- 1 Air Rifle Comparison Chart
- 2 General Air Rifle Information
- 3 5 Best Air Rifle Reviews and Best Pellet Gun Reviews
- 4 Crosman M4-177 Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle (.177)
- 5 Crosman American Classic Pump Air Pistol (.177)
- 6 Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle
- 7 Gamo Big Cat 1200/1250 Air Rifle
- 8 Beeman RS2 Dual-Caliber Air Rifle Combo
You have many choices for pellet guns, from Airsoft guns to traditional BB guns. There are dozens of brands and models with a variety of features. When you are making your first purchase, trying to make sense of all your options can be dizzying. Reading the best pellet gun reviews and the best air rifle reviews can help sort through all your choices and narrow down the field, getting you closer to finding the right gun for you.
Deciding on the right pellet gun for you will depend on a number of factors, ranging from the style of gun to the power it offers you. Here’s everything you need to know about how to interpret pellet gun reviews and what to factor in when purchasing a pellet gun:
Air Rifle Comparison Chart
General Air Rifle Information
Types of Pellet Gun/Air Rifle Ammunition
The type of ammunition used in pellet guns and Airsoft guns is one of their defining characteristics.
BB guns take their name from their round ammo, which can be made of steel, lead, or plastic. Bearing balls and marbles can even be used as BBs. The ammo in BB guns is typically 4.3 to 4.4 mm, which is slightly smaller than the barrel.
The shot from a BB gun is typically not as stable or precise, though it can still be used for hunting and target practice by skilled users. Typically, a BB gun is used for practice shooting or for giving to older children or tweens for toys. For example, the Boy Scouts of America uses BB guns in its shooting program.
Pellet guns typically use a lead diabolo pellet, which has an hourglass shape and is hollowed out at the base. The pellets can be made of tin, steel-tipped plastic, lead and other materials. Some pellet guns can also be loaded with arrows or darts. Typically, pellet guns and air guns are used for target shooting and small game hunting since their shots are more stable and more accurate.
As mentioned previously, Airsoft guns are almost always loaded with 6mm round, plastic ammunition. However, metal and even ceramic ammo is available for target shooting. Airsoft guns are typically used for strategy games, which often simulate war games. Players typically wear a vest and goggles for protection. They are also used for Paintball, and are then loaded with paint-filled ammo. The ammunition explodes on contact, making it clear where a player has been hit.
Power Sources For Pellet Guns
Although all pellet guns and Airsoft guns are powered by compressed air, they have different mechanisms powering them.
Most guns are powered using one of three types of methods:
Spring-piston guns rely on an operation that takes a fraction of a second but that includes a number of steps. When the gun is cocked, the piston compresses a coiled spring inside the compression chamber, causing a small hook to engage the sear. When the trigger is pulled, the sear is released and the spring decompresses, which pushes the piston forward and compresses air behind the pellet, shooting it through the chamber.
Spring-piston guns can project bullets at the speed of sound, depending on the gun and the type of ammo used. These guns also have a lot of recoil as a result of the motion of the piston. Most BB guns use a spring-piston system. Gas springs can also be used in place of mechanical springs.
Pneumatic guns are powered by pre-compressed air. There are three types of pneumatic-powered guns:
- Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP)
In both single-stroke and multi-stroke guns, users pressurize the compartment by pumping the gun. Single-stroke guns require only one pump, as their name suggests, and multi-stroke guns take up to 2 to 10 pumps. The Beeman P3 Pellet Pistol is a popular single-stroke model, and the Crosman MK-177 multi-pump pneumatic is a popular multi-stroke model. Single-stroke models are faster and more accurate, though multi-stroke models are more affordable and beginner-friendly. You’ll just want to make sure you’re an accurate shot since your prey is likely to run away before you can pump the gun enough to get off a second shot.
Pre-charged pneumatic guns are filled with pressurized air, such as from a scuba tank. You’ll have to spend more up front buying the reservoir tank, but you’ll enjoy easier cocking, greater accuracy and almost no recoil. A popular model is the Benjamin Marauder PCP Air Rifle.
Finally, guns powered by CO2 use a similar system to PCP guns, in that they have to be filled with CO2 from a reservoir cylinder. The difference is that they use a smaller volume of CO2 than the PCP guns use pressurized air, and they don’t require users to monitor the internal pressure. Guns powered by CO2 can handle repeat shots and do not require elaborate cocking mechanisms. They are also inexpensive and precise, making them ideal for beginners to advanced shooters.
Pellet Gun Velocity and Caliber
The power of an air gun and the distance at which it can shoot depend on its powering system and the type of ammunition and caliber used.
Spring-piston guns can shoot up to 1,250 ft/s (feet per second) using 4.5 mm pellets. The higher the velocity, the more unstable and inaccurate the shot. By choosing a gun with a slightly lower velocity — or choosing a lower caliber bullet — you can achieve greater accuracy.
Multi-stroke pneumatic guns can shoot over 1,000 ft/s, while the single-stroke has slightly less power at around 500 ft/s. Single-stroke guns are typically more accurate than multi-stroke guns and easier to handle and get off more shots in a shorter amount of time.
PCP and CO2 guns usually shoot in a range around 700 to 750 ft/s.
BB guns can shoot anywhere from 300 ft/s to 1,000 ft/s using 4.5 mm steel BBs, depending on the gun.
Airsoft guns can shoot up to 500 ft/s.
For all guns, the velocity depends in great deal on the weight of the ammo used and the design of the gun. Shorter barrels typically produce a lower velocity — longer barrels a higher velocity. Therefore, air guns are typically not as strong as air rifles. Of course, the power source for the gun will also influence its velocity. The only sure way to know what kind of velocity you can expect is to read the information provided by each manufacturer.
Other key things that could influence velocity are the temperature outside, wind drag and even rain or snow.
There is no “ideal” caliber for ammunition. The type of caliber you choose depends on what you intend to do with the gun. If you want to practice long-rate target shooting or to hunt at a distance, you will need lighter pellets and a higher velocity gun. If you want to hunt game, you will need a higher caliber with a heavier material, such as steel. The most popular calibers for air gun ammunition are .177 (4.5 mm), .2 (5 mm), .22, and .25.
Typically, so-called “wadcutter” pellets are used for paper target shooting, while those looking to hunt actual game use hollow-point and round-nose pellets. All shooting competitions require the use of 4.5mm ammunition. Airsoft guns are only used for game play, so they should always be lightweight.
Different Uses for Your Gun
When shopping for your gun, it is essential that you know what you want to do with it. For example, if you plan to hunt, you need to know what kind of hunting you want to do. High-powered guns like spring-piston guns with higher caliber ammunition can take down larger animals, like wild boar. However, if you want to hunt birds or other small game, you’ll need a gun that is more lightweight and has greater accuracy, such as a single-stroke or PCP powered gun. These guns also allow you to get off more shots quickly in case you miss the first one.
Many different types of air guns can be used for competition. Popular events include the Olympic 10m Air Rifle and 10 m Air Pistol competitions. These competitions set their own rules for what kinds of guns can be used, as well as what kind of ammunition. Wherever possible, it is advisable to choose a gun with greater accuracy, such as a single-stroke, PCP or CO2 powered air gun. The National Rifle Association also hosts a competition for BB gun shooting, and even some Airsoft gun competitions are held.
For plinking, or general recreational target shooting, it is not as important to have an accurate gun or one with great power. If you are shooting just to shoot, choose a gun that feels good in your arms and that is easy to handle. However, if you want to practice your precision shooting, practice with a gun that allows for greater accuracy and easy of use.
Legal Concerns Regarding Air Rifles
In some cases, you can buy a pellet gun or Airsoft gun so long as you are 18 years old. However, each jurisdiction regulates these guns differently, and you may face different rules at the state or even the city level. In some cases, you may have to pass a background check, just as you would for a handgun. You may even be required to get a permit before you can buy the gun or the ammunition.
Most Popular Air Rifle Brands
Though you’ll end up reading plenty of pellet gun reviews to help you make your ultimate decision, it does help to know who some of the most popular manufacturers are to jump start your search.
Daisy is the company that introduced BB guns into the lexicon by pioneering their round ammunition similar to the rifle shot. They continue to be one of the most popular brands on the market thanks to its large selection of both pellet and BB guns, as well as their affordable prices. Daisy also makes the classic “Red Ryder” shotgun that was made famous in the movie “A Christmas Story.” (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”)
Benjamin air guns are a special line produced by the Crosman company, and they are known for their classic designs, high power and accuracy. Benjamin rifles are ideal for hunters, even including scopes for greater accuracy. A variety of power systems are available, including PCP and CO2, as well as a variety of caliber types. You can find the gun you need for the game you prefer.
Finally, Gamo is a trusted brand that offers a variety of air gun models, from handguns to rifles and from pellets to BBs. The brand offers a wide selection of guns, from classic pellet guns to more sophisticated and powerful rifles that even have laser sights. The extensive selection ensures that you’ll find a quality gun that suits your needs and that you’ll find a price that fits your budget.
There is a lot of information to process about pellet guns, and it gets more complicated as you learn even more about types of ammo, firing power and gun models. When you start reading reviews, it is helpful to have this basic, introductory knowledge so that you have a framework for deepening your understanding. After you narrow down the field and are able to select that first pellet gun, you’ll get a feel for what you like and can come back even more knowledgable when you’re ready to buy your second.
5 Best Air Rifle Reviews and Best Pellet Gun Reviews
Crosman M4-177 Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle (.177)
Made by one of the best air rifle companies, the Crosman M4 .177 Caliber Air Rifle is a beauty. While it is made from plastic, the build is durable and quite nice with the realistic M4 look and feel. Because of it’s high quality plastic construction, the gun is very light but still quite powerful. It comes with an adjustable stock making it appropriate for both teenagers and adults which means that it’s affordable option if you have multiple kids who want to get into pellet shooting. One of the more unique features is the inclusion of the 5 round pellet clips allowing you to not have to reload. Not only is it of high quality and multi-capacity, but you can use it for a wide range of activities from target shooting to small pest hunting.
|Pellet: Up to 600 FPS|
BB: Up to 625 FPS
|Weight: 3.56 Pounds|
Length: 34 Inches
(10 Strokes Max)
|.177||5 Shot Clip||350|
Crosman American Classic Pump Air Pistol (.177)
Crosman, one of the premier air gun manufacturers, produces another affordable gem wih the Crosman American Classic Pump Air Pistol. In a very affordable range of under $100, this air pistol is a very good beginner gun for those looking to start their collection or just for fun. It produces very solid power of 600 FPS at it’s max 10 pump capacity, and offers surprising accuracy because of it being a longer barrel pistol. Because of the bargain price and very compareable construction and power to higher end air gun pistols, the Crosman American Classic is a great buy for beginners to experts alike.
|Pellet: Up To 600 FPS|
BB : N/A
|Weight: 2 Pounds|
Length: 13.6 Inches
|Variable Pump||.177||Single Shot||N/A|
Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle
A high end gun that is both suitable for small game hunting as well as target shooting, the Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle has few rivals. With little kickback and incredible accuracy at up to 50 yards, the Benjamin Marauder sets itself apart. Not only is this rifle powerful and accurate, but it is also surprisingly quiet for the amount of power this gun puts out. This gun not only has great versatility of use but is also a very well constructed rifle with a hardwood stock and raised aluminum breech.
|Pellet: Up To 1000 FPS|
|Weight: 8 Pounds|
Length: 42.50 Inches
|PCP||.22||10 Shot Magazine||N/A|
Gamo Big Cat 1200/1250 Air Rifle
Despite a trigger mechanism that takes some getting used to and a medium grade scope, the Gamo Big Cat comes in with high grades for overall design, accuracy and power. With the ability to shoot .177 caliber pellets up to 1200 FPS combined with very good accuracy when the correct ammo is used, this gun is excellent for both small game hunting as well as target shooting. The overall design of the gun includes an easy cocking mechanism along with a full synthetic all weather stock that includes a SWA butt pad to absorb the majority of recoil the Big Cat produces.
|Pellet: Up To 1200 FPS|
|Weight: 6.1 Pounds|
Length: 43.3 Inches
|Spring piston||.177||Single Shot||N/A|
Beeman RS2 Dual-Caliber Air Rifle Combo
Sporting a real wood stock the Beeman RS2 is a very solid starter rifle. The ability to fire both .177 and .22 caliber pellets from one gun offers great versatility along with solid cost effectiveness. Overall the gun is a pretty decent gun with good power and accuracy. It will take a little bit of time to get use to the trigger mechanism and the sighting, but if you want an affordable rifle for plinking or taking care of pests, you can’t really go wrong with this gun for the price.
|Pellet: Up To 1000 FPS|
|Weight: 6.9 Pounds|
Length: 45.5 Inches
|Sprint piston||.177 and .22||Single Shot||N/A|
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