This is the 2nd from last in my series of Survival Long-guns. I’m going to do survival pistols later, but I wanted to cover the last sort of long arm that you could use in a survival situation.
This weapon is the lowly (even lower than the .22LR) air rifle. Now, this is where people start looking at me like I was just released from the loony bin, because I did advocate an air rifle for survival. I’m going to qualify that statement though, so don’t start beating down my door with the torches and Frankenstein rakes just yet. For survival, the high-power air rifle has a very useful, if limited roll. It would certainly not be adequate for defense against varmints of the two legged variety; however even the lowly Wal-Mart model Crossman air rifles are more than capable of dropping a jackrabbit. That is of course to say nothing of the the models that push a .177 caliber pellet up to 1500 FPS.
As stated above, the air rifle has a limited purpose for survival. It would be strictly regulated to a hunting weapon, useful for filling the pot with small (jackrabbit and below) game with a minimum amount of noise and cost. For self-defense, you’d probably be better off with a thick tree bough instead of an air rifle; despite any British histrionics about them, they’re not generally lethal on adult humans.
So what are the advantages of an air rifle in a survival situation? Well, I’m glad you asked. Before I continue, the entire article from here on out presupposes that your air rifle is not one of the $40 Wal-Mart Specials; but rather one of the “serious” air-rifles that pushes a pellet out in the 1000fps range. I generally use Gamo as an example because their products are the ones with which I’m the most familiar.
- Noise signature – as I mentioned in the entry on rimfire rifles, the ability to kill food without making a whole lot of noise would be valuable in a survival situation for a multitude of reasons. You won’t spook other animals, or if you’re worried about bipedal varmints, you’re less likely to give your position away.
- Ammo weight – .177 caliber pellets hardly weigh anything; you could easily pack thousands of rounds for your air rifle for the express purpose of adding rabbits to dinner.
- Maintenance – an air rifle requires even less maintenance than your average .22LR. Basically, keep dirt and crap out of your rifle and you’re fine.
- Save other ammo – In a survival situation, your supply of “other” ammo is going to be a precious resource. If you can avoid having to blast rabbits and squirrels with it, that’s a good thing.
Now, I’m not saying that you should leave your AR15/AK/SKS/SMLE/10-22/Carbine at home and take an air rifle, because it’s completely a niche tool. What I’m saying is that if you’ve got the time and the room to take one, it’s not going to hurt you. Sort of an afterthought, if you’re evacuating with your family, you could quite easily issue one of the children the air rifle; it’s light and your offspring isn’t likely to accidentally kill you/themselves with it.