Squirrel gun question

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by old ugly, Mar 28, 2019.

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  1. Mar 28, 2019 #1

    old ugly

    old ugly

    old ugly

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    probably a dumb question but what makes a gun a squirrel gun?
    What is different other than maybe bore size?
    Thanks
    Ou
    Tom
     
  2. Mar 28, 2019 #2

    Grenadier1758

    Grenadier1758

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    Bore size, slim stock profile. Often less than 0.400" bore with 32 or 36 being common bore sizes.

    Any rifle capable of head shots on a squirrel can become a squirrel rifle.
     
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  3. Mar 28, 2019 #3

    Rifleman1776

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    It's just a phrase. Usually refers to a small bore ml rifle. But, IMHO, if a ded tree rat is on the ground because you shot it with yer ml rifle, you have a 'squirrel rifle'.
     
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  4. Mar 28, 2019 #4

    45man

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    Mine was a .36 flint lock. But head shots were the only way. Balls are dramatic if you hit the body.
     
  5. Mar 28, 2019 #5

    russellshaffer

    russellshaffer

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    Yeah, I shot one through the shoulders with a 45 and there wasn't much left.
     
  6. Mar 28, 2019 #6

    hanshi

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    I did the same thing on two squirrels with my .45. I even aimed for the neck on one to prevent a repeat but even that was a disaster. However, a big fox squirrel I shot through the neck with a .58 prb only exhibited a tiny slit for and entrance and another for the exit. So while I've used larger bores on bushytails with some success, I prefer the .32 and .36. A .45 works if care is taken, but that's my upper limit.
     
  7. Mar 29, 2019 #7

    tenngun

    tenngun

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    Although smaller calibers are preferred for small game I think it was just a term used in the old days. Some reflecting the accuracy of the shooter and his rifle. Few would try a head shot with a 20 bore or bigger fusil, and would go with shot for them tree rats. But an American hunter with his squirrel gun could pop them little fellers right out of the trees.
    By the by, don’t say any thing about squirrel rifles to Britsmoothie. He has a small caliber fusil that shoots near rifle sized groups (d**n Brits:)).
     
  8. Mar 29, 2019 #8

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

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    Yes the rifle must be accurate enough, and you must be able to shoot the rifle well to take advantage of that accuracy. ;)

    So technically my modern .22 rifle and my .54 caliber are both squirrel rifles as I've taken squirrel with both. However, once when shooting a bushy-tail it turned toward me head-on, just as I touched off the .54..., blew the critter to bits. :confused: It must've been perfectly aligned with the trajectory....,

    So as others have mentioned when you don't hit them in the head..., you tend to lose the animal, and they aren't varmints, so we're trying to recover the meat. Thus generally under .45 caliber, and what folks would call a light or target load of powder is used.

    Squirrel hunting is mighty addicting..., and probably was so for the guys when flintlocks were state-of-the-art, and thus some could probably afford a rifle dedicated to just that, harvesting squirrels, and so they had a "squirrel rifle".

    There is also the "diminutive humor" when it comes to labels, which is popular in some areas of the country...calling the huge guy "tiny" or the bald guy "curly", so if you don't know there is an "inside joke" going around, you may be confused when a fellow has a .58 or a .62 caliber rifle that he calls his "squirrel rifle". :D

    LD
     
  9. Mar 29, 2019 #9

    robinsroost

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    I once shot a fox squirrel with a .50 caliber Hawken facing me at a distance of about 10'. The ball went in his open mouth and came out through the tip of his tail. I was sitting in a ladder stand in a white oak grove, waiting on Mr. Whitetail when he spotted me, and commenced telling everyone about my family history, my apparent ugliness, and my suitability to pro-create. There wasn't enough left to pick up. Keep yer powder dry.....robin
     
  10. Mar 29, 2019 #10

    Carbon 6

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    If I hunt squirrels with it, it's a squirrel gun :D
     
  11. Mar 29, 2019 #11

    Gene L

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    Back in the old days of my mother and her brothers, who shot myuzzle-loading rifles because they had nothing else back in the early 'teens, there were two types of rifles. The small bore rifles were called squirrel rifles, I don't know the caliber but I would suspect in the .30s, since there was little else to shoot...squirrels, turkeys, etc. The bigger bore rifles were called Hog Rifles...hogs were the largest game back then as there were no deer. I don't know their calibers, either, but would suspect rifle muskets.
     
  12. Mar 29, 2019 #12

    Carbon 6

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    You might be on to something.

    Squirrel rifles,
    Hog rifles,
    Deer rifles,
    Goose gun,
    Elephant gun, etc.
    Wall gun,
    Punt gun,
    The name denotes usage.
     
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  13. Mar 29, 2019 #13

    Robby

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    The man behind the stock.
    Robby
     
  14. Mar 30, 2019 #14

    Sparkitoff

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    For me it would be ease of carry, balanced, less than 1" accuracy at 25 yards, sights fine enough to see head, caliber that is not excessively noisy and does not recoil, caliber that is lethal but will not tear it in half with a body shot. If I were to set up a muzzleloader rifle just for squirrel I'd go with a .32. If it were second-hand and accuracy could be proved before purchase, I would consider a larger caliber. Right now my favorite squirrel rifle is a PCP .22 air rifle that is deadly accurate to 40-yards and cleanly takes squirrels all the time. However, I would love to use a muzzleloader for them.
     
  15. Mar 30, 2019 #15

    Carbon 6

    Carbon 6

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    For me hunting squirrels with a muzzleloader is the pinnacle. It's relaxing yet exciting. it's cheap yet rewarding. It can be done on a warm sunny fall day or on a cold winter one. A muzzleloader just makes for the best experience.
     
  16. Mar 30, 2019 #16

    sawyer04

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    Old stories are that in the depression era around the old Grand river in northwest Missouri the old timers would dig out the hog rifle during hog butchering time. The rifle left to me is a 38 caliber. It took 5 squirrels at a nickel apiece to trade for 50 rounds of modern .22. The hog rifle could be fired twice the amount of for the same price of 50 rounds of modern cartridges. Sometimes, When the modern rifle needed feeding the hog rifle would be taken to harvest the 5 squirrels/ thus the same rifle would be a squirrel rifle. Our ancestors would designate a rifle for what it harvested at the time. Caliber didn't really make a difference, a well placed shot made the difference here in the Midwest, however the heavy calibers were designed later for the western frontier for reasons of heavier game.
    Gene L has it right on. It can be a 5 pounder, but if it used to kill squirrels, it is a squirrel cannon.
    '
     
  17. Mar 30, 2019 #17

    Grimord

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    I agree with Carbon 6. Squirrel hunting with my .32 flintlock is almost therapeutic for me. I seem to be more in-tuned with my surroundings, and enjoy myself more. I may not get as many squirrels as those that use modern self contained cartridges, but it is not about quantity, its about the quality of the hunt.
     
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  18. Mar 30, 2019 #18

    Louisk

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    I've been thinking a small bore would be a good way to get into a flintlock rifle. It probably would not be used as a "squirrel rifle" since all we have around here are scrawny red squirrels. Plenty of other small game,however. I'd probably be taking most of my shots at inanimate objects. Something that's fun to shoot and consumes small amounts of hard to get real black powder is attractive. Is there a noticeable difference in difficulty of loading .32 and .36 caliber balls with fumbly fingers? I've heard that those two calibers will shoot 00 and 000 buck. Any experience with this?
     
  19. Mar 30, 2019 #19

    Sparkitoff

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    Most of my squirrels got shot like this because of the challenge and the utter silence.....

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Mar 31, 2019 #20

    Carbon 6

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    That's a baby squirrel.
     

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