Recent Game Code changes have made air guns legal for the taking of cottontail rabbit, hare and gray squirrel. Modern air guns have sufficient power to take such small game and are quieter and lighter than some shotguns, making them an ideal tool for smaller-framed hunters. Air guns hunting information is now part of the basic shotgun hunter education course, and a NJ Rifle Permit is not required.
An air gun is any shoulder-mounted firearm which by the force of a spring, air or other non-ignited compressed gas expels a missile or projectile and has a rifled or smooth barrel, using ammunition no smaller than .177 caliber and no larger than .22 caliber producing projectile velocities of not less han 600 feet per second measured at the muzzle. Air gun BBs are not legal for hunting. Please refer to pertinent sections of the NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest for more information.
Following is the official Division of Fish and Wildlife statement regarding the use and possession of air rifles equipped with silencers:
As per a recent interpretation by the State Attorney General’s Office, The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Law Enforcement, is advising sportsman and sportswomen that the possession and use of air rifles equipped with silencers is illegal pursuant to New Jersey Criminal Law. Silencers are defined as any device designed to lessen or muffle the noise of the rifle discharging. We urge all users of air rifles to determine through the manufacturer of the firearm whether or not they are so equipped. The possession and use of such air rifles is ILLEGAL.
It is important to note that the ultimate responsibility lies with the person using the gun to determine if it is equipped with a silencer per the law by contacting the firearm’s manufacturers.
For more information on the use of air guns for hunting in New Jersey, see the Air Gun FAQs:
NJ Air Gun FAQs http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/airgun_faq.pdf (pdf, 90kb)