Best Air Rifles of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

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Not all air rifles are the same. They can differ significantly in their type and power, and if you choose the wrong one, you'll end up being unable to take care of vermin on your property or hit your targets.

In this guide, we will give you all the information you need to know to make an educated purchase and pick the best air rifle for your specific needs.

Let’s get into it.

Comparison of the Best Air Rifles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • .177 Caliber.
  • Best Overall.
  • 4x32 Scope with rings.
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  • .177 caliber.
  • 4x32 scope included.
  • 1000 feet per second.
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  • CO2-powered.
  • Best for the money.
  • 10 shots per magazine.
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  • Walnut stock.
  • Best .22 air rifle.
  • 1000 Feet per second.
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  • .177 caliber.
  • Best PCP air rifle.
  • Fires BBs or pellets.
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  • .22 caliber.
  • 685 feet per second.
  • Best air rifle for hunting.
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  • Synthetic stock.
  • 4x32mm riflescope.
  • Best break barrel air rifle.
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  • .177 caliber.
  • 4x32 scope.
  • Best air rifle for squirrels.
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  • Best .177 air rifle.
  • 3-9x40 scope included.
  • Can also be purchased in .22 caliber.
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  • .177 caliber.
  • 3-9x40 scope.
  • Best Gamo air rifle.
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What Are the Components of an Air Rifle?

Let’s go over the major pieces of an air rifle one by one.

Stock

The stock is the rear section of the rifle that rests against your cheek as you shoot the weapon. Stocks are usually made from wood, polymer or plastic and are part of what gives a rifle its distinctive shape.

Butt Pad

The butt pad is at the very end of the stock and is usually rubberized or made to be a little softer than the main part of the stock. This keeps it comfortable when recoil moves up the weapon into your arm and shoulder.

Barrel

The barrel is on the other end of the rifle and is the long, tubular piece of metal from which your projectiles will emerge. Barrel length can drastically influence the accuracy and range of your air rifle.

Magazine

The magazine is the piece of your rifle which holds all of your pellets. Magazines are slotted into the chamber of the rifle and the new pellets into the barrel for firing after each trigger pull.

Grip

Air rifles also have grips, which is the part that you hold and where you squeeze the trigger. Good grips can help with your accuracy and comfort.

Trigger Safety

Your trigger safety is often located near the grip. This is a flipable switch that prevents the air rifle from being fired so long as it is engaged.

What Makes a Great Air Rifle?

How can you tell what makes a good air rifle from a mediocre one?

Scopes

Of course, the scope that you use with your air rifle will directly impact your overall accuracy. Good scopes can lead to you making excellent shots at the far end of your effective range. You should try to find a simple scope that improves your accuracy rather than a scope that’s needlessly heavy or fancy.

Caliber

Your air rifle caliber affects the power and range your air rifle can deliver. Two of the most common types, .177 and .22 caliber pellets, serve different purposes.

.177 caliber air rifles usually project pellets much more quickly and are great for target shooting. .22 air rifles, on the other hand, are acceptable for killing small rodents and other game around the same size. There's more stopping power with a .22 rifle.

Barrel Length

The longer your barrel, the more accurate you’ll likely be. Go for longer barrels if you want to hit targets farther out in the distance.

Grip

The grip of your air rifle dictates how easy it is to hold after repeated trigger pulls. Sturdy grips will also help you maintain accuracy over time.

Stock Comfort

Finally, you should look for a rifle that has a comfortable stock. It’s no fun going out and using your air rifle if it’s going to injure your shoulder or make your arm sore due to a bulky or uncomfortable stock. 

Quick Take - The Best Air Rifles

Review of the Best Air Rifles

Let's take a look at this year's best air rifles.

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle

Pros

  • Includes Mount
  • Has Noise Dampener
  • 1200 Feet Per Second
  • One-Year Limited Warranty
  • Lightweight Skeleton Stock

Cons

  • Scope is Finicky
  • Break Action is Clunky
  • Trigger Needs a Lot of Weight

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who have recently used this rifle tend to praise its ability to fire quietly and it's stopping power, despite being a .177 caliber firearm. However, they also note that the trigger takes a lot of pressure to pull, which may throw off accuracy for some.

Why it Stands Out To Us

We find the Silent Cat’s ability to deliver powerful pellets while remaining very quiet is excellent for hunting vermin and pests. We also appreciate the fact that it comes with a mount and scope right out of the box, so you don't have to pay more for these accessories.

Who Will Use This Most

Folks trying to hunt small pests that become skittish at the slightest noise will get good use out of this rifle. It's not the best for target practice since the trigger can throw your aim off by a small amount and the scope could be better, but for general property patrol, it's a great pick.

Bottom Line

The Silent Cat is a top choice for anyone needing to chase off wild animals or hit rats that are otherwise difficult to catch unawares. It delivers exceptional power and speed with pellets while remaining silent and is lightweight, to boot.

Ruger Blackhawk Combo air rifle

Pros

  • Fiber Optics
  • Comfortable Grip
  • Comfortable Recoil Pad
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
  • Water, Fog, and Shockproof

Cons

  • A Bit Heavy
  • Scope Glass is Fragile
  • Scope Isn’t the Best For Accuracy

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent users of this air rifle report that it feels sturdy and stable when in use but it's a little heavier than is comfortable for some. The stock helps keep recoil down, and the regular sights are all right, but the scope isn't worth much and has a tendency to either crack or cause you to misfire.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This scope’s affordable price and durable construction are interesting. The dual reinforced barrel helps keep recoil down. This combines with the excellent stock and comfortable grip to make it one of the most usable air rifles on the market. It’s a great choice for beginners.

Who Will Use This Most

Beginner marksmen will be able to get a lot of use out of this rifle. Since it’s spring-powered, those who use this rifle will need to be strong enough to cock the lever back after every shot. This is a good rifle for target shooting with the regular sights of the scope, but should not be relied on too much.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Ruger Blackhawk is a great starter rifle that can be purchased for a reasonable price. It's not the most accurate or high-powered rifle, but it is durable and comfortable to use provided that you have the strength to draw back the piston with each shot.

Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered Multi-Shot Bolt-Action Pellet Hunting Air Rifle

Pros

  • Can Adjust Velocities
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
  • Stock is Ambidextrous
  • Built-In Air Pressure Gauge
  • Internal Shroud Keeps Every Shot Quiet

Cons

  • Stock Isn’t Strong
  • Not the Most Accurate Rifle
  • Gauge Sometimes Gives Wrong Readings

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent users of this air rifle tend to appreciate its versatility and modifiability. Since you can adjust the power between shots, you can save compressed gas for when you need it most, but recent users have also noted that accuracy drops off sharply at the end of the gas canister and the pressure gauge isn’t always accurate.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle is notable due to its sleek, modern aesthetic. The stock has a particularly interesting look, although it suffers from reduced durability as a result. This rifle is also very quiet, so it might be great for hunting small, skittish animals that would run away on approach. For the money, you get a high-powered rifle provided that you have cartridges full of gas and ready to go.

Who Will Use This Most

This is best used by those who will take the time to refill their gas cartridges frequently. Since accuracy drops off so sharply, anyone who doesn’t have the time or patience to maintain the weapon and its cartridges will be disappointed.

Bottom Line

This rifle is a solid choice for a gas-powered weapon and provides great value for money as long as you have gas cartridges in good condition. You get out of it what you put into it. Failing to maintain optimal gas levels will result in a subpar experience.

Hatsan Model 95 Combo .22 Rifle, Walnut Stock

Pros

  • 3-9x32 Scope
  • Integrated Muzzle Brake
  • Fully Adjustable Rear Sight
  • 2-Stage Adjustable Trigger
  • Comes With Shock Absorber

Cons

  • Initially Loud
  • Trigger Guard is Sometimes Loose
  • Scope Doesn’t Zero Correctly Sometimes

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who’ve recently used this rifle report that although it initially is loud, the muzzle brake begins to work after several shots and will make each successive shot quieter overall. While the rifle is generally accurate if you rely on the adjustable rear sights, the scope could use some work and does not zero correctly most of the time.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle stands out thanks to its excellent power and affordability. You can get a budget air rifle that has the stopping power to take care of most typical vermin without issue. Due to its accuracy and power, you can guarantee kill shots and prevent your targets from suffering.

Who Will Use This Most

This rifle is best used by those trying to maintain their property or who need to get rid of some pests. It’s particularly suited to taking down rabbits and animals of a similar size. It’s not a toy and should not be used by kids looking to get some target practice in.

Bottom Line

Altogether, we recommend this air rifle for someone who needs a serious tool to take down small animals. You’ll likely have to get a better scope if you want to push out the maximum effective range of the firearm. Until then, the rear sights will suffice.

Crosman M4-177-N Tactical Style Bolt Action Variable Pump .177-Caliber Pellet And BB Air Rifle, FFP

Pros

  • 5-Pellet Clips
  • Adjustable Stock
  • 250 BB Reservoir
  • Accessory Rail Included
  • Good Windage/Elevation Adjusters

Cons

  • Trigger is Cheap
  • Sights Are Flimsy
  • Cocking is Difficult

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent users of this PCP air rifle report that although it can hold a lot of BBs, the fact that it only has a five pellet clip is a bit of a downer. It's fun to use and operates consistently, but it does require a little bit of muscle power to cock, and the sights that come in the box are relatively cheap and flimsy.

Why it Stands Out To Us

The versatility on display is phenomenal. Being able to use BBs or pellets depending on your preference is a relative rarity among the air rifle market. We also really appreciate that it comes with a built-in accessory rail you can mount scopes or other attachments with relative ease.

Who Will Use This Most

Kids or people who just want to spray BBs in the backyard will get a lot of fun out of this rifle. Since the sights aren’t very good, your accuracy can’t be relied upon for distant targets. It’s best thought of as a toy with adult supervision rather than a serious air rifle for hunting vermin or target practice.

Bottom Line

This rifle is best thought of as an affordable toy for kids or adults that want to spray each other while wearing a little bit of light body armor. It doesn't fire BBs or pellets particularly hard, so it's not good for killing critters or for making long-range shots.

Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump Air Rifle (.22)

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Hardwood Stock
  • Adjustable Sights
  • Adjustable Velocity
  • Plenty of Power For Hunting

Cons

  • Wood Chips Easily
  • Pumping Can Be Tough
  • Sights Included Are Not the Best

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who have recently used this air rifle report that although it provides good accuracy overall, the included adjustable sights could be a little better. In addition, pumping is rather difficult even for those with enough upper body strength. The power brought to bear with each shot is enough to take down small pests with ease.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle stands out due to its classic American aesthetic and good hunting power. It’s .22 caliber design means that it’s great for hunting vermin and target shooting alike, although you do better to purchase some new sights that are properly fitted for best results.

Who Will Use This Most

People who need to patrol their property and occasionally take care of small animals will get a lot of mileage out of this rifle. However, people trying to hit distant targets will find a lot to be improved and should look elsewhere.

Bottom Line

This affordable rifle is a decent solution for pest problems. It’s also powerful and accurate enough to dissuade intruders from entering your property. The classic hardwood design makes it an attractive firearm that will be enjoyed by lots of folks.

Best Break Barrel Air Rifle:
Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle

Crosman CFRNP17SX Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy To Cock
  • Relatively Quiet
  • Adjustable, Two-Stage Trigger
  • Steel Barrel Improves Accuracy

Cons

  • Scope is Cheap
  • Long Trigger Pull
  • Awkward Safety Position

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent users of this break barrel rifle have noted that the trigger is initially a bit long on the pull. This is thankfully correctable up to a point with the adjustable trigger system. Users have also appreciated how quiet and powerful the rifle is, although the scope that comes in the box is cheap and liable to be chipped easily.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle is a great choice for anyone who wants a sleek, modern weapon that’s lightweight and easy to use. Cranking the rifle is easier than many competitor models, so those who typically have trouble with cranking will find a lot to like here. The stock is comfortable and sturdy, as well.

Who Will Use This Most

If you can replace the scope with a better model, you could foreseeably use this rifle for decent target practice. It's powerful enough to at least deter smaller creatures if not outright eliminate them, but we'd probably use a different rifle if we wanted to hunt vermin exclusively.

Bottom Line

This is a great practice rifle that might be a good choice for beginner marksmen. It's ideal for those who don't have a lot of upper body strength, too, since cranking is a lot easier compared to other air rifles.

Best Air Rifle for Squirrels:
Gamo Varmint Air Rifle

Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal

Pros

  • Fluted Barrel
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Adjustable Trigger
  • Scope is Shockproof
  • Stock is Ambidextrous

Cons

  • Scope Isn’t Great
  • Cocking is Difficult
  • Pressure is Not Adjustable

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent owners of this air rifle have much to say. While it provides decent power and accuracy, the scope is relatively cheap and should be replaced as soon as possible. In addition, although the rifle provides the power necessary to hunt squirrels and similar sized animals consistently, you can't adjust the power of each shot, so this is definitely not a toy. Cocking the rifle was also a little difficult for some.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle stands out due to its killing consistency. No one wants to injure an animal unduly, so a rifle being able to deliver killing power consistently is important for anyone who wants to get rid of a pest problem. We also appreciate how the stock is ambidextrous and comfortable, so using the rifle is enjoyable for anyone regardless of left or right-handedness.

Who Will Use This Most

People who have to clear out a vermin problem will love this rifle. Not only is it consistent and capable of killing small animals without you having to chase down wounded, but it’s also quite affordable, although you’ll probably have to spend a little extra cash on a working scope.

Bottom Line

This rifle is among the best for taking down squirrels and animals around the same size. The accuracy and power is decent, but you shouldn't rely on the scope out of the box. Instead, use the other sights and purchase another scope if you enjoy how the rifle performs otherwise.

Best .177 Air Rifle:
Magnum Air Rifle

Gamo 611006154 Magnum .177

Pros

  • Smooth To Cock
  • 5-Year Warranty
  • Adjustable Trigger
  • Recoil Reducing Rail
  • Stock is Made of Synthetic Material and is Ambidextrous

Cons

  • Rifle is Loud
  • Scope Accuracy is Questionable
  • Accuracy May Degrade Over Time

What Recent Buyers Report

Initial users of this air rifle discovered that it felt great to use, at least initially. It delivers a lot of power and is appropriate for both target shooting and vermin hunting. However, the scope included leaves a lot to be desired, and accuracy starts to drop off after hundreds of pellets fired.

Why it Stands Out To Us

We think this scope has a lot to offer due to its exceptional power and stability. The rifle uses a recoil-reducing rail to minimize shock and vibration with each pull of the trigger. This helps ensure that your accuracy will be consistent and lets you use the rifle for long stretches of time without discomfort.

Who Will Use This Most

People who need to take care of small pests will really enjoy this rifle. In addition, folks who have trouble cranking other air rifles will be able to use this one without as much of an issue. Since the stock is ambidextrous, right or left-handed folks can make use of this rifle just the same.

Bottom Line

Altogether, this rifle is a bit more expensive than your average air rifle, but it's well worth the cost if you need a firearm that can stop vermin in their tracks. It does require a better scope than what comes out of the box, and you should try to maintain the rifle and its rail as much as possible in order to preserve accuracy after you've fired a few hundred pellets.

Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 6110063254 Air Rifles .177 3-9x4

Pros

  • 5-Year Warranty
  • Adjustable Trigger
  • Recoil Reducing Rail
  • Stock is Ambidextrous
  • Quiet Barrel But Preserves Power

Cons

  • Tough To Cock
  • Heavy To Some
  • Scope Isn’t Good

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of this air rifle note that although it is hard to crank and the scope isn’t great, there’s still a lot to like. The rifle is indeed very quiet and provides enough power to safely take down small animals without only injuring them to let them escape. It is quite heavy, and the crank difficulty means that smaller folks will need to look elsewhere.

Why it Stands Out To Us

This rifle stands out due to its consistency and power. Although it's .177 caliber, it delivers enough force to tackle small animals each time safely. The fact that it's so quiet helps in this endeavor since you won't alert other animals to your efforts before you're ready, nor will you bother your neighbors.

Who Will Use This Most

This is best used by people who need to take care of small animals on their property. It's fairly accurate at range, and with the right scope, it could also be used for target practice. You do need some significant strength to crank the gun for each shot, so pick something else if you lack upper body muscle.

Bottom Line

This air rifle is best for experienced marksmen who need to stop vermin consistently. The ambidextrous stocks and quiet barrel make this a worthy air rifle for many even with the relatively high asking price.

Types of Air Rifles

There are three major types of air rifles that you can choose between, each with distinct advantages or disadvantages.

Pneumatic

Pneumatic air rifles require you to pump air into the chamber after each individual shot. This means that you have to get shots out and it takes longer to fire multiple pellets. However, pneumatic rifles are generally cheaper than other options, and they require less overall maintenance. You can also shoot pellets and BBs with this type.

CO2-Powered

CO2-powered air rifles use compressed gas to power every pellet of a fire. This means that you need to refill your gas cartridge after it’s been depleted after a number of shots. This does allow you to fire continuously so long as you have gas in the canister or cartridge. However, remember that the cost of this type of rifle rises over time since you have to purchase both new pellets and new gas.

Spring-Powered

Spring-powered air rifles use a spring-powered piston to project pellets. These have different levers in order to cock the rifle and drawback the shots. Others may also require you to pull the barrel down to reset the projection spring: these are called break barrel rifles

This type of rifle delivers powerful force with every shot and is easy to use, but it can be difficult for those without enough strength to operate successfully.

How to Clean an Air Rifle

Here are some simple steps on how to clean an air rifle:

Step One

Spray cleaning chemicals into the barrel of your air rifle to make further cleaning easier. Be sure to remove the moderator beforehand if you have one attached.

Step Two

Insert the cleaning cable into your gun barrel. Keep the barrel vertical as you perform this action. You can use a straw to keep the cable straight as it descends. Keep threading the cable through all the way to the loading port of your rifle.

Step Three

Attach the cleaning patches to the end of the cable. Then you will draw the cable back out through the barrel in one fluid motion. Do this a few times until the patches don’t have any dirt left on them.

Step Four

Wipe down the outside of the rifle as desired. Use a clean cloth and possibly some of the same cleaning oil used for the inside of the barrel to remove finger marks and visible dirt from the other working parts of your rifle. Be sure to clean out any large grit from the trigger or other main sections as needed.

Check out the video below of an even more in-depth description of the above process.

Conclusion

Overall, the right air rifle for you depends on what you're looking for. If you need power, go for a .22 rifle. If you want to hit targets, try to find an air rifle with a good scope and excellent accuracy. Remember only to take an air rifle that you can use comfortably; if you lack a lot of upper body strength, consider a CO2 powered rifle.

Whatever your choice, good hunting and thanks for reading!

About Josh Lewis

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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