When left to their own devices, pests can cause a whole number of problems for you and your home. From damaging possessions to spreading disease, it’s essential that any pests are brought under control quickly and humanely.

It’s natural for you to want to take matters into your own hands when it comes to pests. However, we do recommend that you contact a professional pest control service such as the BPCA.

If you’d rather manage the issue yourself, then we’ve made this guide so you can do so safely, legally and effectively. If you’re looking for a suitable air weapon, check out our range of air pistols for sale in our store.

A grey squirrel on a fence

Is it Legal To Shoot Pests with an Air Pistol?

The quick answer is it depends.

General Licenses are issued by the government to provide a legal basis for people to carry out a range of activities relating to wildlife, including pest control.

But before you go in guns blazing, make sure the pests you’re dealing with are actually legal to kill. You can be fined or imprisoned if you cause unnecessary harm to any animal.

You also need to make sure that you’re killing the pests in a legal way.

The following are illegal ways to kill any wildlife:

  • Self-locking snares
  • Bows and crossbows
  • Explosives
  • Live decoys (unless you have a specific license)
A rat nibbling on something

What Kind of Air Gun Should I Use For Pest Control?

When it comes to pest control, you’ll be aiming for what’s known as the ‘kill zone’. This is the place on an animal that will cause the quickest and most humane death. Most pests have two kill zones - the chest and the head.

You should aim for the chest kill zone where possible as shooting the head can result in a painful face injury and slow death for the animal. We recommend you research what kill zone is best for each pest before you try and take a shot.

High Accuracy

Since pests are typically small animals, the kill zone is about the size of a pound coin; therefore, accuracy is of vital importance.

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.

Some air gun replica guns may get the job done but we’d suggest going with one that’s specifically built for high accuracy over longer distances. It may also be worth investing in a scope or sight to improve accuracy.

High Power

You should also look for an air pistol with the highest legal power. More power means more penetration and increases the likelihood of a humane kill. The maximum legal power for air weapons is 12 ft/lb for air rifles and up to 6 ft/lb for air pistols.

This is why the majority of air guns are not suitable for pest control unless used at point-blank range.

If you’re new to using air pistols, make sure you practice before you try and tackle your pest problem. If you don’t think you can make the shot, then don’t!

Ammo for Pest Control

The ammunition you use is as important as the gun.

A poor choice of ammo can completely eliminate the legality of the job. For pest control, we’d suggest either using .177 or .22 pellets as these are most commonly found in shops and can work effectively.

Because of the weight discrepancy between the two, .177 pellets will travel much faster than .22 counterparts. This means a much flatter trajectory making it much easier to predict accuracy.

You should also consider the shape of your ammunition. A bigger, heavier pellet will cause more damage to your target and make a more humane kill.

Most hunters prefer a .22 pellet over a .177, but it depends on the circumstances surrounding the shot. If you are using .177 pellets, we’d suggest using hollow points or flatheads.

Alternative Pest Control

Pest control is not a game or a challenge. It is a necessary evil to ensure the safety of your land and property.

As such, there are other steps you can take before you resort to air pistols.

Legal Pest Traps

These traps are suitable for catching rodents and are widely available at hardware stores or garden centres.

Although traps like glue-traps and drowning-traps are not specifically illegal, they are incredibly inhumane and should be avoided.

A quick, humane kill is the goal. So, it’s recommended to use a break-back trap.

Pest Control Poison

Rat and mice poisons are available from a variety of stores in the UK. Though not as strong as the rodenticides used by an expert, they can potentially curb your pest problem.

It is illegal to use poison as a pest control method for any pest that it is not specified for. You also need to make sure that when putting poison down, it cannot be consumed by any other wildlife or domesticated pets.

After using poison, make sure you dispose of the poisoned carcass in the appropriate way as they can also be eaten by other animals and cause severe harm.

Professional Pest Control

When it comes to pests, it is always best to contact a professional. They have extensive knowledge of pest’s behaviours and the legality of what can and can’t be killed.

Professional pest controllers also have access to pest control poisons that are far more effective but cannot be bought by the general public.

We hope this guide helps you with your pest problems. Please note that here at Surplus Store, our mission is to provide air weapons and airsoft guns that will be used safely, responsibly and respectfully.

If you would like more information or are interested in using air weapons for pest control, feel free to get in touch with us today!