Welcome to Airgun Mikes, where we’ll get to explore the best air rifles, review, and take our air guns on adventure. Ive prepared some subjective air rifle reviews for your reading pleasure. Hunting, shooting, and the outdoors are a cornerstone of this country’s foundings, and today we celebrate that here. Although I am actively experienced with firearms, most of the times I prefer to go out to my own back yard and plink a few cans. Can’t do that with a .308, not without the neighbors calling the cops. I created this website with the main goal of sharing my real life experiences with a number of different air rifles and guns. I have handled a lot of airguns, some of my own, and some of my buddy’s, and I thought it would be great if I could create this website as a resource to share my reviews and opnions
While air rifles have been around since the 18th century, technology and better understanding of pneumatics have drastically lead to an improvement in power, reliability, accuracy, and overall repeatability of shots. Modern air rifles seek (and most come close) to reaching these goals, and at a fair price too. Its fair to mention that air rifles follow a law of diminishing returns. That is; a 400$ air rifle may perform twice as good as a 200$ air rifle, but a $800 air rifle doesn’t necessarily perform twice as good as a 400$ air rifle. This is great for the everyday consumer as far as affordability is concerned.
Air guns are vastly underrated, and have benefits beyond typical hunting or target practice. Air guns are regarded as a top choice by preppers and survivalists alive. Mainly for their quietness and simplicity. In a doomsday scenario, its far easier to make pellets than to make conventional bullets.
With so many variety of air rifles produced by a number of manufacturers in different shapes, sizes, and calibers, how do you choose the best air rifle? Well lets move on to the bread and butter….
Know your Purpose
You know you want a powerful air rifle. But it’s more complicated than that. Do you plan to hunt or target shoot? Or Both? Power in the air gun world is known as kinetic energy, which is a function of mass and speed. The larger 22 caliber air rifles tend to travel slower, while smaller .177 caliber air rifles travel faster. In fact, .177 caliber air rifles are often capable of surpassing 1200 fps (feet per second). Thats faster than the speed of sound! Each one is some sort of compromise. .22 Caliber air guns are known better for their ability to take out small game (ie, squirrels, birds, etc), while 177 air guns are known for their accuracy and velocity. Also note that .177 caliber air rifles require less air to acheive a higher velocity. Personally, I prioritize my air guns ability to take out small game over pure velocity, and since I am not a competitive shooter, I prefer .22 Caliber air rifles. Its also gratifying to listen to the .22’s larger *PING* sound which comes from hitting far off metal targets. .177 pellets don’t quiet have the same sound. If you are shooting paper targets and want laser sharp accuracy, go with a .177 pellet gun. Admittedly, there are days where I enjoy pretending I’m an Olympic shooter hundres of yards from my target. Other available air rifle calibers include; .20, and .25, though they are much less common. We will be addressing these other choices in different pages. I will link to it when available!
If you’re already leaning towards a .177 caliber air rifle, a good choice for intermediate shooters is the Gamo Silent Cat.
However, if you are leaning towards a .22 of similar intermediate level, a Ruger Air Magnum Combo air rifle is an excellent choice. If a .22 floats your fancy, see my post on the Best .22 air rifle under 300$.
Different Types of AirGun Propulsion Systems.
Air rifles and pistols need air pressure to send pellets down range, plain and simple. There are a few different types of technologies that airguns use to achieve this air pressure. Basically, different means to the same end. It often depends on your willingness for manual pumping, or allowable budget for CO2.
Break Action (spring piston)
These are the more common type of air guns that you’ll find, and for good reason. Break action air rifles are easy to use, powerful, consistent, and only require one pump per shot. These make great rifles for hunting and target shooting due to their consistency. This means a more predictable shot after shot. Why? Because the same amount of air will always be pumped into the rifle each time it is pumped. The power of Spring Piston air rifles are not to be underestimated! 1000 FPS can often be expected out of a break action air rifle.
Unfortunately for many break action air rifles, the large spring within the rifle is needed to push the piston, which produces the needed air pressure. This all happens before the pellet leaves the barrel. This is counterproductive to you as the shooter who is trying to hold the rifle steady just before pulling the trigger. Luckily, to counteract this, some air rifles such as the Crosman Nitro Piston use nitrogen gas instead of the spring to force the piston.
Variable Multi-Pump pneumatic
Multi pump air rifles allow the shooter vary the amount of power that they want to deliver to the target. These are regarded as one of the best type of air rifles for beginners that will still be rewarding to shoot even as you move up to the intermediate stage. Many experienced shooters will still seek a variable pump air rifle if only for childhood nostalgia. Variable pump air rifles taught me as a kid about the concept of hard work and reward, and a good lesson on pneumatics. Experimenting with varying pump amounts is a good way to learn about the ballistic properties of your gun and pellet. On average, about 8 pumps or more can be expected in order to get a powerful shot more comparable to a break action air rifle. Pumping a variable multi pump air rifle can be tough, especially if you have any sort of optics attached, which can be a hindrance. Most shooters use multi-pumps with regular old iron sights, and that’s how I prefer it myself.
PCP / Pre-Charged Pneumatic
Powerful, Accurate, and essentially recoil-less. These are without a doubt, the mac-daddy of air guns. PCP air guns come in both pistols and rifle form. This type of air gun works by pumping air into an internal reservoir within the air gun. These reservoirs are capable of holding very high pressures. High enough pressures such that it will last for multiple shots. The main advantage to this is what you can fire multiple shots without having to pump more air. You also have the ability to reload a pellet within seconds. The disadvantage of PCP air guns is that pressures of 2000+ PSI needs to be reached somehow. That is either done through a recharging tank or a manual pump. This can be a lot of work to reach these pressures!
These air rifles tend to attract more advanced shooters. If you are on the search for the best air rifle type, this is it! Mainly these are hobbyists who are already established in the hobby and don’t mind spending a little extra. The starting price point for a good quality PCP air rifle is around $300-500. If the budget allows, I would also recommend these for a beginner to the hobby.
If you’re looking to take out small game and practice your marksmanship, but don’t like pumping, then this if for you. CO2 powered air guns are popular because they utilize a small Co2 canister which turn compressed CO2 from the semi-liquid stage to the gas stage. This reaction is sufficient to sent a pellet to up to 800 FPS. C02 air guns have the benefits of PCP air rifles, but without all the pumping! They are however not quite as powerful as PCP air rifles, and the purchasing of CO2 canisters are required.
Due to the compact size of the CO2 canisters, they are popular for use in Air Pistols.
Quick lesson on Muzzle energy
As you’ll learn FPS (feet per seconds) isn’t everything. Many air gun companies will tout their impressive FPS numbers. They often won’t tell you that they are using the lightest weight aluminum pellets to obtain this data. This is great if you are target shooting and only looking to tear holes through paper. In that case it is a great statistic to look at. For hunting it is a different story. If you want to know your take-down power for hunting, you’ll need to learn about the concept of muzzle energy.
Pyramid air has more detailed lesson on muzzle energy if you are interested. They also have some pretty cool calculator that lets you input pellet weight as well as velocity and will automatically output FT-LB of energy.
Many shooters go years without learning about muzzle energy of their air gun. But if you want to be one of the best air rifle shooters, its a concept that you’ll need to be solid on.
What are some good Brands to look into?
If you’re looking into a good quality air rifle, you’ll want to look into a known name-brand air rifle. Air guns are capable of holding a lot of pressure, and because safety always comes first, you’ll want a reputable brand who stands behind their product. Air gunning is a global hobby, and our search for the best air rifle takes us to about every part of the world as you’ll see!
Crosman began as a maker of airgun pellets and a year later unveiled their first air rifle in 1924 “Power without powder” was their slogan, and was an instant success. Crosman started out as a modest company, only growing to 6 employees by 1940. By 1966, they were a quickly growing company, producing 16 million of their famed 760 Pumpmaster air rifle. Though a number of acquisitions, Crosman is now the driving force behind many leading air rifles today.
The brand originally known as “El Gamo”, is located in Spain and is the most popular manufacturer of air guns and air gun related products in all of Europe. Still, their largest consumer is still the U.S. Though popular for their high quality air guns, they are also a leading producer in Pellets/BB’s, Optics/Scopes, shooting targets, and almost every type of air gun accessory you could thing of. Gamo’s main known contribution to the air rifle world is their development of insert gas technology, which replaces spring pistons with pneumatic gas cylinders. Such technology can be seen in the Gamo Silent Cat.
Or if you prefer; “Rheinisch-Westfälische Sprengstoff”. Ok, I didn’t think so. This brand which was once independent, is now licensed to Umarex. However, their manufacturing lines have not been touched and air still under their own R&D power. Their prices tend to run on the higher side, but their quality often exceeds the quality of almost every other airgun manufacturer out there. If you have ever had the pleasure of simply holding one, you’ll know it just feels special. For a serious shooter, RWS will always be highly regarded.