Best Air Rifles Reviewed and Tested
Within this guide, we are going to discuss the various components of what makes up the best air rifle. In addition to that, we’ll review up to ten different air rifles, and go over what makes each one good. After that, we’ll help you determine which air rifle is best for you and your needs and then cover some Frequently Asked Questions when it comes to the air rifles.
What Makes a Good Air Rifle?
When it comes to finding what makes the best air rifle, there are certain characteristics which are obvious. For example, if you had an air rifle that was not very accurate, then it clearly would not be very good. We’ll still cover accuracy, but we’ll also cover other aspects, including power, speed and the ease of use for each rifle you might be looking at.
Power vs. Speed – Because you are shooting with an air rifle, and not a full rifle, the type of ammunition you use can actually vary greatly. The lighter your ammunition, then the faster it will be shot out of the rifle. However, you have to be very wary of the rifles which promise you that our ammunition will come out quicker compared to other models. How fast the air rifle can shoot, also known as the FPS (feet per second), can be very deceptive. Due to your ammunition type, the heavier it is, then the slower your shot will actually come out, no matter what the FPS says. The attribute you should be more concerned by is the FPE (foot Pounds of rnergy).
The FPE truly determines how fast and powerful your ammunition will come out of your air rifle. This is very important to consider, as depending upon the game you are hunting, you may not need a powerful gun if you are shooting at game at a close distance. However, if you plan on putting up a tree stand, and sitting for a while, and waiting for game to come to you, then you will need a gun which has a more powerful FPE. Even if an air rifle has a high FPS, if it is low on the FPE scale, you might shoot an animal, but you might only maim it, and not kill it. Maiming an animal is very inhumane, and you break an unwritten rule among hunting; you shoot to kill. If you notice an animal that is struggling, and is maimed, or just not in good shape, you do the animal a favor by actually killing it. So, it is very important that you have an air rifle that will kill the animal you are shooting at.
Accuracy – If you have an air rifle, but do not have an ability to hit anything you are shooting at, then your hunting experience will be very frustrating. In order to avoid this scenario, then you need to have an air rifle which shoots accurately on a consistent basis. Not only this, but if you end up with an air rifle that is not accurate, not only do you miss what the smaller target you are already shooting at, but you will more than likely scare away any other small animal game you were going after. This can cause you to have an empty trip – and even the most avid hunters never like returning home empty handed.
So, what are some ways you can ensure you have an accurate air rifle? First and foremost, as with any tool that has multiple moving parts, you should clean your air rifle at least once a year. If you are not comfortable with doing this yourself, then you can take your air rifle into a pro shop, and have them clean it out for you. Once it is clean, you can then take the air rifle to a range, and re-calibrate it. If you attempt to re-calibrate your air rifle when you are out in the wild, you will continue to shoot wildly. It’s important for your accuracy to go to a range, and take a few shots, so you can ensure you know understand how your air rifle shoots, and at what range, and how you need to adjust your shots accordingly.
Convenience of Use – Because of where you are typically shooting, you want to ensure that your air rifle is the right way. If you plan on doing a lot of walking, then you will want a lighter air rifle, as you don’t want to be tired from carrying your Rifle before you even have the chance to shoot. If you are going to keep a rifle in your barn or garage, then having one that is a little bit heavier is suffice, to ensure it stays durable over the course of time.
When it comes to your air rifle, you may also want to consider what kind of case you use with the air rifle. If you are in an area where you need a quick release, then having a large case with a big buckle may not be the way to go. However, if you want to protect your air rifle from the elements of the weather, then having a case which does cover most of the air rifle will help you in this endeavor.
In addition to this, if you have a scope for your air rifle, it’s important to make sure your air scope is taken care of anytime it is stored, and can easily be put on each time you use your air rifle. No matter what kind of case your purchase, you want to ensure it has room for a rifle scope, even if you don’t purchase a scope when you purchase your air rifle.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Hatsan 95 Air Rifle
- High quality air rifle with combination trigger system
- Ruger Blackhawk Combo
- All-weather rifle with powerful magnification scope
- Black Ops Tactical Sniper
- Small game rifle that comes with a scope for longer distance shooting
Brands of Best Air Rifles
When it comes to air rifles, each brand of air rifle offers their own specialty in order to make sure you have the right air rifle for your needs. Here is an overview of each major brand of air rifles.
Winchester – Winchester has 11 different models of air rifles for you to choose from, all with different styles of bodies. If you want the classic look of a brown handle and black barrel, you can get that. If you want a camouflage rifle, you can also get a model with that design on it. They have short barrel and long barrel rifles, along with rifle scopes which are easy to attach to any of their rifles. They are made in the United States, but are not available outside of the United States.
Ruger – Ruger has a large variety of rifles available to you to choose from, all with different styles of finishes. They have standard looking rifles, as well as some which look more militaristic. Are you left-handed? Then they have multiple models of rifles which can meet your needs. They have single-shot, bolt shot and auto loading options available as well. They believe in making air rifles for the responsible citizen, and want to ensure their air rifles are safe and secure for everyone.
Gamo – Gamo has 12 different air rifles for you to choose from, all with a variety of looks and styles. If you want to get an air rifle for your child, they have one available. All of their models of air rifles are roughly the same length, and most come in black and gray, with a few coming in camouflage style. The guns come in a variety of different FPS and FPE attributes.
Crosman – Crosman has a large selection of air rifles to choose from, with a wide assortment of different styles of finishes. No matter what your needs are, they have the air rifle for you; all of their air rifles are customizable, and you can add your own style to each one as you see fit. If you want a short barrel, medium barrel or a long barrel, and if you want one with a place to put a rifle scope or not, your options are limitless, and are only bound by your own imagination.
Beeman – Beeman has a large variety of different model types, and then there is a wide assortment of air rifles within each model types. No matter the type of air rifle you are looking for, you can find it within their website. If you want a bolt action air rifle, or a wood encased air rifle, or even a standard air rifle with a rifle scope, all of these options are available to you.
10 Best Air Rifles
1. Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo
2. Winchester Model M 14 Semi-Automatic
3. Winchester Model 77XS Air Rifle
4. Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Air Rifle (.22)
5. Air Rifle Combo by Ruger Blackhawk
6. 880 Powerline Kit, Dark Brown/Black 37.6”
7. Daisy Outdoor Products 880 Rifle with Scope
8. Black Ops Rifle
9. Crosman Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle .177 Caliber
10. Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle
How do you determine the Best Air Rifle for your Needs?
When it comes to picking the best air rifle, there are many considerations to take into account. How much you want your air rifle to weigh, and what kind of both speed and power you need in order to take the shot you want. In addition to that, does the air rifle come with the necessary rails to add the extra accessories you might want, like a rifle scope or a flashlight? In order to figure out the best air rifle for you needs, you should create a checklist based upon the factors listed below.
Power and Speed
There are many varieties of power and speed available to you. If you know the FPS and FPE of every shot you are going to take, then you can purchase an air rifle which will give you the results you need every time. This can only be determined after some time, though – after hours of practice, and taking shots in the wild, so you know what kind of power and speed your air rifle shot will need in order to fully kill the game you are hunting. If you are hunting a mouse, you might not need a 1200 FPE – however, if you are shooting for rabbits or squirrels, then having an air rifle that is closer to the 1000 / 1200 FPE will be the better choice. Remember, it is not about the amount of speed that an air rifle says it can generate, or the FPS – that number can be manipulated based upon the weight of the pellet or the BB you are using within the air rifle. FPE is much more important in determining the best air rifle for your needs.
If you are a beginner when it comes to air rifles, the recommended choice for you is the variable air rifles. By having an air rifle which you can change the amount of speed and power you put into any shot, you can easily figure out what kind of shot it will take to kill any kind of animal you are looking to hunt. By being able to pump each air rifle up to the right amount of power and speed, you can take test shots based upon what each one produces, so as you are out in the field, you will know what kind of shot it will take to kill the game you are hunting. Because of how quickly some of the animals you are hunting are (especially rabbits), then you may not always have time to take a second shot. It is vital you will need to know how fast each pump will take, along with how many pumps it will require to kill each kind of animal.
On each air rifle, especially on newer models, you should have the capability of adding a rifle scope onto your air rifle. Just so you are prepared, you may spend more on your rifle scope compared to your air rifle, because of the type of material that the rifle scopes are made up from. Having the right kind of rifle scope for your air gun is vital, to ensure you can make the proper adjustments necessary on each shot to make sure you hit the animal you are hitting in the right spot.
If you are just going to be using the air rifle for close up shots, then you will not need a rifle scope. For example, if you have a barn, and are shooting mice within the barn, then having a scope might give you too much of a close shot. If you don’t ever plan on going out into the woods, or plan on just having an air rifle around your house, then having a scope would be overkill.
However, if you are going to be out in the woods, and are looking to shoot some very quick and fast animals, then having a rifle scope will help you immensely in getting the right shot at the right time. By having a rifle scope, you can set up your hunting stand, and sit and wait for your animals to come to you. Most animals out in the woods have a very good sense of hearing, and if they hear anything or anyone coming towards them, they will scoot away. They are aware that they are not the king of the jungle, which makes them very twitchy. Not only will they run if they hear someone walking, but anytime you take a shot, more than likely, any animal that is out in that same area will also scatter, which makes it even more vital that you hit the right shot the first time.
When you set up to take your shot, you need to ensure your sights are completely accurate. This is why it is important for you to take your air rifle to a shooting range ahead of time, so you can test it out, and calibrate it according to your own sight. If you are attempting to figure out a new piece of equipment out in the field, then you will most likely miss your first few shots, which could cost you an entire day of hunting. Every air rifle and scope will not be the same, and so you need to calibrate it based upon how you shoot. Having an air rifle and scope where you can adjust for wind and elevation will ensure your shot is pure each and every time, so you can hit your hunting prey exactly where you want to.
Type of Finish
When it comes to finding the best air rifle, you want to find one that has a design which fits your style. There are very basic finishes out there, which are meant to replicate more advanced types of weapons. You have the standard brown wood finish, which is meant to show an air rifle from the olden days. You can also go with an all-black matte finish, which ensures that your air rifle does not give off a shine and scare animals away, while also looking sleek and cool.
If you don’t want a standard finish, then you have the choice of other kinds of finishes. There are some air rifles which have a body that is in all camouflage, which is great for hunting when you don’t have a lot of cover to start with. You can also pick finishes that are in a variety of different colors and combinations; with such a variety of different styles, you are sure to find an air rifle with the type of body you want on it which matches your personality. However, not all air rifles are fully customizable, so you want to ensure you are still getting the power, speed and accuracy you are wanting within the body style of your choice. Modifications can always be made, but sometimes those modifications cost more than the initial price of the air rifle – so, once you have deiced that you are wanting an air rifle, take the time to figure out all the key components of your air rifle within the type of finish you desire.
Other Key Features
Finally, after you have determined the major factors within your air rifle, you want to make sure you take the time and figure out if there are other things which will be important for you as you take your air rifle out. For example, when you hunt, if there is a lot of rain out during your hunting season, then you will want an air rifle that is fully water proof. By having this feature, you can ensure your air rifle doesn’t lock up on you when it rains, and will still produce a clean shot when you take aim at your animal of choice.
In addition to this, another thing you want to consider is if the next air rifle you purchase is going to be your long-term air rifle, or just the next air rifle. Your budget may help determine this question some, but if you have an air rifle for the long term, then you don’t have to purchase everything at the same time. However, you want to ensure that the air rifle has all the necessary rails in order to add onto it what you desire. If you buy an air rifle which does not have the proper amount of rails, then it will be very difficult for you to add the accessories you will want down the road. It may be tough to know what the future will hold, and what you will want in the future; the more accessories your air rifle can hold, though, then the happier you will be with the air rifle long-term.
One last thing to consider is this – how much ammunition do you want your air rifle to carry at once? As you saw in the reviews, there are some air rifles that can hold up to 50 BB’s and others that can carry 250 BB’s. Depending upon how much you will shoot in a given day, the amount you want to carry within the air rifle will be important to know. If you will only be shooting a few times each time you use it, then you will not need a large capacity; however, if you plan on shooting a lot each time you are out, then you want to have a higher capacity. There is nothing worse than having the right shot, and pulling the trigger, and see that you are out of ammunition. Then, if you are out of ammunition, attempting to replenish your air rifle while you are out in the field; it’s a recipe for disaster, and you could scare off the animals while you are noisily filling the compartment. Ensure you have the right amount for an ammunition cartridge that you need for each hunting trip.
Q: My air rifle broke – can I buy replacement parts?
After you have used your air rifle for some time, it is possible that it will break. Within each air rifle, there are many moving parts, and even if you take the greatest care you can, because of the vast amount of moving parts that are necessary to make your air rifle function able, there are times where it will break down. However, to find out if you can buy replacement parts, you would need to call the manufacturer. In most cases, manufacturers will refer you to an authorized repair center, as they don’t want to sell parts for an air rifle to the public, due to the security risks which are involved. When you go to an authorized dealer, more times than not, to pay for the part and the labor to install the part, it will cost the same amount, if not more, than you rifle. This general thought process also holds true for the accessories you have for your air rifles.
Q: I bought what I thought was the right air rifle for me, but after using it, it’s not – now what?
Most places where you purchase your air rifle from will allow you to return the air rifle to where you purchase it. However, there is typically a restocking fee, which will vary between 10% and 20%. Although that is a small amount, it can affect then what kind of air rifle you will purchase next. When we talk about doing the research ahead of time, part of that research should include holding the air rifle in the store, and seeing if it will be comfortable with you and how you are physically structured. If you have shorter arms, then having an air rifle that is up to 40” might not be the right fit; In contrast, if you have longer arms, purchasing an air rifle that is shorter may not be the right fit. It very well could be, but you won’t know until you actually hold it and put it in the spot where you will be shooting from. And sometimes, even when you do your homework and the air rifle feels good in the store, once you take it to the range, the shot may feel off. It’s perfectly acceptable to return your air rifle, just be prepared that you will be paying a restocking fee.
Q: Should I go with a Spring Piston Air Rifle?
The Spring Piiston air rifle is the most popular type of air rifle out in the market, and if you buy a few different air rifles during your lifetime, then more than likely, at least one of them will be a Spring Piston. There are some advantages with the Spring Piston air rifle, which include the following:
- They provide excellent quality for the money – when you are doing your research, you will notice most of the Spring Piston air rifles typically offer you the most value for the money. However, there are certain features you will not have, and they are not as customizable as some other models.
- Most of the Spring Piston air rifles are easier to load compared to other types of air guns. Because it is easier to load, you can spend more time worrying about making sure your air rifle is sighted in correctly.
The disadvantages with the Spring Piston air rifle includes:
- Even though you can load a larger amount of BB’s very quickly, and you can load pellets quickly, they are typically a single shot for pellets. And because they are single shots for pellets, you have to continue to replenish the pellets on a very consistent basis. This can be very tiring over a longer period of hunting, as not only do you have to put in a new pellet each shot, but you have to carry your ammunition throughout the entire day as well.
- With a Spring Piston air gun, you will notice that the Air Rifle is fully balanced. Not only this, but these air rifles tend to weigh more as well, which makes them a little more unwieldy when you are both carrying them, and when you setting up to fire. Although the springs don’t tend to fatigue much, your arms will fatigue faster because of the weight of the air rifle.
- Although there are some which come with sound dampeners, those are not a standard feature on Spring Piston air rifles. And because this is the case, the Spring Piston air rifles are much louder compared to other air rifles. Although you can get used to the sound, there is no doubt about it will drive away the animals you are looking to shoot, as they use their keen hearing senses and run away from any loud shots.
- The Spring Piston air rifles also tend to have bigger recoil compared to other air rifles. Due to this, the recoil can cause you to get off your shot, and cause your shot to be inaccurate. Not only this, but it can cause you to not be set up correctly for your next shot. The recoil that comes with a Spring Piston air rifle needs to get some adjusting to; once you adjust to the recoil, then you will be in good shape, but it will take some time to fully adjust.
Q: What can you tell me about ammunition sizes, and how does that affect my shot?
There are two typical sizes of pellet ammunition – you have a .22, and a .177. The smaller the size of the pellet, typically, the lighter it is, which means that it can travel faster and further. If you are taking shots that are further away, then having a .177 size of pellet is the best option for you. If you need a shot which gives you a higher power shot, then going with the .22 caliber is the correct choice. The .22 will not travel as far as a .177, but it will deliver a more powerful punch to your target.
In addition to this, when you are looking at the different types of pellets out in the market, you will tend to want to go with ones that are more round; the more round the pellet, then the more aerodynamic it is. Due to being more aerodynamic, it will travel further, while not losing much speed, still giving you the necessary impact to take down any small animal target you are shooting at.
Finding the right air riffle for you might seem like it can be an overwhelming proposition; however, it doesn’t need to be. If you are wanting to make sure you purchase the right air rifle for the long term, then taking a couple of hours of doing research ahead of time will easily pay dividends down the road. And by reading thru this guide, you should be able to put together a check list which will help you narrow down your choices in no time.
Once you have a list of different features which are most important to you, you can go on various sites and put in those parameters, and see what populates. Clearly, you are going to be working within a budget, and so if you put in the parameters, and the cost comes back to high, then you’ll need to figure out which features are truly the most important to you, and rank them in such a way. Once you have a budget, you should plan on adding 10% to that budget, so you can consider other air rifles, and see if the extra cost is worth it. Not only that, but you might be able to get a deal on an air rifle that normally costs a little bit more, where you can then get the air rifle you really want that meets all of your needs within your budget.
Good luck on finding the best air rifle for you and your hunting needs, and Happy air rifle hunting!