The Best Air Rifles For Small Game

I’ve been an air gun enthusiast since my childhood days, starting with the Daisy 880 multi-pump air rifle that I got from a Gander Mountain catalog. Those initial experiences sparked a lifelong passion for air gun hunting, which has allowed me to venture into various hunting terrains and target a wide range of small game – from rabbits and birds to squirrels, and even challenging prey like coyotes and hogs.

I’m going to share my firsthand experiences and insights to help you choose the best air rifle for small-game hunting. Whether you’re a beginner and need to get rid of some rats around your property or an experienced airgun hunter looking to upgrade your equipment, my picks below aim to provide practical advice and suggestions based on years of trial and experience shooting pellet guns and pistols.

How Did I Pick These Air Rifles?

I picked all the airguns below based on my personal, first-hand experience, many hours of research, countless YouTube videos, and shooting a TON of pellets. Every air rifle on this list I have either owned, shot, or have another version from the same manufacturer. I kept my recommendations to rifles that were easily accessible, could actually take down small game, and, for the most part, were under $500.

Four Spring-Powered Air Rifles For Small Game:

Spring-powered air rifles, also known as springers, operate using a spring-loaded piston system. When the rifle is cocked, the spring is compressed, storing potential energy. Upon pulling the trigger, the spring releases, propelling the piston forward and compressing air in the chamber to launch the pellet out of the barrel. These rifles are favored for their simplicity, reliability, and the fact that they don’t require any external power sources like CO2 cartridges or compressed air tanks.

Air Rifles In This Section:

Gamo Swarm Bone Collector GEN3i .22 Cal.
Gamo Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i .22 Cal.
RUGER TARGIS HUNTER MAX .22 PELLET AIR RIFLE
Stoeger S4000-E Airgun – .22 Caliber

Gamo Swarm Bone Collector GEN3i .22 Cal.

Your Trustworthy Companion for Small Game Hunts

FPS: 1,100
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
Gas Piston

The Bone Collector is first on the list because I think it is the all-around best one to buy. Dive into the world of small game hunting with the Gamo Swarm Bone Collector GEN3i, a rifle that embodies precision and power, seasoned with a dash of style. This spring-powered air rifle, hailing from the renowned Gamo family, brings a rich lineage of superior craftsmanship and innovation to the fore. With its .22 caliber configuration, it promises not only accuracy but also a humane and swift hunting experience.

The Swarm Bone Collector GEN3i comes equipped with unique features that set it apart in a crowded market. Its 10X Quick-Shot technology ensures that you have a rapid reload system at your disposal, making it easier to take quick successive shots when the situation demands. Additionally, the Whisper Fusion technology significantly reduces noise, allowing for a quiet operation that won’t disturb the peaceful ambiance of the woods.

Furthermore, the rifle boasts an adjustable custom action trigger, providing a tailored shooting experience that adapts to your personal preference and style. Its ergonomic design, complemented by a comfortable grip, ensures that long hunting sessions don’t turn into a test of endurance.

Why I Picked It:

The Gamo Swarm Bone Collector GEN3i found its way to my list for a myriad of reasons. Its seamless integration of technology and user-friendly features make it a standout choice for both beginners and seasoned hunters. The rapid reload system is a game-changer, significantly reducing the time between shots, which can often be the difference between a successful and missed opportunity. Additionally, the Whisper Fusion technology offers a quiet and peaceful hunting experience, preserving the serenity of the outdoors. Above all, it carries the trust and reliability that comes with the Gamo brand, a name that has been a constant companion in many of my hunting adventures.

Pros:

  1. 10X Quick-Shot Technology: Enables quick successive shots, enhancing the hunting experience.
  2. Whisper Fusion Technology: Offers quiet operation, allowing for discreet and peaceful hunting.
  3. Adjustable Custom Action Trigger: Provides a personalized shooting experience, adapting to individual preferences.

Cons:

  1. Scope Quality: The included scope might require an upgrade for those seeking superior targeting precision.
  2. Weight: Some users might find the rifle slightly heavy for prolonged use, especially during extended hunting sessions.

Gamo Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i .22 Cal.

Gamo Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i .22 Cal. 10 Pellet Multi-Shot Inertia Fed Pellet Air Rifle
The Gamo Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i .22 Cal. is a masterpiece of air rifle engineering. Packed with the power of the 10X GEN3i system, it offers rapid-fire capabilities without sacrificing precision. Its sleek design is matched only by its formidable performance, making it a top choice for shooters seeking both style and substance. With the Swarm Viper, Gamo has crafted an air rifle that delivers consistent shots with every pull, ensuring you’re always at the top of your game, whether on the range or in the field. Experience the next generation of shooting prowess with the Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i.

A Symphony of Power and Precision

FPS: 1,300
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
Gas Piston

Step into the hunting realm equipped with a tool that epitomizes excellence and innovation – the Gamo Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i in .22 caliber. As a proud offering from Gamo, a brand that has continuously set benchmarks in the air rifle industry, this model embodies the perfect blend of modern technology and user-centric design, promising an unmatched hunting experience, especially for small game aficionados.

The Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i is crafted to meet the expectations of the most discerning hunters, offering a smooth and powerful performance that is synonymous with the Gamo brand. Its spring-powered mechanism guarantees consistent power, ensuring that every shot is a step towards a successful hunt. This rifle is not just a tool, but a trusted companion that echoes the spirit of adventure and the thrill of the hunt.

A significant highlight of this model is its revolutionary 10X Quick-Shot technology, which allows for rapid reloading, enabling you to take multiple shots in quick succession, a feature that can be a game-changer in dynamic hunting situations. Moreover, the rifle is equipped with the Whisper Fusion technology, ensuring a quiet operation that allows you to blend seamlessly with the tranquil environment of the wilderness.

The Gamo Swarm Viper is not just about power and technology; it also promises a comfortable and ergonomic user experience. Its well-balanced structure, coupled with an adjustable custom action trigger, offers a personalized touch, adapting to your unique shooting style and preferences.

Why I Picked It:

The Gamo Swarm Viper 10X GEN3i effortlessly made its way into my top picks owing to its stellar combination of power, precision, and technological advancement. It stands as a testament to Gamo’s commitment to evolving with the needs of modern hunters, offering features that not only enhance the hunting experience but also add a layer of enjoyment to it. The rapid reload system, coupled with the quiet operation, allows for a harmonious blend with nature, ensuring that your hunting expeditions are both successful and peaceful. Moreover, its ergonomic design promises comfort, making it a reliable choice for prolonged hunting sessions.

Pros:

  1. Rapid Reload System: Facilitates quick successive shots, enhancing your chances of a successful hunt.
  2. Whisper Fusion Technology: Ensures a quieter operation, allowing for a discreet and harmonious hunting experience.
  3. Ergonomic Design: Offers a comfortable grip and balanced structure, promising ease of use during extended hunting sessions.

Cons:

  1. Scope Quality: The included scope might not meet the expectations of experienced hunters, possibly necessitating an upgrade.
  2. Initial Setup: Some users might find the initial setup and adjustments slightly challenging, particularly those new to the air rifle realm.

Ruger Targis Hunter Max .22 Air Rifle

Sale
Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Gun Air Rifle with Scope, .22 Caliber and 3-9x32mm Scope, Multi
The Ruger Targis Hunter Max .22 is a powerhouse in the world of air rifles. Designed with the hunter in mind, its robust construction and precision engineering ensure each shot is both powerful and accurate. With its ergonomic grip and sleek aesthetics, this rifle isn’t just about performance; it’s a statement of craftsmanship and outdoor prowess. Ideal for those keen on high-quality performance, the Targis Hunter Max stands as a beacon of reliability in field shooting.

A Masterpiece of Power and Precision in the Palm of Your Hands

FPS: 800
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
Gas Piston

When it comes to defining precision and reliability in the world of air rifles, the Ruger Targis Hunter Max stands tall as a beacon of excellence. A marvel in the .22 pellet air rifle category, it brings to the table a combination of power, accuracy, and durability, making it a top choice for small game hunting enthusiasts.

Ruger, a brand steeped in tradition and renowned for its high-quality firearms, extends its expertise to the air rifle domain with the Targis Hunter Max. This air rifle embodies the brand’s commitment to providing hunters with tools that resonate with quality and performance. With its robust build and sleek design, it promises not only a successful hunting expedition but also a delightful user experience.

One of the standout features of the Targis Hunter Max is its high velocity, ensuring that each shot packs a powerful punch, necessary for a clean and ethical kill. Additionally, the rifle is equipped with a SilencAir Noise Damping System, a unique feature that significantly reduces noise levels, allowing for a discreet and peaceful hunting experience, maintaining the serenity of the outdoors.

Furthermore, the rifle boasts an adjustable two-stage trigger, offering a customized shooting experience that adapts to your preferences. Its ergonomic design, accentuated by a comfortable all-weather stock, ensures that your hunting sessions are not marred by discomfort, allowing you to focus entirely on the hunt.

Why I Picked It:

The Ruger Targis Hunter Max clinched a spot on my list owing to its superior performance and the reliable brand backing it. Its high-velocity shooting capability ensures a powerful performance, promising success in small-game hunting.

The integration of the SilencAir Noise Damping System clearly indicates the brand’s forward-thinking approach, offering a quiet operation that is often a prerequisite for successful hunting. Furthermore, the rifle’s adjustable trigger system and comfortable grip elevate the user experience, making it a joy to handle in the field. It embodies the perfect amalgamation of tradition and innovation, offering a reliable tool for any avid hunter.

Pros:

  1. High Velocity: Ensures powerful shots that are essential for ethical and clean kills in small game hunting.
  2. SilencAir Noise Damping System: Offers a quiet operation, allowing for discreet hunting without disturbing the tranquility of nature.
  3. Adjustable Two-Stage Trigger: Provides a personalized shooting experience, offering adaptability to individual shooting styles.

Cons:

  1. Weight: The rifle, with its robust build, might be perceived as slightly heavy, potentially affecting maneuverability during extended hunts.
  2. Scope Adjustments: Some users might find the scope adjustments to be a bit challenging initially, necessitating a period of adaptation and tuning.

Stoeger S4000-E Airgun – .22 Caliber.

Check Out The Stoeger S4000-E Airgun On Amazon

Built In Suppressor And Innovation All In One Gun

FPS: 1,200
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
Gas Piston

Embark on your hunting adventures equipped with the Stoeger S4000-E Airgun, a representation of modern innovation meshed with reliable performance. Stoeger, a brand well-established in the firearms industry, introduces this powerhouse in the .22 caliber category, a testament to the company’s dedication to bringing forth products that resonate with quality and efficiency.

The S4000-E stands as a beacon of precision in the world of air rifles. Its sleek design, coupled with a robust build, promises a tool that not only performs exceptionally but also adds a touch of elegance to your hunting gear. With its spring-powered mechanism, it delivers consistent power shot after shot, offering a reliable performance that is essential for small game hunting.

A highlight of this airgun is its S3 Suppressor, a feature that significantly reduces noise and muzzle blast, allowing for a quiet and stealthy operation, a key aspect in small game hunting where discretion is often rewarded. Moreover, the rifle offers an adjustable dual-stage trigger, providing an opportunity to fine-tune your shooting experience to suit your personal preferences.

Further enhancing its appeal is the integrated scope, offering a clear and precise targeting system to hone in on your prey with accuracy. The ergonomic design of the S4000-E, complemented by its comfortable grip, promises a user-friendly experience, making those long hours in the field a pleasure rather than a chore.

Why I Picked It:

The Stoeger S4000-E earned its place on my list for a multitude of reasons. Its integration of modern technology, such as the S3 Suppressor, promises a quiet operation, a vital feature for maintaining stealth and discretion during hunts. Additionally, the adjustable dual-stage trigger offers a customizable shooting experience, allowing for a personal touch that adapts to individual shooting styles.

The inclusion of a quality scope further elevates its appeal, promising precise shots that are vital for a successful hunt. Moreover, Stoeger’s reputation for delivering quality products ensures a reliable and durable tool that is set to be a valuable addition to any hunter’s arsenal.

Pros:

  1. S3 Suppressor: Provides a quiet and stealthy operation, allowing for discreet hunting experiences.
  2. Adjustable Dual-Stage Trigger: Offers a customizable shooting experience to suit individual preferences, enhancing accuracy and control.
  3. Integrated Scope: Adds to the precision, enabling clear and accurate targeting for a successful hunting expedition.

Cons:

  1. Quality Control: Amazon is filled with random complaints about various models. That has not been my experience, but it should be noted. However, the S4000-E has the best reviews of the bunch.
  2. Weight: The robust build of the rifle might be perceived as a bit heavy, potentially affecting mobility during prolonged hunting sessions.

PCP Air Rifles For Small Game Hunting:

Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) air rifles operate using a reservoir of compressed air to propel pellets. The air reservoir is filled using a hand pump, an air compressor, or a scuba tank. When the trigger is pulled, a valve releases a burst of compressed air, which shoots the pellet out of the barrel. PCP air rifles are known for their powerful and consistent shots, making them a popular choice for both hunting and precision shooting.

One of their advantages is the ability to fire multiple shots before needing to refill the air reservoir, allowing for quicker follow-up shots compared to other air rifle types. They are generally appreciated for their power and accuracy, especially in long-range shooting scenarios.

Air Rifles In This Section:

Umarex Gauntlet 2 PCP .25 Caliber Air Gun
Chief II Plus .22 PCP
UMAREX® NOTOS .22 CARBINE
Seneca Aspen Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle


Umarex Gauntlet 2 PCP .25 Caliber Air Gun

Umarex Gauntlet 2 PCP Pellet Gun Air Rifle, 25 Caliber
The Umarex Gauntlet 2 PCP .25 Caliber Air Gun redefines power and precision in the realm of airgun shooting. Boasting a cutting-edge PCP system, this rifle ensures consistent performance shot after shot. Its streamlined design paired with a potent .25 caliber punch makes it a formidable choice for both target enthusiasts and hunters alike. With the Gauntlet 2, Umarex showcases a blend of innovation and craftsmanship, setting a new standard for airgun excellence.

Unleashing Unparalleled Power and Precision in .25 Caliber

FPS: 980
Caliber: .25
Power Source:
On Board High-Pressure Tank

The Umarex Gauntlet 2, is a PCP air gun that promises to redefine your hunting and air gun shooting experiences. I often recommend Umarex because they just have such a huge catalog of air guns at various price points and in different variations. Umarex, a brand renowned for its innovation and quality, presents this marvel in the .25 caliber category, offering a potent combination of power and precision, all housed within a sleek and modern design.

The Gauntlet 2 stands as a testament to Umarex’s commitment to advancing the world of air rifles. Its .25 caliber configuration ensures a powerful impact, promising clean and ethical kills, a vital aspect in maintaining the spirit of responsible hunting. This air gun embodies the perfect balance of modern technology and user-centric design, promising not just a successful hunt but an enjoyable and satisfying experience.

One of the distinguishing features of this model is its high shot count per fill, ensuring that you have ample shots at your disposal during your hunting expeditions. Additionally, the rifle comes equipped with an adjustable regulator, allowing for a personalized shooting experience where you can fine-tune the power level to suit the specific demands of your hunt.

Moreover, the Gauntlet 2 features a fully moderated barrel, promising a quiet operation that ensures your presence blends seamlessly with the tranquil surroundings of the wilderness. Its ergonomic design, coupled with a comfortable grip, promises a user-friendly experience, making those prolonged hunting sessions a pleasure rather than a strain.

Why I Picked It:

The Umarex Gauntlet 2 was a natural choice for my list, given its blend of power, precision, and technological advancements. Its high shot count per fill ensures that you are well-equipped for prolonged hunting sessions, offering a reliable and consistent performance throughout.

The adjustable regulator stands as a testament to Umarex’s dedication to providing a customizable experience, allowing hunters to adapt the rifle to the specific needs of their expedition. Moreover, its quiet operation and ergonomic design make it a joy to use in the field, promising successful and enjoyable hunting experiences.

Pros:

  1. High Shot Count Per Fill: Ensures ample shots during hunting sessions, promising a reliable and consistent performance.
  2. Adjustable Regulator: Allows for a customizable shooting experience, offering the flexibility to adapt to the specific demands of the hunt.
  3. Fully Moderated Barrel: Promises quiet operation, ensuring a discreet and harmonious presence in the wilderness.

Cons:

  1. Price: The Gauntlet 2 comes with a premium price tag, potentially making it a considerable investment for beginners.
  2. Weight: Its robust build and features contribute to a higher weight, which might be a factor during extended hunting expeditions.

Chief II Plus .22 PCP Air Rifle

Chief II Plus .22 PCP 3000 PSI. 12 Shot Magazine
The Chief II Plus .22 PCP Air Rifle is where tradition meets modern precision. Harnessing the power of PCP technology, this rifle delivers shots with consistent force and accuracy. Its sleek design, combined with a robust .22 caliber delivery, positions it as a top contender for both target shooting and small game hunting. With the Chief II Plus, experience the next level of air rifle mastery, where every shot counts and reliability is paramount.

A 12-Shot Magazine Makes For Quick Shooting

FPS: 830
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
On Board High-Pressure Tank

The Chief II is a bargain for the build quality and shooting experience you get. I was a little surprised for how nice a gun you get for around the $200 mark. In the PCP world, you really need to spend north of $300 to really get some amazement, but the Chief II is a mighty fine airgun to shoot targets or small game. It doesn’t have a ton of five-star reviews on Amazon, but I think that is more a user error than a fault of the gun.

The .22 caliber of this PCP air rifle has often been a topic of admiration, striking a fine balance between power and grace, attributes that have frequently translated into humane and respectful hunts. During my expeditions, it has morphed into an extension of myself, helping me blend effortlessly with the serene surroundings, creating a harmonious symphony of man and nature engaged in a respectful duel.

One thing that really grabbed my attention while using the Chief II Plus was its straightforward knack for packing a punch in every shot, without causing a ruckus in the quiet surroundings. It gives me the elbow room to tweak my shooting preferences, especially when I’m having a go at target shooting with mates.

The adjustable trigger system comes in handy here, letting me switch from a light pull for quick shots to a heavier pull for those moments when I’m taking a careful aim. It’s like having a casual chat with an old friend, where the conversation just flows naturally, unfolding in the relaxed backdrop of the great outdoors.

Furthermore, its integrated scope mounting system has been a reliable ally, offering a stable platform that has often been the difference between a missed opportunity and a successful hunt. Its ergonomic design, coupled with a grip that seems to understand the contours of my hand, transforms long hours in the field into an experience of connection and enjoyment.

Why I Picked It:

The Chief II Plus .22 PCP found its way into my heart and my list for the sheer experience it promises. Its high-velocity shots, coupled with the adjustable trigger system, have often heightened my connection with the surroundings, allowing for a hunt that is as respectful as it is successful.

Its seamless integration into the natural setting, promising a harmonious and quiet operation, has often heightened the sense of connection I feel during my hunting expeditions. It stands as a testament to a hunting experience that is not just about the hunt, but the journey and the deep connection forged with nature.

Pros:

  1. High-Velocity Performance: Delivers powerful shots, ensuring a successful and ethical hunt.
  2. Adjustable Trigger System: Allows for a personalized shooting experience, enhancing the connection between the hunter and the rifle.
  3. Integrated Scope Mounting System: Provides a stable platform for optics, promising precise shots that elevate the hunting experience.

Cons:

  1. Weight: Its substantial build might be a bit taxing during extended hunting sessions, requiring periodic breaks to prevent fatigue.
  2. Learning Curve: The nuances of the adjustable trigger system might require a bit of getting used to, especially for novices.

UMAREX NOTOS .22 CARBINE

Umarex Notos Carbine .22 Caliber PCP Pellet Gun Air Rifle
The UMAREX NOTOS .22 CARBINE is the embodiment of precision wrapped in a compact design. This carbine, with its standout performance and sleek profile, promises an unrivaled shooting experience. Crafted for both the hobbyist and the serious shooter, the NOTOS delivers pinpoint accuracy consistently, making every shot feel like a masterpiece. Dive into a seamless blend of design and function with the UMAREX NOTOS, where every detail speaks to unmatched craftsmanship and performance.

This Is Crazy Awesome Package, A Reliable Choice in Target Shooting and Small Game Hunts

FPS: 780
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
On Board High-Pressure Tank

During the time that I got to shoot and test out the Notos .22, it has emerged as a dependable friend, always ready to join in, whether it’s a casual target shooting session or a more serious small game hunt. With its unassuming yet reliable demeanor, this rifle promises not just a tool for the hunt, but a partner that amplifies the joy of being outdoors.

At the heart of the NOTOS lies a .22 caliber core, offering a blend of power and finesse that makes both target shooting and hunting a delightful experience. It’s the kind of rifle that doesn’t fuss too much, getting the job done with a quiet confidence that has often resonated with my approach to outdoor adventures.

What has often caught my attention while using the NOTOS is its consistency. Whether it’s nailing those bullseyes during target shooting or pursuing small game, it offers a steady performance that doesn’t waver. Its adjustable trigger system is a notable feature, giving me the flexibility to adapt to the varied demands that come with both hunting and target shooting, making each outing a personalized experience.

Moreover, its compact and lightweight build makes it a joy to carry around, not adding to the burden during those long walks in the woods. It’s like having a lightweight companion that’s always up for an adventure, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice, and standing by your side as you explore the great outdoors.

Why I Picked It:

The UMAREX® NOTOS .22 CARBINE found its way onto my list for its no-nonsense approach to outdoor adventures. It’s the kind of rifle that understands the essence of being outdoors, offering a consistent performance whether you are engaged in a friendly target shooting competition or a serious hunt.

Its adjustable trigger system and lightweight build make it an adaptable companion, ready to suit the varied demands of an outdoor enthusiast. Simply put, it’s a reliable buddy that adds to the joy of being out in the field, making each outing a memorable experience.

Pros:

  1. Consistent Performance: Whether it’s target shooting or hunting, it delivers a steady and reliable performance, enhancing the joy of outdoor activities.
  2. Adjustable Trigger System: Offers the flexibility to adapt to different outdoor scenarios, making each outing a personalized experience.
  3. Lightweight Build: Makes it easy to carry around, ensuring that it doesn’t become a burden during extended outdoor adventures.

Cons:

  1. Scope Options: The rifle might benefit from a few more options for scope mounting, offering a bit more versatility in setting up for different shooting scenarios.
  2. Aesthetic Appeal: While functionally solid, some users might desire a bit more flair in the design to add to its visual appeal.

I hope this section embodies the “everyman” approach and effectively incorporates elements of target shooting. Let me know if there are any changes or additions you’d like before we move on to the final rifle in this category!

Seneca Aspen Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Seneca Aspen Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle (.22 Caliber)
The Seneca Aspen Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle is a harmonious fusion of adaptability and power. With its multi-pump flexibility paired with the precision of PCP technology, the Aspen promises unparalleled control in every shot. Crafted for those who demand versatility without compromising on performance, this rifle stands as a testament to innovation in airgun design. Whether it’s casual plinking or focused hunting, the Seneca Aspen ensures a tailored shooting experience that meets the highest standards of excellence.

Your Versatile Companion for Backyard Plinking and Serious Hunts

FPS: 900
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
On Board High-Pressure Tank/ On Board Pump

The Seneca Aspen Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle is a no-nonsense tool that has proven itself to be versatile and reliable in various situations. Whether I’m having a casual shooting session in the backyard or heading out for a more serious hunting trip, it’s proven to be a reliable choice.

What sets the Aspen apart is its dual function as a PCP and a multi-pump rifle. This feature has made my life easier on numerous occasions, allowing for quick shooting sessions without the need to lug around heavy air tanks. It’s straightforward, simple to use, and doesn’t demand a lot of fuss to get started.

During my time with the Aspen, I appreciated its self-reliant nature. It’s a rifle that gives you what you need without any unnecessary complications. The built-in air pump is a standout feature, saving me from the worry of running out of air mid-session. It’s designed to keep the fun going, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted shooting experience.

In terms of user-friendliness, the Aspen doesn’t disappoint. Its adaptable nature makes it suitable for a range of outdoor activities, from laid-back target shooting to more focused small game hunting. It’s a solid, dependable choice for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors with a reliable air rifle by their side.

Why I Picked It:

The Seneca Aspen clinched a spot on my list mainly because of its versatile nature. Its ability to transition effortlessly between a casual plinking tool and a serious hunting rifle has been a revelation, offering a flexibility that is rare to find. Its self-sufficient nature, with a built-in pump, ensures that the fun doesn’t stop, whether you are engaged in a backyard shooting session or a hunt in the great outdoors. It embodies the spirit of adaptability, promising an air rifle that respects and caters to both the casual shooter and the serious hunter in you.

Pros:

  1. Versatility: Offers a seamless transition between casual plinking sessions and serious hunting expeditions, catering to a wide spectrum of outdoor enthusiasts.
  2. Self-Contained Nature: The built-in pump ensures a continuous supply of air, eliminating the need for external air sources and keeping the action going.
  3. User-Friendly Design: Its design caters to both casual shooters and serious hunters, offering an adaptable tool that enhances the joy of outdoor activities.

Cons:

  1. Pumping Effort: While the built-in pump is a great feature, it might require a bit of muscle, especially during extended shooting sessions.
  2. Weight Distribution: Some users might find the weight distribution a bit uneven, which could take a bit of getting used to, especially for beginners.

Multi-Pump Air Rifles

Multi-pump air rifles bring a unique blend of adaptability and control to the hands of the shooter. Unlike other airgun types that rely on a single power source, these rifles allow users to manually pump and compress air, giving them the freedom to adjust the power of each shot. The more you pump, the higher the velocity and power. This hands-on approach not only offers versatility in shot selection but also fosters a deeper connection between the shooter and the rifle.

Air Rifles In This Section:

Benjamin 3972 Variable Pump Air Rifle
Hatsan AT44PA-10 Pump Action QES Air Rifle
Crosman C362 Classic .22-Caliber
Barra Airguns Sportsman 900
Seneca Dragonfly Mk2

Benjamin 397S Variable Pump Air Rifle

A Trustworthy Companion for Seasoned Shooters and Beginners Alike

FPS: 1,100
Caliber: .177
Power Source:
Multi Pump

The Benjamin Variable Pump air rifle 397S is a straightforward, dependable choice for anyone looking to delve into the world of air rifle shooting. Its versatility makes it a suitable pick whether you’re a seasoned shooter or just starting out.

What I’ve come to appreciate about this rifle is its no-frills approach to performance. It does what it’s supposed to do without a hitch, providing a reliable shooting experience each time. The variable pump action gives you control over the power of your shots, something that comes in handy when you’re alternating between target practice and small game hunting.

One of the standout aspects of the 397S is its durability. It’s built to last, with a solid construction that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use. This is a rifle that won’t let you down, offering consistent performance over time.

Its design is user-friendly, making it a good option for those who are new to the world of air rifles. It doesn’t overwhelm you with too many features, instead offering a balanced experience that combines reliability with ease of use.

Why I Picked It:

I chose the Benjamin Variable Pump Air Rifle 397S for its reliability and straightforward use. Its variable pump action allows for a customizable shooting experience, letting you adjust the power of your shots according to your needs. Its durable build means it’s a rifle that’s built to last, providing consistent performance over time. Simply put, it’s a dependable tool that won’t let you down, whether you’re target shooting or out on a hunt.

Pros:

  1. Variable Pump Action: Allows you to control the power of your shots, making it adaptable to various shooting scenarios.
  2. Durable Build: Constructed to withstand the demands of outdoor use, promising long-lasting reliability.
  3. User-Friendly: Offers a balanced and straightforward shooting experience, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced shooters.

Cons:

  1. Pumping Effort: Depending on the power level you want, it might require considerable pumping effort, which could be tiring over extended use.
  2. Single Shot: One downside to this and many others on the list is the loading process.

Hatsan AT44PA-10 Pump Action QES Air Rifle

Wearable4U – Hatsan AT44PA-10 QES .25 Cal 900 FPS / 40 FPE – PCP Pump Action Air Rifle 25 Caliber w/ 9-Shots Rotary Magazine & QuietEnergy (QE) |High-Impact Energy & Great Accuracy air Gun
The Hatsan AT44PA-10 Pump Action QES Air Rifle marries power with precision in a dynamic package. With its innovative pump-action mechanism, the AT44PA-10 ensures a balance of rapid-fire capability with consistent shot delivery. Every aspect, from its ergonomic design to the Quick Energy System (QES), speaks to a commitment to performance without compromise. For those seeking a rifle that blends speed with pinpoint accuracy, the Hatsan AT44PA-10 stands as a formidable choice in the world of airguns.

Your Go-To for Reliable Shooting Experiences

FPS: 1,350
Caliber: .25
Power Source:
Multi Pump

The Hatsan AT44PA-10 Pump Action QES Air Rifle is a model that doesn’t beat around the bush. When I first handled it, it was clear that this rifle means business. It’s a straightforward tool that aims to deliver, whether you’re out in the field hunting or spending an afternoon indulging in some target shooting.

This rifle is known for its pump-action mechanism, a feature that promises reliability and a bit of an old-school charm. What impressed me was the fluidity of the pump-action; it adds a tactile feel to the shooting experience, making each shot feel more grounded and real.

Durability seems to be a priority with this model. It has a robust build, giving an assurance that it’s there to last, ready to be your companion through countless outdoor adventures. It’s the kind of rifle that promises to stand by your side, adapting and delivering as per your needs.

When it comes to shooting, the Hatsan AT44PA-10 doesn’t disappoint. Its consistency in delivering accurate shots has made my outings quite satisfying. If you’re someone who appreciates a rifle that combines modern features with a bit of a traditional touch, this one is a solid choice.

Why I Picked It:

The Hatsan AT44PA-10 caught my attention for its no-nonsense approach to shooting. Its pump-action mechanism, paired with a reliable performance, makes it a trustworthy ally during various shooting activities. It’s a rifle that promises not just functionality, but a stable and durable performance over time, making it a worthy addition to any shooter’s collection.

Pros:

  1. Reliable Pump-Action Mechanism: Offers a smooth and tactile shooting experience, adding a touch of tradition to your outings.
  2. Durable Construction: Built to last, promising a long-standing companionship through your shooting adventures.
  3. Consistent Accuracy: Ensures that you can rely on it to hit the mark, whether it’s target shooting or hunting.

Cons:

  1. Pump Effort: The pump-action, while reliable, can require a good amount of effort, particularly over extended periods.
  2. Bulkiness: The robust build might feel a bit bulky, especially during long hunting or shooting sessions.

Crossman C362 Classic .22-Caliber

A Classic Choice for Shooting Enthusiasts

FPS: 875
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
Multi Pump

The Crossman C362 Classic .22-Caliber is exactly what it says on the tin – a classic. When I first got my hands on it, it immediately reminded me of the trusty air rifles that have been a staple in the shooting community for years. It’s a no-frills rifle that gets the job done, making it a solid choice for anyone who appreciates the basics done right.

At its core, the C362 is a multi-pump air rifle that focuses on delivering a reliable shooting experience. Its .22-caliber setup is well-suited for a variety of shooting activities, from plinking cans in the backyard to going after small game. I found the pumping action to be straightforward, giving me the control to adjust the power as per the demands of the situation.

What struck me about this rifle was its consistency. Each shot felt steady, and the rifle held its own, delivering a performance that met expectations without any hiccups. It’s a rifle that doesn’t promise the moon but delivers solidly on what it sets out to do.

In terms of build, it leans towards a traditional design, offering a sense of familiarity and reliability. It’s a rifle that seems to say, “I’m here to stay, and I won’t let you down.” If you’re looking for a dependable rifle that sticks to the classics, the C362 is a worthy contender.

Why I Picked It:

I chose the Crossman C362 for its straightforward approach to shooting. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s a classic, reliable choice that offers a stable shooting experience, whether you’re engaging in casual target shooting or pursuing small game. Its consistent performance and familiar design make it a rifle that many shooting enthusiasts, including myself, would appreciate having in their collection.

Pros:

  1. Reliable Performance: Delivers consistent shots, making it a dependable choice for various shooting activities.
  2. Adjustable Pump Power: Allows for flexibility in adjusting the power according to the shooting scenario.
  3. Classic Design: Offers a familiar and traditional feel, appealing to those who appreciate a classic approach to shooting.

Cons:

  1. Lack of Modern Features: While it sticks to the classics, some users might miss the additional features found in more modern air rifles.
  2. Pumping Effort: Like most multi-pump rifles, it might require a bit of muscle, especially when aiming for higher power shots.

Barra Airguns Sportsman 900

A Budget-Friendly Entrant with a Punch

FPS: 800
Caliber: .177
Power Source:
Multi Pump

The Barra Airguns Sportsman 900 came across as a pleasant surprise during my exploration of multi-pump air rifles. When I first used it, I was struck by how it managed to offer a robust performance without burning a hole in the pocket. It’s a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on delivering a satisfactory shooting experience.

During my time with the Sportsman 900, I found it to be quite versatile, catering well to both target shooting and small game hunting. Its multi-pump action allowed me to control the power of each shot, a feature that came in handy when switching between different types of shooting scenarios. It’s a fuss-free rifle that gets down to business without any unnecessary complications.

Its build quality, considering its price point, is commendable. It felt solid in hand and showed no signs of giving up even after repeated use. It’s a testament to Barra’s commitment to offering quality products even at a budget-friendly price point.

In terms of performance, it delivered a steady and reliable shooting experience. It might not have the frills of higher-end models, but it does the job, and it does it well. If you’re on a budget but still looking for a reliable air rifle for your shooting adventures, the Sportsman 900 is a strong contender.

Why I Picked It:

The Barra Airguns Sportsman 900 earned a spot on my list for its impressive balance between cost and performance. It’s a budget-friendly option that doesn’t skimp on the essentials, offering a reliable and consistent shooting experience. Its versatility and solid build make it a great option for those looking to enjoy shooting without a hefty investment.

Pros:

  1. Budget-Friendly: Offers a solid performance without a hefty price tag, making it accessible to a wider audience.
  2. Versatile Use: Adapts well to different shooting scenarios, be it target shooting or small game hunting.
  3. Sturdy Build: Despite its budget-friendly nature, it doesn’t compromise on build quality, promising durability and longevity.

Cons:

  1. Stiff Pump Arm: I really shouldn’t complain for the money, but the pump arm itself isn’t as easy to use as I would like. it’s a slight ergonomic issue, but you can overlook it for what it costs.
  2. Pump Effort: Like other multi-pump rifles, achieving maximum power requires a fair amount of pumping effort, which might be tiring over extended periods.

Seneca Dragonfly MK2

Sale
Seneca Dragonfly Mk2 Multi-Pump Pellet Air Rifle (.22 Caliber)
Sporting a refined design, the Seneca Dragonfly Mk2 bears a resemblance to its predecessor. However, a closer look reveals the longer wooden section on the forearm, which subtly houses the cutting-edge butterfly pump high-efficiency system. This innovative technology notably halves the pumping effort compared to the older model. Notably, the effort required for each pump remains consistent, avoiding the escalating effort seen in several rival air rifles.

A Multi-Pump Marvel for Every Shooter

FPS: 800
Caliber: .22
Power Source:
Multi Pump

The Seneca Dragonfly Mk2 has quickly become a trusted companion in my shooting adventures, thanks to its no-nonsense approach and reliable performance. This multi-pump air rifle is a dependable choice for both newcomers and seasoned shooters looking for versatility without the complexity.

What stands out with the Dragonfly Mk2 is its multi-pump action, a feature that has allowed me to fine-tune my shooting experiences. Whether it’s a casual backyard plinking session or a more focused small game hunting, the adjustable power levels have proven to be quite a boon, allowing for a customizable shooting experience that adapts to my needs.

In terms of build quality, the Dragonfly Mk2 does not disappoint. It feels solid in hand, promising longevity and consistent performance over time. Its straightforward design means that you don’t have to fuss with unnecessary features, letting you focus on the shooting experience itself.

During my time with this rifle, I’ve come to appreciate its consistency. Shot after shot, it has delivered reliable performance, making my shooting outings both enjoyable and successful. If you’re in the market for an air rifle that combines simplicity with versatility, the Dragonfly Mk2 is definitely worth considering.

Why I Picked It:

The Seneca Dragonfly Mk2 earned its spot on my list because it embodies simplicity while offering a reliable and versatile shooting experience. Its multi-pump action allows for a range of power options, making it adaptable to various shooting scenarios. It’s a rifle that doesn’t complicate the shooting experience, making it a favorable choice for shooters of all levels.

Pros:

  1. Adjustable Multi-Pump Action: Offers versatility in shooting, allowing for customization in power levels to suit different activities.
  2. Reliable Build: A sturdy construction promises a long-lasting companion for your shooting adventures.
  3. Consistent Performance: Delivers steady and reliable shots, making it a trustworthy choice for various shooting engagements.

Cons:

  1. Manual Pumping: The multi-pump mechanism, while versatile, can be a bit taxing during extended use, requiring some physical effort.
  2. Limited Additional Features: While it focuses on simplicity, some users might find the lack of additional modern features a downside.

Four CO2 Powered Air Rifles For Small Game

The airguns on this list use 12-gram or 88-gram CO2 cartridges that you can buy online or usually at WalMart. I tried to round up the more powerful ones, but you are hard-pressed to get a CO2-powered airgun over 700 FPS. These guns will take down small game like squirrels and rats with ease, but nothing much bigger. Yes, with the perfect shot, you could kill a deer, but you know what I mean.

Airguns In This Section:

Umarex Fusion 2 Quiet .177 Caliber
Crosman 1077 FreeStyle
Ruger 10/22 .177 Caliber Pellet Gun
Beeman Model 1085 QB II

Umarex Fusion 2 Quiet .177 Caliber

Your Silent Partner in Shooting Endeavors

FPS: 800
Caliber: .177
Power Source: CO2
Cartridge x 2

The Umarex Fusion 2 Quiet is the kind of air rifle that doesn’t make a fuss. Right off the bat, I noticed how this .177 caliber rifle specializes in quiet operation, making it a suitable partner for those peaceful afternoons in the backyard or a discreet small game hunting expedition.

My experience with this rifle has been pretty straightforward – it’s a tool that gets the job done without drawing attention. The CO2 powered mechanism ensures a smooth and consistent performance, letting you focus on your aim without worrying about noise disturbances. It’s like having a silent partner that complements your shooting style without any hiccups.

The build quality of the Fusion 2 Quiet is solid, giving the impression of a dependable piece of equipment that’s ready to stick around for the long haul. It’s not about flashiness; it’s about delivering a reliable performance each time you take it out for a spin.

During my opportunities to shoot with it, I’ve come to appreciate its consistency. Whether it’s lining up targets for some relaxed shooting or tracking small game, this rifle has proven to be a reliable companion, offering a quiet and smooth performance that doesn’t disappoint.

Why I Picked It:

I chose the Umarex Fusion 2 Quiet for its understated yet dependable performance. Its quiet operation stands out, offering a discreet and enjoyable shooting experience. It’s a rifle that promises consistency and reliability, making it a preferred choice for those who value a peaceful and uninterrupted shooting session.

Pros:

  1. Quiet Operation: Specializes in silent performance, allowing for a discreet and peaceful shooting experience.
  2. CO2 Powered Consistency: Ensures a smooth and steady performance, providing reliable shots every time.
  3. Solid Build: Offers a sturdy and durable construction, promising a long-lasting relationship with the shooter.

Cons:

  1. CO2 Dependency: Being CO2 powered, it requires a constant supply of CO2 cartridges, which can be a bit of a hassle over time. Just order a bunch on Amazon and you will be fine.
  2. Limited Power: Might not offer the same power as some other types of air rifles, which could be a limitation for serious hunters.

Crossman 1077 FreeStyle

Effortless and Fun Shooting

FPS: 780
Caliber: .177
Power Source:
CO2 Cartridge

The Crosman 1077 FreeStyle is the kind of air rifle that invites you to just have fun. From the moment I picked it up, it felt like a breath of fresh air, bringing a splash of color and a vibrant vibe to my shooting sessions. This CO2 powered air rifle is all about enjoying the simpler moments, whether it’s a casual target practice or a light hunting session.

In my time using the FreeStyle, I found it to be incredibly user-friendly. It doesn’t bog you down with complex mechanisms; instead, it offers a straightforward approach to shooting. The semi-automatic feature is a nice touch, allowing for quick follow-up shots without the need for manual cocking between each shot.

Its lightweight and vibrant design make it a hit, especially if you’re looking to add a bit of flair to your shooting adventures. But don’t let its playful appearance fool you; the FreeStyle packs a punch where it counts, offering a reliable performance that doesn’t compromise on fun.

During my outings, it’s proven to be a reliable companion, offering a blend of enjoyment and functionality. It’s a rifle that encourages you to let loose and enjoy the shooting experience, making each session a delightful adventure.

Why I Picked It:

The Crosman 1077 FreeStyle caught my eye for its blend of fun and functionality. Its vibrant design and semi-automatic feature make it a delightful choice for those who want a fuss-free and enjoyable shooting experience. It’s a rifle that doesn’t take itself too seriously, inviting you to enjoy the lighter side of shooting, all while delivering a solid and reliable performance.

Pros:

  1. Semi-Automatic Feature: Allows for quick and easy follow-up shots, adding to the fun and reducing downtime between shots.
  2. Vibrant Design: Brings a splash of color and vibrancy to your shooting sessions, making it a visually delightful choice.
  3. User-Friendly: Designed with simplicity in mind, offering a straightforward and enjoyable shooting experience.

Cons:

  1. Build Quality: This is a budget-friendly airgun coming in around $100 and it feels like it. treat it well and it should last.
  2. Small Caliber: It’s only .177, so you are limited.

Ruger 10/22 .177 Caliber Pellet Gun

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Umarex Ruger 10/22 .177 Caliber Pellet Gun Air Rifle, 700 fps
The Ruger 10/22 .177 Caliber Pellet Gun stands as a testament to precision and reliability in the air rifle realm. With its CO2 powered mechanism, this rifle delivers consistent shots, making it perfect for those seeking both accuracy and dependability. Sporting a design that evokes the classic Ruger firearm aesthetic, this pellet gun expertly blends tradition with modern airgun technology. It’s a top choice for enthusiasts, from backyard plinkers to avid small game hunters.

A Fun Semi-Auto Pellet Gun To Patrol Your Yard With

FPS: 700
Caliber: .177
Power Source:
2 x 12 gram CO2

The Ruger 10/22 .177 Caliber Pellet Gun is one of those rifles that bring a sense of reliability and tradition to your shooting experiences. When I first held it, it immediately felt like a piece of equipment that embodies durability and trustworthiness, promising a steady companion for your various shooting escapades.

In my time using it, I’ve found that it maintains a fine balance between power and precision, thanks to its CO2 powered mechanism. It’s a rifle that doesn’t mess around, offering a straightforward and no-nonsense approach to shooting, be it target practice or hunting small game. The Ruger 10/22 delivers a consistent performance, ensuring that you have a reliable tool in your hands whenever you step out for a shooting session.

Build-wise, it feels solid and robust, giving the impression that it’s built to withstand the test of time. It’s the kind of rifle that seems ready to offer years of reliable service, making it a valuable addition to any shooter’s collection.

In essence, the Ruger 10/22 has proven to be a dependable ally in my shooting adventures, offering a consistent and reliable performance that meets the demands of various shooting scenarios. If you’re on the lookout for a rifle that combines tradition with modern functionality, this one is a strong contender.

Why I Picked It:

I chose the Ruger 10/22 for its reputation of reliability and consistent performance. It’s a rifle that sticks to the fundamentals, offering a stable and dependable shooting experience without any frills. Its combination of power and precision makes it a favorite for both casual shooting sessions and more serious hunting expeditions, promising a rifle that won’t let you down when it matters.

Pros:

  1. Consistent Performance: Offers a reliable shooting experience, thanks to its CO2 powered mechanism that ensures power and precision.
  2. Robust Build: Feels solid in hand, promising a rifle that is built to last and offer years of reliable service.
  3. Blend of Tradition and Modernity: Combines a traditional feel with modern functionalities, making it a well-rounded choice for various shooting scenarios.

Cons:

  1. CO2 Cartridge Dependency: Requires a steady supply of CO2 cartridges, which might be seen as a downside for those who prefer less maintenance.
  2. Lack of Additional Features: While it focuses on the basics, some might find the lack of extra features a limitation, especially when compared to more modern counterparts.

Beeman Model 1085 QB II

Beeman QB78D-22 Air Guns Rifles,Multi
The Beeman Model 1085 QB II is a symphony of precision and craftsmanship. With its intuitive design, this air rifle offers an unmatched blend of accuracy and power. The 1085 QB II stands out with its sleek aesthetics and robust performance, making it a preferred choice for both novices and seasoned shooters. Whether it’s target practice or a hunting expedition, the Beeman ensures every shot is an experience in pinpoint accuracy and unrivaled consistency. Dive into a world where quality meets performance with the Model 1085 QB II.

A Versatile Player in the CO2 Air Rifle Scene

FPS: 650
Caliber: .177
Power Source:
CO2 Cartridge x 2

The Beeman Model 1085 QB II is a rifle that speaks to a wide array of shooters due to its versatile nature. During my time with it, I found it to be an air rifle that is both approachable for newcomers and satisfying for the seasoned shooters. It’s a CO2 powered rifle that promises a blend of reliability and adaptability, ready to suit various shooting styles and preferences.

In my outings with this rifle, I noticed it offers a smooth shooting experience, free from any hitches. The CO2 mechanism ensures that each shot is powered consistently, allowing for a satisfying and reliable performance. It’s an air rifle that doesn’t demand a steep learning curve, making it a great choice for those looking to enjoy a straightforward shooting session.

Build-wise, the 1085 QB II stands as a testament to Beeman’s commitment to quality. It feels well-constructed and ready to endure the rigors of outdoor shooting. It’s a rifle that seeks to offer a dependable performance, making it a worthy companion for various shooting endeavors, from casual target practice to small game hunting.

In essence, the Beeman Model 1085 QB II has proven to be a versatile player in the field, offering a balanced and adaptable shooting experience. If you’re seeking a CO2 air rifle that promises reliability without compromising on versatility, this model is a noteworthy choice.

Why I Picked It:

The Beeman Model 1085 QB II earned its spot on my list for its balanced approach to shooting. It offers a platform that is adaptable to various shooting styles, making it a versatile choice for a wide array of shooters. Its consistent performance and approachable nature make it a favored choice for those seeking a reliable and flexible air rifle for their shooting adventures.

Product Highlights or Pros:

  1. Versatility: Offers a balanced shooting experience, catering to both new shooters and experienced enthusiasts.
  2. CO2 Powered Reliability: Ensures consistent and smooth performance, allowing for a satisfying shooting experience each time.
  3. Solid Construction: Demonstrates a commitment to quality, promising a durable and long-lasting tool for your shooting needs.

Cons or Negatives:

  1. CO2 Cartridge Requirement: Like other CO2 rifles, it necessitates a regular supply of CO2 cartridges, which might be a consideration for frequent users.
  2. May Lack Advanced Features: While versatile, it might not offer the advanced features found in more specialized air rifles, potentially limiting its appeal to users seeking more complex functionalities.

Different Types of Air Rifles For Small Game Hunting

In the dynamic world of small game hunting, choosing the right air rifle is an important decision. Many factors should be considered when selecting the best air rifle for your particular situation. I will talk more about choosing individual models farther down. Let’s take a look at the different types of air rifles and what they bring to the table for airgun hunting.

Precharged Pneumatic (PCP) Rifles:

PCP rifles operate using compressed air stored in a reservoir within the gun. You can refill the reservoir using a hand pump, a SCUBA tank, or a compressor. The compressed air propels the pellet when the trigger is pulled.

Advantages & Disadvantages of a Precharged Pneumatic Air Rifle for Small Game Hunting


Advantages:

  • High Power and Accuracy: PCP rifles are known for their high power and consistent velocity, which translates to remarkable accuracy. This makes them an excellent choice for hunting, where a precise and powerful shot is often necessary to ensure a humane kill. The absence of recoil, which is commonly experienced in spring-powered rifles, further enhances the accuracy.
  • Multi-Shot Capability: Many PCP rifles come equipped with a magazine that allows for multiple shots without the need to reload after each shot, providing a clear advantage during hunting scenarios where quick successive shots are necessary. This multi-shot capability can be vital when you are faced with moving targets or when you need to take another shot quickly to ensure the game is downed humanely.
  • Quiet Operation: PCP rifles tend to operate more quietly compared to other types of air rifles, such as spring-powered rifles. This feature is beneficial when hunting, as it helps to avoid alarming the game or other animals in the vicinity. A quieter shot means you can maintain a level of stealth, which can sometimes be crucial for a successful hunt.

Disadvantages:

  • High Initial Costs: PCP air rifles tend to be more expensive upfront compared to other types of air rifles. Not only is the rifle itself generally more costly, but the additional equipment required, such as high-pressure air tanks, compressors, or hand pumps, can also add to the initial investment.
  • Bulkier and Heavier: PCP rifles are often bulkier and heavier than other air rifles due to their built-in air reservoirs and the complex mechanisms they house. This can make them less convenient to carry around during prolonged hunting expeditions, especially when targeting small game that might require maneuvering through dense vegetation or rough terrains.
  • Dependence on Air Supply: PCP rifles require a source of high-pressure air to refill the reservoir. This means that you are limited to the number of shots you can take before needing to refill the reservoir. In remote hunting locations, refilling can be a challenge, potentially limiting your hunting time or requiring you to carry additional equipment to replenish the air supply.

Springers (Spring-Powered Rifles)

Spring-powered rifles, or springers, use a coiled spring to compress air in a chamber. When the trigger is pulled, the compressed air expands rapidly, propelling the pellet out of the barrel.

Advantages & Disadvantages of a Spring-Powered Rifle for Small Game Hunting

Advantages:

  • Simple Mechanism and Durability: Spring-powered air rifles have a straightforward mechanism involving fewer moving parts compared to PCP rifles. This simplicity often translates to increased durability and a longer lifespan. Moreover, maintenance is relatively straightforward, making it easier to keep the rifle in good condition over time.
  • Independence from External Power Sources: Unlike PCP or CO2 rifles, springers don’t rely on external power sources such as air tanks or gas cartridges. This means that you don’t have to worry about running out of air or gas during a hunt, and you’re not burdened with carrying additional equipment for refilling.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, spring-powered air rifles are more affordable compared to PCP rifles. They offer a cost-effective entry point for beginners or those on a budget, providing a decent power output and accuracy for small game hunting without a hefty price tag.
  • Consistent Power: Springers deliver consistent power shot after shot, as each shot is powered by the same spring mechanism. This can be an advantage when hunting small game, as it allows for predictable ballistics and easier adjustment for accurate shots.

Disadvantages:

  • Noticeable Recoil: Spring-powered air rifles tend to have a noticeable recoil because of the spring’s sudden release of energy. This recoil can affect the accuracy of the shot, especially for inexperienced shooters. It can take a considerable amount of practice to get used to managing the recoil effectively for precise shots.
  • Noise Level: Springers are generally louder than PCP rifles. The noise is created by the vibration of the spring and the piston movement, which can sometimes startle the game and alert them to your presence. This noise level can be a disadvantage when you are trying to maintain stealth during a hunt.
  • Single-Shot Mechanism: Most spring-powered air rifles are single-shot, meaning that they require reloading after each shot. This can be a significant disadvantage in hunting situations where quick follow-up shots are necessary. The time taken to reload can potentially allow for the prey to escape or hide, especially if the first shot was not accurately placed.

CO2-Powered Rifles

CO2-powered rifles use carbon dioxide cartridges to propel pellets. The CO2 is stored in a cartridge, and when the trigger is pulled, a small amount of gas is released, pushing the pellet out.

Advantages & Disadvantages of a CO2 Powered Air Rifle For Small Game Hunting:

Advantages:

  • Ease of Use: CO2 powered air rifles are generally easy to use, making them accessible for beginners. They don’t require the physical effort needed to pump or cock the gun before each shot, which can be a significant advantage, especially for younger or less experienced shooters.
  • Semi-Automatic Shooting: Some CO2 air rifles are capable of semi-automatic firing, allowing for quicker follow-up shots compared to single-shot alternatives like springers. This can be beneficial when targeting small game that moves quickly or when you have multiple targets in close proximity.
  • Quieter Operation: CO2 air rifles tend to operate quieter compared to spring-powered air rifles. This quieter operation can be a benefit while hunting, helping to avoid startling game and providing a more stealthy approach, which can sometimes mean the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty-handed.

Disadvantages:

  • Power and Velocity Limitations: CO2 powered air rifles generally offer less power and velocity compared to other types like PCP or spring-powered rifles. This limitation can hinder their ability to provide a quick and humane kill when hunting, especially for larger small game species.
  • Temperature Sensitivity: CO2-powered rifles are known to be sensitive to temperature fluctuations. In colder conditions, the pressure inside the CO2 cartridge decreases, leading to reduced velocity and inconsistent performance. This could affect the accuracy and effectiveness of your hunt. However, everyone likes to cite this as an issue with CO2 rifles, but in the real world, it isn’t as problematic as you would think.

Multi-Pump Rifles

Multi-pump rifles require the shooter to pump the gun a number of times to compress air in a chamber. The compressed air is then used to propel the pellet when the trigger is pulled.

Advantages & Disadvantages of a Multi-Pump Air Rifle for Small Game Hunting-

  • Variable Power Control: Multi-pump air rifles offer the unique advantage of variable power control, allowing the user to adjust the power of each shot based on the number of pumps. This flexibility can be beneficial in different hunting situations, where you might need lower power for smaller game to avoid over-penetration, or higher power for larger small game to ensure an ethical kill.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, multi-pump air rifles are more affordable compared to some other types of air rifles, like PCP rifles. This cost-effectiveness makes them a popular choice among beginners and those who are looking for a budget-friendly option for hunting small game. Moreover, they don’t require additional equipment like air tanks or CO2 cartridges, which can further reduce the ongoing costs associated with air gun hunting.

Disadvantages:

  • Time-Consuming Reloads: One of the significant drawbacks of using a multi-pump air rifle is the time and effort required between shots to pump the gun. This is particularly disadvantageous in hunting situations where quick successive shots are necessary, as the time taken to repump can allow for the prey to escape or hide.

Choosing the Right Air Rifle for Hunting

Selecting the appropriate air rifle for hunting is not merely a matter of personal preference or style; it directly impacts your effectiveness and ethical conduct in the field. The wrong choice can result in missed opportunities or, worse – causing unnecessary suffering to game animals through underpowered shots or inaccurate aim.

Conversely, choosing a well-suited air rifle ensures clean kills with minimal suffering for your quarry—an essential aspect of responsible hunting that all hunters should prioritize. Additionally, by finding an air rifle that suits your individual needs and preferences—whether it be based on skill level or physical capabilities—you can optimize your comfort and overall experience while out in nature.

Key Features to Look For When Shopping For An Air Rifle For Hunting

Caliber Selection

When it comes to choosing the right air rifle for hunting, one of the first factors to consider is the caliber. The most common calibers you’ll come across are .177, .22, and .25. Each has its own advantages and considerations.

The .177 caliber is known for its high velocity and flat trajectory, making it ideal for small game hunting such as birds or squirrels. On the other hand, the .22 caliber offers a good balance between velocity and stopping power, making it suitable for medium-sized game like rabbits or raccoons.

If you’re looking for something with even more stopping power, the .25 caliber might be your best bet as it delivers a heavier projectile with greater impact energy. Consider your target species and hunting conditions when selecting the appropriate caliber.

Power and Velocity

When it comes to ethical hunting, having sufficient power in your air rifle is crucial. The power of an air rifle is commonly measured by its Feet Per Second (FPS) rating. My personal preface is to have an air rifle with at least 800 to 1,000 FPS or higher. In this range and higher, you can start to take down larger animals such as coyotes, hogs, and raccoons.

Higher FPS generally means greater velocity and impact energy on the target. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between power and accuracy.

While higher FPS can be advantageous in certain situations, excessive velocity may sacrifice precision due to increased recoil or pellet instability. It’s essential to consider factors such as shooting distance and target size when determining the ideal power level for your hunting needs.

Accuracy

Accuracy is paramount when selecting an air rifle for hunting purposes. Barrel quality plays a significant role in determining accuracy levels. A high-quality barrel made from materials like stainless steel can enhance consistency in shot placement by reducing vibrations during firing.

Additionally, consider barrel length; longer barrels generally provide improved accuracy due to increased muzzle stability while shorter barrels offer enhanced maneuverability in tight spaces. Another crucial aspect is rifling type.

Rifled barrels, with their spiral grooves, impart a spin to the pellet, resulting in better stability and accuracy compared to smoothbore barrels. So, pay attention to barrel quality, length, and type of rifling when selecting an air rifle for optimal accuracy.

Noise Level

In the realm of hunting, noise can make or break your chances of success. The implications of loudness vary depending on the intended quarry and hunting scenarios involved.

While some small game may be less sensitive to noise, larger animals like deer can be easily spooked by sudden loud sounds. It’s crucial to consider noise levels emitted by your air rifle during firing as excessive noise can alert animals and cause them to scatter before you get a clean shot.

Fortunately, advancements in air rifle technology have led to the development of suppressors or sound dampening devices that help reduce muzzle blast and minimize noise signature effectively. Exploring such noise reduction technologies can significantly enhance your stealthy approach while hunting with an air rifle.

Small Game Hunting with Airguns

I recently talked in depth about squirrel hunting and the types of air rifles you need. Today, this article is covering a more comprehensive range of small game animals you can hunt with an airgun. In the context of hunting, the classification of game into categories like “small game” helps in strategizing and selecting the appropriate hunting equipment, including airguns. 

The “small game” category typically encompasses a range of animals that are larger than birds and squirrels but still considered to be on the smaller side in comparison to medium or big game species. Understanding the size and characteristics of small game animals can aid hunters in making ethical and safe hunting choices.

What Size Animals Are Considered Small Game?

Generally, small game refers to animals that are smaller than medium-sized game such as deer but larger than vermin or pests. This category usually includes animals that weigh up to 20-30 pounds (9-13.6 kg). The defining characteristics of small game can be based on various factors including weight, size, and the type of habitat they are found in.

Some of the species that fall under the small game category are-

Rabbits and Hares: These are classic examples of small game. They are hunted for both sport and their meat, which is lean and flavorful.

Raccoons: While raccoons can sometimes grow to be quite large, many still classify them as small game due to their size and the type of habitat they are found in.

Groundhogs and Woodchucks: These animals are generally hunted to control their population as they can cause significant damage to crops and gardens.

Foxes: Smaller species of foxes, like the red and grey fox, are also considered small game. These animals are known for their cunning nature and provide a challenging hunt.

Wild Turkeys: Though they are birds, wild turkeys are often included in the small game category due to their size and the challenge they present to hunters.

Airguns for Small Game Hunting

When it comes to hunting small game, airguns are often a preferred choice due to their quieter operation and the reduced risk of collateral damage. Moreover, modern airguns are capable of delivering a sufficient amount of power to ethically take down small game. 

It is essential to choose an airgun with the right caliber and pellet type to ensure a humane and effective hunt. Usually, airguns with a caliber ranging from .22 to .25 are considered suitable for small game hunting. Identifying the right size and type of small game can lead to a successful and ethical hunting experience. 

With their quieter operation and precision, airguns make an excellent choice for small game hunting, offering both challenge and reward to the hunters. Always remember to hunt responsibly and within the regulations set by local wildlife authorities.

FAQ’s About Hunting With Airguns

What type of air rifle is best for small game?

In my extensive experience, the “best” air rifle largely depends on your personal preference and the specific circumstances of your hunt. Personally, I have found that Precharged Pneumatic (PCP) rifles often stand out due to their high power and precision, which are crucial for a successful small game hunt. 

However, if you’re just starting out or prefer a simpler mechanism, a spring-powered air rifle can be a reliable and cost-effective choice. It’s all about finding the balance that works for you – between power, accuracy, and convenience.

What is the best pellet caliber for small game?

The choice of pellet caliber can be quite pivotal in determining the success of your small game hunting expedition. From my experience, .22 caliber pellets often strike a good balance for small game hunting, offering sufficient power for a humane kill, while minimizing the potential for over-penetration and damage to the meat. 

However, depending on the specific game and range, a .177 caliber offers better accuracy for smaller targets, or a .25 caliber provides the extra punch needed for larger small game species.

Is .177 or .22 better for small game?

This is a question I often encounter, and honestly, the answer can vary based on several factors including the type of game, the distance, and personal preference. The .177 caliber can be more suitable for very small game or target shooting due to its higher velocity and flatter trajectory, which can offer better accuracy at shorter distances. 

On the other hand, the .22 caliber offers a heavier pellet, which can provide a more substantial impact and a humane kill for slightly larger small game. Personally, I lean towards the .22 for its versatility and effectiveness in various small game hunting scenarios.

Can you use an air rifle for small game?

Absolutely, using an air rifle for small game hunting is not only possible but can be highly effective and rewarding. I’ve had numerous successful hunts using air rifles, targeting species ranging from squirrels to rabbits. 

The key is to choose an air rifle that suits the specific demands of small game hunting – one that offers the right blend of power, accuracy, and usability. Also, always ensure to practice responsible and ethical hunting, aiming for clean, humane kills to preserve the sport’s integrity and respect the game.