats are considered “free roaming” &, therefore, off limits. It’s also illegal to shoot off a firearm (even bb) within the city limits. Atleast, that’s what a cop told me in Maricopa County. One thing you all do not realize is most feral cat “colonies” have established human caretakers. If you were to do the footwork & find out who this person is, Im positive they would gladly help you sort out your issues w/the cats, rather, than unnecessarily shooting them. Do the cats have eartips? That means they’ve been fixed & can’t reproduce & have a caretaker AND they won’t have “diseases”. The issue of an injured/dead cat being found arises from the illegal aspect of what you are doing.

Leave a Reply

8 − five =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.