Pest Control with a Handgun

With summer pretty much upon us, we are entering the prime season for pests. For people that own large areas of land and that need to keep pests under control, air pistols can be a valuable investment for both effectively and humanely managing the problem. Although we always recommend using the highest power air weapon possible (it’s not just a numbers thing, rifles are more accurate over longer distances and a higher power gives you a better chance of a humane kill, which should always be your goal in pest control) and air rifles can offer more power (a legal limit of 12ft lb limit), this can often be seen as overkill, or be unsuitable for the task. With the pellets often travelling through the target - without a suitable backstop, this can reduce the legality. Therefore, in this article, we take a look at some of the best air pistol options for pest control.

Small Disclaimer…

Here at Surplus Store, our mission is to provide air guns and airsoft guns that will be used safely, responsibly and respectfully. To ensure this, we require UKARA registration for airsoft guns and suitable forms of I.D for air guns such as pistols and rifles. Once the transaction has been completed, the gun will be your responsibility, meaning you will need to adhere to all legal legislation before using the weapon. This could include obtaining a wildlife license (where necessary) or following the correct procedure for humanely managing pests on your land. We thoroughly encourage anyone who is either currently managing pests or expects to be in the future to be aware of the current legislation and legal requirements. Useful information can be found on the UK Government website and information on the legislation can be found here.

Getting the Right Specs

Air pistols vary in design, power, accuracy and purpose; therefore, the specifications are perhaps the most important considerations. The legal power limit for an air pistol is 6ft lb, and you’ll want to get as close as possible to this limit to ensure that all pests are managed humanely, as a weaker pistol may not do the job.

The design of a pistol will have a big impact on the efficiency of it. Using a replica Colt 1911 is not something we’d recommend. Not only do they not have the power required, but they also lack the finesse that is necessary to hit the target from range. Often, you’ll be aiming for something the size of a pound coin; therefore, accuracy is of vital importance.

Often, pistols that are built for managing pests have a distinctly different look and feel to them. They are not built like typical pistols and have a more minimal appearance with longer barrels. Although some air gun replica guns can just about get the job done, we’d suggest going with one that’s specifically built for high accuracy over longer distances.


For this topic, the ammunition you use is just as important as the gun. A poor choice of ammo can completely eliminate the legality of the job, one way or another. For pest control, we’d suggest either using a .177 or .22 pellet as these are the most commonly found in shops and can work effectively. It’s worth noting that because of the weight discrepancy between the two, the .177 pellets will likely travel much faster than the .22 counterparts. This will lead to a much flatter trajectory making it much easier to predict accuracy. However, with the different shapes available, such as domed or pointed pellets, it is possible to see the ammo passing through the target. Because of this, when using .177 pellets, we’d suggest using hollow points or flat heads. A heavier weight and bigger pellet will cause more damage to the target (more damage means more chance of a humane kill), a 177 stands a chance of going straight through without doing enough damage to be immediately lethal. So most hunters will prefer to use a .22 pellet rather than a .177, but it does depend majorly on the circumstances surrounding the shoot.


Other than ammunition, there are some accessories which should be considered when managing pests. Firstly, you may want to consider an attachment for your gun, such as a sight or a scope. Bear in mind that because of the limited effective range of a pistol, slapping on a sniper scope (although looks cool), will be effectively pointless. A 2x scope will likely be the most you’ll ever need to ensure accuracy, even a 1x would be suitable, just to afford more reliability when aiming. Also, take into account the extra weight you’ll be adding to the gun. This may be something that benefits you as you may prefer something with more mass. However, if you’re more comfortable with a lighter gun, then a scope may not be for you.

Finally, we’d like to reinforce the challenge that pest control with an air pistol presents. If you’re new, unless you’re working at very close range, chances are you won’t be hitting the target first time, this should always be your goal, if you don’t think you can make the shot, don’t take the shot. Pest control should definitely not be seen as a game or a challenge, rather a necessary evil to ensure safety for your land and property. Humanity should always be on your mind; therefore, we’d suggest grabbing some targets to get some practise before you head out with your gun.

If you need to stock up of air gun pellets, check out our range online here! Equally, we have a great selection of air pistols, the Crosman 2240 is a great choice for pest control amongst others. Get in touch on social media, or on the phone if you have any further questions about air pistol choice for pest control.