Buyers Guide to Finding the Best Air Rifle
Air rifles date back as early as 1580, contain a large amount of power and are most definitely not a toy. Each air rifle is different, some are precharged pneumatics or the newer version, electronic precharged pneumatics, others are break action or nitro piston powered break barrels, CO2 or even variable pumped; break action rifles, however, are much more common today than any other type.
Great for a variety of uses, air rifles can be used for activities such as plinking or target shooting, pest control and small game hunting; all air rifles can be used for plinking but only select guns acquire the power and force needed for hunting. The higher the velocity of the gun, the better it will be at taking down pests and other animals.
Air Rifle Reviews
With so many brands and options available how is one supposed to know what the best air rifle is? Nobody wants to spend quite a decent amount of money just to take their rifle onto the field and notice that it’s, well, awful. Thankfully for you, we have made finding the perfect air rifle simple.
After many years of shooting rifles, hunting, and purchasing new guns we have come up with a list of all of the top rifles on the market today based on multiple factors such as velocity, design and price. So, sit back, relax and find the best air rifle for you.
The Benjamin 392 is a .22 caliber, multi-pump pneumatic air rifle with a bolt action mechanism. The design is sleek, featuring an American hardwood Monte Carlo stock and a brass, rifled barrel.
It has a single shot capacity and can shoot at a velocity of up to 800fps with alloy pellets and 685fps with regular, lead pellets. Weighing just 5 and 1/2 pounds, with a length of almost 37 inches, the 392 is extremely easy to carry around for long amounts of time.
Optics: Fully Adjustable
Uses: Pest Control & Target Shooting
Manufactured and produced by Crosman, the Benjamin Titan is a nitro piston powered break barrel rifle. There are actually two versions to this gun, one is a .22 caliber while the other is a .177 caliber; the .22 caliber can shoot at a velocity of up to 950fps with alloy pellets, while the .177 caliber can shoot at up to 1200fps.
Besides a difference in velocity and therefore use, the two versions of this air rifle are the same. It weighs 7.4 pounds, with a length of 44 and a half inches. Featuring a two stage adjustable trigger, an ambidextrous hardwood stock, lever safety and a ventilated, rubber recoil pad, the design of the Benjamin Titan is remarkable.
Optics: 4×32 mm
.22: Small Game Hunting & Pest Control
.177: Pest Control & Target Shooting
Like the Benjamin Titan, this air rifle also comes in a .22 and .177 caliber version. The only difference in this case, however, is that the .177 caliber has a velocity of 1000fps while the .22 isn’t much further behind at 800fps. Design wise, Browning exceeded expectations; the Leverage has a light brown hardwood Monte Carlo stock with a right-hand raised cheekpiece, weighs 8.6 pounds and is 45 inches long.
For the user’s best interest, this rifle also features an automatic safety, ventilated rubber buttpad, and an underlever action. The mastermind of this great air rifle, though, is the spring-piston power source.
Front Sights: Fiber Optic
Rear Sights: Adjustable for Winding & Elevation
Use: Small Game Hunting & Plinking
Crosman Nitro Venom
With a break barrel mechanism and nitro piston power source, the Nitro Venom by Crosman is one of the best air rifles and is quite hard to beat. It delivers extreme power with muzzle energy of up to 18fpe, and struts a velocity of up to 1200 fps with the .177 caliber version and up to 950fps with the .22. It is lightweight at around 7 pounds, and is 44 inches in length.
The design of this gun pays attention to more than just looks as it is meant to provide a comfortable fit for the user; it has an ambidextrous stock with an altered beavertail forearm and raised cheek piece. With a lever safety to prevent accidents, you can also feel safe while shooting this rifle. The Nitro Venom takes pride in it’s countless number of positive air rifle reviews from happy customers.
Use: Small Game Hunting, Pest Control & Plinking
This break barrel, spring powered air rifle can shoot at velocities of up to 1200fps, or 950fps depending on which version you choose, with the .22 version being the lower velocity option. It’s main use is target shooting, although the .22 can be used for pest control.
Some features of the Crosman Optimus include a single shot capacity, lever safety, light cocking force, a two-stage adjustable trigger and fiber optic front sights along with micro-adjustable rear sights. Like many of the other rifles mentioned, the Optimus has an ambidextrous hardwood stock and steel rifled barrel.
Size: 7 pounds, 45 in.
Optics: 4×32 mm
The Crosman TR77 has one of the most unique designs with a lightweight synthetic stock that includes a pistol grip, and a short rifled barrel. It weights just 6 pounds for maneuverability and control and is 40 inches in length with the barrel making up 12 inches of it.
Using a break barrel mechanism and a nitro piston power source, it can shoot at velocities of up to 1200fps with alloy pellets, and 1000fps with regular lead pellets. Other features include a two-stage adjustable trigger, single shot capacity, lever safety and a 3/8″ dovetail optics rail.
Use: Small Game Hunting, Pest Control & Target Shooting
Daisy Powerline 880
The Daisy Powerline 880 is great for anyone that’s looking for a cheap, quality air rifle. One of the best things about it is the design, with a nice Monte Carlo style molded wood grain stock and black rifled steel barrel. It is also very lightweight, especially for being 38 inches in length, weighing just a mere 3 pounds.
The Powerline 880 takes .177 caliber pellets but unlike the other guns mentioned, it has a 50 shot capacity. On it’s best day, it can shoot at a velocity of up to 800fps with a maximum shooting distance of 291 yards. With that being said, it is perfect for target shooting and has received numerous amounts of satisfied pellet gun reviews from users.
Safety: Crossbolt Trigger Block
Action: Multi-Pump Pneumatic
Gamo Silent Cat
Also known as the Whisper Silent Cat, this air rifle uses a break barrel mechanism and spring piston power source to shoot .177 caliber pellets at a velocity of up to 1200fps. The stock consists of all-weather synthetic material, twin cheek pads and a ventilated rubber pad buttplate for recoil absorption, while the barrel is fluted, polymer jacketed rifled steel.
Gamo made sure users would feel comfortable using this gun with all of it’s safety features such as manual safety, manual trigger safety and the automatic cocking safety system. It includes other great features such as the noise dampener which reduces the sound up to 52%, a second stage adjustable trigger, fiber optic front and rear sights, grooved receiver and a 4×32 scope that make this one of the top rated air rifles to date.
Size: 5.28 pounds, 46 inches
Use: Small Game Hunting & Pest Control
Capacity: Single Shot
Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper
Quite a step up from the original Silent Cat, the Silent Stalker Whisper features IGT to shoot pellets through use of a pneumatic gas cylinder rather than a spring power source. If you take a look at the stock you’ll notice it’s composed of a tough, all weather molded synthetic material, a SWA recoil pad that allows for up to 74% absorption, a thin cheekpad on each side to accomodate both left and right handed users, and a non-slip texture design on the forearm and grip. The barrel is 18 inches in length and is similar to that of the Silent Cat, except it has ND52 technology as well.
This great break barrel air rifle features a moderate weight of 7 pounds, an overall length of 43 inches, a cocking effort of 32 pounds, and a single shot capacity. Once you pull the two stage adjustable trigger, the Silent Stalker Whisper can shoot .177 caliber pellets at velocities of up to 1300fps. It’s ideal for small game hunting, pest control and plinking/target shooting.
Safety: Manual; Automatic Cocking Safety System
Optics: 3-9×40 Scope w/ Rings
Ruger Air Magnum Combo
The Ruger Air Magnum Combo is a very reliable, durable and powerful air rifle; it uses a spring piston power source and a break barrel mechanism. It’s heavier than some, weighing 9 and a half pounds and measuring 48 and a half inches in length with the barrel consisting of 19.5 inches. Many people enjoy the design which includes an all weather, ambidextrous, synthetic Monte Carlo stock, textured grip and forearm, rubber buttplate and rifled barrel.
Like most, it is a single shot, .177 caliber rifle. You can purchase hyper velocity pellets for this gun that allows it to reach velocities of up to 1400fps! However, when using regular lead pellets you’ll only be able to get up to 1200 fps, which isn’t bad either. Other features include a two stage adjustable trigger, automatic safety, fiber optic sights and a weaver/picatinny accessory rail, making it one of the best air rifles.
Optics: 4×32 mm Scope & Rings
Use: Pest Control & Plinking
Offered in a .22 and .177 caliber version, the Ruger Yukon is known for it’s excellent design, enduring durability and extreme silence. First off, the design is sleek featuring an ambidextrous hardwood stock, checkered grip and forearm, rubber recoil pad and rifled steel barrel with the integrated SilencAir integral silencer.
Secondly, to power this break barrel rifle it uses innovative ReAxis gas piston technology which includes many benefits such as smoother cocking and shooting, great functionality in cold weather, longer lifespan than a metal spring design, and no spring torque or fatigue. The .22 caliber option will provide you with velocities of 1050fps, while the .177 caliber delivers velocities of up to 1250fps.
Optics: 3-9×32 Scope
Use: Small Game Hunting & Plinking
Types of Pellet Guns
When deciding on what type of air rifle to buy you first need to figure out what you plan on using it for. If you’re wanting to go hunting or take care of some pests on your property then I would recommend going with either a “springer” or a PCP. If you’re wanting to do some plinking in the backyard then a pump or C02 airgun will be a better choice.
In order to make sure you get the best air rifle to fit your needs we have listed the different types of models below.
Spring powered air rifles are extremely popular for hunting or pest-control purposes due to their ability to shoot at a high FPS. Springers, as they are often called come in three different model types known as break barrel, underlever, and side lever. The most common type of springer you will find is the break barrel design due to its simplicity and lightweight design because there is no extra lever. To help you fully understand the different types of springers we have described them below.
Break Barrel: A break barrel air rifle works by pulling down a hinged barrel, loading a pellet into the barrel, and then snapping it back into its original place.
Underlever: This type of model works by pulling down a lever underneath the barrel, loading a pellet into the chamber, and then moving the lever back into place.
Side Lever: Side lever models work by pulling a lever all the way back, loading a pellet into the chamber, and then pushing the lever all the way forward. Since the lever is located on the right side of the rifle you need to be right handed or ambidextrous to use this type of model.
Before buying a springer you do need to be aware of the issues with recoil and the stress on the spring if you leave it cocked for too long. Because of the recoil you will need to hold a spring powered air rifle a little more firmly than other model types to be consistently accurate. Also you need to be aware that if you leave a springer cocked for too long it can damage the spring and possibly ruin your gun over time.
Because of this Crosman came out with their own Nitro Piston models which compresses nitrogen instead of using an actual spring. This gives it a few distinct advantage over your typical springer such as a reduction in sound, vibration, and recoil. It also gives you the ability to leave the rifle cocked for extended periods of time without the worry of damage.
Precharged Pneumatic (PCP)
If you’re looking for the best type of pellet rifle for hunting then you want to go with a precharged pneumatic air rifle, or otherwise known as PCP. These types of airguns are fairly expensive but are extremely powerful and accurate. To use a PCP airgun you simply have to fill a reservoir with air by either using a pump or a special tank. Once filled you can expect around an average of 25 shots before having to precharge it again, this of course all depends on the individual airgun.
The major advantages of using a PCP air rifle include being quiet, consistent, recoilless, and being able to reload rapidly. The majority of PCP air rifles are bolt action so instead of loading a pellet at a time you just have to load a clip then pull the bolt back and then forward again. You can also find automatic PCP models if that is what you’re interested in.
Being able to reload rapidly is great news for hunters because it allows you to shoot again quickly if you miss your first shot. Not to mention you don’t have to sit around trying to pull the barrel down to load a pellet making a bunch of noise and racket while simultaneously letting your prey run away. Since shooting a PCP airgun is much quieter than their spring counterparts you really can’t compare the two when it comes to hunting.
Pump air rifles are great for beginners because of the low price and simple design. They are mainly used for simple target practice in the backyard although some models can be used to hunt small game. In most cases you will only be able to get off one shot though because of the amount of noise and time it takes to pump the rifle again.
If you do decide to try hunting make sure to pump the airgun 8-10 times to reach maximum velocity in order to kill your target humanely. For plinking purposes you can pump less so you don’t wear yourself out as much. If you’re just getting into shooting air rifles then a pump model might just be the best place for you to start.
C02 powered pellet guns are a ton of fun to shoot and a lot of models even come in semi automatic. All you have to do is pop in a 12 gram C02 cartridge and you can shoot around 50 shots before it needs to be replaced. This of course does depend on the efficiency of the airgun as each are different.
C02 powered air rifles do come with a few downsides though that you should know about. For starters, they aren’t very powerful compared to other models types. This makes them a bad option for hunting so it is recommended for these models to only be used for plinking purposes. You also need to take into account the climate of where you live; in areas where the temperature is often under 65°F, you’ll begin to notice that velocity starts to diminish. In warm climates though CO2 does a much better job.
Another big factor you have to worry about is the expense of having to buy CO2 cartridges as it can get rather expensive over time. If you really do like the idea of using CO2 though you can find certain models that will allow you to use a bigger sized CO2 tank such as the type you would find on a paintball gun.