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Best Guns for Squirrel Hunting

Brodie Swisher

best squirrel guns

The debate over what gun works best for squirrel hunting is not unlike many other endless debates you’ll find in hunting camp. Ford or Chevy? Rubber knee boots or leather lace-ups? Biscuits and gravy or toast and grits? Everyone seems to have their opinion on life’s biggest issues. Squirrel hunters are much the same. Some tote a shotgun, while others wouldn’t be caught dead with anything but a rimfire. And if you really want to hurt a hunter’s feelings, just bad-mouth the brand of gun they carry to the woods. 

If you’re searching for a new gun to bag squirrels with this season, we’ve made the job much easier with our short list of some of the best guns for squirrel hunting this year. With a variety of options, from rimfire to shotguns, there’s a gun to keep most every hunter happy. 

Ruger 10/22 .22 Rifle

Ruger 10/22 squirrel gun

The Ruger 10/22 just might be the most popular .22 rifle found in the hands of squirrel hunters each season. It’s light, compact, dependable, and deadly accurate. It’s a semi-automatic squirrel thumper that allows you to quickly work on squirrels in the treetops. It’s a great first gun for the new squirrel hunter, but it also might be the last squirrel gun you ever buy as well. 

My wife bought me this gun for Christmas nearly 25 years ago. It’s still one of my favorite gifts of all time. And I remind her often that the gun is what sealed the deal for me on marriage. Take a closer look at the specs on the Ruger 10/22 below.  

Ruger 10/22 Specs:

  • Weight - 5 lbs.
  • Barrel Length - 18.50”
  • Overall Length - 37”
  • Capacity - 10
  • Action - Semi-Auto
  • Barrel Finish - Satin Black
  • Stock Finish - Hardwood
  • Price -  $379


Savage Mark II BTV

Savage Mark II squirrel gun

If a bolt gun is what you’re after, the Savage Mark II .22 LR is one to take a hard look at for your squirrel gun of choice. It’s earned a reputation for being deadly accurate at longer distances with a custom feel that allows you to settle in, and go to work on picking off the smallest of game in the timber each season. I thought twice about the added weight of this gun, built with a heavier varmint barrel, but the rock solid performance it provides quickly changed my mind. 

The gun offers user-adjustable AccuTrigger technology to give you a clean and crisp, customized trigger feel. You can get the gun with or without a thumbhole stock. I opted for the thumbhole option and really like the way it allows the shooter to dial in tight with added comfort in the hand. 

Savage Mark II BTV Specs:

  • Weight -  6.5 lbs.
  • Barrel Length - 21”
  • Overall Length - 40”
  • Capacity - 5
  • Action - Bolt
  • Barrel Color/Finish - Matte Blued 
  • Stock Material/Finish - Wood-Laminated / Natural  
  • Price -  $439.99

Winchester Wildcat .22 in Mossy Oak Bottomland

winchester wildcat squirrel gun

One of the lightest .22 rifle options you’ll find out there is the Winchester Wildcat. It features a unique design that’s light, tough, accurate, and reliable. It’s an autoloader that delivers the perfect blend of value and performance in an ultralight option for long days in the field chasing squirrels. 

It’s built with a pistol grip that’s perfectly suited for shooters of most any size and the lightweight package makes it easily managed by the youngest of shooters. The picatinny rail accommodates the optics of your choice, and a variety of available accessories allows you to customize the length of pull with a clip-on comb riser and length of pull spacer. The gun is easy to load and includes a bolt stop that locks the action open after the last round has been fired. Best yet, it comes dressed in a Mossy Oak Bottomland camo finish. 

Winchester Wildcat Specs:

  • Weight -  4 lbs
  • Barrel Length - 18”
  • Overall Length - 36 ¼”
  • Capacity - 10
  • Action - Semi-auto
  • Barrel Finish - Matte Blued
  • Stock Finish - Mossy Oak Bottomland
  • Price: $309.99

Crickett .22 Rifle for Kids

Cricket 22 squirrel gun

Looking for the perfect .22 rifle built for the youngest of shooters? The Crickett .22 is the rimfire rifle that’s been in the hands of countless first-time shooters at the youngest of ages. It’s a great starter gun, easily fitting the smallest framed shooters out there. 

Light and easily shouldered by kids, it’s a great gun for plinking targets in the backyard, or knocking squirrels out of the treetops. Despite its incredible lightweight build (3 lbs), the gun can stack the shots in tight when topped with a quality scope. My family has passed this gun down from the oldest to youngest over the years, and each child hated to see it go. It’s a sharp little rifle that’s a mini model of the guns the big kids tote to the woods each season. With a model that came in Mossy Oak camo, my youngest son will hardly turn it loose. 

Crickett .22 Rifle Specs:

  • Weight -  3 lbs.
  • Barrel Length - 16.125”
  • Overall Length - 30”
  • Capacity - Single Shot
  • Action - Manually cocking single-shot bolt action
  • Barrel Finish - Blued or Stainless Steel
  • Stock Finish - American Walnut or Laminate
  • Price: $269 

squirrel hunt

CZ 457 American .17 HMR Rifle

I bought a .17 HMR years ago when they first came out. My intentions were to use it on predators when and where hunting seasons required the use of a rimfire rifle. Despite its incredibly flat shooting capabilities when compared to the .22, the .17 didn’t have the beef to knock down larger predators, like coyotes, as quickly as I would have liked to see. But what it did prove to be was a super accurate gun for smaller critters, varmints, and squirrels. 

Just the mention of hunting squirrels with a .17 is enough to stir up trouble among diehard .22-packin’ squirrel hunters. But the truth is, it delivers the extra reach to make longer shots on squirrels in the treetops well within reach. Yes, it’s a hot round, and body shots on squirrels with such a gun will no doubt cause excessive damage to the meat. You’ll want to get dialed in on the noggin’ with this gun. Because it’s so accurate, you can make those head shots at greater distances. After all, what God-fearin’ squirrel hunter would purposefully shoot a squirrel with a rimfire anywhere but the head, right? 

When it comes to the best of the best in options for the .17 HMR, the CZ 457 American is surely near the top of the list. It’s a beautiful gun with plenty of performance to boot. In fact, this gun has become the go-to gun for my buddy, and avid squirrel hunter, Will Brantley. “The flat trajectory is a huge advantage,” says Brantley. “It’s a great gun for later in the season when shot opportunities and distances tend to get stretched out a bit.”

CZ 457 American .17 HMR Specs:

  • Weight - 6.17 lbs.
  • Barrel Length - 24.8”
  • Capacity - 5
  • Action - Bolt Action
  • Barrel Finish - Cold Hammer Forged
  • Stock Finish - Turkish Walnut, American-Style
  • Price: $569

Mossberg 500 .410 Shotgun

Mossberg 410 squirrel gun

The .410 shotgun has been finding its place among turkey hunters in recent years thanks to the new high-performance turkey loads in TSS. But it’s also seeing a return to its roots as the do-all small game gun for hunters looking for a more sporty option in the woods and field. The Mossberg 500 shotgun is an old classic among hunters, but the latest .410 offering now delivers what many squirrel hunters are choosing for a fun and exciting gun to bag squirrels with in the fall. 

The gun is light to carry and easy on the shoulder at the shot. It makes for a great option for kids, women, or anyone else that realizes less can be more when it comes to a hunter-friendly gun that can still pack a punch. From turkeys to squirrels, and many other critters in between, this gun has become a family favorite among my crew. 

Mossberg 500 .410 Specs:

  • Weight - 6.5 lbs.
  • Barrel Length - 24”
  • Overall Length - 45.75”
  • Capacity - 5 + 1
  • Action - Pump-Action
  • Barrel Finish - Mossy Oak Original Bottomland
  • Stock Finish - Synthetic (Mossy Oak Bottomland)
  • Choke - X-Full Ext.
  • Chamber - 3”
  • Price: $584

Mossberg 940 Pro 12 Gauge

Mossberg 940 Pro shotgun

There’s a number of squirrel hunters that head to the woods each squirrel season with a 12 gauge at their side. It’s the same shotgun they tote for turkeys, ducks, and rabbits. It’s their all-purpose shotgun. They don’t care what rimfire shooters might have to say about their approach. They simply go about their business, unapologetically filling their bag limit of squirrels with the most popular shotgun option ever created. 

When the action gets fast and furious, the 12 gauge is a great option, providing plenty of reach and fast-handling for squirrels on the move. Unlike the rimfires that require sniper-like accuracy, the 12 gauge allows you to get away with the mistakes that often come with targets on the move. 

The Mossberg 940 Pro shotgun has found its place as the high-performance, long-range option for my crew when it comes to hunting turkeys, predators, and squirrels, too. It packs all the payload you’ll ever need, and it looks as good as it shoots with its Mossy Oak Greenleaf finish. 

Mossberg 940 Pro 12 Gauge Specs: 

  • Weight - 7.5 lbs.
  • Barrel Length - 24”
  • Overall Length - 44.75”
  • Capacity - 4 + 1
  • Action - Semi-Auto
  • Barrel Finish - Mossy Oak Greenleaf
  • Stock Finish - Synthetic - Mossy Oak Greenleaf
  • Choke - X-Factor XX-Full Turkey Tube
  • Chamber - 3”
  • Price: $1,154


At the end of the day, tote the gun that makes you happy. Don’t worry about how others do it. Grab the gun that you’re confident in when you step into the woods. You want the weapon that delivers all the fun and excitement that squirrel hunting provides. When you walk out of the woods with a handful of squirrels headed to the cast iron skillet, you’ll know you made the right decision. 

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