Best 22 Caliber Air Rifles – 2022 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated: December 29, 2021

The air rifle is a useful and versatile tool for a variety of different purposes. While some believe they are only useful for kids learning gun safety and proper shooting technique or maybe some light plinking, the truth is that modern day air rifles are good for other uses as well.

Small game hunting, pest control, and competition shooting are some of the most popular uses for air rifles that are chambered in .22 caliber. With cheap and plentiful ammo along with the extremely quiet operation, air rifles are great tools for a multitude of shooters.

Keep reading to see the best 22 caliber air rifles available on the market today!

Comparison of the Best .22 Air Rifles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Single cocking barrel.
  • Best overall .22 air rifles.
  • Includes a 3-9x40 scope.
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  • Walnut stock.
  • Max velocity of 1,000 fps.
  • Runner-up for best overall .22 air rifle.
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  • Best .22 air rifle for hunting.
  • Includes a 3-9x32mm rifle scope.
  • Equipped with a rubber recoil buttpad.
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  • Automatic cocking system.
  • Best break barrel .22 air rifle.
  • 10-round rotary-style magazine.
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  • Velocity is up to 1650 fps.
  • Most powerful .22 gas piston air rifle.
  • Includes a 3-9x40 scope with an adjustable objective.
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What to Watch For When Buying an Air Rifle

Choosing an air rifle can be a daunting task even for those who are familiar with traditional firearms. There are new terms and new performance metrics to understand in a way that applies to your air rifle shooting needs. There are a lot of different models, manufacturers, and styles of 22 caliber air rifles and a lack of knowledge can make the buying process stressful. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources available to learn more. Start with the following tips and information to gain some knowledge and be well on your way to a successful shopping experience.

This Section Written By: Brian Belko

Expert Author

Brian Belko: Gunmann Author

Brian is an experienced freelance writer and technical writer who has previously written for publications such as Wide Open Spaces, Bigfoot Gun Belts, Alien Gear Holsters, and Kampgrounds of America. He brings both a passion for writing and a love of the outdoors to his published content.

Aside from writing and the outdoors, Brian enjoys gardening, being a co-host on The Nostalgia Blast Podcast, and learning to code.

Consider Your Needs

Having a firm grasp on the tasks you want your firearm to be able to handle is a very important step in the buying process for any type of gun. The importance of this step is magnified when it comes to air rifles due to the variance in performance they can have. Do you plan on plinking and target shooting? Do you want a quiet tool for pest control? Is small game hunting your goal? These are important questions to answer because an air rifle ideal for target shooting won’t necessarily be the best for hunting purposes. 

One important thing to know is that an air rifle with a higher velocity is typically better for casual plinking and target shooting than it is for hunting. A lower velocity tends to lead to more accuracy. This is better for hunting and pest control especially when you consider the size of the game that can be ethically harvested with an air rifle. That being said, it is still important to practice so you can harvest small game or pests quickly and ethically.

Photo credit: reddit.com

Eye on the Prize

Sights, whether iron or optical, are an important factor in the world of air rifles. Many air rifles come packaged with a scope. This may sound like a good deal, but many of the included scopes aren’t of the highest quality. Air rifles don’t have much in the way of recoil which means cheap scopes can stay sighted in, but they aren’t exactly fun to use. If you can find an air rifle with a Picatinny rail, give it a lot of consideration. Many have proprietary rail systems that make it difficult to mount your own scope.

Easy Listening

One of the best features of air rifles is the fact that they are much quieter than real firearms. This is one of the reasons they are so good for small game hunting and pest control. Especially if that pest control happens in a non-traditional hunting area. However, still, prioritize hearing protection as the typical 80-100 decibel range of air rifles can still be damaging.

Review of the Best .22 Air Rifles

The following is a list of the six best .22 air rifles that are currently on the market as of this writing. As you go through each and every single one, be sure to take note of any characteristics and features that make each one of them stand out.

Also, get a good idea of what you want in a .22 air rifle. If you find one that is close enough to your “dream rifle”, then you know that you’ve found a winner. Now, let’s get started by unveiling the “best overall” choice on our list:

Best Overall

Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle

Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle .22 Cal

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the new buyers were able to fire off this rifle with ease. They were impressed with how fast the shots were and how tight the shooting groups were from various distances. One user said that he was able to hit his paper targets consistently from 35 to 45 yards out.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle is by far one of the most impressive airsoft rifles out there. The velocity is one of the major reasons why we chose this rifle. It’s fast, packs an excellent punch, and will be powerful enough to make varmint and other small critters think twice about messing with your property. Aside from all that, the construction is all over durable. So it can take some bangs and bumps.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used for the purpose of varmint control. It does have its uses as a target shooting rifle. But the animal control application is where this .22 air rifle will shine the brightest. If you have a pest problem in your backyard or anywhere on your property, do not be afraid to use something like this.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One possible improvement that would be appreciated would be to investigate why the scope won’t hold zero for as long as it’s supposed to. Once the manufacturer finds out the root cause, they can make adjustments to ensure that your scope’s zero stays the same. Alternatively, you can dump the scope and find one that can fit on an air rifle.

Bottom Line

If you want a .22 air rifle that is considered one of the best in the business, then you’ll probably want to give the Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 air rifle a closer look. It’s fast, accurate, and powerful enough to give varmints the scare of a lifetime.

Pros

It doesn’t make a lot of noise

Excellent for target shooting and pest control

Super fast shooting, velocity is impressive for an airsoft rifle

The scope is reliable, image quality is very clear and in-focus

The trigger is easy to adjust between a single or double stage

Cons

Might be a little tougher to cock

Scope’s zero might not stay for long (after hundreds of rounds fired)

It might be a little loud for some users, especially if they’re in a suburban area using it for animal control

Runner-up

Hatsan Model 95 Combo .22 Rifle, Walnut Stock

Hatsan Mod 95 Spring Combo Spring Piston Air Rifle, .22 Caliber

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were satisfied with the rifle’s overall performance. Most of them were able to hit their shots accurately with the fast-shooting ability this rifle had. The general consensus has confirmed that the velocity was excellent and the firepower made this a rifle that would excel with animal control applications.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle is another one of the handfuls of air rifles that packs a powerful punch. So, it will have the ability to knockdown varmints and do so quickly. Aside from the firepower and velocity, the aesthetics are quite impressive. The stock is a classic wooden stock complete with a walnut finish. It gives off the look of an airsoft rifle that might have been used in ages past.

Who Will Use This Most

This will definitely be a rifle where it will excel beyond anyone’s standards in an animal control application. It’s got the firepower, the accuracy, and the reliability to get the job done. No squirrel or small critter will ever want to set foot in your yard again if you successfully ward them off.

What Could Be Improved and Why

A possible improvement that should be done is making it a little less loud. Yes, small critters can be invasive in a suburban setting, and you need to deal with them in a harmless and humane way. Plus, you should be able to do so without making a lot of noise.

Bottom Line

If you want a rifle that will definitely get the job done against small critters, then the Hatsan Model 95 Combo .22 rifle can be the solution to getting rid of them. Your property matters to you the most. Don’t let further damage be an even bigger problem for you.

Pros

Easy to use two-stage trigger

Walnut stock gives it that classic rifle look

Super fast shooting, also, it’s very accurate

The overall quality and construction is quite solid

Firepower packs a pretty good punch, it can knock down small critters with ease

Cons

Might be a little weighty for some users

The scope might not be as reliable as some expect

Might be a little too loud if you’re using it for animal control in a suburban area

Best for Hunting

Ruger Targis Hunter Max

Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Gun Air Rifle with Scope, .22 Caliber and 3-9x32mm Scope, Multi

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were satisfied with this air rifle. They can confirm that it is indeed one of the best in the hunting application. One user said he was able to consistently hit his small targets from a distance of 25 yards out. They were also satisfied overall with the firepower and velocity of the rifle.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This airsoft rifle was designed for animal control. It has enough firepower to knock down small critters and the velocity to knock them down as fast as possible. In short, it’s the way an airsoft rifle should be if it’s specifically designed to be used for animal control applications.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be a rifle that will have its uses for squirrel and small animal hunters. Granted, this will be done for the sake of animal control purposes. The last thing they want is more of these little invaders doing damage to their lawn and garden. Plus, the damage-free property can also equal better valuation when you’re trying to sell your home.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rifle should be a little lighter in weight. It can still be possible without having to sacrifice any of the other qualities. It can still be accurate and powerful, but it can get away with being a little lighter in weight so it doesn’t feel like you’re carrying a boulder in your arms all day long.

Bottom Line

If you want a .22 air rifle that can be used for hunting applications, the Ruger Targis will be right up your alley. It’s powerful, accurate, and dependable for all your animal control needs. If used properly, you can knock down some serious targets from a good distance.

Pros

Buttpad is really comfortable for most users

It will perform effectively with many types of pellet brands

Extremely accurate, it can hit targets as far as 30 yards out

Super powerful shooting, it can knock down small critters easily

Super durable construction, it can take on the bumps and bangs

Cons

Sights may not be as accurate

A little weighty for a pellet gun

Some think the firepower is a little weaker than expected

Best Break Barrel Rifle

Gamo Swarm Maxxim Air Rifle

Gamo 611003715554 Gamo Swarm Maxxim .22 Cal

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What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, recent buyers were quite satisfied with the rifle. The cocking system is smooth and makes loading a lot easier. The firepower and accuracy were really good and exceeded a lot of standards set by a handful of new users. They were also able to reach their targets from about 20 to 30 yards away.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle has a barrel with a muzzle brake included. This means that it will allow for the propulsion gas to reroute itself while the rifle is being fired. This way, it is designed to prevent any blowback from happening. Yes, even gasses from airsoft rifles can be annoying to deal with. Especially when it’s blowing right back in your face.

Who Will Use This Most

Expect this to be the kind of rifle that will shine the brightest in a target shooting application. This will be perfect when you have a lot of rounds and a lot of paper targets to work with. This rifle will provide you with many hours of fun. Of course, this .22 air rifle can be used for almost any other purpose. However, you’ll be more apt to use it when firing off paper targets from some pretty good distances.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One possible improvement would be to reduce the amount of noise that this rifle makes. Especially if you’re in a suburban neighborhood. Yes, you might have a wide enough backyard to safely target practice your shots, but you don’t want to alarm the neighbors with the noise this rifle can make.

Bottom Line

If you’re a fan of breaking barrels, then you’ll find one on a .22 air rifle like the Gamo Swarm. This will give you an edge on shooting targets without having to deal with any gas blowback that might occur with some rifles.

Pros

Firepower is pretty solid

Construction and durability are excellent

Super reliable, it still works jam-free after 1500 to 2000 rounds

Best used for target shooting and animal control works with many different brands of pellets

Cons

Scope quality might not be the best

Might be a little too loud for an airsoft rifle

Accuracy might be suspect for some users

Most Powerful .22 Gas Piston Air Rifle

Magnum Air Rifle

Gamo Magnum Air Rifle, .22 Caliber

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What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, the new users were quite impressed with the amount of power this airsoft rifle has. One user said that he relies on it for getting rid of pests that destroy his lawn on a regular basis. He also added that he was able to get it to go as far as 25 to 30 yards out while getting rid of a raccoon that was digging up his lawn.

Why it Stands Out To Us

The velocity will reach up to about 1650 fps with smaller rounds. More specifically, the .22 rounds will travel faster than the other rounds that this rifle can accept. It’s so impressive that it can even knock down the much bigger varmint like raccoons or skunks.

Who Will Use This Most

Expect this to be used by many owners who will have a bit of a varmint problem on their property. It takes a few good shots to get most of them to think twice before any other small animal can set foot on your property ever again.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One possible improvement would be to get rid of the scope altogether. Yes, you might be shocked by it. But there’s a reason why. There are different scopes out there that will definitely work much better and have a clearer image picture. In fact, these scopes will have a better chance at holding zero for a long period of time.

Bottom Line

The Magnum Air Rifle takes the cake in the category for the most powerful .22 air rifle in the business. It will be durable, powerful, and super accurate for many years so long as you’re able to take good care of it regularly. Take care of it and it will definitely return the favor.

Pros

Super solid quality and durability

Very accurate from various distances

Excellent for animal control and target shooting applications

Super powerful firepower, you can knock down targets quite fast

The scope is pretty clear and provides an additional accuracy boost

Cons

May lose some power over time

Scope adjustments may be a little stiff

The scope may lose its zero over a period of time

6. Benjamin BW8M22NP Titan

Benjamin BW8M22NP Titan NP Wood Stock Nitro Piston Hunting Air Rifle with 4x32 Scope (.22-Caliber)

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What Recent Buyers Report

This rifle performed quite well for most users. They were able to hit their targets accurately at distances from 25 to 30 yards out. One user said that he was able to tighten the shooting groups with this rifle compared to a previous air rifle that he owned in the past.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle has an ambidextrous stock. Which makes it a lot more usable for left-handed shooters. A lot of left-handed users seem to struggle a bit with rifles that tend to favor right-handed shooters. However, this can be used by either or. Aside from that, the rifle has decent firepower and the shots can travel through some pretty good distances.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle will have its uses as a target shooting rifle. Don’t dismiss this as useless for general purposes. But if you want something that will go a little way for target practice, this rifle will definitely be right up your alley.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The scope should just go. As in, be left out of the rifle. This way, it will allow users to purchase a much better quality rifle scope that has better image quality, accuracy, and overall reliability. Unfortunately, the scope is the weakest link of this airsoft rifle.

Bottom Line

If you’re on a budget and need a .22 air rifle that will be fun to shoot pellets with, the Benjamin Titan air rifle will probably be exactly what you’re looking for. Accurate, tough construction, and affordable for most budgets it is the rifle that can fit the bill for anyone who is starting out with airsoft rifles.

Pros

Affordable for most budgets

Stock is solid and really durable

Trigger pull is decent, no creep or grittiness

Excellent for target shooting and animal control

Super accurate with targets situated between 25 to 40 yards out

Cons

Accuracy might be a little all over the place

The scope may not be as reliable as some assume

Scope image quality may not be the best with some magnification levels

How Accurate is a .22 Air Rifle?

The most effective accuracy that we know in terms of a .22 air rifle rounds is anywhere between 35 to 50 yards. We were able to test a few different kinds of these types of air rifles and managed to hit the paper targets at distances within that range. Some of the slightly more powerful rifles can get to about 50 yards or just a hair beyond that. 

How to Choose The Best .22 Air Rifle

There are a bunch of .22 air rifles that are currently on the market right now. But which ones stand out as one of the best? Yes, there are many that are not the greatest when it comes to quality and reliability. That’s why it is important to spot the following characteristics and features that make one stand head above shoulders over the rest. Here’s what to look for:

Price

If you are a budget shopper, you’ll probably look at the price tag first. But don’t let that be the only reason why you’re buying it. You’ll want to get a closer look at the other characteristics and features to determine whether or not an air rifle is best for you. Remember, invest in the best quality you can afford. 

Photo credit: airgunmaniac.com

What is Your Intent And Purpose?

Most airsoft rifles are used for general purposes. However, there are some that will excel at one application or another. So what are your intents and purposes? Target shooting? Recreational activities? Varmint hunting? Find a rifle where you know you can excel at your intended application and you’ll be happy for as long as you’re able to use it.

Find the Best Quality

The best .22 air rifles are often made with the best quality materials. For example, steel and polymer are among the two choice materials because they are tough on impact and abuse. Plus, you’ll be able to use the rifle for as long as you like for whatever purpose. The better the quality, the better the chance that it can provide you with many years of faithful service.

Benefits of Investing in a Quality .22 Air Rifle

If you invest in a quality .22 air rifle, there are some benefits that you’ll get to enjoy. However, not doing so will mean missing out on a whole lot of fun. Here are some benefits that you’ll get to enjoy with a new .22 Air Rifle:

More Powerful Firing

A handful of these air rifles are so powerful that they can travel quite far and quite fast. You’re looking at a rifle that can go 500 fps or beyond (depending on the rifle). This will make your shots hit their targets not only accurately but fairly quickly.

Fun for a Lot of Users

Regardless of the application, you’ll be able to enjoy using these air rifles for hours. Even when the day ends, you probably won’t want to wait until the next opportunity. These airsoft rifles, when used properly, are great for people of all ages.

Better for Animal Control Than Regular Rifles

Sometimes, the firepower of a shotgun or rifle might be a little overkill for some varmints and small creatures. So that’s why most air rifles are good enough for the purpose of pest control. They may kill small creatures, but they won’t make much of a mess like a regular gun would.

Photo credit: reddit.com

Conclusion

A .22 air rifle is what you’ll need if you’re target shooting, varmint hunting, or both. These .22 rounds are proven to travel at a much faster rate than any other caliber that can be fired with a typical air rifle. Find one that will fit your best application and you’ll have a rifle that you can rely on for many years to come.

People Also Ask

The following is a brief FAQ that will give you a better understanding of air rifles. Be sure to read through these so you are able to know what to expect when you own a .22 air rifle of your own. Here are the following questions:

Can a .22 Air Rifle Kill a Human?

Unfortunately, they can. Typically the ones with higher velocity and air pressure might be enough to cause serious injury or death. That is why proper gun safety should be practiced each and every time you use a .22 air rifle.

Do You Need a License for a .22 Air Rifle?

It will depend on where you live. Some places around the world will require that you have special certification in order to use an air rifle. In the United States, however, it might depend on the laws of your locality or state. To be on the safe side, do some research to ensure that whether air rifles are legal and lawful to use.

What is the Best Zero for a .22 Rifle?

The best zero for a .22 rifle will depend on the rifle itself and the scope that goes along with it. If you plan on reaching out and touching targets from long distances, you may be able to get it zeroed into as far as 100 yards. On the low end, you can probably go as far as 75 yards. 

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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