On December 4th, 2017, The Daily Item ran a news article titled “Police: 15-year-old kills squirrels with a BB gun”. This was in Watsontown, Pennsylvania, US. The police had been called to that neighborhood after a gang of juveniles were spotted shooting a BB gun at squirrels. By the time they arrived, the suspect had already shot and killed a squirrel.
Setting aside the local laws regarding the use of BB guns, I guess this has answered the question “Can you kill a squirrel with a BB Gun?”. Definitely, yes. But this comes with quite a string of technicalities that I’m looking to address herein. It pays to better phrase the question this way: Should you get rid of squirrels with a BB gun?
What is a BB Gun?
BB guns operate in a similar manner to all other firearms – in that it involves creating some sort of explosion behind a projectile so as to forcefully eject it through the mouth of the barrel.
BB guns generally use compressed air to drive the projectile. Once you pull the trigger, the compressed air in the cylinder is instantaneously released into the gun barrel. Since the gas has nowhere else to escape, it forcefully drives the BB through the barrel and out into the air.
There are three main variations of BB guns. The most popular is the pneumatic type which requires you to manually pump air into the reservoir to some maximum fill pressure. The second one is the spring air type which involves the use of a pump lever to compress a spring behind a piston. The third type uses pre-compressed gas in cylinders.
BB guns shoot metallic ball bearing ammo which is usually 0.177 inches in diameter. The norm with BBs is to coat steel balls with zinc or copper to protect them against corrosion.
BB guns may have a pistol or rifle-type body.
Performance of BB Guns
On average, BB guns fire .177 pellets at a muzzle velocity of 200 fps. This value varies considerably with individual BB guns and can go as high as 400 FPS as seen in the Umarex Glock 19 Gen 3, or the Daisy powerline 415 BB Pistol rated at 500 fps.
Experts say that a projectile at a speed of 200 fps can penetrate the skin and even fracture a bone.
However, this potential depends on how far the target is from the shooter. The farther away the BB travels, the less punching powerl it has. If you own a BB gun that shoots at 400 fps, you would want to keep the distance between you and the target below 20 yards. Any distance beyond this is not effective in terms of skin penetration and bone fracture.
Should you shoot a squirrel with a BB gun?
First of all, is it legal to shoot a squirrel with a bb gun? The short answer to this is yes and no! It all depends on where you hail from – some countries allow it while others don’t. Remember to consult your local laws to ensure killing squirrels is allowed. We are not in a position to bail you out once the law enforcers catch up with you. But a quick Google search will save you a world of potential trouble down the line.
One more thing you need to understand is the stopping power. This refers to the energy transferred to the target upon firing the gun. The punching power depends on the velocity of the ammo and the weight of the BB.
Squirrels require minimum muzzle energy of about 10 FPE to be taken out humanely. So the first thing you really need to check with your BB gun is the energy rating.
Is it less than 10 FPE? Don’t use it for squirrel shooting. What you are likely to do with such a weak BB gun is inflicting wounds on the squirrels. Once they run away, they remain at the mercy of nature to heal or slowly and painfully succumb to the wounds.
If I’m not wrong, most BB guns have muzzle energies less than 10 FPE. Only a few like the Crosman Vigilante CO2 Revolver and Umarex Steel Storm CO2 Gun attain this minimum requirement.
If I were you, I would seriously consider upgrading to proven air rifles for squirrel hunting. Air Gun Maniac reviews them in great detail in this piece. Make sure to check it out for further insight into squirrel shooting.