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Friday, August 27, 2010

Pellet Rifle Hunting, by D.M.

A group of BBs (0.177 inches (4.5 mm) diameter...Image via Wikipedia
Due to financial circumstances I found myself living out of the back of my pick-up for several months on public lands in South West mostly BLM and NF mostly. Just before setting out I sold most of my belongings in a yard sale that netted me just over $800 dollars. This money would have to be rationed wisely over the summer, most went for fuel. Don't think I did not look for work anywhere I could, what I found was it was depleting my resources with no results. I finally moved onto public lands with the idea of hunting, fishing and gold panning (which did payoff) until the economy started to make a come back.

On my first trip into Wal-Mart to get supplies, mostly rice, beans, tea, flour and so forth, I made my way into the sporting goods section. What I found shocked me, .22 ammo had almost doubled in price since the last time I purchased some, not to mention the shelf was almost empty, I ended up with 100 rounds of CCI Hollow Point. While walking around I came across the Pellet and BB gun supplies, since I had my Crossman 2100 Classic pump in the truck I decided to purchase some BBs for plinking around camp.

My first couple of weeks was spent near a small spring (more like a seep) and I think it was the only water for miles. Every morning and evening it was frequented by all the game in the area, dove, quail, rabbits and so on. While plinking the the first evening with my Crossman 2100 a group of birds was making their way down to the water, I jumped up and slowly made my way to the water hole . Once there I got myself into position and awaited in ambush for their arrival.  They finally made their way into the open and I picked off two of them with only six pumps of power, it shoots a lot quieter that way. That night the feast was on, from that point on it was in my hands everywhere I went.

Over the entire summer it became the SOP to scout the area for small game while checking my various snares, dead falls and to my mining spot. That BB gun put at least 70% of the meat on the spit over my fire throughout the summer. The only time I considered my .22 was when the Javelins where in the area and or deer and yes a well placed shot will drop either one if one was in a survival situation.

After returning from the field and taking up Tee Pee living now, I have given it a lot of thought after reading Rawles's novel “Patriots” and what I have on hand. A Pellet gun as a true survival weapon and here are my conclusions. Living in the field for a while really proved out my gear, sadly and expensively most fell to the way side but the Crossman 2100 turned out to be an unlikely sleeper candidates for one my personal top 10 gear awards! Here is my rationale:
1. Reliability, it never failed me and I went through half of my 6,000 BBs in the container at an average of 6 pumps per shot = 18,000 pumps. I oiled the seal once a week. Before pursuing this adventure my guess would be my kids put 50,000 plus rounds through this gun and that would be a conservative estimate.
2. Accuracy, what I found out after about 500 or so shots was I was no longer consciously using the sights within 25 yards and that is where 90% of the critters were bagged.
3. Handling, this is an area it really shinned. Weighing only 5# loaded with a couple hundred BBs it was a joy to tote everywhere. Another plus is the Crossman 2100 Classic in configured to real gun dimensions and handles as such. Pumping becomes unnoticeable and more like a second nature type thing.
4. Critter "bagability". Before reading on, please read your State's game laws on hunting with a pellet gun. I believe we are all here for the same reason and that is to share ideas and experiences that will better our quality of life in a TEOTWAWKI situation. So with that said, birds @50 yards, rabbits cleanly @30 yards, turkey's @25 yards with head shot and 10 pumps, raccoons and skunks @10 yards with 10 pumps and head shot, squirrels cleanly @25 yards with head shot. This one area a pump rifle really shines is 5 to 6 pumps on birds and 10 pumps on bigger stuff, having variable power is a nice plus. Speaking of variable power 3 and four pumps bagged numerous large lizards and monster grasshoppers for the spit also! Here I should also mention a BB does almost no damage to the meat at all no matter where it hits.
5. Stealth, many times I hunted near primitive campground areas without raising an eyebrow and most often if you missed you get a second shot.
6. Tactical trainers. After returning from the field and switching back to my AR-15, M1A, and my [Ruger] 10/22 I noticed my shooting skills had become quite honed. Everything from muscle memory of bringing my weapons to shoulder, breathing and trigger control and an instinctive sight picture was ingrained. Even just overall handling and field manipulation was enhanced.
7. Which type of air rifle?
In a survival situation I would not want a single stroke type rifle for several reasons:
a. Excessive power and report
b. Excessive weight
c. Their limitation of shooting only pellets. (I mostly shot BBs. I used pellets only on bigger game.)
d. Not sure how one would service in the field
CO2-powered air rifles are also a "NO GO" just because of the need for CO2 cartridges!
I think a good pump air rifle in the best option for practical long term survival in the field . I like the Crossman 2100 because it handles and looks like a real gun and later translates the muscle memory to my big guns! I have since replaced the seals only because I want it to keep on ticking and I also got an extra set and put them in the butt stock. It does have a couple of cons one being it is has a susceptibility to altitude, the higher up the more you have to pump. Next is the cold has a similar affect as altitude and vise versa they shot hotter in the heat. Take time to learn your guns quirks, mine took two extra pumps early in the morning in compared to the mid day heat.   
At the Fort, I get to sit out on my back porch and plink almost every evening and when I want to bag a squirrel or quail for dinner, I crack a window and shoot from a position back in a room for tactical practice. In the winter I practice a lot of different shooting positions in the house. Breathing and trigger control are the main focuses. Using the Crossman has worked out so well for training purposes, I have since purchased a Airsoft Model 1911A1 look alike pistol for indoor CQB practice.
Modifications I would recommend on a air rifle:
a. Take it apart and become familiar with all the parts and clean up all sharp edges in the process.
b. Use a pull thru type cable and use some Flitz to polish the barrel, this really enhanced the accuracy on mine. [JWR Adds: Beware of using abrasive bore cleaners. I recommend using mild bore cleaners and patches, and taking plenty of time, rather than trying to rush the job . Also, be very careful to carefully to keep the cleaning rod aligned, especially as the rod tip enters or leaves the muzzle. That last two inches of rifling is crucial to good accuracy.]
c. In the buttstock I store an extra set of seals, roll pins, rear sight elevation blade, and my cleaning kit with some Remington Gun Oil.
d. I painted mine with Coyote Brown Dura-Coat after coming back from the field.
e. If I were to put any kind of optic on it, I would choose a Bushnell Trophy TRS 25 Red Dot, they have a 3,000 hour battery life. Many times in the field I wished I had something for dusk type situations.
The Cost! The Crossman 2100 Classic retails for $62.99 and can probably be purchased on the web for less. With the countless hours spent on mine I can't think of a more fun or less expensive way to bag some critters and get weapons manipulation practice.

In my ammo tests, BBs were my preferred ammo due to cost and availability. With BBs I can shoot a 1" group @25 yards, but that is with shooting on a daily basis. Pellets only give me more accuracy at longer ranges say @50 yards and have much better penetration which is required on bigger stuff. My preferred pellets are Beeman Crow Magnums, they hit really hard and I have bagged several Jackrabbits with 50 yard head shots.  

Did I mention the general public and LEOs pay almost no attention to an individual with a BB gun?

Earlier I wrote about cooking over a fire. After all the stories from people "living" out there on public lands, they said their number one problem was Rangers and LEOs and most of it stemmed from having a camp fire. Most of the west gets shut down in what they call the fire season with good reason. (Idiots who don't know how to clear a fire ring and tend a campfire safely.) All of my fires were made in a Scout pit and extinguished immediately after use. I lived as if were behind enemy lines. Some would say it's a SOP in a TEOTWAWKI situation, but I say it's here already. What I mean is this country is not the way I knew it and one's preps should be geared as such!