So you’ve already decided you want the knock-down power that a .22 air rifle provides. Now you’ll need to decide which is the best .22 air rifle that fits best fits your needs. In this guide, I seek to lay out the pros and cons of some of the best .22 air rifles available. None of these air rifles reviewed are a bad option, but it may turn out that one is better for you.
Price is a big factor here, and the truly best air rifles will be found in the $1000+ range. For this guide, I’m focusing on the best air rifles under 300$ These will be perfect for beginners to intermediate shooters. People in this range account for about 90% of the active hobbyists. For the 10% of advance shooters, I will be posting another guide.
.22 air rifles are my personal weapon of choice for small game. .22 pellets are larger, have more inertial, and are more resistant to crosswinds that plague us in the real world. This results in consistency in our shots. More consistency in our shots mean that we can more cleanly and humanely take out our target. This consistency also makes .22 air rifles the best for outdoor target and marksmanship practice. Lets move on to how you choose the best .22 air rifle for your needs!
BENJAMIN TITAN GP NITRO PISTON AIR RIFLE
At under 150$ For value alone, I rate this one of the best .22 air rifles money can buy. With its tan colored wooden stock, and nitro piston technology, it is a new-era air rifle dressed like as a classic. Its a complete bargain for the price, with much better technology that you would find 30 years ago. Because of its low cost, I would highly recommend this to a first-timer getting into a hobbyand to all other skill levels looking for a fun mostly maintenance-free air rifle.
Expect 800 FPS from a heavy lead .22 caliber pellet, and 900+ FPS from a lightweight alloy pellet. This is considered very quick in the air rifle world, and especially for a single-pump break-barrel air rifle. A .22 traveling at 800 FPS is plenty enough to take out small rodents such as squirrels, rabbits, and possum. As well as other rodents of the avian type.
Being a nitro piston air rifle, it is by nature, very quiet. This is great news for your neighbors. It also decreases the chances of scaring away your prey in case you miss your shot. Remember that any new air rifle will be louder for the first couple hundred shots until it is fully broken in. There are no traditional iron-sights, so you’re limited to using a scope. With that mentioned, you are not limited to the scope which comes with Benjamin Titan GP. You could affix any type of scope you would like using the correct adapter.
The rifle itself is excellent quality, but many people are finding the scope adapter rings to be a bit less so. Many are seeing the scope change positions after every shot. The fix to the accuracy problems is to purchase a 15$ 11mm to weaver/picatinny adapter rail with some quality scope rings. This will keep the scope fixed and your accuracy repeatable.
BENJAMIN TRAIL NITRO PISTON XL 1100
As you’ll see Benjamin puts out some of the best .22 air rifles. The Benjamin Trail NP XL is what I would consider a step-up from the Benjamin Titan reviewed above. The price also reflects that. If the budget allows, I would go with the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100! For reasons that I will outline below…
For sheer power, this is the best .22 air rifle that you can buy under $300. Unlike the Benjamin Titan, the scope is adjustable from 3 to 9 times magnification. The picatinny rail included on this rifle is rock-steady and will give you accurate shots right out of the box. This air rifle will send lead pellets flying at 950 FPS. Thats 150 more FPS than the Benjamin Titan. Using lightweight alloy pellets, you will achieve sound barrier breaking speeds of 1100 FPS. The gun feels as solid as it looks. By this I mean, there are no rattles where there shouldn’t be! Its super accurate, and in the hands of most people…their hands become the limiting factor, not the rifle.
The “solid-ness” of this rifle gives you a slight weight penalty, coming in at a little over 8lbs. The trigger doesn’t quite give the smoothest pull that I would wish for, but I would say this is the best trigger you are going to get for a rifle under $300. Expect a rather lengthy break-in period of over 150 shots. After the break-in period, you can expect deadly accurate shots.
RWS .22 PELLET MODEL 34
This rifle, without a scope, puts you right at the high end of our $300 range. The scoped version puts you right over that mark, but sometimes you can find it on sale for less.
The story of this air rifle is not of pure power and brute force. RWS, with their German roots has always been known for their excellent craftsmanship, precision, and attention to detail. The RWS .22 Model 32 follows this bloodline, which is why I have it included on my list as one of the best .22 air rifle you can buy. The RWS Model 34 is refined, composed, and crafted like a swiss army knife.
Unlike the two air rifles above, the RWS Model 34 includes open iron sights. The sights are adjustable and feature fiber optics which is great for low-light conditions such as dawn or dusk. The rifle is very accurate and in most cases with the iron sights, this rifle is known to outperform the shooter.
The rifle produces a respectable 800 FPS with lead .22 pellets. Though less than other rifles listed above the Model 34 prioritizes quality and rigidness over pure power, which results in greater accuracy. At advantage of this lower FPS number is that it does not break the sound barrier, and therefore creates no sonic boom “SNAP” sound.
The scope version is fantastic, and its scope (unlock others) remain rock solid shot after shot. This again is due to the solid construction. Quality is the main reason why I choose the RWS Model 34 as one of the best .22 air rifles given a budget.
The solidness of the RWS Model 34 has a caveat, and that’s weight. It weighs about the same as a similar sized conventional firearm. When using quality wood and steels, this however unavoidable, and to me is a testimate to its overall build quality.