Although powerful airguns have been around for over 300 years, the Girardoni air rifle being a prime example of how old they are, using them for hunting big game has only started gaining popularity recently as new materials and other technological advances are allowing these powerful air rifles to be made at a much lower cost, and with much greater consistency, allowing them to become more accessible for the working person. These days, a air rifle powerful enough to take deer, such as the Benjamin .357 Bulldog, can be had for around $900! While this may seem extremely expensive at first, this is actually a very reasonable price, considering the Benjamin Rogue cost almost twice as much 3 years ago, and provides very comparable ballistics.
Benjamin BPBD3S Bulldog
Air rifles offer many benefits when compared to rifles, such as lower recoil, and a quieter report with each shot. They do, however, suffer some disadvantages when compared to a traditional rifle, such as a much more limited range and worse ballistics, especially for the price.
When it comes to hunting big game with an air gun, one should think about it as more similar to archery hunting that hunting with a rifle. This is because a rifle kills using hydrostatic shock as much as it kills by causing bleeding in the animal. Archery, on the hand, kills by causing massive internal hemorrhaging of major organs. An air rifle’s bullet is travelling at speeds that are much too low to create a lethal amount of hydrostatic shock. This is similar to how deer are killed when shot with a ball out of a black powder rifle, and when one compares velocities, the reason is obvious; they both produce similar velocities with similar weight projectiles, and as such, both kill by causing internal bleeding rather than by shock. As a result, when hunting with a large caliber air gun, one can not expect the animal to simply fall over dead immediately, like what can happen when hunting with a rifle. As with archery, one should wait for around half an hour before starting to track the deer, because this will allow time for the deer to bleed out so you don’t scare it away and make it harder, if not impossible, to track down and recover
For hunting big game with a air rifle, one should make sure the rife they’re using is appropriate the appropriate caliber, and has enough air pressure to give the pellet enough energy for a quick, clean, ethical kill.. Most people consider airguns under .40 caliber to be inadequate for big game, and that an even larger caliber would be ideal, such as .45 or .50 caliber. They should produce at least 300 Ft/lbs of energy to hunt big game out to 75 yards, though closer ranges are highly recommended. Also, due to how air guns operate, you need to ensure you haven’t shot multiple times, which could result in your rifle producing much lower energy level than is required to cleanly kill your game.
Big game hunting with an air rifle is a rapidly expanding field, and that is because of how fast the technology is evolving to allow more power from air rifles while reducing the cost to a price that is more accessible to the everyday man. Also, the fact that more states are allowing the use of air rifles for big game hunting is also boosting the popularity of this sport.