Critter Control

From Brit Reader Quentin, asking (for a Brit) a hypothetical question:

“Do you have any thoughts on which pistol to use with wildlife, not goblins? After all, shooting snakes and other critters was one of the main uses of pistols.”

My answer:
It kinda depends on the size of the critters. Basically, a .22LR will handle 99% of critter-elimination needs (shotshells in the case of reptiles). Larger critters may need a little more, but I struggle to think of many.

Myself, I carry a little NAA Mini-revolver in .22 Magnum (loaded with two CCI shotshells and three hollowpoints) if I’m out doing my morning walk (angry unleashed dogs, for the shooting of), or if I’m ever out in an area where there may be snakes and such. 

(I’ve actually shot a couple of snakes with the rimfire shotshell, and the result is that the worm just goes limp — lights-out with a single shot.)

But any rimfire revolver would do, of course:

That’s a Colt Peacemaker with .22 LR / .22 WMR cylinders.  For us mere mortals who don’t want to spend two grand on a rimfire plinker, there’s always the cheaper option, such as the Ruger SP101 double-action:

… or the single-action Ruger Bearcat (.22 LR only):

…or Single Six (like the Colt above, with the LR/WMR interchangeable cylinders):

…as well as the usual S&W K-22s, etc. (like this “Heritage” model):


Where was I?  Oh yeah, critter guns…

If anyone has any other suggestions, I’ll happily entertain them in Comments.



  1. I regret the loss (most likely to the guys who moved my stuff cross country) of my H&R .22 revolver. It looked much like the Peacemaker, had 2 cylinders to cover everything from .22 CB through .22 WMR, and it was double action. Now all I have for .22 is a pair of Ruger automatics, pre-Mark II.

  2. I will be heading to my small piece of property by Gatesville tomorrow armed with a S&W 586. Will be using shotshells and a few slugs as well. Should take care of most all critters I could encounter.

  3. If you’re willing to go a little more modern in style, the Ruger LCR can be had in .22lr with an 8-shot cylinder or .22WMR with 6 shots; both MSRP under 6 bills and could maybe be had for a bit under 5 with some shopping around. The .22lr is advertised at just shy of 15 ounces unloaded, the WMR at a shade over 16.
    There’s also a 6-shot LCR in .327 Magnum, which opens up a whole bunch of the .32 centerfire cartridges (.32 H&R Magnum and .32 S&W Long come to mind) for lower-power options. The H&R would be handy against moderate-size pests and the S&W against slightly smaller, with the .327 still viable against goblins should the need arise. It’s listed as weighing about 17oz.

    Having said that, though, the standard LCR has a barrel of just under 2″, so sight radius is going to be pretty small. And it’s DAO, although I’ve heard good things about the relative smoothness of pull.

    The LCRx has longer-barrel (3″) options in .22lr (8-shot), .22WMR (6-shot), and .38Spl+P (5 shot), all MSRP under $600. As a bonus, the 3″ models have adjustable rear sights, though they are a bit weightier than their snubbier siblings. The whole LCRx line has an external hammer, unlike the original LCR, so single-action fire is possible if you’d prefer.

    Now, with all that out there…the look and feel of the thing is likely to be polarizing. Looks aside, I’m looking hard at the 3″ model in .38 +P as a future carry piece (or backup).

  4. Yes, I also regret the absence of my H&R #686. At the time, I wanted a top-break 9 shot, but that just didn’t happen. Almost the exact same story with the Rugers.

  5. Depends on the critter. Hiking in Arizona is a different thing than doing so in Wyoming or Montana.

    In areas where the biggest issue is likely to be snakes, I like the little .45/.410 derringers by Bond and others. Nothing hand-sized really says go away like two .410 bird shot loads at close range, and you can keep some slugs or .45 LC in your pocket just in case.

    In areas where the critters typically have bigger teeth, I’d go with something like a Ruger LCP or similar .380 pocket pistol.

  6. I should think any decent 5-shot snubbie in 38 special loaded with your choice of bird shot and hollow points would pretty much cover it.

  7. A lot of H&R losses… my Dad’s was stolen from his home by a caregiver. She went to jail but a lot of items were never recovered. 999 Sportsman, the top break 9-shot that all of us learned to shoot with as kids. Its a bit large compared to the mini-revolver but it was a sweet gun; my Dad carried it as his outdoor ‘kit’ gun.

    1. I’ve wanted one of those for years. Everyone I see that has one gets all offended when I ask if it’s for sale. 🙂

      1. While its not very likely we’ll ever see it again, we had the serial number from the original Clark County NV registration card, so it was included with the theft report. Maybe it will turn up someday.

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