Best Youth Air Rifles of 2020 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

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Before moving on to the youth air rifles, let us mention the very beginnings of this often-underrated weapon. 

Although the oldest preserved specimens date from 1580, the most notable air gun is Girandoni's rifle M1780. This air rifle represented a perfect example of late 1700's pneumatic technologies, which fired .46-caliber balls using compressed air. Designed for warfare, the Girandoni was the first pneumatic rifle and first repeating rifle with up to 30 deadly shots capable of killing humans at up to 100 yards.

A lot has changed in the world of airguns since the days of the Girandoni, so today air rifles are usually made for leisure shooting and plinking, target practice and hunting.

​A good air rifle is not just mandatory for the above purposes, it is the most valuable tool for teaching young shooters to ​shoot accurately as well as to the responsibilities of owning a gun in your household.

Comparison of the Best Youth Air Rifles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best Overall Youth Air Rifle.
  • Lightweight and easy to cock.
  • Fully adjustable fiber optic sights.
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  • Pre-mounted 4x32mm scope
  • Up to 1,250 fps with a .177 pellet
  • 18-inch fluted, polymer jacketed steel barrel
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  • Best for the Money
  • Can shoot both BBs and pellets
  • Includes 4x15 scope with rings, safety glasses, 500 pellets and 750 BBs
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  • Fires PBA pellets at 1,200 fps
  • Break barrel single cocking rifle
  • Built for small game hunting and plinking
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  • Nitro piston actuation
  • Includes 4x32 scope and mount
  • 21/ft lbs muzzle energy at 950 fps
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What Size of Air Rifle Do I Need?

Starting kids with airguns is an excellent way to introduce a younger generation to the world of guns, because the new shooters are the future of our sport and community. If you’re an air-gunning parent, you should know that your children need an air rifle that differs from adults. If you want to avoid the issues that accompany poorly-tailored air rifles for your kids, you should look for a gun easy to cock, but also for one of adequate size and weight.

While most of the adult-sized air rifles at 6-8 lbs. and over 40 inches in length feel like the authentic rifles, some air guns can be shared between adults and children. However, you will get the best results in teaching your youngsters ​with these tailor-made airguns that are suited more for kids than others.

How to Choose a Youth Air Rifle

When choosing a youth air rifle you should be aware that kids are going to have their own requirements, and these features and qualities you will find at the offering of some of the most trusted manufacturers we have put on our list.

As junior rifles, many airgun companies offer the standard adult guns that have been adapted for kids and younger persons, but they are often excessively cumbersome and off-putting.

Besides accuracy and reliability, products designed with this target group in mind also need to offer suitable quality and performance in a smaller size, in other words, a youth rifle has to be properly proportioned.

The appropriate airgun weight and length will enable a young shooter to handle a gun properly, allowing him to aim comfortably. 

Unlike adult guns with cocking effort ranging between 30 and 40 pounds, an adequate cocking effort for youth model guns should be about 20 pounds or less. If you ignore this factor and purchase the air rifle that takes more effort to cock, it will surely discourage and frustrate younger shooters, resulting in this new-found enthusiasm disappearing.

Another feature that makes our listed products stand out among others is the length of pull (LOP) adapted for children. While the standard length of pull for adults is measured at 14 inches, the one that will be suitable for youngsters ranging between 10 and 12 inches.

Quick Take - The Best Youth Air Rifles

Review of the Best Youth Air Rifles

You might want to buy an air rifle for many reasons, but as with firearms, before you obtain an airgun, you’ll need to consider how you plan to use it. 

Umarex Ruger 2244020 Explorer Youth .177 Caliber pellet Airgun, Black, Large

Pros

  • It is equipped with an 11mm dovetail rail
  • An anti-slam trigger-barrel safety system
  • It comes with a cocking weight of 16.5 lbs
  • Skeletonized all-weather composite stock
  • The average muzzle velocity of .177 caliber pellets is 495 fps

Cons

  • The fiber sights seem fragile
  • The rifle is not very powerful
  • The rifle comes with loose screws

What Recent Buyers Report

While the trigger pull weight is relatively light, the break/release point is a bit unpredictable, but it just needs some break-in time with it.

While the fiber optic sights are great for shooting after sunset, and the accuracy is suitable for an entry-level air rifle, some reviewers expected tighter groups than 1" 5 shots at 10yds.

Unlike a standard chisel-type, the barrel detente is the ball-bearing type, but its plastic holder which is holding a metal ball in place to lock the barrel has drawn some complaints about the durability and longevity.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Ruger Explorer youth air rifle belongs to a spring piston, single stroke, budget-priced youth break barrel air rifle.

This small rifle is targeted to 8 to 12 year olds and boasts easy cocking which takes 16.5 lbs of effort to open the breech for loading, so even the 8-year-olds should be able to do it. Since the youth rifles launch pellets at velocities somewhere between 475 fps and 600 fps, our Explorer with advertised 495 fps is in line with them. Launching 7.9 gr pellets the Ruger Explorer generates out to about 4 foot-pounds of energy.

The Explorer design is a combination of a synthetic sleek, black buttstock with steel spring tube and steel barrel. While the modern skeleton stock reduces weight and looks super cool, the metal barrel is sheathed in synthetics with a molded-in muzzle break.

The Ruger Explorer comes equipped with the adjustable green optical fiber open sights, but the rifle also has 11mm dovetail grooves and a scope stop.

This Ruger Air Rifle features a non-adjustable two-stage trigger with trigger pull measured at 4 lbs, 13 oz.

The Explorer rifle has both an automatic push-pull safety made of black polymer and an anti-slam trigger-barrel safety system.

With a short, 12” length of pull, this gun is best suited for kids and those of similar proportions.

Who Will Use This Most

Featuring smaller dimensions, the Ruger Explorer is the perfect starter airgun for young shooters. While it is marketed as a youth air rifle purpose-built to teach your children the fundamentals of safe handling and marksmanship, it can be used by adults due to the enlarged trigger guard which allows for large fingers.

Although the Ruger Explorer is capable of firing a .177 caliber lead pellet at a respectable 495 fps, don’t use it for shooting small game, because it simply doesn’t have the power.

Bottom Line

As the Ruger Explorer rifle comes from the well-known firearm manufacturing company, there is no doubt about the reliability and quality of this product.

Measuring in at 37.125 inches in length and weighing in at just 4.45 pounds the Explorer Youth is a quite compact and handy rifle. Compared to the other airguns, it has a lighter frame and shorter overall dimensions, making it more suitable for young shooters and smaller body frame persons.

Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal

Pros

  • Powerful 1,250 FPS velocity
  • Cocking effort is rated at a moderate 30 pounds
  • Gamo trigger with the adjustable second stage
  • It comes with an 18-inch fluted polymer jacketed rifled steel barrel
  • The rifle features a manual safety with an automatic cocking safety system (anti-beartrap)
  • The combo includes .177 Cal pellet single cocking break barrel rifle with 4 x 32 shockproof scope

Cons

  • The rifle comes without open sights
  • Without noise reduction technology it is much louder than others
  • The scope is of low quality with decent accuracy only to about 100 feet

What Recent Buyers Report

The Gamo Varmint air rifle is certainly a potent and accurate gun, but not only do adults enjoy that but a large percentage of advanced junior shooters do, as well.

Although most of the customer reviews are positive, we shouldn't overlook buyer’s reports that Gamo Varmint air rifle is not very quiet. Since the rifle doesn't possess any sound moderator, it is very loud, especially when shooting with PBA ammo.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This powerful break barrel air rifle can deliver 1,250 fps of muzzle velocity shooting .177 caliber Gamo PBA Platinum pellets and 1,000 fps with lead ones. It features a very moderate cocking effort of 30lbs for the achieved velocity.

While the gun is missing the iron sights, it comes equipped with a 4x32, a fixed magnification scope that is shockproof and fog-proof, making it a good option for target shooting and varmint control around the home.

A very nice feature is an automatic cocking safety system (anti-bear trap), which makes sure that your fingers are safe when cocking the rifle.

Who Will Use This Most

The Gamo 6110017154 Varmint model features an overall length of 43 inches and weighs 5.47 lbs with mounted scope. It is cocked by breaking the barrel with a moderately heavy 30 lb cocking effort. Though the cocking effort isn't the easiest one that kids could cock, due to the long sweep of the cocking action, it will seem lighter to handle for youngsters.

Since the gun comes equipped with 4x32 air rifle scope and a synthetic ambidextrous all-weather stock, it is ideal for recreational shooting, pest control, teaching your kids using a rifle scope and other everyday uses.

Bottom Line

The Gamo Varmint air rifle is best used for target practice and after sighting the scope in; some buyers claim to hit ½” groups at over 30yards.

Though the Gamo Varmint is somewhat out of the Youth airgun market segment, it will meet the demands of older kids and advanced youngsters.

Best for the Money:
880 Powerline Air Rifle Kit

880 Powerline Air Rifle Kit, Dark Brown/Black, 37.6 Inch

Pros

  • Shoots BBs 750 feet per second
  • Shoots pellet 715 feet per second
  • The fiber optic front provides accurate shots
  • Wood-grained Monte Carlo stock and forearm
  • The rifle features a multi-pump, pneumatic action
  • It can fire both BBs and pellets with 50 shot BB or single-shot/pellet capacity

Cons

  • Pellets are a bit hard to load
  • The time between two shots is lengthy
  • Too much manual work in operating the gun

What Recent Buyers Report

It is important to note that with using a multi-pump pneumatic rifle like PowerLine 880, the shooting power can be varied, based on how many pre-shooting pumps you give it.

The chief complaint refers to pellet loading because you have to be extremely careful to load pellets properly; otherwise, it will jam. However, once you master the reloading ritual, this pneumatic will be comfortable to shoot all day.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Daisy PowerLine 880 is a great beginners shooting kit that comes with synthetic molded wood-grain Monte Carlo stock with a raised cheek piece for more comfortable usage with included 4X15 scope. The package also includes shooting glasses, a tin of 500 ct. pellets and a tin of 750 ct. BBs.

Daisy’s most popular air rifle can shoot both BBs and pellets. When shooting BBs it’s a repeater with a 50 BB magazine capacity, and using pellets it is a single-shot pellet shooter.

The Daisy Powerline 880 is a bolt action air rifle with a multi-pump pneumatic firing mechanism. With the velocity depending on the number of the pump, this multi-pump pneumatic has the capability to send BB balls to up to 750 fps velocity, whereas the pellets go up to 715 fps. The manufacturer recommends pumping the rifle three times for indoor target practice and up to ten times maximum to achieve velocity for outdoor shooting.

Who Will Use This Most

Even though this handy rifle is marketed for adults and those over 16 years of age, it is user-friendly as a youth starter gun for diverse age ranges due to its overall length of 37.5″ and 3.10 pound weight.

This multi-pump pneumatic air rifle is great for teaching beginner shooters as well as target shooting, plinking, and even pest control, but only under adult supervision as the gun may be dangerous up to 333 yards.

Bottom Line

One of the most popular rifles by Daisy, the Powerline 880 is one that appeals to young shooters. While this rifle/scope combo shoots unimpressive group size of 3" at 15 yards, after some trigger adjustments and sighting in the scope, it became fairly accurate.

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle

Pros

  • The gun comes with a 2-stage adjustable trigger
  • It is a .177 gun with a 1,200-feet-per-second rating
  • The rifle sports an automatic cocking safety system
  • Its noise dampening system decreases noise by 52%
  • The Silent Cat is a break barrel design with a fixed magnification scope
  • Gamo says the cocking effort is 30lbs, but in our opinion it’s closer to 20lbs

Cons

  • Limited to smaller game hunting
  • Sighting in the scope can be troublesome
  • A noise reduction attachment cannot be removed

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers noted that a noise dampener is permanently mounted to the barrel and it cannot be removed. They also recommend using heavier ammo to hold the velocity down, since the noise dampener will not help calm down supersonic shots.

Buyers also noted that this Gamo air rifle features the 2-stage adjustable Smooth Action Trigger (SAT), but the trigger pull is too heavy and the adjustment screw only affects the pull length.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Gamo Silent Cat air rifle is definitely one of the top tiers of high-powered break barrel air rifles in the market today. Using PBA .177 caliber pellets, it can fire at 1,200 fps, while shooting standard lead pellets velocity decreasing a little bit with 1,000 fps. Anyway, this .177 caliber air rifle generates more than enough foot-pounds of energy for small games under six pounds.

As the name suggests, Gamo Silent Cat features excellent noise dampening abilities utilizing noise dampener that cause a 25% reduction in the volume of shots.

While it boasts considerable power, Silent Cat is easy for handling and comfortable to shoot thanks to the synthetic skeleton stock and smooth cocking action of its spring piston system.

A rifled steel 18” barrel is a polymer jacketed and fluted and equipped with the excellent front and rear fiber optic low light sights.

Besides, the airgun includes a fixed magnification, 4×32mm scope, adequate for about 40 feet distance, which is considered the effective range of the rifle.

Who Will Use This Most

At dimensions of 48.8 inches in length, the rifle length is far above the average youth size gun seen on the market, but at just 5.28 pounds with mounted scope and moderate cocking effort of 30lbs, any stronger-bodied 10-year-old kid can easily cock this rifle.

It was designed with both learners and more propelled shooters in mind. First-time shooters and youngsters will have no issues to load and shoot the target efficiently.

Bottom Line

Although the Silent Cat manages to generate a lot of power, the rifle is surprisingly light and well-balanced, making it not that hard to carry around.

A lot of reviews about Gamo Silent Cat air rifle reveal this to be a great hunting air rifle, considering 10-15 yards as the ideal distance for effortlessly picking apart unsuspecting squirrels and pesky varmint.

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

Pros

  • Proven Nitro piston technology
  • Reduced vibration due to the gas piston
  • Velocity: 1,200 FPS with .177 and 950 FPS with .22
  • No spring fatigue, even if you leave it cocked for hours
  • Ambidextrous hardwood stock with comfortable thumbhole
  • The muzzle energy on the.177 is a18 ft/lbs and the .22 has a 21/ft lbs

Cons

  • The rifle has a prolonged break-in period
  • The gun has a poor trigger with the long, heavy second stage
  • The low-quality scope makes it difficult for some users to sight in the rifle

What Recent Buyers Report

While some buyers put issues that it takes a lot of cocking effort to cock this rifle, there are mixed opinions about cocking effort. Anyway, at 31 pounds, a cocking effort might be OK for an adult, but it is slightly more difficult for youth.

Another, more serious problem is with the Titan the two-stage long, heavy trigger. While the manufacturer claims a trigger has a pull rated at 4.75, it also has a lot of travel and heavy second stage.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With a velocity of 950 feet per second, our model in .22 caliber hit the target with serious authority, making it a perfect choice for hunters and pest eliminators. Shooting a .22 caliber pellet, the Benjamin Titan NP gives us an estimated 20 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle that far exceeds the 12 FPE minimum required muzzle energy for humane hunting.

The Benjamin nitro piston rifle is a single-shot break barrel gun, which instead of a coiled spring has a gas-filled cylinder. Besides, Nitro piston rifle is lighter, has less recoil and it is easier to cock than the traditional spring gun.

Additionally, the gas piston power plants operate much quieter than other break barrels.

A 15" long rifled steel barrel ended up with a muzzle brake at the tip of the barrel. Primary, this device directs all sound coming from the barrel go forward, but it also eliminates muzzle wobble, protect the barrel crown area and add leverage to enable easier cocking.

The Benjamin Titan NP BW8M22NP rifle comes without open sights, but receiver features 11mm scope dovetail for mounting included 4×32 Center Point scope and rings with a recoil stop pin.

When the scope is installed correctly, you may expect to get common shooting groups from ½" to ¾" at 25 yards.

The rifle comes with an ambidextrous thumb hole stock that is great for proper grip and a 2-stage adjustable trigger with a trigger pull of 4.5 lbs.

Who Will Use This Most

With an overall length of 43.5" and weight of 7.7 lbs with the scope and mounts, Benjamin Titan air rifle is slightly less manageable for anyone under 14. However, this rifle may be classified as a transitional air gun since its decent cocking effort of 31 pounds, is almost ideal for teens and adults.

Considering its excellent stopping power, Titan GP with a 4x32mm scope is ideal for the small game hunter and intermediate-level shooters.

Bottom Line

The gas-piston powerplant is the future of spring guns. Compared to the common break barrels, gas-piston rifles offer reduced recoil, superior low-temperature performance and the elimination of spring fatigue.

If you are looking for an air gun with a decent starter scope at under $200 intended to be a great gift on Christmas or birthdays for smaller hunters like your kids, the Benjamin Titan GP air gun will be the go-to rifle.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

For both, an adult and kids, airguns have  a few different common uses and determining the most important criteria such as caliber and F.P.S., airgun mechanism, and riflescope.

Most airguns that are the good starting point for youth shooters are going to be BBs or with pellets in .177, .22, and .25 caliber. If you plan to teach kids about marksmanship and gun safety the .177 (4.5mm) caliber is the most preferred, but in our opinion, the best for taking down small game would be .22 (5.6mm) and mainly .25 (6.35mm) caliber. 

Note that to put down even a small game humanely is better to use lower velocity, but heavier and larger caliber pellets that will generate at least 12-foot-pounds of energy.

As for the airgun mechanism, traditional spring barrel guns are great for precision shooting and hunting due to their high power and consistent muzzle velocity. Depending on the way the spring compresses the air in the chamber, they come in three variations: break barrel, underlever, and side lever air rifle.

Another type is pneumatic air rifles that can shoot both BBs and pellets while using a multi-pump system in the form of a lever installed under the barrel.

The third type is air rifles utilizing an external power source like CO2 and Green gas or compressed air to propel the pellets.

Finally, though traditional iron sights are ideal for teaching basic shooting principles, your new airgun should be equipped with scope mounting capabilities, since the scopes help to increase accuracy especially if to use that gun for hunting.

Conclusion

While we might have to put it first, at the very end, we'll emphasize that youth airguns are much smaller, and lighter than full-sized adult rifles can deliver a projectile which can cause injury or death to a human.

There is no such thing as a “toy” gun, and because your kid is “under age” that does not mean a gun is a toy.

Anyway, using one of the youth rifle models from our list that are just the right size for young shooters and with the help of an experienced instructor, your children will start to share a sport you love.

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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