Airgun hunting is probably allowed in your state. However, you will need to check on restrictions and allowances with your state’s game and fish authority. This article provides guidance on general airgun hunting rules at the time of writing. Because regulations change frequently, check with your game and fish authority each season before you go airgun hunting.
Airgun Hunting Overview
After Rossi Morreale‘s recent turkey hunting trip in California with American Airgunner TV, we have been receiving a lot of questions. The biggest question is can I hunt with airguns in my state? This changes from state to state. Most states will only allow small game to be taken with air rifles. While a few others will allow larger game, such as Whitetail Deer, to be taken. Some states, such as Arkansas, don’t specifically allow airgun hunting. However, they do allow airguns to be used to “hunt” pest animals such as the crow, rabbit, and squirrel. As of right now, only two states do not allow airgun hunting of any kind: New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. There are only four states that specifically allow airgun hunting for turkey: California, Maryland, Michigan, and Virginia.
Airgun Hunting Map
This map is based on interpretation of existing regulations. Do not depend on this map for airgun hunting laws. Always check local regulations with your state’s game and fish group before hunting. The states marked in yellow have special rules for airguns which are explained below the map.
For information purposes only. Regulations will change over time. Remember to check your game and fish group every season for updates.
Arizona: Must use a .22 or larger for fur bearers.
Hawaii: Can only hunt with airguns on private property with permission from the owner.
Illinois: Can only hunt with airguns on private property with permission from the owner.
Kansas: Cannot use airguns to hunt bullfrogs or turtles.
New Jersey: Must use an airgun that is at least .177 but no larger than .22. Velocity must be at least 600 FPS.
New York: Must use an airgun that is .177 or larger. Velocity must be at least 600 FPS.
*North Carolina: According to the North Carolina Wildlife website, air rifles fall in the rifle category. All restrictions that apply to rifles apply to air rifles.
Rhode Island: Must use an airgun that is at least .177 but no larger than .22. Velocity of at least 750 FPS and pellets 7.5 grains or larger.
South Dakota: Must use an airgun with a velocity of at least 1,000 FPS. Only hunting pellets are permitted. Read page 41 of the SD Hunting Handbook for legal game.
Texas: Must use an airgun that is at least .177 with a velocity of at least 600 FPS when hunting squirrels.
View Airgun Hunting Regulations by State
Looking to have a great time outdoors with your kids (or anyone for that matter)? Then pull out the airguns because that’s exactly what Tim from Airgun Hobbyist did. Tim threw quite the birthday party for his 14 year-old son, Ben, at their North Carolina home. The party lasted over four hours and saw 1000 pellets and BBs fired downrange with 30 different airguns and hundreds of different targets to choose from.
They started by preparing their home made range with some painted targets consisting of over 200 empty CO2 cartridges, 50 vegetable cans, dozens of soda cans, 80 water balloons, ice targets and a few rotten eggs. They also set up a few commercial targets including the center piece, the Right Now Range that held Shatter Blast targets, soda cans and some large bulls eye targets.
The targets were placed a minimum of 30 feet away from the firing line and each guest was given safety glasses to wear in case of a ricochet and were of course instructed on safety rules. Backstops were also used behind the targets to protect any wildlife they may have been wandering through.
There were many Umarex airguns at this little party including the Colt Peacemaker, Colt Commander, Colt Python, Walther PPQ, Walther PPS, Walther CP88, a S&W 586 and a Makarov. The Umarex Fusion took down quite a few long range targets and was fired for a fairly long time without needing to replace the CO2.
The Umarex Steel Force and the M712 weren’t as lucky though. The CO2 was constantly being replaced because everyone wanted to shoot them! The M712 was the favorite in full auto mode, and the Steel Force was another favorite with its six round burst mode.
The biggest hit was the Walther Lever Action western style rifle, which felt right at home in this shooting gallery style range. The Umarex Morph 3X was another favorite with its ability to “morph”. It made a great choice for shooters of all sizes.
Everyone left with a smile on their face and comments such as “We should do this more often!” The family also got to enjoy some private shooting time knocking down the remaining targets the next day before clean up.
If you didn’t think our airguns were great before, you’ll definitely think so now. Umarex has claimed 5 of the 12 spots in Tactical Life’s Top 12 Air Rifles From Gun Buyer’s Guide 2015.
The Umarex Fusion is a single-shot rifle and uses CO2 valve technology and Umarex’s SilencAir 5-chamber noise dampening system to create an amazingly quite airgun. The Fusion takes a 12 gram CO2 capsule, has an average FPS of 750, and also features a light weight synthetic stock. The Fusion also comes with a 4X32 scope included, helping you to create a remarkably accurate airgun.
Umarex Morph 3X
The Umarex Morph 3X has the awesome ability to morph from a rifle to a pistol, giving you two airguns in one! The Morph 3X has a built in 30-shot magazine and Fiber Optic sights. The gun is powered by a 12 gram CO2 capsule and has a velocity of 600 FPS as a rifle and 450 FPS as a pistol. The Morph 3X has a synthetic stock with a light weight design that makes the gun easy to handle and the “Morphing” process is done easily by any airgunner.
The Umarex Octane is one of two break-barrel rifles first introduced under the Umarex brand. The Octane is powered by the ReAxis Reverse-Axis Gas Piston, which is unique because this piston operates in reverse of other gas pistons. A magnum velocity air rifle, the Octane can reach up to 1450 feet per second with an alloy pellet. It is equipped with a SilencAir suppressor with five chambers that significantly reduces muzzle noise. The Octane also comes with a 3-9X40 scope, all-weather stock, and adjustable 2-stage trigger.
Walther Lever Action
The Walther Lever Action is a CO2 powered rifle and has a rifled blued barrel (and receiver) and is made with elegant hardwood that is smoothly formed with a classic straight stock. The Lever Action rifle is equipped with an adjustable rear sight and an 8-shot rotary magazine and has a FPS of 630.
Walther LGV Competition Ultra
The Walther LGV Competition Ultra is a reintroduction of the original Walther LGV, which was a match rifle manufactured in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The LGV has a 3 lb trigger that can easily be adjusted to suit your preferences. This rifle, while having the power for hunting, is also accurate enough that you can expect to be hitting bullseyes all day long. The LGV is also equipped with its “Vibration Reduction System” and “Super Silent Technology”, which means no spring noise, no creaks, no groans, and an exceptionally smooth shot cycle.
See our full line of Air Rifles at www.umarexusa.com/Air-Rifles
The Umarex USA Service Department typically receives one or two break barrel rifles per week that have upward bent barrels. At first, this might seem like a strange phenomenon. After all, to cock a break barrel rifle, one typically has to pull down on the barrel of the gun, not up. Why, then, would we see so many upward bent barrels?
This upward bending of the barrel occurs when a person has the gun in an open cocked position, safety OFF, and then pulls the trigger. The result of this situation is that the barrel slams shut with extreme force and bends the barrel upwards. After this occurs, the gun may or may not cock depending on what sort of internal damage has occurred. When this situation happens, we suggest not firing the gun again until it has been evaluated by our qualified gunsmiths to see how the problem might be fixed.
The rifle most likely will not be able to be sighted in due to the barrel pointing in a slightly upwards direction. Many times the trigger tongue will be broken and the stock may be cracked at the pistol grip area when the rifle has been discharged in this way. In most situations, our gunsmith can disassemble the rifle and adjust the barrel back to its original position with the use of our barrel press. The barrel press is an extremely large, heavy press that exerts a tremendous amount of force on the barrel to straighten it out. The press itself is a fundamental tool to any quality gunsmith.
The rifle is reassembled and test fired after the barrel is straightened.
After the barrel is adjusted to once again be straight, the rifle is reassembled by our gun techs, and then it goes directly to our shooting range to fire several pellets in order to ensure it will properly sight in. We do initial testing on the gun range and sight the rifle in to be accurate. After the rifle’s quality has been ensured, we take care to properly clean and service the other aspects of the rifle before returning the gun to its rightful owner.
To prevent this situation from ever occurring to you, please always practice safe gun handling, making certain that the gun is on Safe and your finger is not within the trigger guard area until a safe target has been acquired. Only after a target has been sighted should the gun’s safety be moved to the fire position and your trigger finger placed inside the trigger guard area. Following these steps will ensure that your gun is never damaged and no one is injured in the process.
We can be reached between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM CDT. Please feel free to call us any time at (479) 646-4210 option 7 if you have a question about one of our products or send us an email via our contact us page.
Click The Gunsmith’s Bench for more articles or click the category on the right column.
Umarex USA continues to bring economical air guns to the American consumer that perform well beyond the expectations of the average shooter. A great example of what is available to the small game hunter and pest shooter is the new Ruger® Blackhawk® Air Rifle.
Available in two variations, the gun I received was the more powerful of the two. There is a version that features extremely easy cocking, and only shoots around 490 fps with the average .177 caliber pellet. However, as a hunter, I almost always opt for the more powerful versions as long as the shooting behavior is manageable and the cocking effort within the realm of reason.
If the Blackhawk Air Rifle looks familiar, it should. It is based upon the venerable Diana Model 34, an air gun that is a classic. This Blackhawk Air Rifle features a synthetic, ambidextrous stock that is comfortable for both right and left-handed shooters. The fiber optic open sights make target acquisition easy and quick, handy for when your shooting opportunity on a nervous squirrel or rabbit calls for a fast shot. Or, if you are like me and prefer a scope for finer shot placement, the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle comes with a 4×32 scope and mounts included.
My first opportunity to use the new rifle was on a pest control situation. If ever there was a pest, it would be the European starling. They rob my bird feeders, kill my bluebirds, and generally take over the best nesting sites that our native birds need in order to survive. So at every opportunity, I take them out!
I had finished sighting in the open sights on this air rifle and had it leaning against the kitchen door to do duty as my bird feeder gun. Some serious snow had fallen within the last evening, and birds were flocking to my feeders for an easy meal during the bad weather. Sure enough, the starlings started showing up to ruin the party, acting like the avian party crashers they are. I eased outside to do something about the situation, and with a single shot, the starling party was over. And one of them didn’t go home!
Having successfully proved the use of this air gun for pest control, I moved on up to small game hunting. Squirrel season is still open here in Kentucky, and I had a new camouflage chair I wanted to try out. Setting up in a likely spot, I chose the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle as my armament for the day. It didn’t take long for a large fox squirrel to climb up to a dining perch in a tree and begin working on a nut it had found under the snow. With a properly placed shot, the squirrel came tumbling down. The Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle and RWS Superdome pellets made a lethal combination for this tree rodent!
Most air gun shooters like to keep an air gun around that is capable of handling larger pests. The possum and raccoon come to mind in this category, and though I would hesitate to take on a large raccoon with the smaller .177 caliber air rifle, a possum provided no challenge to the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle. I have issues every year in regards to what animals are going to move into my old barn, and this possum had to go. Coming out in the open at the wrong time of day earned this pest a shot to the head, ending the issue of where it would live for good. The power provided by the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle proved more than it could handle, and the accuracy provided by the rifle put the pellet exactly where I needed it to go.
If I had any suggestions for Umarex USA in regards to this rifle, I would opt for a slightly longer scope rail to allow the use of the longer-based 1-piece mounts that are so popular among air gun shooters. These style mounts provide some serious clamping surface on the dovetails, a greatly desired feature for spring-piston air guns. The current rails only allow the shorter-style 1-piece mounts.
I can recommend the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle for most game and pests that range in size from the possum on down. The air gun has the accuracy needed, is pleasant to shoot and practice with, and will provide many hours of shooting fun and enjoyment for its owner. Give one a try and see if you don’t agree!