At Canada’s Gun Store, we firmly believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the thrill of hunting, even if you don’t have a PAL (Possession and Acquisition License). That’s why we’re excited to bring you this guide on hunting small game like grouse, squirrels and rabbits without a PAL. So, grab your toque, maybe a double-double, and let’s explore the exciting world of hunting small game in Canada, PAL-free!

Bullet points

  • 📜 Understanding Canadian Regulations
  • 🔫 Pellet Rifles: The PAL-Free Hunter’s Versatile Arsenal
  • 🔫 Choosing Your Pellet Rifle
  • 🎯 Selecting the Right Pellet Caliber
  • 🌲 The PAL-Free Hunting Process: Tips and Techniques


Always ensure you have proper licensing and tags before hunting, and check local regulations to stay legal and safe.

📜 Understanding Canadian Regulations

While hunting big game in Canada with a firearm requires a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), there’s good news for those eager to hunt small game like squirrels, rabbits, and grouse without one. In most of Canada, rules and regulations permit PAL-free small game hunting, and a great tool of choice is sub-500FPS pellet rifles. Remember always to check the regulations specific to your area to stay legal.

Under Canadian firearms regulations, you do not need a PAL to purchase a firearm with a barrel velocity that does not exceed 500FPS. This makes small game hunting accessible for those without a PAL to embark on exciting hunting adventures.

🔫 Pellet Rifles: The PAL-Free Hunter’s Versatile Arsenal

When hunting small game without a PAL in Canada, the type of pellet rifle you choose is as diverse as our nation itself. Whether you opt for a pneumatic (air) rifle, a pump-action model, or a spring-powered one, the key to success lies in one common factor: ensuring it’s as close to 500FPS as possible and adequately sighted in. Here’s why the type of pellet rifle doesn’t matter as long as you meet these criteria:

  1. Muzzle Velocity Matters Most: In the eyes of Canadian regulations, what truly counts is the muzzle velocity of your pellet rifle. You’re in the PAL-free zone if it does not exceed 500FPS. This means that whether your rifle relies on compressed air, a pump-action mechanism, or a spring to propel those pellets, it can be your trusty companion in small game hunting.
  2. Sighted-In Precision: Regardless of the pellet rifle’s mechanism, the key to accurate hunting is sighting in your rifle. Take the time to ensure your rifle and scope are finely tuned, aligning optics and trajectory. An accurately sighted rifle can make all the difference when aiming for those headshots on grouse or other small game.
  3. Versatility and Variety: Choosing the correct type of pellet rifle often comes down to your personal preferences and hunting style. The variety of rifle types allows you to select a gun that best suits your skills and preferences. The following section will dive deeper into the pros and cons of the most popular pellet rifle types.

🔫 Choosing Your Pellet Rifle

When selecting the perfect pellet rifle for small game hunting without a PAL in Canada, you have options that suit different preferences and situations. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so let’s break them down:

Pneumatic (Air) Rifles:


  • Consistent Power: Pneumatic rifles deliver constant power, shot after shot. This reliability is crucial for accuracy in small-game hunting.
  • Low Recoil: They have minimal recoil, making them easier to handle, especially for beginners.
  • Quiet Operation: Pneumatic rifles are relatively quiet, reducing the chances of spooking game.


  • Air Capacity: These rifles require a supply of compressed air, which can limit your hunting range. Running out of air during a hunt can be a downside if you don’t have a refill source readily available.

Pump-Action Rifles:


  • Multiple Shots: Pump-action rifles offer the advantage of multiple shots with each pump. This feature can be beneficial when hunting small game that’s active and elusive.
  • Moderate Recoil: They typically have a manageable recoil, providing good accuracy.


  • Noise: The pumping sound can be louder than other rifles, potentially alerting game.
  • Air Management: Like pneumatic rifles, they rely on air pressure, so you must manage your air supply.

Spring-Powered Rifles:


  • Simple Mechanism: Spring-powered rifles are straightforward, with fewer moving parts. This simplicity often results in less maintenance.
  • Affordable: They are usually more budget-friendly than other options.


  • Recoil: Spring-powered rifles tend to have more recoil, affecting your accuracy, especially for follow-up shots.
  • Single Shot: These rifles are often single-shot, meaning you must reload after each shot, making quick follow-up shots more challenging.

Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing the right pellet rifle for your small game hunting adventures. Pneumatic rifles are a great choice if you prioritize consistent power and accuracy. Pump-action rifles offer versatility with multiple shots, but remember, they can be noisier. Spring-powered rifles are budget-friendly but may require more skill for accurate shooting and single-shot follow-ups.

🎯 Selecting the Right Pellet Caliber

When hunting small game without a PAL in Canada, choosing the right pellet calibre is a crucial decision. While the .177 calibre pellet is what you will mostly encounter, the .22 calibre pellet stands out as a top choice, and here’s why:

  1. Knockdown Power: The .22 calibre pellets are slightly larger and heavier than their .177 counterparts. This extra weight translates into more energy upon impact, making them ideal for taking down small game with precision and effectiveness.
  2. Hunting-Specific Pellets: Within the .22 calibre, using hunting-specific pellets, such as hollow points, can further enhance your hunting success. These pellets are designed to expand upon impact, delivering maximum energy transfer to your target and increasing your chances of an ethical, humane kill.
  3. Versatility: .22 pellets strike a balance between power and accuracy, making them versatile for various small game hunting scenarios. Whether stalking squirrels in the woods or aiming for rabbits in the field, the .22 calibre provides a dependable performance.

It’s important to note that while a .22 is recommended if all you have is a .177 calibre pellet rifle, don’t let it deter you from the hunt. While it may not pack as much punch as the .22, with skill and patience, .177 rifles can still be effective for small game hunting.

🌲 The PAL-Free Hunting Process: Tips and Techniques

Now that we’ve covered the firearms of PAL-free small game hunting in Canada, let’s dive into the exciting process of hunting small game. There are different nuances to hunting each species of small game, but these tips will help you across the board. Also, the steps remain relatively the same whether using an air rifle, pump-action, or spring-powered model.

  1. Selecting Your Gear: Start by choosing your pellet rifle, preferably a .22 calibre, for added knockdown power. Equip it with hunting-specific pellets, such as hollow points, to maximize your chances of an ethical kill.
  2. Sighting In: Regardless of your rifle type, it’s essential to sight in your rifle accurately. Fine-tune your scope and rifle to ensure precise shots. Remember, consistency is the key to success.
  3. Scouting the Terrain: To increase your chances of success, it’s important to learn where your prey tends to be located. Brush lines or old logging roads are a great place to start. Take a slow drive or keeping an eye out for any signs of your target in its natural habitat.
  4. Stealthy Approach: Move quietly and avoid sudden movements. Small game like rabbit are known for their sharp senses, so stealth is your ally. Try to get within a 20 to 30-yard range without spooking them.
  5. Aim for Precision: When you spot a grouse, squirrel or rabbit, aim for a headshot and always be mindful of ethical hunting practices.
  6. Be Patient: Small game often go into a hold-still survival mode when they sense danger. Being patient and waiting for them to move will help you locate them.
  7. Keep an Eye Out for More: Small-game are often social species. Where you find one, there are often more nearby. After taking your first shot, pause and observe. You might spot another hidden among the brush.
  8. Respect the Environment: As responsible hunters, always respect the environment. Leave no trace and avoid damaging the habitat.
  9. Safety First: Finally, remember safety is paramount. Whether firearm safety or staying within legal regulations, ensure you hunt responsibly and with the utmost care.

No matter which type of pellet rifle you choose or where you hunt, the thrill of grouse hunting without a PAL in Canada is an experience to cherish. With the right gear, proper technique, and a dash of patience, you’ll embark on an adventure that embodies the spirit of Canadian hunting while staying within the regulations.

🔭 Join the CGS Family!

Are you ready to join the CGS family and embark on a small-game hunting adventure? Let’s make hunting a stigma-free, celebrated Canadian tradition together! Subscribe here.

Remember, folks, stay safe, hunt responsibly, and keep it Canadian! 🍁

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