Looking for an air rifle but overwhelmed by all of the options out there? Not sure what all the different terms mean?
We get it. It’s easy to feel lost in the world of air guns if you’re not already in the know.
But don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be that way.
With this guide, buying an air rifle can be a stress free experience. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about buying an air rifle.
We’ll start by going over some basics about air rifles, then move on to what you need to know to choose not only a high-quality air rifle, but the right air rifle for you. Then we’ll go over seven of our top air rifle recommendations to help you get started on your search.
By the time we’re finished, you should have no problems picking out the perfect air rifle for you.
350 to 700 fps
Ruger Blackhawk Combo
Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle
Diana RWS Model 34 Classic
Daisy 880 Powerline Air Rifle
Hatsan MOD 95 Combo
1, 300 FPS
Ready to get started?
Air Rifles 101: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Airguns
Air guns fire projectiles using compressed air. There are air handguns and air rifles, but we’re focusing on the latter here.
Air rifles’ projectiles don’t achieve the same velocities as regular firearms, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be useful. Air guns are great for plinking, target shooting, small game hunting (or even medium game with a big bore air rifle), and pest control.
There are even air gun competitions and air gun classes in many competition styles. Some schools even have shooting teams that compete using air rifles.
Air guns have less noise and recoil than firearms. This makes them a great choice for kids and new shooters that are a bit nervous about firearms. It also makes them a good choice for use in places where the noise of a firearm is likely to disturb the neighbors.
In addition, since they aren’t as regulated as firearms, air guns are also a good alternative in places where firearms aren’t allowed or if you don’t want to have to be on a registry to own your gun.
How Do You Choose the Best Air Rifle?
All air rifles aren’t the same, though. Some are little more than a toy (though caution is essential when using anything that fires a projectile), while others have basically all the features you’d expect to see on a firearm. And needs vary from person to person, so the best air gun for one person may not be a good choice for someone else.
Let’s talk about what to look for to ensure you’re choosing a high-quality air rifle that fits your needs.
First, Let’s Consider Ammo and Caliber.
The most common air rifle caliber is .177, the same caliber as your standard BB. .177 caliber pellet guns will typically shoot both .177 pellets and BBs. On the other hand, BB guns will generally only shoot BBs, not pellets. Fortunately, most air rifles are pellet guns, giving you options for ammo.
In addition, larger caliber pellet guns, like .22 and .25 won’t fire BBs since they’re too small.
A larger caliber air rifle can obviously take down larger game though, so having to use pellets is certainly worth the inconvenience.
As for the rifles themselves, there are a few different types in terms of the powerplant, or the method the rifle uses to compress and decompress air to fire the BB or pellet. The most common are variable pump, break action, and pre-charged pneumatic (PCP).
You know those squirt guns that you pump up to get a continuous stream? Variable pump air rifles work the same way. The forearm serves as a hand pump to compress and pressurize air to power the projectile. And just like those squirt guns, the more you pump, the higher the velocity of your round. Just be careful not to pump too many times, as this can damage the rifle.
Variable Pump Air Rifles
Variable pump rifles allow you to get a lot of power relative to the size and weight of the rifle, but that comes at the cost of time and effort to prepare for your shots. The movement required can also be a problem when hunting.
Break Action Air Rifles
Break action air rifles contain a piston and spring. When you cock the gun, the piston moves back, compressing the spring. When you pull the trigger, the piston is released, rapidly moving forward and compressing the air in front of it, causing the pellet or BB to fire from the rifle.
Break action air rifles are typically very affordable, straightforward to use, and easy to maintain and modify. On the other hand, the significant moving parts make these air rifles more difficult to shoot accurately.
Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) Air Rifles
Finally, PCP rifles have a built-in gas reservoir that the user can fill using an external tank or a hand pump. This allows you to fill the reservoir before you start shooting, then you get dozens of powerful shots without having to refill.
It also means that there’s very little motion with each shot, allowing for excellent accuracy. These advantages mean that pneumatic air rifles tend to be high-end.
Contrast PCP air rifles with CO2 air rifles, which work similarly but use CO2 cartridges instead of an internal reservoir. This allows for more convenient filling, especially in the field, since you can just throw a few CO2 cartridges in your pocket and be ready to go.
However, CO2 doesn’t offer the same power and it’s highly affected by the temperature, so CO2 rifles can be inconsistent. CO2 cartridges can also get costly if you shoot a lot. To help offset this, CO2 rifles tend to be more affordable to purchase in the first place, but it doesn’t take long for the net cost to exceed that of even a PCP rifle.
Now let’s move on to the air rifle recommendations.
1. Crosman M4-177
Crosman is one of the biggest names in air guns, and the Crosman M4-177 is one of their most popular air rifles. They suggest it for small game hunting and target shooting.
As the name suggests, the gun’s design is based on the M4 carbine. Like the M4, the M4-177 has an adjustable stock, a removable carry handle on a Picatinny rail, loops for a gun sling, and synthetic furniture.
Also as the name suggests, the Crosman M4-177 shoots .177 caliber pellets and BBs. The reservoir holds up to 350 BBs and the rifle comes with a Firepow’r 5 shot pellet clip. The removable magazine serves as storage for the pellet clip and sight adjustment tool.
It’s not a particularly powerful air rifle, though: it shoots BBs at velocities up to 660 fps and 7.9 gr .177 caliber pellets up to 625 fps.
The rifle has a pin front sight that allows for elevation adjustment and a peep rear sight that allows for windage adjustment. The rear sight allows you to choose between two aperture sizes, a smaller one for small or stationary targets and a larger one for large or moving targets.
The sights and stock are all removable, allowing you to upgrade and customize the air rifle. It also has four Picatinny rails, including the one the carry handle attaches to, for mounting various accessories.
It has a variable pump action for air compression and a bolt action to move the actual pellets into place. The steel barrel is rifled for accuracy. The rifle also has a single stage trigger and a crossbolt safety.
The Crosman M4-177 is available on it’s own or as part of a kit that includes 50 BBs, 50 pellets, 5 targets, and safety glasses. The kit makes a great starting set for beginners, either for yourself or as a gift.
The price of Crosman M4-177 varies, so check the latest price at
2. Benjamin Marauder
Our next pick is also from Crosman, though it’s sold under their Benjamin line, which is a more high-end, adult-oriented line of air rifles.
The Benjamin Marauder is a PCP air rifle. It has a built-in pressure gauge and a quick-disconnect Foster fitting for quick, easy refilling. The 250cc reservoir can be filled up to 3,000 PSI, giving you about 60 shots on a single tank.
It’s also semi-automatic, which is unusual for an air rifle. Some of the compressed air is recycled to move the next pellet into the action for your next shot. This makes it especially great for hunters. It’s also good for target shooting, pest control, and small game hunting, including targets as large as turkeys and coyotes.
It’s available in models chambered for .177, .22, or .25 caliber pellets. Each caliber is also available with a wooden or an all-weather black synthetic stock. Each version is carefully balanced for comfortable, accurate shooting.
The Benjamin Marauder uses closed rotary magazines that hold 10 rounds each. There’s a bit of a learning curve but easy to reload once you’re used to them. A tool like the Air Venturi Pellet Pen can make reloading even faster and easier.
The barrel is rifled for accuracy and fully shrouded to dampen noise. The rifle has an adjustable match-grade two-stage trigger system with a nice, crisp feel.
The side lever can be placed on either the left or the right, and the stock is ambidextrous, so this rifle is well-suited for both left and right-handed shooters.
The stock features an adjustable raised comb for a personalized fit for the perfect cheek weld. And speaking of personalization, there are lots of aftermarket modifications available for this rifle, so you can customize it to your heart’s content.
There’s an 11mm dovetail rail on the top of the receiver, so you shouldn’t have a problem adding a scope mount. That’s good since there are no iron sights, making some sort of optic necessary.
The price of Benjamin Marauder varies, so check the latest price at
3. Ruger Blackhawk Combo
Don’t let the name fool you: this is not an air gun version of the Ruger Blackhawk Revolver.
In fact, the Ruger Blackhawk air rifle is actually manufactured by Umarex, another big name in air guns, under license from Ruger.
It’s a spring piston air rifle with a black all-weather composite stock and blued metal. It shoots .177 caliber pellets and can send a lead pellet up to 1,000 fps. Lighter alloy pellets can reach speeds as high as 1200 fps.
The ergonomic stock is ambidextrous and has a rubber recoil pad. The pistol grip and forearm are both checkered. The adjustable two-stage trigger comes set at a 3.3 pound trigger pull.
It’s called the Blackhawk Combo because it comes with a 4x32 scope with a duplex reticle and multi coated lenses. That scope will certainly come in handy for seeing the small game and varmints that this rifle is so well suited to take down. The scope is easy to mount with the included rings and the 11mm dovetail rail along the top of the receiver.
If you prefer, however, you can use the fiber optic front and rear iron sights.
Ruger Blackhawk Combo
The price of Ruger Blackhawk Combo varies, so check the latest price at
4. Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle
Next up is the Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle, available in .177 caliber and .22 caliber. It’s a great varmint and small game hunting rifle, but it’s also well suited for recreation and target practice.
This air rifle uses Gamo’s IGT Mach 1 Inert Gas Technology gas piston system with a larger-than-average 33mm cylinder, which allows it to fire pellets at pretty incredible velocities. It can send a .177 caliber pellet at speeds up to 1,420 FPS and .22 caliber pellets up to 1,020 FPS.
This system also produces less movement compared to other gas piston systems, making it more accurate. The Shock Wave Absorber recoil pad helps absorb most of the lingering recoil and the Recoil Reducing Rail helps protect your optic from vibration damage.
On that note, the Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle comes with a shockproof and fogproof GAMO 3-9×40 air rifle scope, plus ring mounts. It also has fiber optic sights for those who prefer them though. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation.
“Whisper Fusion” refers to the noise dampening technology the rifle uses to make it the quietest that Gamo sells. Pellets are sent through two different chambers to reduce noise expansion. The barrel has a fluted polymer jacket for additional noise reduction.
The ambidextrous stock is made from automotive grade all-weather glass-filled nylon and has non-slip checkering on the grip and forearm. The two-stage Custom Action Trigger is adjustable. The rifle also features both an automatic cocking safety system and a manual safety.
The Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle is covered by a five year warranty.
Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle
The price of Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle varies, so check the latest price at
5. Diana RWS Model 34 Classic
The Diana RWS Model 34 Classic is the first break barrel air rifle on our list. It’s a simple single shot air rifle without a bunch of extra bells and whistles, but it does its job well and looks good doing it.
The Model 34 has a balanced hardwood stock and a blued barrel for a timeless look. It has TruGlo fiber optic sights, with a fixed front sight and adjustable rear sight. It also has an 11mm rail for mounting an optic if you’d like.
The 19.5” barrel is rifled for accuracy and the gun fires .22 caliber pellets at velocities up to 800 FPS. The two-stage adjustable trigger comes set at a 3.3 pound trigger pull and cocking effort is just 33 pounds. With those features, plus the 7.55 pound overall weight and 45” overall length, this air rifle should be easy to handle for even smaller and weaker shooters.
The Diana RWS 34 is a great option for plinking, target shooting, and small game and varmint hunting.
Diana RWS Model 34 Classic
The price of Diana RWS Model 34 Classic varies, so check the latest price at
6. Daisy 880 Powerline Air Rifle
Daisy is probably best known for their Red Ryder BB gun, which famously appeared in A Christmas Story and was part of many of our childhoods. But you may not be aware that Daisy doesn’t just make air guns for kids.
Just one example is the Daisy 880 Powerline, a serious airgun for adults that also happens to be Daisy’s most popular air rifle.
It uses a multi-pump pneumatic system with a built-in hand pump. The lever for the pump is found underneath the receiver, giving the air rifle and appearance like a lever action rifle. This underlever rifle fires .177 BBs and pellets and can achieve velocities up to 800 FPS. It can reach distances up to 291 yards.
It has a 50 BB capacity and features repeating BB firing but single shot pellet firing.
On top of the receiver is a dovetail rail, made from engineering resin, that allows you to mount an optic or other accessories. The rifle also has a TruGlo fiber optic blade and ramp front sight and adjustable rear sight.
The Monte Carlo style stock is made from molded wood grain and features a raised cheek piece. Both the grip and forearm are checkered. The barrel is made of rifled steel and the rifle also features a manual crossbolt trigger block.
This rifle is a great choice for smaller shooters. It weighs just 4.75 pounds and has a 13.5” length of pull with an overall length of 37.6 inches.
Daisy Powerline 880 Air Rifle
The price of Daisy Powerline 880 Air Rifle
varies, so check the latest price at
7. Hatsan MOD 95 Combo
Rounding out our list is the Hatsan MOD 95 Combo. This air rifle comes in .177, .22, and .25 caliber options, only matched on this list by the Marauder in terms of caliber options.
It’s a spring-piston air rifle with single-shot firing. The rifled barrel is 17.7” long and the rifle has an overall length of 44.3”.
The break barrel action features an anti-beartrap mechanism, which prevents the automatic safety from moving into the off position when the barrel is broken. This ensures that the adjustable Quattro 2-stage match trigger can’t be pulled while the rifle is cocked.
The Turkish walnut stock is ambidextrous and checkered on the grip and forearm. The rubber recoil pad works with the rifle’s shock absorber system to reduce felt recoil.
The rifle has a fixed front sight with red TruGlo fiber optics and a windage and elevation adjustable rear sight with its own green TruGlo fiber optics. It also has an 11mm dovetail rail which can be used to mount the included 3-9x32 Optima scope. Scope rings are also included.
Hatsan MOD 95 Combo
The price of Hatsan MOD 95 Combo varies, so check the latest price at
Now, with the knowledge you’ve gained, choosing an air rifle should be a breeze. Just consider what you’d like to do with your air rifle, what features you’d like to have, and what your budget is.
There is so much variety in the world of air guns that there is something out there for everyone, and we tried to reflect that in our list.
What are your thoughts on our air rifle recommendations? Is there a particular air rifle that stood out to you over the others? What about it caught your eye? Is there another air rifle that you think I should have included here? Let me know in the comments below! Also check out or guide for the best budget air rifle scope for your air rifle.
And if you’re thinking you might want an air pistol rather than an air rifle, be sure to check out our air pistol recommendations.