In this article we review the 10 top-rated air rifles (aka “pellet guns”) in the industry based on customer feedback and give you the highlights of each. We have selected the best air rifle from the list and named it our “Editor’s Choice”.
Then we’ll offer some background and technical information that’s helpful in choosing the best air rifle to meet your needs and preferences in our How To Choose The Best Air Rifle buyer’s guide section. You may also be interested in these related review articles:
What is the Best Air Rifle?
Quick Answer: The 10 Best Air Rifles – 
- Gamo Magnum Air Rifle
- Benjamin Titan Air Rifle
- Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle
- Ruger Air Hawk Combo Rifle
- Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle
- Ruger Targis Hunter Air Rifle
- Raptor Whisper Air Rifle
- Benjamin 392 Air Rifle
- Daisy 880 Pump Air Rifle
- Sig Sauer MCX CO2 Air Rifle
Best Air Rifles
Best Air Rifle Reviews
Gamo is a solid name in air rifles and they deliver with the Magnum. This rifle is available in either .177 or .22 caliber, so you can pick whichever meets your specific air rifle needs best.
It’s engineered to deliver high velocity with a quiet discharge and low vibration. In .177 cal you’ll be sending rounds down range at an impressive 1,640 fps which is nearly as good as many low caliber powder rimfire firearms.
Features of the Gamo Magnum:
- Available in .177 or .22 Cal pellet
- 1650 fps / 1300 fps
- Recoil Reducing Rail
- Gamo 3-9×40 AO scope included
- IGT MACH 1 gas piston
- Patented Custom Action Trigger (CAT)
- 5 YEAR WARRANTY
I personally love that the two-stage trigger is easily adjustable – I love a featherlight trigger pull for hunting. It stands to reason that the superior velocity of the Gamo Magnum gives it the most stopping power, and therefore makes it the best hunting air rifle. More and more small game hunting is done with air rifles, and the Gamo Magnum is a perfect option for squirrel hunting as well as rabbit hunting.
Best for those who want a reliable air rifle with a quality scope included and control of their trigger pull. Without a doubt we believe the Gamo Magnum Magnum is the best air rifle under $300 in the marketplace and the best for small game.
With its impressive velocity of over 1,600 FPS it’s the most powerful air rifle on the consumer market.
Overall this unassuming design comes out with high marks from users. Wooden thumbhole stock is a nice touch that reminds me of a trusty hunting rifle. At 1,200 fps for .177 cal and 950 fps for .22 cal it’s not even in the same speed class as the Gamo Magnum.
However, if you don’t need the high velocity the Benjamin Titan won’t let you down. The scope is ready to go and the trigger is two-stage adjustable just like the Magnum. Benjamin has always been known for high quality production. Overall, it’s an air rifle you’ll keep around and rely on.
Features of the Benjamin Titan:
- Available in .177 or .22 Cal pellet
- 1200 fps / 950 fps
- Patented GP Nitro Piston
- Includes CenterPoint Optics 4×32 scope & mount
- Hardwood thumbhole stock
- Smooth break barrel reloading
- ONE YEAR WARRANTY
This gun is beautiful to look at and authentic to hold. In our analysis the Benjamin Titan with the hardwood stock represents the best air rifle under $200 in the marketplace. If you are interested in a repeater air rifle the Benjamin Marauder is the industry’s most popular. The Benjamin Marauder comes in synthetic stock and hardwood stock versions which are both available on Amazon.
And although our review can’t confirm it, the Titan may be the most accurate air rifle due to its excellent scope and mounts. The Titan may be the best break barrel air rifle available and certainly among the best air rifles in the industry.
Benjamin is now owned and operated by Crosman.
Like the Gamo Magnum, this one features a black polymer thumb hole stock and a mounted scope. There are included iron sight lifters on the scope and mounted iron sights. I can tell you from years of squirrel hunting, these are helpful when targets pop up unexpectedly close.
Features of the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat:
- Caliber: .177 caliber
- Velocity: 1200 fps
- Skeleton-type stock
- Scope: shock-proof 4×32 air rifle scope
- Warranty: One Year Limited
With a slightly lower fps of just 1,200 on the .177 rounds (no .22 rounds) the rifle is meant to be a bit more silent. The large muzzle break on the air rifle adds to the whispery nature of this break action .177 cal air rifle.
In the reviews some users had complained about the included scope. This is upgradeable later component so don’t discount the Gamo quality for its add-on scope.
The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is a great air rifle like the Gamo Magnum. It’s best for those who’d like an air gun with a quiet shot.
At a price that can’t be argued with, the Ruger Air Hawk earns a spot on our list. I like that they included fiber optic glow iron sights for those late evening hunts when it’s just about to get dark.
Features of the Ruger Air Hawk Combo Rifle:
- Hi temper steel break-barrel spring piston
- Smooth single-shot cocking gear mechanism
- Fiber optic adjustable rear sight and fiber optic fixed front sight
- 4×32 power scope includes mount
While the included scope may leave something to be desired, it should suffice most users. Make sure you zero in the scope on your rifle before you take to the field.
It’s a small factor but amateur hunters may overlook this step. Once you’ve cycled a few hundred rounds through the rifle, enjoy the reliability of a Ruger rifle. The Ruger Air Hawk makes a great combo air rifle for use as a small game hunting gun or a target shooting air rifle.
Best for those who love the Ruger name and enjoy a classic looking hunting rifle.
Among break action rifles there remains a wide variety of features and quality. Crossman brings us this rifle at a great price that can’t be argued with. Most would agree that Crosman has always made a great, high quality air rifle. Plus, unlike other budget minded air rifles, it’s reliable and accurate.
The black polymer stock is a thumbhole style with a .45 grip. Standard affair on this rifle is the adjustable two stage trigger, a feature I don’t see on budget air rifles very often.
Features of the Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle:
- Powered by Crosman’s patented Nitro Piston rifle technology
- Synthetic polymer, all-weather stock
- CenterPoint brand 4x32mm scope (installed)
- Steel rifled barrel
- Two-stage, adjustable trigger
The included scope gets high marks from users and should get the job done with ease. This is a great rifle if you want quality at a moderate price.
Best for those who want optimum quality-to-value ratio when purchasing their next air rifle. If you’re a longtime Crosman fan like me then also check out the Crosman Nitro Venom break barrel air rifle.
Also worth a look in the nitro piston style of air gun is the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. Benjamin is now owned and operated by Crosman.
Somewhere between a fully modern and classic aesthetic, the Targis Hunter rifle features a single shot break action mechanism. I like that they included a generous fiber optic iron sight. The synthetic stock is stylish and functional.
What I don’t like is that you’ll have to take the scope off to be able to use them. Adding scope lifters would have improved the value of this rifle tremendously but you may be able to put them on yourself after market.
Features of the Ruger Targus Hunter Air Rifle:
- Hi-temper steel spring piston break-barrel
- Single-shot mechanism for cocking
- Fiber optic rear sight (adjustable) and fiber optic front sight (fixed)
- Umarex 4×32 scope with mounts
- Automatic safety mechanism
You’ll be launching .22 cal pellets with this rifle at a respectable 1,000 fps down range. The adjustable two stage trigger and large muzzle break make this rifle a good companion for demanding marksmen.
With well-rounded features on a rifle that’s meant to go out hunting the Ruger Targis may be the best .22 air rifle you can buy.
You’ll get what you pay for with this top end air rifle from Gamo. The ability to choose from .177 (1,300 fps) or .22 (975 fps) caliber variants with this break action rifle is nice.
Inside is an inert gas piston which several other high-end air rifles share on our list. It allows the rifle to achieve higher velocities, lower vibration, lower noise, and longer life span.
Features of the Gamo Raptor Whisper Air Rifle:
- Choice of 0.177 or 0.22 caliber
- Inert Gas Technology (IGT) – a gas piston that delivers more velocity (1300 fps 0.177 and 975 fps 0.22), less shock, consistent power and a smooth cocking action.
- Also features Gamo’s WHISPER noise reduction technology and a Smooth Action Trigger (SAT) which gives a has a smooth action pull and maximizes accuracy.
- 4 x 32 power shockproof scope.
- All-weather polymer stock
- ONE YEAR WARRANTY
- Made In Spain
I wish that Gamo would have put more into the scope on this air rifle, but it’s a minor setback. In the oversized barrel, you’ll find the Whisper technology that helps some Gamo rifles reduce noise emissions.
While it doesn’t have the raw power of the Magnum, it’s a good contender. Best for users looking for the latest technology in air rifle development in a quiet package.
Unlike the other break action air rifles we reviewed, this one is a pump action variable rifle. That means the more you pump it, the faster it fires. At most you’ll pump the air rifle 8 times for a maximum 0.22 caliber shot of 685 fps.
It’s a classic bolt action feel so you can just imagine yourself defending Stalingrad in the snow.
Features of the Benjamin 392 Air Rifle:
- American hardwood stock (Monte Carlo style)
- Adjustable sights
- Brass rifled barrel
- 685 FPS / 14.9 FPE
- Bolt action single shot – variable pump action
- Good air gun for pest control and target shooting
One drawback is the lack of scope mounts but at a 685 fps shot velocity, you don’t really need a scope anyways.
One of my buddies had this exact air rifle when I was growing up and I can tell you first hand, it’s a sturdy and reliable rifle.
Best for short range encounters with those pesky bird feeder thieves.
There is no more classic a name in air rifles than Daisy. This inexpensive air rifle puts out an impressive shot velocity for its value. You’ll be slinging 0.177 cal pellets or BBs at up to 800 fps with multiple pumps of the under-barrel lever.
I love the classic look and feel of the rifle. While the included scope could use a major overhaul, the iron sights are easily accessible for backup.
Features of the Daisy 880 Air Rifle:
- Variable multi-pump action
- Monte carlo-style stock
- Can shoot both 0.177 pellets and 0.177 BBs
- 50 shot capacity (BB) / single shot capacity (pellet)
- Up to 800 fps velocity
- Poly-butyl acrylate (PBA) simulated wood stock and forearm
Unlike many of the break action rifles we reviewed above, this one features a more traditional Monte Carlo stock instead of the newer thumbhole stock. The Daisy 880 is the best pump air rifle, especially considering its budget price, and among the best air rifles on the market.
It does have the ability to hold up to 50 rounds of ammo which is nice! This air rifle is perfect for kids to plink around the yard (once they’re old enough).
In the style of modern tactical military weapons, the Sig Sauer SIG20R air rifle looks like it belongs in a Call of Duty game. It comes equipped with a red dot sight and full picatinny rails for mounting whatever accessories you might imagine.
Features of the Sig Sauer MCX Air Rifle:
- 0.177 caliber feed magazine (holds 30 rounds)
- 18″ rifled-steel barrel
- Sturdy, authentic metal housing
- Safety control (manual)
- Durable Poly-Butyl Acrylate (PBA) construction
- Standard picatinny rail for holding scope or other accessories
There are equipped foldable iron sights if you should choose to remove the stock red dot.
The rifle operates from CO2 cartridges but uses uncommon 90-gram cartridges which are hard to find and expensive compared to traditional 12g CO2 cartridges.
It has an included 30 round magazine and a rifled barrel. It’s semi-automatic and users rate it as highly accurate with 0.177 cal pellets. Among PCP air rifles, the Sig Sauer MCX stands out in power, capacity and durability.
Best for mil-sim and those looking to put a lot of pellets down range as fast as possible. If you’re looking for the best CO2 air rifle, this is it!
Air Rifle Comparison Table
|Best Air Rifle||Caliber||Feet per second (fps)||Action / Propulsion Type||Stock Material||Scope Included?|
|Gamo Magnum Air Rifle||.177 and .22 available||1640 / 1300 fps||Break Barrel||Black Polymer||Yes|
|Benjamin Titan Air Rifle||.177 and .22 available||1200 / 950 fps||Break Barrel||Hardwood||Yes|
|Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle||.177||1200 fps||Break Barrel||Black Polymer||Yes|
|Ruger Air Hawk Combo Rifle||.177||1200 fps||Break barrel||Sleek dark wood stock||Yes|
|Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle||.177||1200 fps||Rifled steel barrel||All-weather polymer stock||Yes|
|Ruger Targis Hunter Air Rifle||.22||1000 fps||Break barrel||All-weather stock||Yes|
|Raptor Whisper Air Rifle||.177 and .22 available||1300 fps / 975 fps||Break action rifle||All-weather polymer stock||Yes|
|Benjamin 392 Air Rifle||.22||685 fps||Break Barrel||Hardwood stock||No|
|Daisy 880 Pump Air Rifle||.177||800 fps||Under-barrel||Wood stock and forearm||Yes|
|Sig Sauer MCX CO2 Air Rifle||.177||700 fps||Steel barrel||Metal housing||No|
How to Choose the Best Air Rifle – Buyers Guide
- Best Air Rifle Brands
- Air Rifle Types
- Air Rifle Aesthetics
- Air Rifle Scopes
- Air Rifle Calibers
- Air Rifle Hunting
I grew up in a hunting family and as early as I can remember I was into air rife guns, or pellet guns as we called them. Also, bow and arrow, cap guns, bb guns, and eventually firearms. But I loved air rifle shooting and I loved my air rifle as a kid.
I modified it, lived with it, and spent every waking hour patrolling the yard with it. If you’re like me, you’ve probably put thousands of rounds of BBs and pellets through your air rifles.
Today I’m going to help you make the best possible decision when purchasing your next air gun. Whether it’s target shooting or small game hunting that you’re looking to do, the air gun that you choose will make all the difference.
When it comes down to it, air guns are simple mechanical creations. But, they’re becoming increasingly complex and more advanced pieces of technology today. This buyer’s guide will help you with the due diligence needed to choose the air rifle for you.
Best Air Rifle Brands
Whether you’re looking for the best air rifle for hunting or a great gift for a friend, there’s something here for you. Let me help guide you through the decision process and recommend criteria for selecting from the best air guns found in this article.
What are the best air rifle brands?
Gamo – Magnum, Whisper Silent Cat, Black Cat, Shadow, Coyote Black, Gamo Big Cat
Crosman – Fire Nitro Piston, Crosman Nitro Venom, Maximus Hunter, Wildfire
Ruger – Blackhawk Elite, Targis Hunter, Air Hawk, Yukon Magnum, Blackhawk, Air Magnum
Daisy – Powerline, Avanti, Match Grade, Red Ryder, Model 880, Model 25
Benjamin – Titan, Pioneer Airbow, Maximus Euro, Benjamin Trail, Summit, Bulldog, 392
RWS is another respected make of air guns that was acquired by Umarex in 2006. The original RWS air gun products and technology are owned and marketed, as its own brand, by UX Umarex USA.
We’ve made a comprehensive analysis of the top performing air rifles on the market in this review. And we made every attempt to meet the budget requirements of all buyers and give them the information to decide for themselves what is the best air rifle for the money.
I’m going to break apart a handful of the most important criteria you need to consider when buying your next air rifle. When you know what you’re looking for specifically check out our top 10 top-rated picks. All of the brands and models that are reviewed in this article are available via Amazon.
Air Rifle Types
Break-Barrel Air Rifle
Also known as “spring piston” type, this gun hinges in half near the front of the rifle’s forestock. When the gun is cocked it compresses and then secures a powerful spring into place. When the trigger is pulled the spring recoils, pushes a plunger through an air cylinder and creates the air pressure needed to propel the projectile. This is an efficient use of energy combining steel spring and compressed air. The gun only needs to be cocked once to be ready for firing.
Pump Air Rifle
In this design the compressed air is created before the trigger is pulled. Notice the pump rod and valve assembly in the diagram below. The user pumps the hinged forearm multiple times (usually 10-15 times or as recommended by the gun’s maker) and creates all of the compressed air power. The compressed air is held in the piston cylinder until it’s discharged by the trigger pull.
Co2 Air Rifle
Co2 air rifles (also known as PCP air rifles) use pre-charged pneumatic cartridges of carbon dioxide as their source of air compression. These cartridges have a limited usage and depending on the gun you can get somewhere between 20 and 75 shots depending on the guns caliber and feet-per-second (fps).
The advantage of Co2 is that there is practically no time required to reload other than to reload ammo. But, the purchase, transport and eventual cartridge changes may outweigh the initial advantages. Also, Co2 pre-charged pneumatic air rifles are not generally the most powerful because of the limitations posed by the cartridge size and pressure limitations.
Air Rifle Aesthetics
This may not directly impact the function of the gun but it’s important to be aware of. Any hunter knows that a plain wooden rifle for deer hunting is just as dangerous as a tactical looking military weapon. However, air rifle guns can have varying degrees of intimidation.
If you live in the city and whip out what appears to be a tactical weapon, you might get a visit from the local law enforcement. So when shopping for your own air gun consider its looks when taken out in public.
While this is a hot-button topic, just be aware that the “cool” looking tactical air rifles may draw unwanted attention. If you plan to use the air rifle for plinking around the house, consider something less intimidating. If you live somewhere isolated, or plan to use the air rifle for hunting aesthetic choice may be less impactful.
In this article you will see that several of the reviewed air guns are combo air rifle models that can handle small game hunting tasks, as well as target shooting. These will generally look like a tradition bolt action rifle with either synthetic stock or wood stock.
Air Rifle Scopes
That is the question. If you’re picking up a high caliber, high velocity, or high accuracy air rifle consider a scope. If your air rifle is shoddy like mine when I was a kid, a scope won’t help improve the accuracy of a cheap bb-gun.
So, that said, the most beneficial air rifle scope is one that helps with accuracy, but isn’t a fancy do-nothing ornament that gets in the way. Target shooting takes on a whole new dimension when a properly-sighted air rifle scope is used.
You might save some cash by purchasing a quality air rifle with rifle scope dovetail mounts and putting your own scope on it. Often you can find great quality scopes on sale for a good buy if you look around. If you’re buying an air gun for shooting small game or rats, then using a scope can definitely improve your kill ratio.
If your air rifle comes pre-loaded with a mounted scope be sure it’s of good quality. Most pre-mounted scopes are less than top-quality but may be adequate for the gun with which they’re they’re paired.
Air Rifle Calibers
Rifle caliber is measured in 100ths of an inch in diameter. A .177 caliber pellet is about 11/64ths of an inch across. A .22 caliber projectile is nearly a quarter inch in diameter. In air rifle pellets these are the two most common air rifle caliber sizes.
Smaller projectiles tend to have a lower mass which means they can be more affected by wind or more easily deflected by grass or twigs in flight. With an air rifle, any interruption of the projectile in flight is likely to result in a total loss of the shot so this may be a moot point.
.177 caliber air rifles tend to have higher velocities because it takes less effort for the rifle to propel the bullet. This has the advantage of landing on target quicker than a sluggish .22 caliber traveling slower. So if target shooting is your main reason for buying an air gun consider the .177 caliber first.
If that seems like a silly point of contention? Consider this – a .177 cal traveling 1,400 fps is more than 25% faster than a .22 cal traveling 1,000 fps.
As stated above, the larger .22 caliber nearly always has more stopping, and therefore killing, power. For this reason .22 caliber is generally the better choice for hunting small game.
This holds similarly true in the age old discussion of 9mm vs. .40 and .45 caliber handguns. For all there efficiency, accuracy and lighter ammo weigth, the 9mm can’t measure up to the bigger calibers for outright immobilization of their targets.
The way Gamo desribes it regarding their flagship Magnum air rifle on their website is that .177 is best for target accuracy and small pest control, but the .22 caliber is the best for field hunting.
For more in-depth information about air rifle calibers and their technical specifications see: Air Gun – Calibers.
Air Rifle Hunting
Air rifle hunting is where the reloading mechanism becomes so very important. The time needed to reload, as well as the reloading sound level, are important in the selection of an air rifle for small game hunting.
The best air rifle for hunting will often depend on the level of sound, difficulty and time spent reloading. And it may also vary by the type of game and wilderness environment.
As an example, you may find that the best air gun for bird hunting is a different model than the best air rifle for squirrels. So in this category a certain amount of preference and subjectivity about the best hunting air rifle will come into play.
But in general, the old school break barrel air rifles are fairly fast, relatively quiet and still just as reliable as ever. In fact, most hunters choose break barrel as their choice as air rifle for small game and bird hunting.
It’s definitely an advantage to not have to worry about reloading when air rifle hunting. So if you’re using a CO2 air rifle it’s a non-issue. But hauling, and then changing, cartridges is a tradeoff to be considered.
Although it doesn’t look like a traditional small game hunting-style rifle, we’ve included the Sig Sauer MCX in this review which we believe to be the best co2 model among the best air rifles.
For those with arthritis or weaker arms a break barrel air gun can be nearly impossible to load whether hunting or target shooting. It takes a ton of strength to reload and cock an air rifle of this style, especially the high-power ones.
So for ease of use and reloading consider a multipump or co2, although we are partial to the new technology of the break barrel style air guns.
There’s a lot to know when it comes to air rifles and choosing the best one for your needs. Hopefully our guide gave you a few things to consider when picking out your next rifle. Whether you want to put the ground hogs to bed or give little Johnny a gift there’s something here for you. As mentioned above, all of these air guns can be purchased on Amazon which allows you peace of mind that if it’s not right it can be easily returned with no questions asked.
Remember to consider all of your needs, as well as where you’ll use the best air rifle for your needs, and what you plan to use it for. Taken together, these factors, along with the air rifle reviews above, will help you determine which air rifle is your new best friend.
Thanks for reading The 10 Best Air Rifles. We hope this article has helped you to discover the best air gun (or pellet gun) for your needs and your preferences. You might also be interested in these related review articles:
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