As conventional ammunition becomes more expensive and difficult to purchase, many shooters are switching to air rifles. Modern air rifles are powerful enough to hunt varmints and small game and reliable enough for target shooting, and since pellets cost only a small fraction of traditional rounds, it makes sense to invest in a quality air rifle.
As market demands rise, many companies are developing air rifle models. As an increasing number of options become available, deciding on which option best fits your needs can feel overwhelming.
To help you focus more on the top models, we have created this useful guide. Consider this your one-stop resource to help you find the best air rifle to meet your shooting requirements.
Top 10 Air Rifles Comparison Table
Buying the Best Air Rifle
Before purchasing an air rifle, you should first consider how you intend to use it. Since some air rifles are better at performing certain tasks than others, determining how your gun will be used will help you choose the right air rifle and ensure you have a positive shooting experience. Here is some general information to consider before you purchase.
Types of Power Plant
Air guns fire pellets by using energy created in one of four specific types of power plants. There are inherent advantages and disadvantages to each type. Your shooting requirements will determine which type of power plant your air rifle should have. Here is a basic description of each type of power plant.
- Variable Pump. Air guns with a variable pump need to be manually pumped each time they are fired. One significant benefit to a rifle with a variable pump is that there are no air cartridges to change; this makes them a convenient choice for extended hunting trips. With a variable pump air rifle, thrust is created with a self-contained onboard pump. These air rifles offer a level of convenience but are most effective at short ranges. Air rifles with a variable pump power plant are best suited for target shooting.
- CO2. Many air rifles utilize a 12-gram CO2 cartridge for propulsion. A single CO2 cartridge can provide 40 to 60 shots before needing to be changed. Air rifles with a CO2 power plant provide consistent accuracy but are most effective at shorter ranges. This makes them good choices for target shooting and plinking, but are very limiting when used to hunt small game.
- Spring Piston. Spring tension is a popular source of propulsion in many air rifle designs. In this type of power plant, air pressure created by the release of a coiled spring forces the pellet down the barrel of the rifle. This type of air rifle features a lever which must be cocked before each shot. Some shooters find this inconvenient when rapid firing is necessary. However, it offers unlimited shots when in the field. Air rifles with a spring piston generate greater power than many other types; this makes them a popular choice for many small game hunters.
- Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP). Pneumatic air rifles have an air reservoir which must regularly be refilled with a pump or pressure tank. Pneumatic rifles are both consistent and accurate at longer ranges by generating more power than other power plant types. Because of the power and long-range effectiveness, these air rifles are a favorite choice for small game and varmint hunting.
Air Rifle Caliber
Caliber refers to the diameter of the pellet. There are three common pellet calibers used in today’s air rifles.
- .177 Caliber. Most often used in competitive target shooting, this lightweight pellet is capable of faster speeds and higher accuracy. While it can be used to hunt very small game at short distances, it is generally considered ineffective for most hunting situations.
- .22 Caliber. Heavy and powerful enough to take down small game at a variety of distances, .22 caliber pellets are the most common pellets used for hunting.
- .25 Caliber. These heavy hitters pack more punch smaller pellets. However, the extra size adds significant weight. Increased weight slows down the pellet causing them to drop significantly when fired at long-range targets. Thi.25 is a good caliber for hunting small to medium game, varmints, and even predators, although you will need to get up close and personal with your targets.
Top 5 Air Rifle Reviews
Available in .177, .22, and .25 caliber, this pre-charged pneumatic repeater air rifle features a side lever bolt action. The powerful feed mechanism is designed to eliminate double feed problems, preventing more than one pellet from loading when the rifle is fully cocked.
The synthetic stock is textured for a sure grip and provides a comfortable grip for both right-handed and left-handed shooters. With a fully adjustable rubber recoil pad, you can achieve a snug shoulder position for easy shooting.
The air reservoir on the Hatsan AT44-10 QE air rifle features and anti-knock system to prevent gas waste if the rifle gets dropped or bounced around. This model also comes with a fully shrouded barrel, integrated silencer, and Weaver/Picatinny rails for easy integration of a bipod, flashlight, or laser.
This air rifle is accurate, reliable, and durable. Strong enough for hunting small game, but with a tactical feel, this gun is a pleasure to shoot. Give the Hatsan AT44-10 QE a shot, and you’ll understand why this is the best air rifle on the market today.
This ten-shot repeater air rifle shoots like a whisper thanks to the internal shroud. The choked barrel is designed to increase accuracy, and the compressed air pressure is adjustable allowing you to shoot pellets at different velocities at different ranges.
The synthetic stock makes this rifle feather light but well-balanced, and the 2-stage adjustable metal match trigger is positioned for better hand positioning. With a textured ambidextrous stock and reversible bolt, the Benjamin Marauder offers easy, comfortable shooting in all kinds of weather.
With a simplified breech design, this gun is easier to assemble and service, plus you get a wider, stable platform for a larger scope. There are no open sights on this air rifle, so you’ll need a quality scope. However, hunting small game even at longer distances is no problem with this powerful, accurate, and easy-shooting air rifle.
Made with young shooters in mind, the Daisy Model 105 is lightweight, easy to cock, and just the right length for supervised shooters age 10 and older. This is the perfect air rifle for plinking, shooting paper targets, or training new shooters in safety and basic technique.
Beginners will find target acquisition easy with the TruGlo fiber optic front site. This site is easy to see and even easier to align with a downrange target and the open fixed rear sight. Highly accurate and surprisingly durable for the price, this air rifle is easy to shoot and easy on the wallet.
Daisy is a name steeped in tradition. Providing generations of shooters with their first guns, Daisy continues to deliver quality and reliability for a new generation of shooters as well as warm nostalgia for an older generation.
You’ll enjoy smooth cocking and smooth shooting with the Benjamin Trail NP2 air rifle combo. With the specially designed internal piston spring, this air rifle never experiences spring torque or fatigue, even when left cocked for hours. It functions perfectly in cold or hot weather and lasts longer than the standard metal spring design.
The 15.75-inch rifled steel barrel is perfectly proportionate for shorter shooters, and since it requires only 28 pounds of cocking effort, even younger shooters can handle this air rifle effectively. It weighs just over 8 pounds, which is about the same weight as a regular gallon of milk.
It comes with a Picatinny optics rail, a 3-9 x 40 adjustable optics scope, and features an ambidextrous black stock for easy use by both left-handed and right-handed shooters. With integral sound suppression and attached recoil pad, this gun is accurate, fun, and easy to shoot. For an air rifle, the well-made Benjamin Trail NP2 packs a solid punch, making it an excellent choice for small game hunters as well as target shooters.
This basic, no-nonsense German-made air rifle doesn’t need fancy bells or whistles to be impressive. The quality of this gun is evident in the well-balanced hardwood stock, two-stage adjustable trigger, and finely rifled steel barrel. Easy to hold, handle, and shoot, the Diana RWS Break Barrel Rifle is an affordable option that goes head-to-head with more expensive air rifle models.
This rifle cocks with ease, requiring only 33 pounds of effort, and features a bright, easy-to-see fiber optic sight. It is available in both .177 and .22 caliber. The .177 option is ideal for target shooting, backyard plinking, and spinners, while the hard-hitting .22 option is a smart choice for small game and varmint hunting.
If you want a beautifully made gun that is accurate, sturdy, and dependable, the Diana RWS 34 break barrel air rifle won’t disappoint. While this gun is a little heavy for younger shooters to handle effectively, older sportsmen will appreciate the quality and sturdiness of this attractive air rifle.