18 Best Pellet Guns of 2024: (Single Pump to Full Auto Air Rifles)

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In this article, we discuss the best pellet guns for 2024, including options from budget-friendly to high-end models. We also covered various types like single pump and full-auto air rifles, along with a buying guide detailing powerplant types, pellet calibers, and selection tips.

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 to 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?

Pellet Gun Buying Guide (Top of Page Image)

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.

Quick Summary: Our Top Picks for Pellet Guns and Air Rifles in 2024
Crosman Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle
  • Looks similar to an actual AR-15
  • Very accurate up to 15 yards
  • 600 fps with pellets and 650 fps with BBs
Gamo Varmint
  • Countless confirmed varmint kills
  • A rodents worst nightmare
  • Good bang for your buck
Ruger Blackhawk Combo
  • Simple to use traditional rifle style air gun
  • Incredible accuracy and precision
  • Spring-piston powered
Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Air Rifle
  • 10 shot repeatability
  • Ambidextrous grip with right side bolt
  • Well balanced for field carry
Umarex Hammer .50 Caliber PCP
  • High-powered .50 caliber for impressive stopping force.
  • Integrated pressure regulator ensures consistent accuracy.
  • Adjustable stock and cheek piece for personalized comfort.

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!

Variable Pump

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.

CO2 Powered

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 Power

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)


18. Crosman Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle (Cheapest)

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

Check Price on Amazon

Buy on Airgun Depot

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 give 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.

Key Features

  • 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


  • Looks like an AR or M16
  • Holds up to 350 BBs in reservoir
  • Easy to pump


  • Weak
  • Mag hold 5 shots
  • Slow to shoot
  • Not very accurate


    17. Crosman Fire Nitro Piston Air Rifle

    Crosman CSNP2SX Shockwave NP Synthetic Stock Nitro Piston Hunting Air Rifle with 4x32 Scope (.22-Caliber)

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    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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!

    Key Features

    • 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


    • Large grip on muzzle helps to cock
    • Quieter than a spring piston
    • Smoother cocking action
    • Includes scope
    • Inexpensive


    • Nitrogen tube has to be factory serviced
    • Nitro tube is not a proven long-term system


    16. Gamo Varmint (Best Under $100)

    Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal, Black

    Check Price on Amazon

    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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.

    Popular Article: 15 Best Long Range Rifles (Ranked by a Marine Sniper)

    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.

    Key Features

    • Countless confirmed varmint kills
    • A rodents worst nightmare
    • Good bang for your buck
    • Scope included
    • Single cocking break barrel


    • High velocity with alloy pellets
    • Comes with a scope


    • Hard to fully cock
    • Muzzle does not have a grip accessory


    15. Gamo Swarm Whisper 

    Check Price on Amazon

    My Review: The Gamo Swarm Whisper comes with the option of buying tins with the gun. If you need to do a little pest control, you have lots left over after the sighting in. You get 900 pellets in all with the 4-tin combo pack.

    The pellets are lead, and it kicks out about 66.4 decibels, which is pretty quiet. Normal conversation runs around 60 decibels. Typical spring piston guns are louder.

    Gamo gets the sound reduction through a gas piston instead of a spring piston. You will get higher velocities because of this. Vibration is also much less. This is a break action rifle so it is pretty much a single shot. However, it comes with a 10-round magazine. You do not have to fumble around to pull a single pellet from your tin to shoot.

    That is very handy if you are in cold conditions or wearing gloves. It is faster than a traditional break-action, but not as fast as a semi-auto or full auto. It comes with a scope. It does not have iron sights.

    It has a “noise suppressor” on the end of the barrel that is molded onto the barrel overlay. You could take it off. It is plastic so it will not work on a firearm.


    • Scope included
    • 1 10-round magazine
    • Optional pellets pack
    • Synthetic furniture
    • .17 or .22
    • Noise suppressor on barrel


    • Can order with pellet pack
    • Polymer sleeve on barrel gives good grip for cocking
    • Quieter than spring piston


    • Gas piston is not completely proven tech
    • Gas piston must be factory serviced


    14. Crosman 1322 Air Pistol Premier Shooters Kit

    Check Price on Amazon

    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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.

    Key Features

    • 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


    • You pump to set pressure
    • Variable pelley speed
    • Inexpensive


    • Slow to shoot
    • Low velocity even at max power.


    13. Ruger Blackhawk Combo (Best Value)

    Umarex Ruger Blackhawk .177 Caliber Pellet Gun Air Rifle with 4x32mm Scope

    Check Price on Amazon

    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!

    Key Features

    • 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


    • Comes with scope
    • Good velocity
    • Lightweight


    • Hard to cock
    • Be mindful of front sight when cocking
    • Loud


    12. Raptor Whisper Air RifleRaptor Whisper Air Rifle .22 Cal

    Check Price on Amazon

    Buy on Sportsmans

    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 it is probably a pretty cool addition for a young marksman.

    Popular Article: 14 Most Popular Air Rifles (Ranked by a Marine)

    Make no mistake, however, that this gun is to be treated as a full-blown firearm. It’ll 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.

    Key Features

    • Insanely quiet and low recoil design
    • .177 or .22 caliber


    • Comes with scope
    • High velocity with alloy pellets
    • Excellent trigger
    • More quiet than other spring pistons
    • Can order with pellet pack


    • Hard to cock
    • Louder than PCPs
    • Slow to shoot


    11 Sig Sauer MCX (Semi-Auto)

    SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered Advanced Air Rifle with CO2 90 Gram (2 Pack) and 500 Pellets Bundle (Black, Folding Sights)

    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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.

    Popular Article: 32 Best Nerf Guns (Ranked by a Marine)

    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 compromising 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.

    Key Features

    • 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


    • Choice of CO2 or PCP
    • M-Lock rail
    • Detachable iron sights
    • 30 round mag
    • 15,000 shot guarantee
    • Cool look


    • Must have gas, cartridge or PCP tube
    • Kinda loud
    • Middling velocity


    10. Sig MPX (Semi-Auto)

    Check Price on Amazon

    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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.

    Key Features

    • 30 round magazine
    • Almost 26 inches long
    • 7 pounds
    • 0.177
    • Flip-up open sights
    • Realistic looking air rifle
    • 90-gram CO2 operating system


    • Choice of CO2 or PCP
    • M-Lock rail
    • Detachable iron sights
    • 30 round mag
    • 15,000 shot guarantee
    • Cool SBR design


    • Must have gas, cartridge or PCP tube
    • Kinda loud
    • Middling velocity
    • Lower velocity than its big brother

    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. Daisy Powerline 901 Air Rifle

    Daisy Powerline 901 Air Rifle

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    Buy on Airgun Depot

    My Review: Daisy is one of the legends in air guns. From the spring lever action so many of us had when growing up to modern pre charged pneumatics. Daisy has something for everyone. The Powerline 901 is a pump model that shoots BBs and .177 pellets.

    The Powerline is a multi-pump rifle so you can vary the power from shot to shot. If you over pump it, the internal cylinder will bleed off the excess air. Do not over pump. More pumps than recommended puts more stress on the internal parts. You will wear the gun out much faster.

    Daisy says you get 750 FPS with BBs and 715 with pellets. That is at full power. My experience is the FPS is a bit lower

    The gun will hold up to 50 BBs. You feed the pellets one at the time. 


    • Comes with a pellet pen for easier loading
    • Steel barrel
    • Shoots BBs and pellets
    • TruGlo fiber optic front sight
    • Multi-pump
    • Synthetic furniture
    • Scope rail (scope not included)


    • Multi-pump; you adjust the pressure
    • High capacity for BBs
    • BBs and pellets
    • Easy to pump


    • Low power
    • Recoil will shred non-airgun scopes


    8. Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo

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    Buy on Airgun Depot

    My Review: Hatsan air guns are made in Izmir, Turkey. The Hatsan 95 is one of the entry level models and ranks as a mid-level air gun in  this list.

    Hatsan has a fully adjustable 2-stage Quattro Trigger System so you can dial in your preferred trigger pull. More airguns should have this feature.

    Hatsan says the rifle has a blazing 1,300 FPS with .177 alloy pellets. That is not far off the mark either. It is even more impressive as this is a spring piston rifle. It is a single shot in  .177, .22 , or .25 with a German rifled steel barrel. The stock is walnut.

    A 3-9×32 Optima scope is included. It also has iron sights with fiber optic inserts. The scope does not co witness with the included rings. Lower rings will allow co witness. Cocking this break action does take effort. Hatsan has included a big muzzle device that lets you get a better grip on the barrel. This is absolutely something all break-action airguns should have.

    The Hatsan SAS™ (Shock Absorber System) does cut some of the recoil, which is minimal anyway. The wood stock adds weight which absorbs some recoil. AIrguns are light recoiling in smaller calibers anyway.


    • Break barrel
    • Single-shot
    • Spring piston
    • .177 (4.5mm), .22 (5.5mm), and .25 (6.5mm) calibers
    • 2-stage Quattro Trigger System
    • SAS™ – Shock Absorber System 
    • Genuine Turkish walnut 
    • Checkered on grip and forearm
    • Large muzzle grip for easy cocking
    • Precision rifled German steel barrel


    • Inexpensive for the velocity and quality
    • Comes with a scope
    • Walnut stock
    • German barrel


    • Heavy
    • Slow to reload
    • Lot of force needed to fully set the internal spring


    7. RWS Model 50 Magnum .22 Caliber Air Rifle

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    Buy on Airgun Depot

    My Review: 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 you are not a fan of iron sights you’ll have to buy an additional scope and scope mount.

    Key Features

    • 19.5-inch barrel
    • Fixed front and adjustable rear sights
    • Blue hardwood stock
    • Awesome T06 2-stage trigger


    • .177 and .22
    • Fast velocities
    • Good on small game


    • Scope not included


    6. Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Air Rifle (Editor’s Choice)

    Benjamin Marauder BP2264S Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered .22-Caliber Pellet Multi-Shot Bolt-Action Hunting Air Rifle , Black

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    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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 it is 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!

    Key Features

    • 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
    • Air pressure gauge


    • Great entry-level PCP
    • .277, .22, .35 calibers
    • Excellent range
    • Adjustable cheek
    • Synthetic furniture sheds weight
    • Adjustable trigger


    • 11mm rail means small scopes only
    • Heavy


    5. Hatsan FlashPup Wood QE PCP

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    My Review: Hatsan makes the list again (they make excellent airguns) with a PCP, the Flashpup Wood QE. PCP stands for pre charged pneumatic.

    PCP’s delivery higher power, more accuracy and much faster shooting that break actions. As many PCPs, like the FlashPup Wood QE, have magazines, they are faster than PCP single shots but not as fast as full auto or semi auto.

    This one comes with 2 mags, and a quick fill nozzle on the tank. It has a top rail for iron sights or a scope and a bottom rail for a light, laser or bipod.

    Nighttime rat shooting is becoming increasingly popular. This rifle, with a rail on the bottom, is an ideal choice for this. Mount your night vision scope on the top and bipod on the bottom and spend several hours after dark taking out varmints.

    It comes in .17, .22 and .25. Listed velocities are 1,250, 1,120 and 900 FPS with alloy pellets, though the reality says your results will be a bit less. Lead pellets are slower, but pack a harder punch and tend to be more accurate.

    It has a Quattro adjustable trigger. The scope rail is 11 mm, standard airgun, and 22mm, the standard firearm Picatinny rail size. This is a bullpup configuration. The gun is shorter than the same bolt and barrel in a gun with the trigger just under the bolt.


    • .17, .22 and .25
    • Air gauge
    • Real Turkish walnut stock
    • Double rail
    • 2 mags
    • Pellet tray for single shot use
    • Quick fill nozzle
    • Adjustable trigger


    • Bullpup is a compact design
    • Excellent entry level PCP
    • Top and bottom rail
    • Turkish walnut stock


    • Bullpup may be an issue for some
    • .22 caliber only
    • No iron sights
    • Scope not included


    4. Beeman R9 Elite Series

    Beeman Black Cub Dual Caliber Air Rifle Combo, One Size (1022)

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    Buy on Airgun Depot

    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.

    Key Features

    • 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


    • 2 barrels, easy swap
    • Scope included
    • Pretty powerful


    • Hard to set the spring

    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. DPMS Full Auto SBR

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    My Review: You read that correctly. Full auto that anyone can own without a federal permit. Federal law does not regulate air guns, though some states do. If you live in a state where you can get a full auto airgun, the DPMS Full Auto SBR (short barreled rifle) is the go-to.

    Built along the lines of an AR-15 SBR, this has the look and feel of an AR 15 without the recoil and the noise. And yes, it is full auto. You can dump the entire mag, 25 bbs, in about 2 seconds.

    That will make some targets dance!

    The selector and safety switch functions just like the rock & roll AR 15. Safe, Semi auto and Full. The bolt even has a charging handle to pull to load the first shot. Each shot cycles the bolt, just like an AR 15.

    The stock is adjustable. The flip up sights are removable and adjustable. The full Pictanny rail lets you mount your choice of optics. Rails on the side and bottom let you put accessories.

    The gun comes with a speed loader for the magazine. You can buy extra mags.

    The magazine holds 1 or 2 12-gram CO2 cartridges. Buy these in bulk to save money. Get the Crosman cartridges. My own experience and countless reviews say you get more shots per cartridge with the Crosman.


    • Selector switch, Semi or Full Auto
    • 25-round mag
    • Realistic feel
    • Realistic look
    • Realistic cycling when shooting
    • Adjustable sights
    • 6-position stock
    • Forearm grip
    • No permit needed (in most states)


    • Full auto!
    • Real feel and look of a full auto rifle
    • Quiet
    • Quad rails
    • Iron sights included


    • Dumps mags in a hurry
    • Runs through CO2 containers fast


    2. Benjamin Bulldog .357 PCP

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    My Review: The Benjamin Bulldog is an air rifle that you can really hunt with. The 2023 version .357 delivers a target crushing 300 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle at maximum charge. This is a step up from older versions that delivered a maximum of 200 foot-pounds.

    That is good enough for head shots on bigger varmints like coyotes and foxes. If you are a little off or cannot connect a head shot, one through the chest wall is certainly fatal.

    I do not recommend hunting dangerous animals with this. But it is certainly capable of taking deer or hogs at 75 yards or less.

    While the .357 is considered a mid-bore size in rifles and handguns, it is a big bore in air guns.

    You can get up to 5 shots per tank. If you shoot maximum power, you will get 4 shots. Backing off a bit gives you that 5th shot, but also lowers the pellet velocity.

    The gun has a nontraditional look. The way the barrel and tank are enclosed makes this gun seem a lot bigger than it is. It does wiegh in at 9.2 pounds.


    • Bullpup configuration
    • 5-shot magazine
    • 26-inch pic rail
    • Pressure gauge
    • Cleaning kit


    • .357 hits hard
    • Top & bottom rails
    • Bullpup shortens the length
    • Bolt swaps to either side.


      • .357 pellets can be hard to find
      • Does not look like a rifle
      • Bullpup ay not be for everyone


    1. Umarex Hammer .50 Caliber PCP

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    My Review: Just in case you thought air guns were toys for kids, check out the Umarex Hammer .50 Caliber PCP. This 50-caliber monster delivers a bone-smashing 700+ foot pounds of energy at the muzzle witha  550-grain projectile. 

    If I had to choose a gun from this list, this is it. At full power, it is a big game gun. Back off the pressure and use lighter projectiles and it is devastating on small and medium game.

    The price is not going to give your wallet a heart attack. Yes, you can buy real firearms for less, but they come with paperwork. This, as with all these air guns, can be ordered through the mail for most places.

    This gun is capable of hunting black bears, trophy deer and trophy wild hogs. I do not recommend it for moose or grizzly bear.

    A .44 Mag with a standard 240 grain pill delivers about the same level of terminal performance. The .44 mag is also subject to federal regulations. The Umarex Hammer is not.

    Umarex says this is the most powerful production air rifle on the market today. They are likely correct. A couple of people have custom-made guns that deliver an even bigger wallop, but you may need a second mortgage to buy one.

    A full charge in the tank gets you 3 full-power shots and the 4th shot is between 80-90%. The tank is not removable so you are limited to those 4 shots if you are in the woods.


    • 2-round mag (2 mags included)
    • 3 mechanical safeties
    • 8-pound bolt pull
    • 2.5 pound trigger
    • Pressure gauge
    • Cantilever Pic rail
    • M-lok slots in forearm
    • 8.5 pounds unloaded without scope
    • Walther German-made barrel


    • Suitable for medium and big game
    • Deer rifle power without the same legal regulation
    • Lightweight for the caliber
    • Quiet


    • Costs more than many deer rifles
    • Scope not included
    • 4 shots per tank


    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 the 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 budget airguns I’ve replaced FAR with 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 principles 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)!

    Also Read: 7 Best Deer Hunting Air Rifles

    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 a 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 being 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!


    What’s the point of pellet guns?

    Pellet guns are  mostly used for training and practice. The lessons learned with an air rifle do translate across to real firearms. Hunting is increasingly common, but plinking and target practice are still the biggest uses.

    Is a pellet gun considered a firearm?

    No. Pellet guns are not considered firearms because they do not require gunpowder to fire. It uses pellets instead of actual bullets.

    However, pellet guns are regulated by state-specific regulations.

    How long does an air rifle last?

    Good air rifles will last at least 10,000 shots. However, they will require springs, pistons, or breach seals to be replaced from time to time.

    Are pellet rifles good for home defense?

    No. Pellet rifles cannot kill a person and therefore cannot be considered good for home defense in extreme situations.

    It can act as a bluff but not as a complete defense system.

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