Yes yes yes,
Airguns instead of real guns when real guns are available is dumb. Bluffing with any weapon is dumb.
The right air rifle (at least a 357 with at least 700 fps or more preferably more and multishot capacity) in the absense of a real gun is better than a bow even a crossbow. If you are worried about someone not going down with 5 shots with the appropriate handgun using the appropriate ammo, then you might as well not worry about defending your self with a baseball bat or a car or a crossbow, or a knife, a slingshot or a karate chop or a kick or punxh. Give up and die because you are not willing to consider something other than a gun which is the purpose of the OPs question. No gun, not available.
I'm talking about some air rifles, (these are not available at wal-mart) with similar ballistics to a 45 or 44 mag handgun. If that's not good enough to stand in, put your other weapons down and pick up a t-shirt and put it on a stick and wave it around and hope for the best.
I'm being a little bit sarcastic here. Not a lot. If you don't have the best technology available to defend yourself, you have to make do with what you have or submit to captivity or death. No other options except hoping you aren't picked on. I don't like that option.
If you don't have the option of the highest level of technology that is both the most likely to be brought to bear against you and you are reasonably able to expect to be able to defend yourself successfully in kind, then you need to select something that is the most like that technology and suplement it with other methods and tools and up your tactics and strategy. Improvise, adapt and kill the bad guy before he kills you with whatever you have to use to do it, if its a bung wrench, or a bazooka, kill the bad guy. Plan and equip to the highest level you can. Do whatever you can reasonably do and are comfortable with to have the highest level of technology you can for your security and defense. If you are not to consider how to deal with less than optimal situations and equipment, then when that situation is forced on you, you will cry and give up and die. I'm not saying to back up your real guns with air guns. I'm not saying that air guns are the best choice. I'm not even saying they are a good choice. They are a horrible choice when compare to a firearm in every way. Take firearms out of this picture for a moment and realize and admit that these things really aren't "pellet rifles" in the sense that a .177 caliber pellet rifle is and that in many cases, these things are shooting bullets and that firearm bullets of the same caliber can be fired out of them, then compared to a weedeater, sharp stick, karate chop, sling shot, angry weasel, even an upset pit bull, baseball bat, baton, pepper spray or taser, or punch or what have you that isn't a lethal projectile, the firearm comprable air arm is superior. It is on level and a notch above bows and cross bows because of configuration, speed and ease of use. This is of course just my opinion, but I formed it with things like math, logic and reason and the parameters of the original question. Yes air guns suck, I agree, I would not to want to use one to protect my self or feed my self if a real fire arm was available. I would rather depend on that than just about any other non projectile armament that I can think of. Airguns would and do suck in everyway when compared to a real gun, but they shine when compared to just about anything else. They are called air "guns" for a reason, in the right configuration, they are guns, they will kill, bad guy or animal, hit what you are aiming at, and you will more than likely get the results you are looking for, just like with a real gun, more than likely, not always, not every time. It would work if guns are not available.