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Of the different types of air rifles for hunting, which should you choose?
The experience of hunting with an air rifle is a really interesting, adventurous one. For an even better experience, make sure you choose the right air rifle. This all depends on your targets, hunting experience, and style.
.177 vs .22 vs .25 vs .30 vs .357 caliber
The bigger the caliber size, the bigger the animal you can take down.
Which to choose?
.177 calibers are the most accurate, long-range, and fastest of air rifles, but they lack power. They are suitable for small game like pigeons and squirrels.
.22 and .25 calibers have more power but less range and speed. They are suitable for medium game like hunting raccoon and rabbits .22 is the most common choice since the best .22 air rifle for hunting can suit most shooting needs.
.30, .357 and above calibers are super powerful, which are suitable for big games like hunting deer or boar.
Remember to choose a suitable and accurate air rifle to kill your prey ethically.
Table of Contents
Spring Powered vs CO2 vs PCP
These are the three main power sources of air rifles: Spring power, Compressed CO2 gas, and Compressed air (PCP).
All three types of rifles are equally accurate. However, you need to get used to each’s recoil and speed.
The key things are the PCP is much easier to shoot and the projectiles exit the barrel immediately when pulling the trigger, while the springer is much harder and the CO2 is in the middle. When you shoot the spring powered air rifle, you need to hold it consistently or the pellet will go the wrong direction as the pellet takes a bit of time of time to come out of the barrel.
However, shooting with a spring air rifle is so much fun as it will give you the experience of shooting a full-bore rifle, with all that recoil. If you can handle the recoil and still shoot accurately, you can consider yourself a crack shot.
Spring power and compressed air are not affected by the temperature, while compressed CO2 gas works poorly when it’s too cold or too hot.
In terms of cost, the springer is the cheapest because it does not need to be recharged. Both the CO2 and the PCP require recharging. Keep in mind that compressed air is more expensive than CO2 gas.
To sum up, if you need a fun gun that’s close to a real rifle, choose the springer. If you need a modern easy operating gun, choose the PCP. If you think the PCP air rifle costs a little too much, choose the CO2 one.
The best air rifle for small games
I recommend the Gamo Big Cat 1250 .177 Caliber.
Gamo Big Cat 1250 .177 Caliber
Gamo is a Spanish brand with over 60 years market experience. They specialize in rifles, bullets, and BB guns. Airguns and pellets need to be precise in every detail, so they develop and manufacture them in the local facilities in Spain for the best quality control. Gamo Coyote has innovative products at an affordable price, which is the reason why they are available in over 90 countries.
The Gamo Big Cat 1250 .177 Caliber has an all black lightweight and durable synthetic stock. The tough material is well suited for all types of weather. It has a rubber pad at the end of the butt plate to absorb the recoil. The rifle has a balanced design so both the left-handed and the right-handed can use it easily.
The weight of the air rifle is 6.2 pounds, the length 43.3 inches, and the barrel length 18 inches.
As the name suggests, the Gamo Big Cat 1250 .177 Caliber Springer uses .177 caliber. It’s really powerful with the velocity at 250 fps with PBA ammo, and 1000 fps with lead. The rifle can easily take down small animals like birds, squirrels and rabbits.
It does have recoil as it uses spring as the power source. However, you won’t need to worry about recharging.
The drawbacks are that the integrated scope is not particularly great, the gun is pretty loud, and there is only a single shot capacity i.e. you have to reload after each and every shot.
It has an affordable price of about $200 – this gun is the best air rifle for hunting at the given price.
The best air rifle for medium size game
I recommend the RWS .22 pellet model 34 air rifle.
RWS .22 pellet model 34 air rifle
RWS is a German manufacturer of airguns. The brand is famous for its design, its accuracy for hunting and pest control pellet guns. You have nothing to worry about withGerman quality engineering. In fact, RWS offers lifetime warranties for all of its guns.
RWS 34 .22 has an ambidextrous design. The classic straight hardwood stock makes it look like a real gun, and the spring pistol makes it shoot like one too. The whole gun made by German craftsmen and will last for decades. Although the gun is spring powered, it is really compact and easy to hold and shoot.
The barrel is 19.5″ long. The overall length is 45 inches. The gun weighs around 9 pounds.
The RWS 34 .22 caliber air rifle is powerful and accurate. The rifle also comes with a very accurate scope. You can shoot down a pigeon up to 70 yards away. It does have recoil as it uses a spring as the power source. However, you won’t need to worry about recharging.
On .177 caliber, its velocity is 1000 fps. On .22 caliber, its velocity is 800 fps. The rifle is suitable for medium game hunting like rabbits, raccoons and even up to small deer.
Drawback: It has a single shot capacity.
When it comes to medium game hunting, you need a .22 air rifle, and the RWS .22 pellet model 34 air rifle is the best .22 air rifle for hunting at $300. This is the most popular rifle sold by RWS.
The best air rifle for big game
I recommend the AirForce Texan SS. The rifle has a slightly higher price but it’s definitely worth it.
AirForce Texan SS
AirForce Airguns is the first manufacturer of PCP air rifles in the U.S. It was founded in 1994 in Texas, so the Texan and Texan SS are their main products. AirForce has some serious airguns for the serious shooter. Their rifles offer advanced design, performance, and versatility for every shooter.
The Texan was release in 2015. Since then, it has been a monster in the airgun world. The Texan SS is the upgrade of the original Texan. They have the same solid aluminum frame, the same side lever action, and trigger. The Texan SS has a shorter barrel and an advanced sound suppression technology.
AirForce Texan SS has 24.75″ barrel. The overall length of 45 inches. The weight is 8.45 pounds. The gun comes with an 11mm dovetail. The 490cc air tank can be filled up to 3000 psi (200 bar) (only use compressed air or dry nitrogen).
The shorter barrel makes the Texan SS less powerful than the Texan, however, it’s easier to shoot and it’s more effective when shooting a large caliber rounds.
You can shoot .308, .357 or .457 caliber with this rifle. The velocity can be up to 930 fps, and the energy is up to 500 ft.lb. Yes, this rifle is made for big game, you can take down a deer quietly .
The AirForce Texan SS is quiet, powerful, and reliable – it’s perfect except the only drawback: It has a single shot capacity.
The gun costs about $1300. This is absolutely the best air rifle for hunting, but comes at a cost.
The most affordable air rifle
I recommend the Gamo Silent Cat air rifle.
Gamo Silent Cat air rifle
As the name says, the rifle is designed for quietness. The noise dampener attached to the front can reduce up to 52% of sound,making this the quietest spring powered air rifle. However, when shooting PBA ammo, it does make some noise. You can consider lead pellets to reduce the sound more effectively.
The Gamo Silent Cat air rifle has a thin plastic stock, but everything is solid. It’s very lightweight and compact. It’s only 5.3 lb and 46″ long. There’s a rubber on the butt plate to absorb the recoil and two cheek pads for ambidextrous shooting.
The Gamo Silent Cat air rifle shoots .177 caliber accurately at 1200 fps with PBA and 1000 fps with Lead. This rifle has an affordable price of around $150, but it doesn’t feel so cheap when shooting.
The best .22 PCP air rifle
.22 PCP air rifles are the most common air rifles. They have both power for all types of games and ease to shoot. For the best PCP .22 air rifle at $500, I recommend another Gamo product, the Gamo Coyote SE PCP Air Rifle.
Gamo Coyote SE PCP Air Rifle
Gamo Coyote SE PCP Air Rifle has an ambidextrous design. The beech stock material makes it look classical and like a real gun. The gun has a compact size and light weight: 7 pounds without scope, and total length of 42.9″.
The gun can shoot .177,.22, & .25 calibers, so you can choose the best type of caliber for your shooting needs. The cylinder is capable of being filled to 232 bar (3,365 psi) – a really high pressure. You can expect 30 good shots (optimal velocity) when it’s full. If you only fill about 2900 psi, you’ll have about 20 good shots with higher deviation.
The Gamo Coyote SE PCP Air Rifle is equipped with a multi-shot mechanism with a 10-shot rotary magazine, which is super convenient. The max velocity is 1000 fps.
The performance of the gun is really good — it’s easy to shoot and really accurate, perfect up to 50 yards in fact.
The only drawback is the loud sound when shooting. However, I guess it’s not an issue when you’re hunting.
This is the best .22 air rifle for hunting at $500.