Best Air Rifle Reviews: 5 Guns to Suit Your Hunting Needs
Whether you are brand-new on the shooting scene or are already the proud owner of one or two guns, it is always a good idea to do your research before purchasing a new product. Several factors play into what kind of air rifle one should own. These factors can include your budget, experience, and your intended purposes for the gun.
When looking for the best air rifle for hunting, some key items to check into before buying your air rifle are power, precision, and durability. Other things to keep in mind include legality based on region, safety, and caliber.
|Product||Available Calibers||Price||Our Rating|
|Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Pallet Air Rifle||Check Price||.177 Caliber|
|Diana RWS 34 Breakbarrel Rifle, T06 Trigger Air Rifle||Check Price||.177 Caliber|
|Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo, Walnut Stock Air Rifle||Check Price||.177 Caliber|
|Game Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle||Check Price||.177 Caliber||$$||4.5/5|
|Bear River TPR 1200 Hunting Air Rifle||Check Price||.177 Calibers||$$||4/5|
Getting Started: What is an Air Rifle and What Are They Used For?
An air rifle is a type of gun that utilizes compressed air to fire either pellets or BBs. They tend to replicate small arms and are used in various outlets. Their main uses include hunting for small game, controlling pests, and target practice or competition.
From pest control to hunting activities, air rifles are commonly used to hunt down mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. Additionally, these guns are often used for fun in target shooting. Activities such as “plinking,” which is a form of casual target shooting, are popular among air rifle owners. Shooters also like to use these guns to engage in competition target shooting.
How to Use You Air Rifle
If you are a seasoned air rifle owner, feel free to skip past this section. If you are new to the air rifle scene, this section is important for you to read. Here, you will find a quick guide on how to shoot your air rifle. While reading this will be a great precursor to using your rifle, be sure to read all the instructions that come with the weapon you purchase.
Make sure you choose a rifle that is best suited for you. Factors to determine this include your size, how much weight you can handle, its length, etc. A good rule of thumb to look for is whether or not you can hold the rifle comfortably and steadily at a 90-degree angle to your body, parallel to the ground.
The best way to hold your rifle is to tuck the stock into your right shoulder in a place that feels comfortable for you. While most rifles are shaped for right-handed shooters, if you are new and left-handed you may want to buy a specialized left-handed rifle.
Your dominant hand should be on the grip at this point, although you should keep your finger off of the trigger until it is time to shoot. Your non-dominant hand will go farther up on the gun; remember not to touch the barrel, though. You should always hold your rifle across your body. Hold the gun this way makes it easier to look along the barrel, rather than moving your eye down to the rifle.
Different rifles use different types of sights, although most of them host a small, notched piece located closest to you, as well as a vertical stick at the end of the barrel. You will want to double check your gun’s instructions on this one. At this point, your goal will be to line your target up in the center of the notch. Then, bring the barrel up so that the stick at the end of the barrel fills the notch.
Once you have aimed, you are ready to fire. The best method to do this is to first take a deep breath. Let your breath out halfway and hold the rest. Slowly and steadily squeeze the trigger; this will help you to avoid reflexively flinching, as you will not know when the shot is coming. Using this method can help with accuracy.
Every sight and every gun is different, so make sure you pay attention to your shots and adjust yourself accordingly.
Buying Your Gun: What to Look For
As mentioned before, there are certain attributes to be considered when purchasing an air rifle for hunting. Precision, power, and durability along with safety are all important ideas to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting various models.
The next most important things to consider are the propulsion method, the calibers, and the accessories. When using your air rifle for hunting, you may also want to keep in mind how much noise your gun makes. First and foremost, however, you should look into the legal aspects of owning a gun in your specific region.
Depending on where you live, there may be certain restrictions or legal actions you need to take before owning an air rifle. Laws vary by country and jurisdiction. Some countries that do not subject any specific regulations, but most have at least minimal laws.
These laws can be regulations concerning muzzle energy, velocity, or material. Some areas have restrictions based on age for owning. Certain locations will also have restrictions on sales regarding weapons and ammunition. There are even places that require you to have a permit and a background check to own an air rifle.
To be on the safe side, you should look up your country/jurisdiction’s specific regulations for the weapon you are looking to purchase. Be sure to look into specific local governments, as laws for one state may vary from another state.
Precision, Power, Durability, and Safety
Precision and power go hand in hand when it comes to air rifles. If you are looking to purchase an air rifle for hunting, you are going to want one that is accurate as well as powerful. These factors have to do with consistency in velocity and the BB, or pellet, itself. If you are working with a fast release and a heavy BB, you are likely to have greater accuracy and power.
Some of you may be concerned about the safety and durability levels of your air rifle, especially if you are buying for a younger shooter. Look for things like a trigger safety, ease of operation, and loading. Not surprisingly, larger caliber guns use heavier pellets, which can cause more damage. It is always good to practice caution when using these weapons, as they can cause serious injury to a human as well as animals.
The next thing to consider is the propulsion method, or what powers the gun. Air rifles typically use a spring-piston mechanism, a CO2 canister, or pneumatic compressed air. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages to be discussed.
The most commonly used adult air rifle, spring piston guns use a spring mechanism that is reloaded before each shot. It is released to push the piston, which sends air into the barrel to send off the shot. Spring piston rifles are known for being very consistent and very powerful.
The simplest of the three, spring pistons may prove useful in that they are very reliable and do not require gas or refills. For hunting, it is convenient not to have to carry extra items. You also do not have to worry about temperature changes affecting this kind of rifle.
Though low hassle and low maintenance, there are a couple of downsides to these types of air riles. Spring piston rifles tend to have a bit of a kick-back, some worse than others. They can also be noisy, which may impact hunting.
The CO2 air rifle is equipped with a CO2 canister that holds the gas that provides the pressure that drives pellets. These types of air rifles could be good for hunting because of the ease of reloading. Since they are quick and quiet to reload and require little effort, they may be excellent in a hunting setting.
Another advantage to the CO2 canister air rifle is that there is no recoil or kick-back. The lack of recoil allows for better aim and high levels of accuracy. High accuracy is an obvious benefit for any shooter wishing to use their air rifle for hunting. These CO2 systems also allow for quicker follow-up shots.
The downfall of these rifles is that the weather and temperature can significantly affect how they perform. Depending on the gun, changes in temperature can reduce the weapon’s power. Cold weather will decrease the number of shots the canister can produce.
A pneumatic air rifle uses compressed air to shoot its pellets. They are similar to the CO2 air rifles because they employ air held within the gun in a reservoir. This air is released through the system when put into use. These guns come in three different varieties: the pre-charged pneumatic (PCP), the multi-pump, and the single-stroke.
The pre-charged pneumatic, or PCP air rifle, is most similar to the CO2 air rifle because it is only filled once and then it is ready for multiple shots. After many shots, its reservoir is refilled using a compressor, manual pump, or a scuba tank.
Multi-pump pneumatic air rifles also feature a built-in air pump. The difference is that you will need to work the pump handle yourself to fill the reservoir with compressed air. Each shot will take a couple of pumps. The upside to this is that you do need to take any other equipment with you. The downside, of course, is the fact that you will have to pump a few times for each shot.
The single-stroke, or single-pump, pneumatic air rifle is similar to the multi-pump pneumatic, except it only requires one pump to fill its reservoir. These guns are known for their consistency and may be a nice choice since they only take one pump to fill up.
The air compressed in a pneumatic is typically much more pressurized than a CO2 rifle. The advantage of this high-compressed air is the resulting shot, which is much faster. Unlike the CO2 air rifles, pneumatic air rifles are not affected by the weather and changes in temperature. This factor may make the pneumatic air rifle more reliable than the CO2 rifle. Colder weather will not hinder a pneumatic rifle, which can make a significant difference when you are outside hunting in the winter.
While known to be very accurate, pneumatic air rifles are also very quiet. The use of compressed air and suppressors ensures this. However, the downside to pneumatic rifles is the cost. The air rifles themselves are quite expensive. On top of that, you will need to purchase a pump to recharge the pressurized air reservoir in a PCP rifle.
Once you have decided which air rifle is best suited for your hunting needs, the next thing to consider is the gun’s caliber, or the internal diameter of the gun’s barrel. While these can vary, the most popular calibers are .177, .20, and .22. Other calibers are available—for example, serious small game hunters sometimes use .25 calibers—but these three are the most popular.
.177 Caliber Rifles
The .177 caliber air rifle is perhaps the most popular of the calibers available. It uses the smallest pellets of the four listed above. Due to the small size of its pellets, the .177 caliber rifle has a higher velocity and has much better accuracy from farther away.
.177 caliber rifles are recommended mostly for target shooting because of their small size and are often used for general shooting. They can also be a good choice for small pest control or game hunting. You may want to use a .177 caliber air rifle to kill animals such as squirrels, birds, mice, and rats.
With a .177 caliber air rifle, you often get a nice balance of accuracy and power. Because of their popularity, there are several options available at this caliber, giving you the chance to shop around more before you choose the best fit for you.
.22 Caliber Rifles
The .22 caliber air rifles are widely known for their power capabilities. The larger and heavier pellets hit hard and cause more damage, which is good for hunting. This caliber is good for hunting the larger of the small game, such as raccoons and rabbits.
Though its power is high, this gun also has the shortest range of the three calibers listed above. These types of air rifles also tend to be the heaviest, which can be detrimental to some shooters.
.20 Caliber Rifles
Although .20 caliber rifles tend to be good for overall use, there are not so commonly available. Because of this, they tend to run at higher prices than other caliber air rifles.
The .20 caliber rifles provide more power than the .177 caliber rifles. They also do better on distance than the .22 caliber rifles. Like the .22 caliber rifle, the .20 rifle can be helpful if you plan to shoot larger small game.
.25 Caliber Rifles
The largest of the four calibers listed, the .25 caliber air rifle is perhaps best suited for larger small game. The rifle performs well at close range. It is capable of launching its ammunition faster and father. More serious hunters like using the .25 caliber rifle because of the stopping power it provides. It can handle anything from squirrels to coyotes.
Since the .25 caliber pellets are heavier, they require more expensive equipment than other caliber pellets. They are generally available in the pre-charged pneumatic air rifles, which we discussed earlier. These guns tend to be more expensive.
Additionally, a buyer needs to look into accessories and cleaning kits for each product. The actual number of necessary accessories for your rifle is very limited. However, there are several additives you can research to amplify your hunting experience. Various accessories can help with accuracy, ease of use, and maintenance.
Depending on the gun you choose to invest in, you may have a couple of necessities to purchase along with it. If you are buying a CO2 air rifle, you will have to buy additional CO2 cartridges with which to refill your gun. Similarly, pre-charged pneumatic air rifles require some type of recharging system.
If you are looking to make your air rifle last, it is recommended that you keep it clean. These guns do not tend to get a dirty as regular guns and rifles; however, they still need some maintenance to ensure the quality of the product remains intact.
You may want to keep some silicone oil handy for spring piston propulsion. You should also purchase cleaning brushes. They will help you remove dust, dirt, and oil. Cleaning your gun regularly will help you avoid rust buildup and keep the outside of your gun in good shape for future use.
Depending on the level of seriousness you have for your air rifle hunting, you may want to look into additional scope pieces. A scope can give you a higher level of accuracy and clarity when aiming at your target. Things to consider when researching scopes are the lens, the parallax, and the reticle. It is important to remember that air rifles scopes and firearm scopes are very different and thus should not be interchanged between the two weapons.
Of course, there are several other accessories you can look into after you have purchased your air rifle. After scopes, there are mounts, upgrade kits, flashlights and lasers, cases, and a host of other additional pieces to add to your collection.
Our Favorite Air Rifles
Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Pallet Air Rifle
Both PCP and CO2 power the Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Pallet Air Rifle with a single-shot pellet capacity. This quiet-shooting rifle is available in .177, .22, or .25 caliber and uses compressed air for 2,000 to 3,000 psi. It holds a two-stage adjustable metal match trigger. It features an ambidextrous synthetic stock with a reversible bolt and an air pressure gauge.
Diana RWS 34 Breakbarrel Rifle, T06 Trigger Air Rifle
The Diana RWS 34 Breakbarrel Rifle is a powerful and accurate rifle available in .177 and .22 caliber with shooting capacity up to 1000 fps or 800 fps, respectively. Coming in at 45 inches, it features a fiber optic hooded front sight and adjustable open rear sights. Its German craftsmanship makes it an attractive weapon that is easy to hold and shoot. It hosts a two-stage adjustable trigger as well as an automatic, ambidextrous safety.
Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo, Walnut Stock Air Rifle
The Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo is a spring piston, single-shot rifle made with a steel barrel and equipped with a two0stage adjustable match trigger. It is available in .177, .22, or .25 caliber. It features a fully adjustable TruGlo fiber optic rear sight, an automatic safety, and an ambidextrous stock. The rifle includes both a scope and a mount.
Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle
The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle is designed specially to reduce noise while hunting. Its extra feature, the non-removable noise dampener, claims to reduce noise by 52%. It fires at a speed of 1,000 to 1,200 fps and is available in .177 caliber. The rifle comes equipped with a 4×32 scope as well as a mount. It is made to be very durable and can be used in all weather types. It comes ready with a manual trigger safety and automatic cocking safety system.
Bear River TPR 1200 Hunting Air Rifle .177 Pellet Ammo Scope Included
The Bear River TPR 1200 Hunting Air Rifle is a high-powered rifle that uses Spring Piston mechanics to deliver accurate and powerful shots. The rifle includes a 4×32 scope, including covers and adjustable fiber optic sights. Excellent for small game, this rifle supports .177 pellet ammo. The Bear River shoots ammo up to 1,300 fps. Its smooth trigger pull allows extra control and accuracy.
When it comes to hunting, the Benjamin Marauder rifle may be your best choice in air rifle. With few complaints and little wrong with it, this rifle provides a host of advantages that could give you a top-notch hunting experience.
The gun’s accurate shooting is its main benefit. Proven consistency and accuracy powered by PCP and CO2 make this an attractive addition to any hunter’s gun safe. A favorite in hunting rifles, PCP and CO2 make excellent choices by way of convenience and ease of use. This is a gun you can pre-charge or load up before you head out.
Available in multiple calibers, this gun gives you the option to pick the caliber best for your purposes. Its compressed air reaches up to 2,000 to 3,000 psi and hosts additional features not found on other air rifles.
An advantage of this gun is that is can be used by both experienced hunters and beginner shooter. Its ease of use and little to no recoil is welcoming to new users and is refreshing to seasoned experts. The Benjamin Marauder rifle features a unique and excellent trigger position for better handling, as well as the smooth use of the trigger.
A quiet weapon, you can welcome the noiselessness behind each shot. The rifle is also a decent weight and not excessively heavy, which makes it easier to handle.
While there are some cons to this product, as there are with all of the above-listed rifles, the pros greatly outweigh them and make this our top choice for the best air rifle for hunting. The weapon’s bulkiness and limited shots per fill make it well worth the benefits that the Benjamin Marauder provides to hunters and shooters.