Choosing The Best Squirrel Gun | Great Days Outdoors

Choosing The Best Squirrel Gun

When venturing into the realm of squirrel hunting, one crucial decision can significantly impact your success and overall experience: selecting the best squirrel gun. As a popular outdoor activity enjoyed by many hunters, squirrel hunting requires a firearm tailored to the specific demands of the pursuit. With a plethora of options available in the market, making the right choice can be overwhelming. This article aims to guide aspiring hunters and seasoned enthusiasts alike in their quest to find the perfect squirrel gun, exploring key factors to consider and presenting recommended firearm options to ensure an ethical, efficient, and enjoyable hunting experience. Whether you’re a beginner seeking the ideal starter firearm or a seasoned hunter looking to upgrade your gear, let’s embark on a journey to find the ideal squirrel gun that suits your needs and enhances your outdoor adventures.

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Squirrel Gun

When selecting a squirrel gun, several critical factors come into play to ensure an optimal hunting experience. First and foremost, the caliber and ammunition must be appropriate for squirrel hunting, striking the right balance between effectiveness and ethical considerations. The gun’s action type, be it bolt-action, semi-automatic, or single-shot, determines the speed and ease of follow-up shots, crucial in the fast-paced squirrel hunting environment. Moreover, considering the gun’s weight and maneuverability is essential, as hunters often traverse through dense woods and varied terrain during their expeditions. 

Squirrel Gun

Let’s dive into each of these factors separately.

Best Squirrel Gun Calibers And Ammunition

When it comes to squirrel hunting, choosing the right caliber is crucial to strike a balance between effectiveness, ethical considerations, and overall hunting experience. Several calibers have proven themselves to be suitable for this pursuit, each with its unique advantages. Here, we’ll explore three popular calibers for squirrel hunting: .22LR, .22WMR, and .17HMR.We’ll also discuss three of the most popular squirrel hunting shotgun gauges: 12 gauge, 20 gauge, and .410 bore.

.22LR (Long Rifle): The .22LR is one of the most commonly used calibers for squirrel hunting, favored for its affordability, widespread availability, and minimal recoil. It offers adequate stopping power for small game like squirrels while minimizing the risk of over-penetration, which could damage valuable meat or the environment. The .22LR is renowned for its accuracy, making it ideal for shots within shorter ranges typical of squirrel hunting scenarios. However, it’s essential to ensure precise shot placement since the small game requires accurate hits for humane and ethical hunting.

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.22WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire): The .22WMR, also known as the .22 Magnum, provides a step up in power from the .22LR. It delivers increased velocity and energy, resulting in flatter trajectories and improved performance at longer distances. The .22WMR is a suitable choice for hunters seeking a bit more reach without sacrificing the maneuverability and light recoil characteristics essential for squirrel hunting. Its increased power may be beneficial when faced with thick foliage or gusty winds, allowing for more consistent shot placement.

.17HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire): The .17HMR has gained popularity for small game hunting, including squirrels, due to its exceptional accuracy and flatter trajectories compared to the .22LR and .22WMR. It offers higher velocities and a more significant impact on target, making it suitable for longer shots with greater precision. The .17HMR is especially favored for varmint hunting and situations where hunters need to engage small targets at extended distances. However, it is essential to be mindful of the reduced weight of squirrels, as shots should be well-placed to prevent unnecessary damage.

12 Gauge: The 12 gauge shotgun is one of the most popular and versatile options for hunting, and it can also be utilized for squirrel hunting under the right circumstances. With its larger shell size, the 12 gauge delivers a substantial amount of shot, making it suitable for hunting squirrels in open areas or when facing thicker cover. 

20 Gauge: The 20 gauge shotgun strikes a balance between power and reduced recoil, making it a popular choice for hunters of all skill levels. It offers sufficient shot capacity for taking down squirrels effectively while being easier to handle for longer hunting trips or for smaller-framed hunters. The 20 gauge is particularly well-suited for hunting squirrels in wooded areas or dense cover, where maneuverability is essential. It’s recommended to use smaller shot sizes, such as No. 7.5 or 8, for increased pellet density and precise shot placement.

.410 Bore: The .410 bore shotgun is the smallest option commonly used for squirrel hunting. While its lightweight and low recoil can be attractive to some hunters, it requires exceptional marksmanship due to its limited shot payload. The .410 bore is best suited for close-range shots and hunting in tight spaces where shots may be taken within relatively short distances. When using the .410 bore for squirrel hunting, it is essential to use premium ammunition with small shot sizes (No. 7.5 or 8) to improve pattern density and increase chances of a clean kill.

Squirrel Gun

Ultimately, the choice of caliber for squirrel hunting depends on various factors, including personal preferences, shooting proficiency, and the specific hunting environment. As always, responsible hunting practices, ethical shots, and adherence to local hunting regulations should guide the selection process to ensure a satisfying and sustainable hunting experience.

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Best Squirrel Gun Action Type

Different actions in squirrel guns offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, influencing a hunter’s experience and effectiveness during squirrel hunting. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each action type:

Single Shot

Pros:

  • Simplicity: Single shot guns are straightforward and easy to use, making them suitable for beginners and hunters who prefer a minimalist approach.
  • Lightweight: Their uncomplicated design results in a lightweight firearm, making them ideal for hunters who prioritize mobility during long trips in dense woods.
  • Safety: Single shot guns have a reduced risk of accidental discharge since they require manual reloading after each shot.

Cons:

  • Limited Capacity: The most obvious drawback is their limited shot capacity, which can be a disadvantage during situations that require quick follow-up shots or when facing multiple targets.
  • Slower Rate of Fire: The need to reload after each shot can lead to a slower rate of fire, potentially hindering hunters in fast-paced hunting scenarios.

Automatic (Semi-Automatic)

Pros:

  • Quick Follow-Up Shots: Semi-automatic guns allow for rapid follow-up shots without the need for manual operation, which can be advantageous when engaging multiple targets or in situations where quick shooting is required.
  • Ease of Use: With minimal manual operation required, semi-automatic actions are user-friendly and efficient for hunters of varying experience levels.

Cons:

  • Cost: Semi-automatic shotguns tend to be more expensive than other action types, which may be a limiting factor for some hunters.
  • Weight: Compared to single shots or bolt actions, semi-automatic shotguns can be heavier, affecting mobility during long hunting trips.

Pump Action

Pros:

  • Reliability: Pump-action shotguns are known for their reliability and durability, making them well-suited for rugged hunting conditions.
  • Affordability: Pump-action shotguns often offer a cost-effective alternative to semi-automatics, providing a reliable option at a lower price point.

Cons:

  • Learning Curve: Operating the pump-action requires more practice and coordination compared to single shots or semi-automatics.
  • Rate of Fire: While pump actions can fire relatively quickly with practice, they may still be slower in follow-up shots compared to semi-automatics.

Bolt Action

Pros:

  • Accuracy: Bolt-action shotguns are typically prized for their superior accuracy, making them an excellent choice for hunters who prioritize precise shot placement.
  • Reliability: Bolt actions are known for their reliability and robustness, performing well in various environmental conditions.

Cons:

  • Slower Rate of Fire: Similar to single shots, bolt-action shotguns require manual cycling after each shot, resulting in a slower rate of fire.
  • Learning Curve: Operating the bolt action may require some training and familiarity, especially for hunters accustomed to other action types.

In conclusion, each action type has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of action for a squirrel gun will depend on the hunter’s preferences, shooting style, and specific hunting requirements. Beginners might find single shots or semi-automatics more approachable, while experienced hunters seeking precision may opt for bolt actions. Ultimately, regardless of the action type, responsible hunting practices, ethical shots, and adherence to safety guidelines remain paramount for an enjoyable and successful squirrel hunting experience.

Squirrel Gun Weight And Maneuverability

Having a lightweight, well-balanced, and easy-handling squirrel gun is of paramount importance in ensuring a successful and enjoyable squirrel hunting experience. The nature of squirrel hunting often involves traversing through dense woods, navigating uneven terrains, and stalking through thick foliage. A lightweight firearm significantly reduces the physical strain on the hunter, allowing for more extended hunting trips without fatigue becoming a hindrance. Additionally, a well-balanced squirrel gun enhances the shooter’s stability and accuracy, leading to more precise shots and successful hunts.

An easy-handling squirrel gun offers improved maneuverability, allowing hunters to react swiftly to the unpredictable movements of these agile creatures. Squirrels are known for their quick and evasive nature, often darting among branches and tree trunks with lightning speed. Having a firearm that is easy to shoulder and point allows hunters to maintain a steady aim and swiftly track these elusive targets.

Squirrel Gun

A lightweight and easy-handling squirrel gun is also especially beneficial for hunters of all ages and physical abilities. Younger hunters or those with limited strength can confidently handle such firearms, fostering an inclusive and enjoyable hunting experience for everyone involved. The reduced recoil of lightweight guns also minimizes discomfort during shooting, enabling hunters to maintain focus and accuracy without flinching.

In conclusion, the importance of having a lightweight, well-balanced, and easy-handling squirrel gun cannot be overstated. Such a firearm offers numerous advantages, including enhanced mobility, improved accuracy, and reduced fatigue, allowing hunters to make the most of their time in the great outdoors. Whether for seasoned hunters or those just starting their squirrel hunting journey, investing in a firearm that prioritizes these qualities will undoubtedly lead to more successful hunts and cherished memories amidst the beauty of nature.

Best .22 LR Squirrel Gun

CZ 457 American

CZ 457 American Squirrel Gun

Features

  • Twist Rate: 1:16 in.
  • Magazine Capacity: 5
  • Magazine Type: Detachable
  • Stock: Black Synthetic, American-Style
  • Sights: No Sights, Integrated 11mm Dovetail
  • Barrel: Cold hammer forged, muzzle threaded 1/2×28
  • Barrel Length: 20.5 in
  • Overall Length: 38.5 in
  • Weight: 5.4 lbs
  • Trigger: Fully Adjustable
  • Safety: Two-Position, Push-To-Fire

Introducing a new variant of our 457 American, featuring a specially-designed synthetic stock inspired by the 557 American Synthetic. Combined with the nitride finish, this rifle becomes highly resistant to the elements. Its 1/2×28 threads and tight chamber tolerances make it an excellent suppressor host. This rifle doesn’t come with sights, but it offers 11mm dovetails directly milled into the CNCed billet action, allowing for solid mounting of rails or rings. The cold hammer forged barrel, fully adjustable trigger, push-to-fire safety, and interchangeable barrel system contribute to its durability, ensuring it will be a reliable rifle for generations to come.

Best .22 WMR Squirrel Gun

Magnum Research MLR-1722M

Magnum Research MLR-1722M

Features

  • Stainless Steel Barrel
  • Patented Gas System
  • Hogue OverMolded Stock
  • Features an 11 degree crown
  • Patented gas system

The Magnum Research MLR-1722M is a high-quality rimfire rifle renowned for its exceptional accuracy and reliability. Designed by Magnum Research, a renowned firearms manufacturer, this semi-automatic rifle is chambered in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) caliber. Its precision-engineered components and lightweight yet sturdy construction make it ideal for target shooting, varmint hunting, and plinking. With a sleek design and smooth action, the MLR-1722M delivers a rewarding shooting experience for both novice and experienced shooters alike.

Best .17HMR Squirrel Gun

Savage Arms 93R17

Savage Arms 93R17

Features

  • Included 5-round detachable box magazine
  • Black matte synthetic stock provides strength and durability
  • Button-rifled carbon steel barrel offers unmatched precision
  • AccuTrigger™ allows adjustment of the trigger pull for improved feel

The Savage Arms 93R17 F 17 HMR Rifle offers exceptional accuracy, perfect for both target shooting and varmint hunting. Its sturdy synthetic stock ensures a stable shooting platform with a comfortable grip. The button-rifled carbon steel barrel delivers consistent bullet spin and trajectory for tighter groupings, making it highly precise. Additionally, the user-adjustable AccuTriggerTM allows you to customize the trigger pull weight for optimal performance. The included five-round detachable box magazine works seamlessly with the bolt action, ensuring smooth feeding and cycling. With shot-to-shot consistency and reliability, this Savage Arms rifle is a versatile and dependable choice for accurate shooting.

Best 12 Gauge Squirrel Gun

Benelli Montefeltro Semi-Auto Shotgun

Benelli Montefeltro Semi-Auto Shotgun

Features

  • AA-Grade Satin Walnut stock and forend
  • Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish on barrel and receiver
  • Red bar front sight
  • Benelli Inertia Driven system

The Benelli Montefeltro semi-automatic shotgun has long been favored by upland hunters and clays shooters for its stylish appearance. Its sleek profile and walnut stock complement the deep gloss-blue finish on the receiver and barrel. Powered by Benelli’s renowned Inertia-Driven System, the Montefeltro delivers outstanding performance and unmatched reliability. You can choose between 12 or 20 gauge options, each available in three different barrel lengths.

Best 20 Gauge Squirrel Gun

Browning BPS Field

Browning BPS Field

Features

  • Proven pump-action mechanism for dependable performance.
  • Rugged steel components for long-lasting durability.
  • Eliminates twisting and binding, ensuring smooth slide-action operation.
  • Conveniently located at the rear of the trigger guard for easy operation.
  • Allows barrel and rib to expand independently, preventing point of impact shifts due to barrel heating.
  • Enhanced grip and control during shooting.
  • Accommodates gloved shooting comfortably.
  • Ejection port and loading from the bottom for ambidextrous use.
  • Improves shot patterns and reduces recoil.
  • Easy and quick access to the safety for enhanced safety measures.

The BPS has earned a solid reputation for its exceptional durability and unwavering performance. Its proven pump-action mechanism is built with rugged steel components, including heat-treated double action bars that prevent twisting and binding, ensuring faster and more efficient slide-action operation. The serrated slide release is conveniently located at the rear of the trigger guard. Additionally, the BPS boasts a floating rib that allows the barrel and rib to expand independently, preventing point of impact shifts due to barrel heating. The shotgun also features textured gripping surfaces, a large trigger guard, bottom ejection and loading, a back-bored barrel, and a thumb-operated, top-tang safety for enhanced usability and safety.

Best .410 Bore Squirrel Gun

Mossberg SA-410

Mossberg SA-410

Features

  • Smooth-cycling gas-operated firing system
  • Interchangeable extended choke
  • Ghost ring rear sight and fiber-optic front sight
  • Vented barrel
  • Receiver-mounted Picatinny rail
  • Oversized bolt handle
  • 4+1 internal magazine

Introducing the Mossberg SA Black 410 Gauge 3in Semi Automatic Shotgun with a 26in barrel. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced shooter, Mossberg International sub-gauge autoloaders are an excellent choice. These lightweight and quick-swinging shotguns offer versatility, making them perfect for hunting nimble upland and woodland targets, as well as clay busting.

Best Air Rifle Squirrel Gun

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle

Features

  • 10-shot repeater with auto-indexing feature
  • Single shot tray available for this caliber
  • Can be adjusted for different velocities
  • Internal shroud makes this a VERY quiet gun
  • Choked barrel delivers superior accuracy
  • 2-stage adjustable match trigger…and the trigger is metal!
  • Raised aluminum breech for easier loading of circular magazine
  • 11mm dovetail Crosman Barrels – Weaver/Picatinny Rail Lothar Walther Barrels
  • Built-in air pressure gauge (manometer)
  • Uses compressed air up to 3,000 psi *
  • 215cc Air Reservoir
  • Gun comes set at 2,500 psi air fill; to fill to 3,000 psi
  • Air reservoir ends with a male quick-disconnect Foster fitting for fast refills

The Marauder is an attractive rifle equipped with an adjustable hardwood stock featuring an ambidextrous raised comb, making it well-balanced for field carrying. This powerful PCP air rifle is designed for pest hunting and small to medium-sized game. Its choked and internally shrouded barrel ensures precise and ultra-quiet operation, making it the most accurate and quietest rifle in its class. The two-stage, adjustable, match-grade trigger system ensures smooth and steady shots, and the innovative 10-round magazine allows for fast follow-up shots. With a built-in pressure gauge and quick-disconnect Foster fittings, refilling the gun is quick and easy, allowing you to get back to shooting sooner. Additionally, the factory-installed de-pinger reduces the perceived noise level, changing the sharp “ping” to a dull thud.

Best Pistol For Squirrel Hunting

Buck Mark Hunter 5.9

Buck Mark Hunter 5.9

Features

  • Integrated scope base
  • Manual thumb safety and magazine disconnect for added security
  • Heavy tapered bull barrel balances the gun without excess weight
  • Alloy receiver and matte blued barrel provide smooth performance
  • Buckmark engraved wood grip and gold-plated trigger give a sleek look
  • Pro-Target adjustable rear sight and TruGlo front sight offer fast target acquisition

The Browning Buck Mark Hunter 22 LR Handgun is a versatile and accurate choice for hunting small game or target practice. It features a heavy tapered bull barrel for stability during quick follow-up shots and a durable alloy receiver with a matte blued finish. Safety measures include a manual thumb safety and magazine disconnect system. Equipped with Pro-Target adjustable sights and a TruGlo fiber-optic front sight, this handgun offers out-of-the-box accuracy. The wooden grips with Browning Buckmark engraving and gold-plated trigger provide a classic, stylish appearance. Perfect for small game and various activities, the Browning Buck Mark Hunter offers precision and quick pointing.

Final Thoughts On Choosing The Best Squirrel Gun

In conclusion, selecting the best squirrel gun is a decision that warrants careful consideration and research. As we’ve explored in this article, understanding the factors that contribute to an ideal firearm for squirrel hunting is crucial. From the appropriate caliber and action type to weight, maneuverability, and optics, each element plays a vital role in determining your hunting success and overall enjoyment. Moreover, we’ve highlighted some recommended squirrel gun options, such as rimfire rifles, air rifles, and shotguns, each with its unique advantages for this specific pursuit.

However, beyond the choice of firearm, ethical and responsible hunting practices should always remain at the forefront of our minds. Squirrel hunting, when conducted sustainably and ethically, not only offers a thrilling outdoor adventure but also contributes to wildlife conservation efforts. So, as you embark on your next squirrel hunting expedition, remember to respect nature, follow hunting regulations, and prioritize safety. With the right squirrel gun and a commitment to conservation, you’ll not only enhance your hunting skills but also foster a deeper connection with the great outdoors and the incredible world of squirrel hunting. Happy hunting!


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