Airguns for Self-Defense?

Before I answer this, often asked question, “Can airguns be used for self-defense?”, let me give you my background and expertise that qualifies me to provide you with my opinion. There are many out there that try to answer this question but they never qualify what background and expertise they have to provide such information.

I am retired from a 30-year law enforcement career in which I started as a uniformed officer in the field and responded to every type of call imaginable. I worked numerous assignments and was promoted several times.  I also provided extensive training to officers in the police academy. Over the last half of my career I was assigned to investigations and supervised numerous Detectives and was involved in every type of investigation you can think of.  During my career I was involved in numerous life or death situations and sustained several injuries that resulted in 5 surgeries over the years.  I was also involved in one incident that I had to use lethal force to save my life as well as my partners.  A suspect attempted to shoot my partner and I. Fortunately, my extensive firearms training provided me with an edge and I was able to eliminate the threat and my partner and I survived with no injuries.   

Being in a real-life, life-or-death situation is not what you see in the movies. When faced with an immediate threat to your life, you respond with either a flight or fight mentality and you really don’t know how you are going to react until you are actually in that real-life situation. Talk is cheap, we have all heard the, “If I was there, I would have……” The reality is again, you don’t know how you will act until you are in that situation.  Your body goes through a physiological process when you are faced with a life-threatening situation which includes a heavy adrenaline rush. Your body goes into the survival mode in that blood flows heavily into the senses that you need most.  In my situation, I never really heard the eight shots from my firearm, but I had heightened vision, in which the incident that lasted seconds, seemed like it was in slow motion and I could see every vivid detail. I never remember pulling my firearm from the holster, it was just in my hand and ready to go.  This was the result of many years of training and preparation for an incident you hoped would never come.  But you train as if this could happen at any moment in your career.

So now that we covered some of my background let me provide you with my opinion on the topic of “Airguns for Self-Defense.” First keep in mind, you can only use lethal force to protect your life, or someone else’s, from great bodily harm or death. Yes, some airguns could be considered lethal.  But are they good for self-defense? In a life or death situation you should use anything and everything to protect you and your family. Questions you need to ask yourself if considering an airgun for Self-Defense:

What airgun are you going to use?

What type of (FPE) Foot Pounds of Energy does it produce?

Is it loaded and ready to go?  Is there air in the gun?

Can you load it fast in an extremely stressful situation?

Is it powerful enough to stop an assailant?

Can you reload it? Do you have multiple shots?

Can you actually aim and hit your assailant with your adrenaline on over-drive?

How often do you practice accessing your airgun in a rapid manner? In the dark?

Can you load it in the dark? How fast can you do that?

These are all essential factors you need to think about before even considering the use of an airgun for personally protection.  I personally would never consider it or count on it to save my life! I like more FPE and numerous rounds.  My first choice is a firearm, if you are thoroughly trained, continue to practice and are proficient, there is no substitution.  However, if you don’t have access to such, a quick call to 911 and exit the residence would be the first choice!  But every situation is different and you might not have that luxury to do such.  You might want to consider other options for Self-Defense other than an airgun. Pepper spray, baseball bat, golf club (Iron) etc. These are easy to use, very effective, and provide a quick self-defense response without any extensive training.

Keep in mind, again it is not like in the movies, you would be surprised how many rounds from a firearm a human body can take and can continue forward as a threat, if that individual is motivated. The odds of one pellet or BB stopping a motivated suspect would be extremely rare. Maybe the Umarex .50 cal. Hammer may do the job in the perfect situation.  Would shooting an airgun in self-defense at an assailant be a possible distraction? Yes, then you might want to follow up with a rapid exit or worst-case scenario use the buttstock as an impact weapon.

Let’s sum this up! The vast majority of airguns are designed for small game hunting and plinking.  They do not function as a dependable, reliable, easy access, ready to go weapon that I would trust to save my life or someone else’s. Simply stated, I would not choose an airgun for self-defense! Would I use it as a last resort? Absolutely, among anything else I could grasp or use as a defense weapon. Self-Defense is very important and should be considered by all.  Regardless of what method or methods you chose to protect yourself and your family, the most essential part is training to be proficient for the time we truly hope never comes.


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