Shooting Rats

Rats are considered pest animals worldwide. They have historically been exterminated by diverse methods including traps, ferrets, dogs, cats, drowning, gassing, bludgeoning, poisons and shooting.

Poisons, bludgeoning and some traps (glue) have, in recent years fallen out of favor and are widely considered inhumane methods, thanks to greater public awareness (and acceptance) of the concept of animal rights.

Poisons kill slowly and horribly; they also pose secondary poisoning danger to non-target animals and children. Traps that do not immediately break the neck or spine of the rat can cause immense suffering to the animal. Bludgeoning usually results in a prolonged, agonizing death. All vertebrate species can and do feel pain, even a pest species does not deserve to suffer needlessly.

A More Humane Option?

Shooting rats is considered more humane than the use of poisons, blunt force trauma and some types of traps.

Of course, how humane shooting a rat is depends on the skill and good aim of the shooter.

The cleanest and most humane rat kill is one that destroys the brain or more precisely the brainstem of the rodent—death is nearly instantaneous. Heart and lung kill zones are also effective and almost instantly lethal.

While rats grow to be huge, they are still relatively small as far as targets go. It takes an experienced air gun user with lots of practice under his belt to kill cleanly and humanely. Hunting rats is not a recommended activity for the novice air gun user, whose skills should be honed by inanimate target practice before attempting to hit small moving targets.

Responsible Air Gun Handling

For public health and safety, air guns must be handled in a responsible manner at all times.

Air rifles and pistols should never be aimed at another human being.

Air guns should only ever be aimed at animals that the user intends to kill; pets hit by intentional or accidental rounds result in the shooter being liable for veterinary bills incurred by the owners. Some states and cities may impose harsher penalties, especially if the shooter is deemed to have been using the air gun in an irresponsible manner. Shooting at non-pest wildlife can also carry harsh penalties, especially if the wildlife is recognized as endangered.

While most people consider air guns to be safer than “real guns”, that is not the case. Significant injury and disability to a person can be caused by a direct hit or a ricochet from an air rifle or pistol. It is very important that all users be trained in proper air gun handling and be familiarized with the local laws governing their use.

In the UK air guns are classified as firearms and there are restrictions on their use which include:

• The use of air guns by anyone under 18 is strictly controlled.

• Highest air rile power allowed by law is 12fpe (higher powered rifles are available only to those who apply and justify their need; and they must pass the same certification as a firearm).

• Ammunition must be purchased by a responsible adult over 21.

• Shooting must be supervised by an adult.

• Youngsters may only shoot on private properties where they have been given permission to hunt.

• Air guns are not permitted to be given as gifts to minors.

• Homes or farms near public highways must exercise extreme caution; the use of an air gun is prohibited in England and Wales within 50 feet of the center of a roadway.

In the United States, it is generally permissible for rats and other pests to be hunted and killed by air guns in rural settings; different municipalities have different laws governing their use in more densely populated areas. It is up to the shooter to know the laws in his immediate area or those where he intends to shoot.

A New Sport?

Shooting rats with air guns has not only become more popular in recent years, it has turned into something of a sport. Groups meet regularly at garbage dumps and waste transfer stations to pick off marauding rodents with air rifles.

Many of these groups have taken to social media such as YouTube; a site search for “rats/ air guns” recently yielded 1900 result there. Some videos are professionally produced, others the work of amateur videographers who have embraced air gun pest control as their pastime of choice.

Here is a small selection of some of the more popular videos on YouTube. This footage can be disturbing to some as a headshot will generally result in post mortem muscle spasms, rats can screech when hit, and there is, inevitably, blood.

Poster: Prohunting1 (En Espanol)

Air rifle shooting rats (Benjamin marauder .22)

This video is in Spanish, but easily followed by those not conversant in the language. The young gentleman in the video is shooting rats in the backyard of his home, at a chicken farm and in a rat infested gym.

His choice of weapon is a handsome Benjamin Marauder .22, which he equipped with a homemade night vision scope. He’s a crack shot, and is repeatedly shown getting good hits: in rat heads, between the eyes, through the eyes.

poster: YoungCountry

SportsAir Gun Hunting: Rat Shooting

Two British teens are called out to a farm to deal with the owner’s rat problem. Night hunting is aided by the use of night vision technology; a model called the iScope which also connects to a smartphone for photography and video capture.

The lads are good shots, and at least one kill seemed to be instantly fatal, but several others seemed to wound, with the rats scampering away, though presumably they would die eventually of blood loss. The youngsters claimed to have killed 150 rats all told during this expedition.

Poster: snypercat

Best of rat shooting with Weihrauch HW 100 .22 Air Rifle

This video is comprised of night vision footage and is presented without voiceover; in fact the only sound is of each shot and the rifle refilling with air after the kill.

This video was put together from several of the poster’s other videos; only the brightest and clearest scenes were chosen for inclusion. Of the videos viewed, this was the best example of humane kills; the rats were dispatched without the wounding shots and struggles seen in some of the other videos. This videographer expresses his intention to humanely dispatch the rats and respect for his prey.

Poster: Team Wild TV

Air Rifle Hunting – Night Vision Rat Shooting

This video was filmed at a pig farm in Staffordshire England. A pig farm is the “perfect storm” for a rat infestation due to the way pigs are fed and their tolerance for rodents.

The Team Wild gents are using Daystate Huntsman air rifle and NiteSite NS200 night vision scope. They dispatch well over 40 rats in a few hours using night vision technology. Most kills were clean and immediately lethal.

Poster: Country Pursuits TV

High & Low Power Air Gun Rat Hunting

This nearly ten minute video was shot at a waste transfer station in Britain with the 100fpe Daystate Wolverine .303, the MK4 .177 and Red Ranger air guns showcased. The shooters here are adult males who give good technical background information and demonstrate the penetrating power of the high power air gun using sheet metal.

The high powered Wolverine air rifle shot high and spooked several rats before the shooter could adjust his aim. The MK4 .177 using Barracuda ratting pellets seemed to be the most immediately lethal combination.

Killing Rats: High power or low power?

This last video above brings up an important question: which is better for pest control, a high powered air rifle or a lower power model?

Intuitively it would seem that a high power air gun would be more immediately lethal as the penetrating power is greater –as demonstrated by the County Pursuits TV video above, especially at longer ranges. This can be an important consideration both from the standpoint of humanely killing the rats and collateral damage to surroundings.

Ideally high powered air rifles (20 fpe and higher) are best suited to rural settings (or garbage dump locations) where there is less chance of damage to property and non-target wildlife. A high powered air gun also makes the kill zone less important, with enough power and at close enough range any shot to the rat body should be sufficiently lethal. Much depends on the accuracy of the high powered gun however as was also demonstrated in the last video above the power becomes irrelevant if the gun’s accuracy is not precise.

Low powered air rifles (12fpe) are often considered more appropriate to rat hunting, allowing for greater use in more areas. Given equal accuracy, limited range (30 to 35 feet from the target animal) and the ability of the shooter to concentrate on head shots a lower power air rifle will get the job done very efficiently. Usually in rat killing the body count is more important than technique or firing distance. A high powered air rile is often considered to fall on the side of overkill given the relatively small size of the rat targets.

The caliber of the air gun is also an important consideration. Air guns with .22 caliber firing capacity tend to have eccentric trajectory patterns at 12fpe; the recommended caliber of a low power air gun is .177, again ably demonstrated by the gentlemen from Country Pursuits TV.

Not for the Squeamish!

In addition to having the right equipment and accuracy, shooting rats also requires a certain level of tolerance to unpleasant sights. Vegans, animal rights activists and those with religious beliefs that include the sanctity of all life are not recommended to use the air rifle method no matter how well intentioned they are or however much they wish to solve their rat problems via humane methods. The death of any creature is never easy for the average person to witness, let alone inflict; hitting moving targets problematical at best for most of us resulting in the need for more than one shot to kill the pest animal.

Equally, rat shooting should never be engaged in by those unwilling or unable to handle their weapons responsibly. Pest control utilizing any firearm should be undertaken from a standpoint of skill and necessity, respect for the environment and the safety of others.

47 thoughts on “Shooting Rats”

  1. Looking for a recomendation for an air gun for an adult to kills rats that are pests on the property. Semi auto, CO2, scopes, bb or pellet, brands
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you

    1. I would suggest a co2 powered air rifle, I have a crossman .177 that is co2 and holds 12 pellets, semi auto is handy for a Quick follow up shot if needed(rarely) and , patience and shot placement is critical,

      1. I started with a crosman 760, then a 1077, Hammerli 850 .22, then a Marauder .25, then hammerli pneuma, Walther MaximaThor .22, AA S510 .25, FX ranchero pistol .22, Ataman .22 pistol, and FX Crown .25. The Hammerli 850 .22 works well enough, very accurate, but co2 are temperature sensitive. Cold weather equals less power. You can wrap the receiver with a heating pad. Powerful and .25 works best. A .25 Polymag at 52 fpe from the Air Arms s510 , Benjamin Marauder .25, or FX Crown .25 are extremely humane and you can hit rats at over 100 yards.

  2. I have lots of air rifles .177 and .22 and .25 and they all do very well in killing rats and other pest just know the law in your state and have fun but most of all be safe

  3. I have rescued over 60 rats, FANCY rats, I have looked afgter them, and treated them when ill, and had some great fun with them as they are little devils. However I have no problem blowing there brains out on a permision, onlyproblem is my permision is a waiting game big style, I need a decent rat shoot I live in Sale Cheshire, ANY ONE NEEDS A RAT KILLER, ME AND MY MATURE SON HAVE INSURANE, AND USE PRECHARGED, HAVE LIGHTING AND NV. Pledase contact me if you cn offer some killing time on these dirty little scum bags. 282 0675

    1. I love my pet rats they are so smart you & your son are cruel sick jackasses, why don’t you go to work on the kill floor at a slaughter house you’d be high with pleasure at death & suffering all the time

      1. You clearly never had rat problems then. Or as my uncle had. As a two year old a rat got it into his cot and ate he’s EYE BALL. he had a patch and now a glass eye.

      2. A Norwegian Brown is entirely different than a pet domestic rat.
        They are filthy flea bitten destructive pest that destroy billions of dollars in food stuffs yearly..
        Killing them benefits society in general…

      3. Rats are pests that spread disease, just like cockroaches. Making a pet of a pest does not change the rating of the entire species. You made a pet of a rat congrats.

    2. You need therapy mate. Handling guns is a serious matter and needs someone with a calm disposition. Practice spelling instead.

    1. You could go to your local sporting goods store and get a Gamo or Crossman air rifle but they are only accurate out to about 20 yards, anything after that and that pellet may go anywhere. If you’re really serious and having a lifetime of accurate pellet shots, I would recommend a PCP air rifle! I have a FX Wildcat .22 and I can dispatch these pest from 20 on out to 100 yards accurately.

    2. I have an expensive Weihauch 22 but for ratting I use a low cost pump up NXG APX 177. Powerful and reasonably accurate. You can pump up and be ready without worrying about spring damage. UK price around £90

      1. Yes, I can not Agree with you more ! We used cheese , p/b , on the snap-trap’s. Out of 4 we did not catch one however our bread was got into

    1. Put out a bird feeder filled with sunflower hearts which not only attract lovely small birds to enjoy watching but the dropped seed will invite the rats to feed off the floor. Obviously be aware of the small birds whilst plinking the rats and perhaps some kind of stop board to restrict the pellets going to far beyond target if you are not yet a confident shot.

  4. I saw a video recently and the guy put down liquidised sweet corn they stop and spend time to lap it up rather than take a seed and run off,
    hope this helps I want to get into ratting myself if there is anyone out there near Whitby North Yorkshireplease message me.
    Cheers many thanks George

    1. a light attached to your sight. showing a red light. mine cost £10 including the mount. Apparently, rats don’t “see” red light. and it makes their eyes glow red. giving you something to aim at

  5. This peoblem with rats is a neighborhood issue and the city sent an expert from N,C.State to inspect homes . My home was deemed “satisfactory” on my part but the standing water in basement was an issue. I have complained to landlord several times about literally falling down foundation to no avail but the city said they would call him. Now they claim he can’t be reached at his summer home. I’ve caught 2 rats in standard trap but had to finish the job both times, Major yuk. Then a baby rat went in my hav-a-heart and a feral cat got caught in there with it. I awoke at 4 a.m. to cat wailing. Again i was so disgusted I showered for 30 minutes. not these buggers are multiplying again and I think I’m going to go get air pellet rifle today and sit on porch and pick them off. Or I could lose my $500.00 deposit and move out, Any suggestion appreciated. Thanks

  6. I have a serious problem of rats in the back of my yard, out of the sewers and destroy or bite everything that I store for me foams work, I talk cable-in short everything, I need a recommendation on that rifle need, the space between my house and the yard is as 10 yards long. shall estimate their advice

  7. I’m going rat hunting tonight with my .22 Sumatra, first time for me Im not squeamish and can hit a coin up to 40 meters consistently with my 3-9×40 illuminated scope I’m just don’t know what to use for bait I heard peanut butter works so I’ll give it a go wish me luck

  8. I have a crosman 2250b with the standard 14.5″ x 0.22 barrel, and a 4 x 30mm scope. I bought it specifically to shoot the numerous rats coming into my garden and getting up onto a bird feeder station which is about 30ft away from my firing point. The weapon seems fine if I hit the rat whilst it is facing towards me, and it kills them outright with a fair amount of blood loss.
    However, if they are facing away from me, and I can only fire at their sides or up through their hindquarters, any hits result in a loud squealing as the rat runs off. There is seldom any blood loss, and I am now wondering just how tough rats are when shot from these angles.
    I am using “Hollow Point” pest control pellets, so I am assuming that there should be massive internal damage, and a fairly rapid death, if hit anywhere and at any angle. Am I wrong to think this as I don’t like the idea that the rats are running off to die slowly and painfully.
    I am now thinking of making some “mods” to the weapon, i.e. a longer 18″ barrel, along with alterations to the gas valve and transfer port, in the hope that this will give greater accuracy and hitting power in order to ensure that any rat I hit is definitely killed.
    Any ideas or comments will be welcomed.

  9. Love the rat hunting and I do it with a Savage Mark II bolt action .22 cal. rifle, shooting CCI 710 fps rounds. I have the rifle set up with a Simmons 3×9 scope and use the Nitesite Eagle infrared night hunting system. I also use a Silencer Co. “Sparrow” supressor that makes the rifle as quiet as an air rifle. The body count just keeps rising!!!

  10. I use a simple Crossman 760 brd, .177, with 9gr. hollow point pellets. Iron sights, no scope. Small flashlight at night. Sights are set up for over pump, 15 instead of ten (don’t try this at home kids). Usually try for head shot, but center shot just south of the shoulder blades works as well. City situation, LOTS of rats in backyard/garden. Last night got a big female, just over 2lb. Handful of Grapenuts for bait. Also use traps, Victor has the best catch rate. Use cashewe nut for bait.

  11. Looking for a night vision laser scope equipped pellet pistol for my rats in my suburban southern CA backyard. Any suggestions? Prices?

  12. Hello,

    I live in Los Angeles and looking for a place to go hunt vermites. Anyone can recommend a good spot

    1. Look to your phone lines and power lines after dark, doe you have any fruit trees nearby, roof rats love plums,oranges,and figs. I live in West LA not too far from LAX,plenty of rats over this way, Roof Rats and Brown Norway rats A.K.A. Common alley Rat. Target rich environment ! they raid my garden & fruit trees, especially my prized Italian Blood Orange. Death to all the beady-eyed little rat bastards. And fuck the squirrels too, at least the rats eat the whole fruit until the’re done with it, the squirrels ruin several pieces and never finish eating any of them, so they frequently end up in the cross-hairs of my 4 x 12 scope ( I like ear shots, w/.177 cal round-nose pellets,plenty of penetration and energy for one-shot kills, I shoot a Gamo “Hornet” after breaking it in, I’ve had it chronographed at a smidge under 1000 fps and so tuned in that I can put out a birthday candle from 60ft. the length of my air rifle range behind my garage.

    2. Back allies, trash dumpsters, vacant buildings, use your imagination just watch out for the homeless. Another school of thought is the use of dogs to rat with. Like a Jack Russell, Rat Terriers to name a couple and get involved in small groups, some one to talk to and have fun with. Food for thought…happy hunting.

  13. I am from AZ but I am a nurse so I can do travel contracts out of state.
    There is hardly and information or groups on the internet about hunting rats.
    I would love to hunt rats will even pay reasonable amount for farmer to let me hunt them
    Please contact me at if you know anything Thanks you

  14. a light attached to your sight. showing a red light. mine cost £10 including the mount. Apparently, rats don’t “see” red light. and it makes their eyes glow red. giving you something to aim at

  15. I have never used a gun, but I have sent for a Daisy air pistol and BBS and life size target to practice outside…maybe. I am a mature woman alone.

    The ground level entry door to my basement of my older home was removed about a month ago and now I have an increasing rat problem. The get the food off the victor rat traps and never get caught. They are not small. 3 times what I expected. Will the pistol kill then up close or just piss them off … And attack. I am terrified but they are multiplying. This area has fruit tree all over so there are many creatures …. Rats are dark grey. O m g. I am horrified and there are smaller ones too. House is very cluttered :(
    …been here 30 years.

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