Air Rifles for Deer?

Beginning with the fall 2008 deer hunting seasons, Missouri firearms deer hunters will be allowed to use .40 caliber or larger air-powered rifles, thanks to a regulation change unanimously (and somewhat quietly) approved last year by the state conservation commission.

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A short announcement in the February 2008 issue of Missouri Conservationist Magazine reports that legal air rifles for deer hunting must be charged only from an external high compression power source, like an external hand pump, air tank or air compressor.

The article notes that prior to the regulatory move, Missouri Department of Conservation staff members “tested large bore air rifles powered by compressed air and found them suitable for hunting deer.”

The changes officially take effect March 1, but the rifles will not be legal for hunting until regular-firearms deer season opens November 15.

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“These firearms are not Daisy air rifles. They are high-powered, large-caliber, generally very expensive firearms that carry the foot-pounds of energy necessary to take down large game,” said commissioner Dennis Steward.

One of the leading makers of .308 and .50 cal. big game air rifles, Quackenbush Air Guns, is located in Urbana, Missouri. According to the company’s Web site, its .50 cal. Bandit rifle holds 3,000 psi of air and shoots a 180-grain ball at a velocity of 800 fps, depending on the gun and air temperature.

A Red Ryder, it ain’t.