If you have an appreciation for firearms, which I’m assuming you do since you’re visiting this website, you must give props to one of the less BOOM BOOM variants; the pellet gun.
Guns featuring air propelled projectiles are among the earliest devices capable of pneumatic operation and largely led innovation in more advanced firearms. Since these guns are essentially ancient technology now, why should you get one? What benefits would you find in using an air rifle over a firearm? Should you invest in a pellet gun despite already owning firearms?
This guide will aim to answer any questions I can possibly come up with regarding air rifles and then we’ll discuss the best pellet guns and where to find them. Not all air rifles are the same and the technology has certainly changed a lot over the years, despite these being incredibly simple platforms! On this page, we discuss all kinds of pellet guns but we also have a review on our 8 favorite PCP air rifles and pellet pistols you might want to check out.
- Here Are the Best Pellet Guns and Air Rifles (Listed by Price)
- 17. Crosman Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle (Cheapest)
- 16. Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle
- 15. Gamo Varmint (Best Under $100)
- 14. Crosman 1322 Air Pistol Premier Shooters Kit
- 13. Ruger Blackhawk Combo (Best Value)
- 12. Raptor Whisper Air Rifle
- 11 Sig Sauer MCX (Semi-Auto)
- 10. Sig MPX (Semi-Auto)
- 9. Benjamin 392
- 8. RWS Model 34 .22 Caliber
- 7. RWS Model 50 Magnum .22 Caliber Air Rifle
- 6. Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Air Rifle (Editor’s Choice)
- 5. Benjamin BPM22GPK Maximus PCP Kit .22 Cal
- 4. Beeman R9 Elite Series
- 3. SMG 22 Full Auto Pellet Gun
- 2. Airforce Ultimate Condor PCP Air Rifle 25 Cal
- 1. Crosman Challenger PCP Air Rifle
Why Purchase a Pellet Gun?
Pellet guns are flat out fantastic for a very wide range of reasons. First and foremost, pellet guns are likely the best choice for introducing the art of shooting to youngsters. Children as young as 4 years old are capable of firing pellet guns (with correct oversight) due to the nonexistent recoil and little to no human damage capability. Although seemingly harmless, you still need to purchase and USE eye protection! Pellet ammo is prone to ricochets and will easily take an eye out!
Pellet guns aren’t just for kids, though. They’re fantastic varmint control rifles. To me, it’s laughable when I hear of someone clearing out their prairie dog issues with a .308. Why on Earth would you want to spend so much on ammo to rid your land of pesky pests? Use an air gun instead. Your neighbors, your ears, your wife, and your wallet will thank you and you’ll quickly release that a decent air gun system is more than enough firepower to kill off intruding pests!
As you’ll see in the history section, air gun precision is no joke. If you become highly skilled, you could participate in air gun competitive shooting events which are held all over the world, even in countries where traditional firearms are outlawed.
Finally, air guns are CHEAP. You can have your hands upon a varmint slaying machine for less than $200 and these systems generally have incredibly low operational and upkeep costs. Of course, if you like blowing money, there are also high-end air guns that fire pellets well over 1100 FPS with incredible range capabilities.
The powerplant is what is commonly referred to as what gives the air gun its ability to fire its projectile. There are several different kinds of powerplants, each with its unique features and lists of pros and cons. The powerplant in conjunction with the type of caliber are the two most important variables to consider when purchasing a pellet gun. Which one you choose will likely depend on how you plan to utilize your pellet launcher, so think hard and plan ahead!
These are the most well-known air rifles to date and are also the simplest in design. These rifles consist of a lever in which is pumped several times to fill an onboard air reservoir. These rifles are typically found in either an under-barrel lever configuration or having a charging handle style side lever. Typically, 3-10 strokes are required to build up enough pressure to fire a projectile effectively. Rifles in this category generally won’t exceed 800 FPS and have an effective range of roughly 15 yards.
Variable Pump air rifles are generally among the cheapest designs and also offer some of the highest durability due to their simplicity. These are primarily used for target shooting and small game hunting. Really the only downfall here is that you must pump the rifle several times for EACH shot, which to many in this day and age may seem a bit monotonous and uneventful. This also results in the slowest fire rates.
Air rifles powered by compressed air (CO2) utilize a small tank, usually 12 grams to fire its projectile’s. These tanks typically connect to a hose or outlet which then allows the rifle to force air through a tiny tube and through the projectiles chamber, forcing it out of the rifle at incredibly high FPS. These rifles are generally more powerful than the variable pump style air rifle but are mostly used in the same manner; plinking and small game hunting.
The advantages of a CO2 pellet gun are that projectiles can be fired in rapid succession instead of 1 by 1 and cartridges are usually very easy and quickly replaced. Since they’re a bit more powerful than traditional pump style air rifles, they have a bit further effective range sitting at roughly 20 yards. A major drawback to the CO2 powered air rifle is obvious, though. If you run out of CO2, your air rifle is no longer operable! This also makes operation costs of CO2 rifles significantly higher than pump style rifles.
CO2 cartridges can certainly add up so consider this when creating an air gun budget! You can find basic CO2 canisters on Amazon such as the one linked below.
Break Barrel / Spring Piston
Air rifles equipped with a break barrel style of operation utilize a loaded spring mechanism. Basically, a powerful spring is compressed to it’s max and then released on a piston which then propels the pellet out of the barrel at high speeds via massive air pressure.
Unlike pump style air rifles, you only need to set the spring once per shot instead of pumping several times and the break barrel design has no need for CO2 cartridges, making it a cheaper and more friendly air rifle to operate. Of course, you’re giving up the ability to fire shots in rapid succession, however, the shots that you do fire will generally be far more powerful than the two previously discussed air rifle variants. These rifles are most popularly used in target practice and varmint hunting and have an effective range of 35 to 45 yards.
Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP)
These are essentially the big brother of the traditional pump style air rifles. They operate on a similar principle but instead of pumping the rifle up to fire one single shot, the PCP rifle utilizes a massive air tank that holds enough air pressure to fire several shots. These generally do away with the pumping action and are instead filled by a scuba tank or hand pump. The firing valve is designed to only release a small amount of the air that is stored instead of releasing all of it like a pump air gun.
The major advantages here are that you can fire the rifle several times without any additional action required. Some PCP air rifles are capable of shooting up to 20 projectiles on one charge! Obviously, though, after the air reservoir runs dry, it’s difficult to refill and requires several minutes of downtime to bring the gun back to operation. Power levels vary depending on how pressurized the tank is resulting in varying levels of performance per shot. However, PCP rifles can be as powerful as 1100 FPS and are generally the most accurate at the furthest distances. Their effective range can be all the way up to 65 yards!
The Different Pellet Gun Calibers
Just like regular firearms, air rifles are capable of being chambered in several different calibers, each with its own individual characteristics. In today’s air rifle markets, there are primarily four types of calibers. Some rifles are capable of firing multiple different calibers and some rifles will only accept one type of caliber. Understanding what each caliber is capable of is an important factor to understand before making your air gun purchase as each caliber will drastically change the behavior and effectiveness of the rifle.
As time progresses and even now, there are manufacturers creating special types of ammo for airguns. You may find a very wide variety of bullet types such as the hollow point, whisper, destroyer, extra pointy, Grizzly, etc. It seems like there is a new “innovative” pellet design every month. I recommend sticking with tried and true as this will likely save you money and render basically the same results but if you want to experiment with different ammo types, go for it! Just make sure you check the specifications of your air rifle to ensure the round and the rifle are compatible. Just because it’s the same caliber doesn’t always mean the air rifle will accept it.
Essentially the two types of shapes you’ll find are the spherical BB and the wadcutter design. The wadcutter is an oddly shaped dome with a point on the top. These can also be found in hollow point styles.
With each category, I will provide a link to a popular brand on Amazon. Although these are more for reference, they are also among the most popular choices with air gun operators.
Probably the most basic projectile ever conceived, the BB is a round sphere that generally consists of copper coated steel or plastic construction. Under the assumption that you probably want something with a decent level of performance, we’ll focus on copper BB’s for now. These will generally weigh roughly 5.2 grams and aren’t nearly as versatile or effective as the other ammo selections on this list.
BB’s are primarily used as a budget advocate for target practice. BB’s are generally the cheapest option you’ll have and are perfect for young kids or firearm newbies to get a hang of firearm safety and operation. You won’t generally see people using BB’s to hunt, although I suppose it is possible on small varmints at extremely close ranges. BB’s also have the risk of ricochet and generally, have very low penetration capabilities.
You can find .177 caliber rounds in lead, zinc, or plastic variants. These are not spherical like a BB but instead shaped for aerodynamics and penetration capabilities. This caliber is among the smallest available to air rifles and generally doesn’t weigh enough to achieve high FPS. With that said, target practice is the primary use for this caliber.
The .177 wadcutter provides significant advantages over the BB design. Of course, it’ll cost more, but it’s also incredibly more accurate and holds its velocity better at further distances. These may be used in small game hunting, but I would recommend one of the following calibers if your primary use of an air rifle is to hunt.
The .22 pellet caliber is one of the more ideal rounds for actual hunting but still isn’t quite heavy enough for animals above the size of a squirrel. These offer a bit more weight than the .177 making them fly further with more velocity. Other than size, the actual bullet is pretty much the same as the .177 wadcutter or the .177 hollow point.
This is what you need if your primary goal is to hunt small game. The .25 caliber air gun wadcutter carries a much higher level of velocity than its lighter counterparts and delivers devastating damage to small furry critters. These are typically only found in the wadcutter design and are not typically found in hollow point variants.
Purchasing a pellet gun will differ widely among our readers and that’s to be expected. This quick guide should shed light on some of the most popular and effective airguns on the market today but of course, it won’t cover every single nook and cranny. The most important thing to consider before buying an air rifle is to plan out how you will use it and what you expect.
If you’re just buying a plinker, a BB style air rifle may be the most economical choice.
If you’re planning to hunt, you’ll need a rifle capable of firing large pellets at high levels of FPS.
What you choose ultimately depends on how it will be used.
Plan plan plan! Not planning is planning to fail. I see a lot of people complain about their air rifles capabilities. In most cases, it turns out they chose the wrong tool for the job at hand.
Aside from planning the destiny of your future air rifle arsenal, you’ll of course likely be considering your budget. Your most popular pellet gun options are going to range in the $100 – $300 range and a pack of standard pellets generally costs around $20 to get started.
In this buying guide, I’ll do my best to provide options at all levels of budgets, ranging from under a hundred big ones to over a grand. When deciding on how much you’re willing to shell out, take into consideration operational costs as well. Calibers, pellet types, CO2 canisters, PCP pumps, and even attachments can add up quickly!
Budget Bin: Under $200
These will likely be suitable mostly for just plinking and teaching our kiddo’s responsibility in handling firearms. Cheap pellet guns are typically synonymous with low FPS and plastic construction, however, there are some powerful gems to be discovered. Let’s take a look!
Here Are the Best Pellet Guns and Air Rifles (Listed by Price)
17. Crosman Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle (Cheapest)
Estimated Price: $70
My Review: This is among the cheapest options you’ll find among the web that are incredibly low priced but still worth purchasing. Under $50 won’t get you much in the aspect of the rest of the market, however, $50 does go a long way with this particular rifle.
Offering up to 650 FPS and a large BB capacity, this is a top choice for parents to gift to the youngins as their first “gun”. It’s powerful enough to punch holes in soda cans but it certainly won’t do much damage to property or people and only has a range of roughly 15 yards. The variable pump design is easy for anyone to use and requires 3-10 strokes to build up a reservoir of compressed air.
- Looks similar to an actual AR-15
- Very accurate up to 15 yards
- 600 fps with pellets and 650 fps with BBs
- Flip-up iron sights with windage and elevation adjustments
- 5 shot pellet clip
- BB reservoir capable of holding up to 350 shots
- Adjustable tactical stock
- Sling rings
- Rifled steel barrel
- Accessory rails
16. Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle
Estimated Price: $200
My Review: The Crosman Fire Nitro Piston has a very interesting design. Instead of a break barrel design that utilizes a spring to hold tension as a powerplant, it uses a gas piston. In theory, this results in higher durability for the powerplant of the rifle and gets rid of the problem of spring fatigue. (leaving the rifle in a cocked position, wearing out the spring).
While the Nitro Piston technology does have some advantages, I have spoken with serious airgunners that say they tend to have more problems with nitro piston air rifles. Another thing to consider is pellets, particularly 0.177 pellets, which are really only designed to fly up to 950 feet per second (this rifle is rated at 1200 FPS). Any faster than 950, and it can cause the pellets to tumble and YAW in flight, leading to serious accuracy issues.
Related Article: 14 Best Pellet Pistols (Ranked by a Marine)
The good news is that most people that tested the velocity of this rifle with a chronograph typically recorded speeds under 950 FPS and found that it was very a very accurate pellet gun considering it’s under $100. The bottom line is that while nitro piston technology is newer and hyped up a lot, I wanted you to be aware that there are some potential downsides.
One thing that is definitely true about nitro piston technology is a lot smoother and easier to cock than a traditional spring powerplant making this rifle especially great for the kids.
The scope included with this air rifle leaves much to be desired but it is usable. The air rifle itself is solid and should be a top budget choice.
This video below isn’t the best quality but at least you can see this rifle in action!
- High level of precision at 30 yards
- Gas piston powerplant as opposed to a spring piston
- Break Barrel slim line rifle design using Crosman Nitro Piston technology
- CenterPoint 4x32mm Scope included
- Quick loading pellet pen included
- Adjustable two-stage trigger
- Rifled steel barrel
15. Gamo Varmint (Best Under $100)
Estimated Price: $90
Note: This is is the pellet gun I recommend for those of you on a $100 budget.
My Review: With a max velocity of around 1000 feet per second and usable 4×32 scope, the Gamo Varmint is the ultimate budget varmint control, hunting, and targeting shooting air rifle. With a price tag of around $100, it is arguably the best pellet gun for the money on this entire list.
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It has a simple single barrel break cocking mechanism that requires about 30 pounds of force, so if you’re buying this for young kids, just know that it may be a little difficult for them to cock.
- Countless confirmed varmint kills
- A rodents worst nightmare
- Good bang for your buck
- Scope included
- Single cocking break barrel
14. Crosman 1322 Air Pistol Premier Shooters Kit
Estimated Price: $100
My Review: I wasn’t planning to add air pistols to the list, however, the Crosman multi-pump 1322 Air Pistol includes a stock essentially creating the look and feel of a short barreled rifle (SBR). I would go out on a limb to say that more air pistols are only effectively used when target practicing, however, this pistol is another story. You can easily pop varmints and take out pests with this thing as it’s surprisingly powerful and accurate, even up to 20 yards! It’s a .22 caliber kit that shoots roughly 500 FPS. It certainly isn’t as powerful as the other rifles on the list, however, this is a fantastic little starting kit for a young kid and something a little different than a traditional air rifle.
- Small and lightweight
- Perfect starter package for a young kid
- Pistol Carbine style design complete with detachable ABS stock
- Multi-pump powerplant
- Premier kit comes with Crosman safety glasses, pellet pouch and 175 Crosman .22 caliber pointed pellets
- 500 FPS
- Adjustable rear sights for windage and elevation
- Ambidextrous grip with thumb grips located on both sides
- Ambidextrous manual safety
13. Ruger Blackhawk Combo (Best Value)
Estimated Price: $140
My Review: The Ruger Blackhawk is exactly what I think about when I hear “pellet gun”. It’s a traditional black hunting rifle design that includes its own set of fiber optic sights and a cheap add-on scope. Honestly, I’d probably opt for a bit better scope when buying this rifle, but that’s about the only gripe I have when it comes to this product! The Blackhawk is comfortable and precise. The pumping mechanism can be a bit tough near pump 9 and 10 but that’s to be expected on a pellet gun capable of 1000+ FPS.
Related Article: 20 Best BB Guns (Including Full Auto Ones)
Overall, if you’re looking for a barebone get r’ done pellet rifle, the Ruger Blackhawk is an easy go-to. Whether you’re plinking, hunting, or both, this .177 pneumatic pump hunting style air rifle is perfect for just about anybody!
- Simple to use traditional rifle style air gun
- Incredible accuracy and precision
- .177 caliber
- Spring-piston powered
- 30lb cocking exertion
- Includes 4x32mm scope with mounting rings
12. Raptor Whisper Air Rifle
Estimated Price: $150
My Review: This break barrel Raptor Whisper which is available in either .177 or .22 Cal is certainly no toy. The air rifle they’ve created is a precise varmint slaying machine and comes with a bunch of goodies you wouldn’t expect to find on air rifles. First, the sound dampening features they’ve added seem to work well. This rifle certainly isn’t silent by any stretch of the imagination but as far as powerful air rifles go, it is likely the quietest option on this list. It’s also incredibly lightweight and comes with a recoil pad, which I’m not entirely sure is totally necessary but its probably a pretty cool addition for a young marksman.
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Make no mistake, however, that this gun is to be treated as a full-blown firearm. It’ll take down full-grown coyotes with ease and is not to be misused or left alone in the hands of a junior shooter. The scope it comes with, like most add-on scopes, is adequate, so you should likely order a higher quality one when buying this rifle. Overall, it looks good. It feels good. It shoots good. It’s a good air rifle. You won’t regret it if you buy one.
- Insanely quiet and low recoil design
- .177 or .22 caliber
11 Sig Sauer MCX (Semi-Auto)
Estimated Price: $230
My Review: If you’re a frequent visitor of this website, you already know Sig Sauer is one of my favorite brands. They’re known for making high-quality products that are trusted by police, military, and citizens alike.
They make some awesome CO2 powered replica pellet guns that are a ton of fun to shoot. They actually make two semi automatic pellet guns that are surprisingly accurate.
The first rifle we will discuss here is a replica of the Sig MCX rifle. It has an 18″ rifled barrel that makes it surprisingly accurate for a CO2 powered pellet gun, but still, I feel this is more of a plinking rifle than it is for hunting. It is marketed as shooting up to 700 fps, and while I have never put a chronograph to it, from the tests I’ve seen, the velocity is realistically more like 500 fps.
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Don’t let that dampen your spirits, though, this thing is a ton of fun and a backyard plinking dream!
If you already have 90-gram co2 cartridges and pellets, you can buy the Sig MCX by itself, but the link I provided above allows you to choose from a number of different combo package deals.
The standard flip up sights are fine, but personally, I like red dot sights. It has a Picatinny rail, so if you already have a red dot sight, like the Sig Sauer Romeo 5, you can easily attach it.
One unique thing about SIG air rifles is they use a 90-gram CO2 cylinder, compared to most air rifles, which use the smaller 12-gram CO2 tanks. They’re around 6 dollars a piece, and you can expect to get around 300-350 shots per tank. You can find 90-gram CO2 tanks on Amazon here. There is also an option to buy a refillable air tank and a hand pump that essentially turns this into a PCP air rifle, but that takes quite a bit larger upfront investment. If you’re just using this for occasional plinking, I personally think the 90-gram tanks work just fine and don’t require to compromise the awesome look of this rifle.
An important thing to note about CO2 powered air rifles is their effectiveness is limited by temperature. They work a lot better on warm days, so if you’re buying this as a gift for someone in a cold climate, you might want to wait for a warmer day to shoot it or shoot it pretty quick after walking outside to make sure it has the same wow factor.
- Around 200-300 shops per CO2 cylinder
- 18-inch Rifled steel barrel Runs off 90-gram CO2 cartridges
- Picatinny rail system 0.177 caliber
- Almost 35 inches (34.75)
- Powerful pellet gun considering it’s semi-auto
- 7.35 pounds
- Joy to shoot
10. Sig MPX (Semi-Auto)
Estimated Price: 210
My Review: We already talked about the other SIG air rifle but I wanted to cover this one too. It’s a little smaller, and while I think the MCX looks cooler, this one is a little easier to handle if you’re buying this as a gift for a kid. It has an 8-inch steel rifled barrel and while it’s rated at a max velocity of 575 fps (125 fps less than the MCX) it’s just fine for plinking and you hardly notice the difference.
It comes stock with folding iron sights, but it does have a Picatinny rail system for add-ons and accessories.
Related Article: 10 Best PCP Air Rifles (Ranked by a Marine)
The bottom line is this is a really cool looking pellet gun that’s a ton of fun to shoot. It’s certainly not suitable for most types of hunting. If you’re looking for a powerful pellet gun for hunting, there are much better options for you on this list.
- 30 round magazine
- Almost 26 inches long
- 7 pounds
- Flip-up open sights
- Realistic looking air rifle
- 90-gram CO2 operating system
Versatile Varmint Slayers: Finding the Best Pellet Gun Under $500
Pellet guns in this category are likely the perfect mix between performance and economy. Most people likely won’t need anything above the $200 to fit their needs.
9. Benjamin 392
Estimated Price: $210
My Review: My brothers and I had two of this exact model when we were younger. I can tell you from a lot of experience that this is an outstanding pump pellet gun for hunting varmints and small game. Sure CO2 and PCP pellet guns are great, but sometimes you just want a simple, accurate, and reliable pellet pun. The Benjamin 392 is just that, it’s nothing fancy but it does what it’s supposed to do, send lead downrange.
It’s a variable pump pellet gun, so you can pump the rifle to the desired power. I think we usually pumped it around 8 times for max power. The front sight is fixed if I remember correctly, but the rear sight can be adjusted for windage and elevation. Personally, I love this classic look and feel of this bolt action pellet gun. Benjamin says it has an effective range of 15 yards, but I remember making some shots that seemed much farther than that.
- 685 FPS with standard pellets and 800 fps with alloy pellets
- Fun and accurate bolt action pellet gun
- Single shot multi-pump pneumatic air rifle
- Rifled brass barrel and fully adjustable sights
- Sharp looking wood stock
- 0.22 caliber
- Great for hunting small game and pests
- Variable pump (3-10 pumps)
8. RWS Model 34 .22 Caliber
Estimated Price: $365
My Review: It’s funny that even though this rifle includes a scope, in the listing you can find their recommendations for scopes. Even they know that the scope on it subpar!
Aside from that, this German-made beauty is a thing of awe in the world of pellet guns. It really has that full-blown rifle feel and it maintains an awe-inspiring hardwood finish. This pellet gun has much to offer past just its stunning appearances, though, but only boasts a rating of 800 FPS (1000 FPS .177). What gives, you might ask, as there are cheaper and “more powerful” rifles on this list.
Well, without creating my own untested and unresearched conspiracy theory, let me just say that this rifle is certainly not any less powerful than the rifles listed before it on this list. When I shot this rifle I was stunned at how hard the pellets hit their target. This air rifle is completely capable of hunting most any small game and will do some serious damage to anything it is shot at.
Not only is this an amazing air rifle, but it’s also just an amazing rifle in general. It’s classy, it’s well-built, and it is plenty powerful. If you have the extra coin to spend, this is a worthy upgrade from our first category of reviewed airguns.
- High definition hardwood finish#1
- Unmatched craftsmanship at this price level
- .22 Cal hunting rifle design with a classic hardwood stock
- 1000 FPS capable
- 1mm scope rail
- Proprietary RWS Break Barrel system
- Adjustable open rear sights
- Fixed fiber optic hooded front sights
- 2-stage adjustable trigger
- Includes cheap air rifle scope
- 33lbs cocking exertion
- Ambidextrous automatic safety
- Rubber recoil pad
7. RWS Model 50 Magnum .22 Caliber Air Rifle
Estimated Price: $380
The RWS model 350 is a very accurate and powerful pellet gun that is perfect for hunting. It has a rather unique break barrel design that does require some work between each shot. That’s why I recommend this pellet gun for hunting purposes more so than backyard plinking.
The T06 trigger is another stand out feature on the Model 50 Magnum. The T06 trigger is fully adjustable and very smooth.
All in all, this is a beautiful looking German airgun that is a pretty good value!
The only real con I see about this air rifle is if your not a fan of iron sights you’ll have to buy an additional scope and scope mount.
- 19.5-inch barrel
- Fixed front and adjustable rear sights
- Blue hardwood stock
- Awesome T06 2-stage trigger
6. Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Air Rifle (Editor’s Choice)
Estimated Price: $450
My Review: I always thought the name “Marauder” was a cool one so when I saw this air rifle for under $400, I definitely wanted to give it a chance to impress me. Impressing me was just the beginning, however. The PCP configuration was interesting and I quickly found out that loading a PCP airgun can be a little bit of a workout! However, the payoff is more than worth it with being able to fire up to 10 pellets!
The rifle itself is incredibly accurate and has a fantastic feel to it. It’s a bit heavy but its also balanced well so that weight is hardly an issue. This particular pellet rifle feels incredibly durable and just has that heavy-duty feel to it. To boot, you also get an incredibly powerful pellet gun that is very accurate. This pellet gun is more than capable of bringing down small game and varmints are absolutely no match for this bad boy. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids, but I would highly recommend it if hunting with air rifles is your main goal. Personally, I think this is the best pellet gun for the money right now. I feel comfortable recommending this air rifle to anyone. Just know this is a PCP air rifle, so it will require either a manual pump or a fill station to fill.
Hey, this one doesn’t come with an awful add-on air rifle scope, Oorah!
- 10 shot repeatability
- 75-yard range which is among the best in air rifles I’ve reviewed
- PCP hunting rifle style with all-weather black synthetic stock
- Ambidextrous grip with right side bolt
- Well balanced for field carry
- Availability in multiple calibers
5. Benjamin BPM22GPK Maximus PCP Kit .22 Cal
Estimated Price: $470
My Review: This PCP air rifle kit is perfect for someone who has never owned a PCP air rifle before. Firstly, it comes with everything you’ll need to get started plinking, but plinking isn’t the only thing this rifle is capable of. Varmints and small game are easy put-downs for this rifle and with up to 30 continuous shots available, you’ll be able to hunt to your heart’s content!
The rifle itself feels great! It’s well balanced and doesn’t have plastic where metal should be! Pumping it up is fairly easy and the rifle has proven to be deadly accurate up to 50 yards. This kit is a no-brainer, its an excellent deal and the perfect start to an air gun enthusiasts armory.
- Safety glasses
- 400 Crosman Piranha 14.3 pellets
- 2000 PSI pressure gauge
- Hand pump
- Perfect kit for someone new to PCP air rifles
- Easy to recharge and has a large air capacity
- Ambidextrous all-weather black synthetic stock
- Smooth bolt action
- Up to 30 continuous shots per fill
- Fiber optic front and rear sights
- Rifled steel barrel
- Steel breech
- Single-stage trigger
- Sling mounts
- Automatic safety
- Dovetail mounting rail
4. Beeman R9 Elite Series
Estimated Price: $500
My Review: The German-engineered Beeman R9 is the lighter, smaller and more sophisticated version of the highly reputable R1 series. This bad boy is available in both .177 and .22 calibers and the package (Elite) I’ve linked to is a fantastic deal! It’ll come with a Bushnell muzzle break already installed and a beautiful Bushnell Banner 4-12×40 scope, which I’ve actually reviewed specifically in my air gun scopes guide here.
The price tag is what sets people back from getting their first Beeman air rifle. They’re expensive, there’s no other way to put it, however, the quality absolutely annihilates any spring guns that would even be close to competing with it. If you’re shopping for your kid, this probably isn’t the best economical choice out there, however, if you’re looking into adult airgunning, this is a great deal.
The designers and engineers behind the Beeman R9 literally have taken all of the best ideas and components from tried and true pellet guns, smashed them into one sleek design, and used the absolute finest materials during its construction.
Simply put, this is like the Lamborghini of the break barrel spring piston pellet guns world. If splurging on the utmost highest quality is your thing, the Beeman R9 should be the next rifle entering your armory.
- Elite Beeman package consisting of a muzzle brake, scope, and mounts
- 500-1000 FPS
- 11mm Dovetail rail
- 2-stage adjustable Rekord trigger
- Checkered hardwood stock
Making It Rain – Unlimited Budget
If you enjoy throwing those green bills away until you have the most ridiculous and highest prestige item in a category, this is for you!
3. SMG 22 Full Auto Pellet Gun
Estimated Price: $550
My Review: Say hello to my little friend, the Air Ordnance SMG22, the belt-fed pellet gun that can 700 pellets downrange per minute (12 pellets per second). While there are other full auto pellet guns out there, this is the only one that I know of that has a 100 round ammo belt. The great thing about full auto air rifles is that they are not regulated by the ATF, so anyone can own one without a waiting period or special license.
If you’re into paintball, you probably already recognize that the frame of this air rifle is basically just a modified Tippmann 98 with a response trigger. It has all the same adjustment points of a Tippmann 98, too. There is an adjustment knob of the right side of the knob you can turn to regulate the rate of fire you’d like.
There are a number of different models you can buy, some come with the drum mag and some don’t. Some also have an adjustable stock and others do not.
The sights on this rifle are different from a Tippmann 98, though, and the rear sight windage can be adjusted. It has an adjustable front grip that is attached to a rail system, which you can add attachments on.
The only real things that are a pain about owning a full auto pellet gun is it does take a good bit of time to drop 100 pellets in ammo belts. If you’re going to buy this, I definitely recommend picking up the speed loader. You can use this rifle without the drum mag, but in my opinion, the drum mag is well worth it. When holding the belt by hand, sometimes you get distracted and end up putting tension on the belt as it’s feeding into the rifle, causing it to not cycle properly.
Note: This rifle comes with the benefits of full auto-destruction, but don’t expect the spectacular range or accuracy that you will find in single-shot powerful pellet guns. Accuracy by volume is the name of the game with full auto air rifles.
- Guaranteed smile when firing
- 100 run belt clip
- 570 fps with standard pellets and 600 fps with HPA pellets
- Picatinny rail system on top of the bottom for attachments like grips, lasers, optics, etc.
- List Item
- Easy to load
- Adjustable rate of fire
2. Airforce Ultimate Condor PCP Air Rifle 25 Cal
Estimated Price: $1600
My Review: The Airforce Air guns Ultimate Condor is the Cadillac of pellet guns. If groupings of less than 1” at 75 yards is what you require in a pellet gun, look no further. This is the most powerful PCP pellet gun on the market today and will not disappoint! My first time shooting this rifle made me wonder why anyone would use an actual firearm to hunt varmints or small critters. This air rifle makes quick work of anything smaller than a wolf and lands easy tight groupings further than I ever thought imaginable by an air rifle. Set this thing up, purge your land of annoying critters and have some fun doing it!
Functions and features:
- Futuristic/modern black design with pistol grip
- 600-1250+ FPS
- Adjustable power for use indoors and outdoors
- Comes attached with a retractable and adjustable bipod
- 24” Lothar Walther barrel with a 1:16 twist
- Spin Loc hi-cap tank
- Sound deadening baffles
- This is the most powerful PCP air rifle in production
- Despite being powerful, this pellet gun is incredibly quiet and has virtually no recoil
1. Crosman Challenger PCP Air Rifle
Estimated Price: $530
I never tested this air rifle, but Corporal Goins recommended this rifle in his PCP air rifle review, and after reading other positive I had to add it to the list. Corporal Goins worked in the airgun industry for years so I definitely trust is advice.
To quote Corporal Goins “Accuracy is exceptional with the Challenger as it sports a match Lothar Walther barrel and a fully adjustable trigger.” This rifle is actually used and approved by the Civilian Marksmanship Program for 3-position air rifle shooting competitions.
Corporal Goins also said, “The Challenger only needs to be charged to 2,000 PSI and gets around 70 shots before needing a refill.”
The bottom line is this seems like a sold air rifle. I haven’t personally tried it, but I wanted to add it to the list for those of you considering a PCP air rifle.
- Considered a tack driver in the airgun industry
- Sharp looking air rifle
- velocity of 530 fps
- 0.177 caliber
- One of the most accurate pellet guns on the market
An Important Note From Corporal Goins (Another writer on Marine Approved that worked in the airgun industry for years).
Here is what he had to say about air rifles being advertised with very high max velocities and Nitro piston technology.
A major problem plaguing the industry is the marketing ploys like “1200 fps” or anything Nitro Piston. Folks that buy those 1200 fps airguns don’t realize that air gun pellets aren’t really designed to exceed 950 fps or so (particularly in .177), any faster actually causes the projectile to tumble and yaw in flight causing HUGE accuracy issues. As Americans, we want best, faster, bigger and the marketing of hypervelocity airguns more lucrative than a sensibly powered airgun like the Air Arms or Weirhauch guns. While Nitro piston air guns are marketed as more durable, reliable and consistent I’ve found very little data to support the claims. On the contrary, spring piston guns can be left cocked for hours without any detriment to spring set or power (I’ve tested this myself with several airguns). While Nitro piston air rifles have their place for a budget airguns I’ve replaced FAR more faulty and leaky gas-pistons than I have broken steel mainsprings. As a matter of fact, I bought a Benjamin XL nitro piston as a gift for my dad one year and less than six months later the gun was inoperable due to the gas ram leaking out and poor overall seal quality.
History of Air Rifles for All the Nerds Out There
Guns operating with pneumatic technology date back to the early 1500s and have since come a very long way and surprisingly are still incredibly relevant and usable in today’s world. Not many pieces of ancient technology are used in nearly the same form as they were when they were first created, however, the construction and principals of an air gun are very simple and leave little to be desired outside of using an actual charge found in firearms.
The first airgun can now be found in a museum in Stockholm and consisted of bellows being pumped to fire small projectiles. Beginning in the 17 century, air guns utilizing .30 to .51 caliber projectiles were used to hunt game such as boar and deer. Air rifles of this time period largely used some type of charging pump, such as bellows, to fill a reservoir with air and a trigger mechanism to unleash all of this pent-up air all at once, launching projectiles at velocities never before seen. Some ancient air guns were capable of 1000 feet per second (FPS)!
It was quickly realized that air guns had distinct advantages over other firearms such as the ability to be discharged in rain, unlike the matchlock and flintlock pistols. This quickly gave air rifles their place in warfare where they were used to quietly engaged enemies. Air rifles also took significantly less time to reload and didn’t have to be serviced and cared nearly as much as other firearms.
Primitive firearms were simply no match for a well-made air rifle of its time! The most commonly recognized combat air rifle is the Girandoni Air Rifle.
Countries such as France and Austria even had entire sniper units wielding only high precision air rifles which were called “Windbüchse” which means wind rifle In German. These rifles were designed by a famous watchmaker named Tyrolean in 1768. These rifles were roughly 4 feet long and weighed a little less than 10 pounds which put them close to the size and weight of a musket. They were the first to feature removable air reservoirs and could hold 22 .51 caliber lead balls. These could easily penetrate over inch-thick wooden boards, which puts their effective damage close to modern 9mm and .45 ACP pistols.
Roll up to 1804 and our best friends Lewis and Clark were touting air guns that shot .46 caliber lead balls while they explored the mysterious western world! That’s right, all of those photos you see of L and C riding around packing heat were actually air rifles!
The first commercially mass-produced air guns were manufactured in Plymouth, Michigan by the Markham Air Rifle Company. Their first model, which was a huge hit with hunters and explorers of the time was named the “Wooden Challenger” and was available to the public in 1886. Their biggest rival, Clarence Hamilton, grew incredibly jealous of Markham’s early success and decided to launch the “Daisy Manufacturing Company” in response. This created healthy competition which fueled upgraded iterations of their most successful models including the Daisy King model in 1890. These for sold for under a single USD!
In the 1890s, competition shooting grew popular across the US and Europe where Public House Matches took place. These featured sponsored marksman teams and the team who lost fit the bill of the event and prizes!
In 1899 we see the birth of the National Smallbore Rifle Association. This spurred a massive number of air rifle clubs across Europe where competitive shooting became intensely popular.
Since then, primarily the look and feel of the rifle are the only things to really evolve. Air rifles are incredibly simple in nature and after refined by early air rifle companies, the future of air guns pretty much remains the same from then on out. These rifles were incredibly affordable and abundant and were even showcased in the Olympics under the Olympic 10m Air Rifle and 10m Air Pistol competitions!
Corporal Wabo is a former Infantry Squad Leader with 3rd Bn 4th Marines that specialized in Mortars. In his free time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, running, shooting guns, and reviewing gear. He started this website while transitioning out of the Marines, and since has recruited several other Marines to help him work on the Marine Approved website. We are currently looking for former Marines to join the team who are interested in writing about tactical gear, survival gear, hiking supplies, etc. For more information about us or joining the team, check out the “About Us” tab.