Best Hunting Air Rifle Reviews in 2017

What are hunting air rifles?

Air rifles are basically guns that uses highly pressured air to shoot a pallet towards a certain distance. I would like to state a popular phrase, air rifle hunting can be an effective and humane method of pest control. Using hunting air rifles to reduce pests can replace the need of traditional firearms which may cause more negative effects in the long-run.

Some of the reasons you need an air gun would be to participate in a hunt game or take down pests of all sizes quietly and most of all, legally! Most traiditional guns are loud and illegal to shoot in most areas.

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Comparison table for the best hunting air rifle

At the end of the day, there is no one perfect air rifle for anyone, just perfect air rifles that meet everybody’s individual needs. Before you go out, consider what the best air rifle for hunting your particular game is, rather than looking for something that will cover all eventualities. There are no universal tools, and there are no universal weapons either.

  ProductWeightVelocityBreak BarrelCaliberLengthTrigger pullCocking effort Price
Gamo 6110065654 Big Cat6.1 lbs.1250 FPS (with PBA)Single cocking system0.17743.3"3.74 lbs.30 lbs. $
Benjamin 392 Bolt Action5.5 lbs. 685 FPSRifled0.2236.25"5.5 lbs.35 lbs.$$
Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper7.15 lbs. 1300 FPS (with PBA)Single cocking system0.17743.0"3.74 lbs.32 lbs.$$$$
Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle9.6 lbs.1250 FPSRifled0.17745.5"4 lb 5 oz - 4 lb 14 oz44 lbs. $$
Gamo Hornet Air Rifle6.1 lbs.1200 FPSRifled0.17743.3"3.74 lbs.30 lbs. $$$

Top criteria to consider in a hunting air rifle

Accuracy

Air rifles are best-suited for small game hunting like squirrels, rabbits and many birds. Many things have to be taken into account for the best accuracy that you can shoot such as the weight of the gun, how even are each shots and what are the tools available to help in targeting.

If you are going for small game, the target is small and it would be really difficult to hit it from a distance. If you shoot with a traditional firearm, it might be too loud.

Propulsion method

Basically, there are four types of propulsion methods such as CO2 powered, Pneumatic, Precharged pneumatics and spring piston. Be aware that there is pros and cons for each propulsion method.

For example, if you use the CO2 powered guns, they are easy to use and no pumping is required. However, they are limited in power and more expensive to shoot on a per shot basis due to the cost of CO2 canisters.

Type of air rifle

Be sure to select a pallet gun and not a bb gun. As for the power that you want for the gun, it depends on your needs because pests hunting needs a less powerful air rifle compared to varmint hunting which includes larger animals such as raccoons, jack rabbits or generally animals that weight more than 6 pounds.

Velocity and power

It is wise to look for a high velocity rifle. A rule of thumb is to look for a hunting air rifle that can shoot at least 700 FPS ( Feet Per Second ) in a .22 cal and 950 FPS in a .177 cal.

In the subject of humane killing, it is wise that even if you want to be successful in hunting you should do it with minimal pain to the animal at least. It is wise to make it die instantly and painlessly without unnecessary sufferings.

For this goal, two things are needed : where you hit the target and how powerful are your shots. In my opinion, these two factors are the most important influence of it.

Ease of use

Depending whether it is a small game or a big game, you should consider how you get the air rifle around and the ease of shooting. Guns that weigh more requires a bit of effort to carry through the woods if it involves a lot of walking. It also depends on how many shots you need to take as you do not want your gas to run out before the next shot!

Generally, air rifles that are spring powered and can be easily cocked is good for mobility. CO2 powered guns are also great for power.  There are some air rifles that requires you to pump and it takes a decent amount of pump to get decent power in a shot. The drawback as stated is that it might be more costly if you use the more powerful air rifles.

Gamo 6110065654 Big Cat (1250FPS .177 Caliber Air Rifle with Scope)

Gamo 6110065654 Big Cat 1250 .177 Caliber Air Rifle with ScopeThe 6110065654 Big Cat air rifle with scope is a great masterpiece by Gamo.

Firstly, this air rifle has 0.177 caliber single shot air rifle with a 4 times magnification. There is also a 32-millimeter objective rifle scope.

This air rifle shoots at about 1250 feet per second  (FPS) with PBS platinum. This is a reliable heavy duty power plant air rifle which produces a sizzling 1200 FPS with PBA and 1000FPS with lead. Pallets are not included although you can buy them separately.

The Gamo Big Cat 1250 shoots wonderfully because the strength needed to cock the gun is reasonably little. If you are shooting the air rifle inaccurately, you are most probably shooting it wrongly. This is because you need to us a special technique to shoot spring powered air rifles due to the recoil affectinc the pellet before it leaves the barrel. If you would like to see how powerful the Gamo Big Cat 1250 is, you may use the Gamo red Fire pellets to see how much damage it can do.

Furthermore, the GAMO 6110065654 Big Cat air rifle has a single cocking system. This air rifle also has a non-slip checkering on the grip and forearm. This air rifle weighs 6.1 lbs. which means the gun is reasonable heavy and it feels solid besides the polymer stock but it is made of all-weather polymer . Really thick gun too! Be careful while using this rifle because of the power of it and it can definitely penetrate deeply into many things.

The Gamo Big Cat has an automatic cocking safety system and a manual trigger safety. As for the triggers of the air rifle, the first stage is huge while the second stage is a hair trigger. While shooting, you may bypass the first stage and keep the trigger against the second as you line up the shot. Although the accuracy may not be in par with a pump rifle, to accurately shoot this springer rifle you need to hold it lightly, steadily then only you can pull the trigger slowly.

If you hold this gun as if you hold other guns such as the AR-15, you will have really poor results. For some, shooting the pellet may be more accurate than shooting with the PBA ammo. I would recommend crosman pointed, hollow point and domed pellets for it to be most accurate. Pointed will be good for penetration and accuracy.

Beware, it is important that you clean your barrel after 30 to 40 shots because your accuracy may suffer if you did not clean the barrel for a long time.

Something to note, which is for every new pellet rifle that would be a break in period where most people report it takes nearly 300 shots or so before the gun will settle down. Avoid shooting with cleaning pellets as you may fry the spring of the air rifle.

Also, this air rifle has a synthetic stock with polymer over-molded precision rifled steel (fluted) barrel. The GAMO Big Cat 1250 has an all new light weight and durable synthetic stock is combined with Gamo’s high-tech polymer which is over molded precision rifled steel barrel (fluted barrel) for it to be protected against extreme climate.

If you plan to buy this product, you can gain one-year warranty. The Gamo 6110065654 Big Cat air rifle is not for sale in specific zip codes. Since the air rifle does not come with iron sights, you may need to get a new scope. The scope that it comes with has a magnification of 4 times which actually depends on individual preference, and it has some focusing issues.

One more thing to take note of is to make sure you mount the scope properly. It is not enough if you just adjust the horizontal screws because you also need to have the mounts to screw in vertically into the receiver. The mount that comes with this air rifle has the vertical mount. Please use it or else your scope will eventually for off or it may be inaccurate while you are zeroing.

To conclude, this is an excellent air rifle. If you use the proper stance to shoot, you may have even better performance and more fun! For this price, it is a great air rifle which beats most of its peers be it plinking in the field to blasting small games.

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

Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump Air Rifle (.22)The 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump Air Rifle is a masterpiece by the Benjamin.

This air rifle uses bullets with caliber of 0.22”. The loudness of each shot may vary from 4-Medium-High. Only 8 pumps are required for the cocking effort to be measured at 35 pounds. If you are using this air rifle to shoot targets, 3 to 5 pumps will do fine.

As for the physical aspect of the Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump air rifle, the overall length is 36.25”, barrel length is 19.25” with a weight of 5.5 lbs. This air rifle can shoot fairly quietly which is great for small game. Since this air rifle is made from metal and wood, this is a really durable and solid air rifle.

To give an analogy about the power of this air rifle, at only 4 pumps, using the Crosman “destroyer” pellets, it can go right through one unopened soda can at 5 yards. Pointed pellets would also be great for this air rifle. All and all, the air rifle is very accurate with its iron sights and it requires very little break time. Depending on experience, you may have it sighted in after about 10 shots while putting pellets through the same hole after 15 rounds.

The Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump air rifle has a trigger that is crisp, the rifle is not too loud, has a rifled barrel. This is an amazing pellet rifle with the cool bolt action and how great it works.

Moreover, the only accessories you may need to consider is adding a Benjamin sling and swivels. Optionally, you may add the Benjamin intermount in case you want to add a scope in near future. For your information, there are two rifles on this rifle to mount the scope. You can mount a pistol scope over the forearm or a rifle scope over the bolt action like normal rifles.

Using the pistol scope may give you a longer eye relief and if you put a rifle scope on it, pumping the rifle becomes much harder because it is harder to hold. For the pistol scope, you will need a 11mm 3/8 dovetails mounts which is also known as Crosman B272.

This air rife has a shot capacity of one and the cocking effort is from 3 to 8 pumps. The barrel is rifled, made of brass and has a black coating outside that can be scratched off. The Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump air rifle has a nice American hardwood stock and the finish of the air rifle is decent.

For the front sight, there is a blade and ramp while for the rear sight, it is adjustable for windage and elevation.  Both front and rear sights are made from metal. Alternatively, you may consider adding a Williams Peep Sight easily as the barrel is pre-drilled from the factory to accept it, or there are a couple option to mount a scope. With only six pumps, you can shoot small targets at about 100 plus of feet. The Crosman Premier hollow points will do well with there or you can consider the Premier domed.

In addition, the Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump air rifle has great bolt action and the pellets load in the chamber efficiently. Since the trigger pull weight is 5.5 lbs. which may be a tad heavy for some, you may need to build some muscles for ease of shooting with this air rifle. Also, there are mods available online if you feel the need to tweak the air rifle.

Being a .22 cal air rifle, it hits hard and has a nice solid feel to it which is just the right size and weight to carry with you. The only plastic on the air rifle is the trigger guard and the but on the end of the stock which is made from quality materials and can take a few blows.

The Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump air rifle really stand out from most springer riffles. Basically, there is no need for a special hold and no annoying vibrations when it fires. It would take you up to 8 pumps to get the maximum FPS for this air rifle.

The safety function of this air rifle has to be activated manually. There is one thing to take note of, be sure to clean the gun before you fire it because there may be Styrofoam particles inside the barrel after you took it out from the packaging.

Some things to note are the difficulty of pumping the air rifle and the loudness of shooting this gun (during full force). This air rifle is considerably hard to pump so you may have to consider on building some muscles. It may get pretty loud while shooting a full 8 pump shot which means you should avoid doing this indoors or in close proximity of other people.

To round off, the Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump air rifle has a great performance and appearance. It is made from quality metal, beautiful wood construction and it is a proven design tht has been around for decades. It is really easy to handle and really fun to shoot! It will proof to you that it is at the top of its class in terms of looks, quality and power.

Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper ND52 Air Rifle (with 3 – 9×40 mm Scope)

Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper ND52 Air Rifle with 3 - 9x40 mm ScopeThis is one of the higher end product which is produced by one of the top manufacturers, Gamo.

The Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper ND52 air rifle weighs a bit heavier which is 7.15 lbs. The scope that comes with it is a 3-9 x 40 air rifle scope with rings with a raised rail scope ramp. The butt plate of this air rifle has a Shock Wave Absorber (SWA) recoil pad with up to 74 percent recoil absorption.

With the PBA platinum, this air rifle can shoot up to 1300 FPS. With this air rifle, you would be able to make shot that you did not think were possible with a pellet air rifle. Additionally, the two stage trigger would greatly improve your accuracy. Although the trigger is plastic, it feels a lot better than a metal trigger and it will not break that easily.

Moreover, the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper ND52 air rifle uses a single cocking system. There is also a more predictable kick compared to a spring compression. As for the stock, it requires some getting used to and the grip is much better than most air rifles. Since this is a high powered pellet gun, the shots are really powerful! The stock is made from a tough, all-weather molded synthetic.

If you stay in a neighborhood setting, this is the air rifle for you! This air rifle shoots much quieter than most air rifle and it will help you stay off your neighbor’s radar. This is because of the IGT feature which makes a huge difference in sound, which means there would not be a loud twang after you pull the trigger.

The caliber of this air rifle is .177. If you use this air rifle, there is one side effect which is from the massive power of the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle is that the pellets leave the barrel so fast that the barrel smokes as you insert the following pellet.  The power for the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle comes from the Inert Gas Technology (IGT) gas-piston included in the air rifle.

Furthermore, the length of the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper is 43” which is considerably long.  The barrel length of this air rifle is 18 inches. There is also an automatic cocking safety system with a  two stage adjustable Smooth Action Trigger (SAT). The cheekpad molded on each side of the air rifle is for both right handed and left handed shooters.

The trigger pull of this gun is only 3.74 lbs. while the cocking effort is 32 lbs. With the cocking effort of just 32 lbs. , this air rifle is relatively easy to cock considering the powerful shots that come with it.

Please be wary that the stock scope is only decent. If you want the AO feature of a scope because you want to gain consistent results over 100 yards, this FO scope has to be changed. If you are happy with consistent results from about 15 yards for the time being, using the stock scope would be fine.

To give another analogy, if you use 25 grain pellet to shoot over the yard range of 30 to 100 yards, there is a high probability that you can hit a dime sized target without much hassle. Breaking the sound barrier with a light pallet can affect accuracy adversely too.

To add on, the scope mount seems appropriate in height which makes the air rifle very comfortable to shoot. As you keep on adjusting your scope to hit bull’s eye, the gun will seem to gain power with every shot. With enough shots and adjustment, the gun would be very consistently shooting at one target.

Be wary that the open sights may need minor adjustments for greater accuracy. Also, the thumb hole stock may not align well with your hands if your hands are a bit larger and the stock a little bit too thick.

One thing to consider is that the air rifle shoots a little different from the first shot to the second shot. Although the first shot for a CO2 air rifle is stronger, this air rifle gets more powerful and accurate with each shot. If you do not shoot often and left the gun unused for a longer period of time, it may shoot a little low on the first few shots but still very deadly.

If you plan to purchace the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper air rifle, you can get one year limited warranty. This is a really powerful .22 pellet gun, so you have to be really careful while using it! You would definitely be able to nail anything within 100 feet, excellent weapon for the money.

Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle (Combo air rifle)

Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle Combo air rifleThis is a one of the best in the air rifle market by black ops.

The Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle has a caliber of .177”.

Likewise, this air rifle can shoot with a maximum velocity of 1250 FPS.

As for the loudness of the air rifle, it is measure from 3 to medium which is considerably good. But beware, it is not wise for you to zero this air rifle indoors and make sure you wear your ear muffs while shooting this air rifle. Even if you are outside, it may sound like a normal .177 caliber air rifle.

Do not make a mistake by using cardboard boxes as a target because it may dent your house. It is advisable to use a solid piece of wood or anything as hard for shooting . The faux magazine only serves to hide the allen wrench for adjusting the cheek and shoulder piece. However, once set you should rarely have to use it again.

On the other hand, the Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle has ah barrel length of 18 inches and the overall length is 44 inches. This air rifle is quite heavy because it weighs 9.6 lbs. Do not worry because the air rifle has an adjustable cheek rest which takes away a bit of the recoil on the jaw line when you get into a comfortable hand-rest position. Generally, this is a well-built air rifle which is overall solid.

Since the air rifle is considerably heavy, so shooting from a standing position can be a little difficult for most people. Hence, the bi pod comes in handy taking this into consideration.  With a rifled steel barrel and inner working parts, this air rifle can sustain for years to come. The bipod legs can be extended from 9.625 inches to 11.50 inches.

The shooting capacity of this air rifle is one while the cocking effort is 44 lbs. The barrel of this air rifle barreled. The break-barrel is solid and it is fairly tough to pull for someone with no upper body strength. If you bought this for your young kid, they may need some help shooting this air rifle. Definitely not a toy for children without proper supervision.

The scope that comes in the combo package is decent because it gives a clear line and it offers really good eye relief. In my opinion, hollow point pellets works best for the Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle. Hence, it is advisable to stick to this pellet instead of other fancy pellet.

The stock is made from synthetic material while the grip is ambi. The adjustable stock works great and has many different adjustments to make it comfortable for just about anyone. The bi pod stands which connect to each side of the air rifle are sturdy and have a good level of adjustment.

The power source of the Black Ops Tactical Sniper Air Rifle if rom Power Piston Technology. The ammunition for this air rifle is pellets. Since this is a sniper rifle pellet gun, this air rifle has very accurate and great tight groupings.

Another thing to take not of is that when the rifle shoots, it would be quite loud, especially when you shoot your first 10 shots. It will start to quiet down from break in after more than 10 shots. Also, this would be a great air rifle for purchasing upgrades for. . There are also Picatinny and Weaver rails on both sides of the rifle as well as on the top.

For example, you can attach a flashlight on one side and a laser on the other side of the air rifle.

When you get this air rifle fresh out from the box, you may need to warm up the air rifle. You may want to start off with nearer targets because you need some time to zero in to your targets. After a few shots, slowly you can step up the game.

If you plan to get this air rifle, it is advisable to use protective eyewear when using the air rifle or when you are somewhere near people who are using this air rifle. All and all, an amazing rifle for plinkling and long-range target practice!  For the price, you can get the most aggressive looking pellet rifle which performs equally well.

Note: You might to get a great gun safe to keep them. Click here to check out the best gun safe available.

Gamo Hornet Air Rifle (0.177 Caliber)

Gamo Hornet Air Rifle, .177 CaliberThe third gun which is by Gamo, and it is one of the best in the market!

The Gamo Hornet Air Rifle has a caliber of 0.177 inches.

Moreover, the maximum velocity this air rifle can shoot is 1200 FPS. The muzzle energy of this air rifle is 17.27 feet/lbs.

As for the loudness, it is from 3 to medium. Also, the trigger is smooth and has a good amount of resistance.  Make sure to grip the end of the barrel near the muzzle, and rest the butt on your hip or thigh as you pull it downward. Keep pulling until you hear a loud ‘click’.

Turning to the physical aspects, this air rifle has a barrel length of 18 inches and an overall length of 43.3 inches. Also, the air rifle is very light because it only weighs 6.1 lbs. This air rifle is really durable as it is solid and the weight is distributed evenly on the air rifle. Basically, the barrel is a lightweight thin-walled steel encapsulated in a thick plastic sleeve which is not the standard thick solid steel barrel.

The cheekpiece that comes with the air rifle is smooth and it is really comfortable to use it. Since this air rifle is light weight, it makes it really enjoyable to carry since such air rifle practically cannot have any slings.

On top of that, the Gamo Hornet Air Rifle has a shot capacity of one and the cocking effort is 30 lbs. Here is some tips, you should shoot at least 200 pellets to break it in. During your first few shots, the action, cranking and trigger will be stiff. You should center your scope but you should also expect to recenter it after about 500 rounds.

In addition, you should the barrel from lead depositing after 200 pellets.  You can use a small cotton wad (oiled) then dry, until it comes out clean, that can be pushed through the breach towards the tip of the barrel while never doing it the other way around. Push it slowly, so it makes contact at all time with the walls.

The trigger that comes with the air rifle is two-stage adjustable with a butt plate made from ventilated rubber. The trigger pull is about 3.74 lbs. The recoil from each shots are reduced and the little jerk that comes with each shot would not be an issue.

Furthermore, the powerplant of this air rifle comes from a spring-piston. It also comes with an automatic cocking safety system.

The Gamo Hornet Air Rifle has a stock that is made from synthetic plastic. The grip of this air rifle is ambi too.

One downside is that the scope that comes with this air rifle has a poor eye-relief.

All and all, this air rifle has a lot of power and you can make long range shots with it. The gun also has very low maintenance cost and the weight is not heavy. One more thing is that the scope stays sighted in even if you bang it on something.

If you plan to purchase the Gamo Hornet Air Rifle, read the little booklet manual that comes with it. After you understood it, it would be for the greater good for the safety of yourself and those around you. Since it is only 15 mini-pages, it would be great to give it a read. Besides the great look, it also performs really well!

Conclusion

These are one of the best and considerably economical air rifles from the market! I hope that this detailed review will help you in choosing the best air rifle for you. What do you think is the best air rifle you have came across? Please share your perspective in the comment box below.

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