I’m going to date myself a little here, but I was (and still am, believe it or not) the proud owner of the same model Red Ryder BB Gun from the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story.
There, I said it. I’m old as stale farts.
Those of you familiar with the brand know that ol’ Red has about as much stopping power as a crusty rubber band. One swift caulk and you’d be ready to knock over a beer can at five paces (if you were lucky and the wind was behind you).
My-oh-my have the times changed.
Nowadays every sporting goods store in the country touts slick-stocked air rifles that can back a pellet with 1000+ FPS of force. And while most of those are still utter crap (good luck nailing anything smaller than an elephant), top brands like Air Venturi Bronco and the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 have brought .177 caliber plinkers firmly into adult territory, while the Diana RWS 48 air rifle is arguably one of the better budget-minded air-driven 22’s out there.
Quick aside: I know more than one owner of the .25-cal Benjamin Marauder who has taken down a bobcat. True story.
……ok….there may have been a lot of whiskey involved in those stories.
But I am getting off topic. Awhile back The National Firearms Museum published a wonderful little video about the Girandoni air rifle that was used by Lewis & Clark and their team when they explored Western American during the early 1800s. Developed by an Austrian badass named Bartholomäus Girardoni (in 1779!!!), this air rifle could fire a .46 caliber ball roughly 30 times before it had to be re-pumped, and touted pinpoint accuracy beyond 125 yards. You can imagine why this was so valuable to Lewis & Clark, seeing as there weren’t exactly a plethora of gun shops nearby for them to restock on their travels. The gun was so effective, in fact, that the Austrian army used it for 35 years in battle (imagine the benefit over slow muzzle loaders, to say nothing of the tell-tale puffs of smoke that would give away your position).
The only problem? Well, it took 1,500 strokes of a hand pump to get the Girardoni ready for action. Additionally, at full pump the Girardoni held roughly 800 PSI in its air reservoir, which would be kind of like holding a balloon under your arm, except if the balloon popped it would rip you into flesh confetti.
Anyway, watch the video. It’s crazy fascinating.
Girandoni Air Rifle As Used by Lewis and Clark: A National Firearms Museum Treasure Gun
Pretty cool right? So why all the fuss nowadays STILL about air rifles? And why should you own one? From a SHTF perspective, the reasons are obvious. Air rifles are lightweight and you can carry large amounts of ammunition in a small space. You can get 6000 BB’s in most cases for under $10. And with the right air rifle and that number of BBs, you can keep hunting small game animals like squirrel, rabbit, raccoon and various birds. However, you can’t just pick up a 350 fps Daisy rifle and hope to have major success hunting. Like everything in survival, you need the right tool for the job. At minimum, you need an 800 fps air rifle, and preferably a .22 to widen the dinner options. It has adequate power for short–to–medium range small game hunts. With that power, you’ll use less ammunition and kill more quickly and humanely. Plus it broadens your hunt and allows you to bring down slightly larger game, like wild turkey, smaller boar, and angry ex-wives.
Top Reasons Your Should Own An Air Rifle:
- Air rifles don’t require much if any cleaning to continue top performance.
- Small game animals are much more abundant and easier to find than larger game animals, reducing hunting time and the number of days you may go without food. That allows you to focus on other critical elements of survival.
- The sustainability of your ammunition makes resupply less frequent, reducing cost and time allotments.
- It minimizes the use of your larger caliber and defensive weapons and munitions.
- It operates by compressing air and not explosive gun powder. The noise reduction minimizes exposing your position.
- If you add a silencer to that already reduced noise signature, you not only further reduce your exposure, but it’s less probable you’ll frighten your game off, giving you more opportunities to get a kill and making survival much more likely.
Our friend at Survival Life currently have a deal going on a new air rifle. Below is some info from stalwart editor of SL, Joe Marshall:
The latest entry into the air rifle space that I got to play with recently is the Girandoni Air Rifle. Now that you’re an expert of the name, you know it was modeled and named after the same guns carried by L & C. But unlike the 1500 strokes of a hand pump, this one-pump-action .22 delivers 800 FPS of stopping power with one single pump. I’m not a marketing guy, so I’m not going to try and sell it to you, but I picked up some sweet discounts from the manufacturer that are worth checking out. Like most sales, it has an expiration date, so I’d pop over there now to see if there are any left as of this reading.
Whenever I am looking at air rifles I always have one major issue: The pricing.
But with the gun running less than $200 through Survival Life, I figured I couldn’t complain too much if it turned out to be a wonk.
After several hours of testing, here is what I have found:
- The synthetic stock is rubberized and has a good grip, which, since this is a break action style rifle, is an incredible asset to not slip when you are loading it.
- That also means it’s lighter than wood and won’t split or rot.
- Cheap ammo (roughly $.003 per round!)
- Large variety of ammo. I found at least 10 different varieties of .22 caliber ammunition sitting on the shelf.
- Low maintenance. This gun does not actually “fire”, and as such there is little to no residue and not much is required in the way of maintenance. The only thing you will need to do is add a couple of drops of oil every 100-200 shots fired and the occasional cleaning out of the barrel.
- No waiting period. This is about the best pro I can think of, you can pick this rifle up off the shelf and buy it without any type of registration or waiting period (Check your local laws to verify this). There are currently no laws requiring a background check on an air rifle, at least not here in Texas.
There are a few cons with this rifle as well:
- Accuracy. The first 75-100 shots have very bad accuracy. This is a normal break in period for just about any air rifle and can be frustrating. BUT just stick to it and fire through your “testing” period and you will be amazed at how accurate this thing is even over 100 yards!
- Stiff cocking mechanism. It takes about 30lbs of pull to break over the barrel and load the pellet. Make sure your hands are out of the way when you cock it. I was unfortunate enough to catch one of my knuckles several weeks ago (my own fault) and it’s still sore.
- Single Shot. Unless you go with the more expensive PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic), your normal break action gun will only hold one pellet at a time. This can be very taxing on your morale when you are trying to take down a few squirrel and are forced to reload after each shot. (again a little practice goes a long way)
An air rifle like the Girandoni that I purchased is great for practice and small game.
Once the gun has been sighted in, you should be able to kill any small game no problem. Just bear in mind that most small game has a successful kill spot of around 1”, so you will need to practice. If you have the right ammo and a well-placed shot, you could potentially take down larger game like a hog. But please do so at your own risk..
Even if you do have other rifles for larger game and self-defense, the inexpensive and highly available ammo will make this an extremely useful gun to have on hand in a survival situation. And a perfect training rifle for children.
What’s your opinion?
Should you keep an air rifle in your survival gear?
Get in on these deal for the Girandoni if the answer is YES. They’ve got just a few dozen set aside at 50% off of the MSRP as of this publishing.
Buy this air rifle HERE.