The question of “what is the best air rifle” is a trivial one, and finding the best one is even more difficult when you’re just starting out on this hobby. But there are some questions I recommend asking ourselves.
Do you want to target practice? Or do some animal control?
Just answering these two questions will significantly alter your choice of air rifle. And to put it simply, there isn’t the best hunting air rifle, but a series of them; and one of them is tailored to your specific need.
That is why the chart above was created; it will help you find the one you need based on your specific needs because to find a good rifle is to match it up with its user, so the ideal air rifle is based on the the individual’s preference. If you ask a gun expert, most likely they’ll tell you the same thing and ask you a series of questions to help you choose your best air rifle.
So don’t be bummed you couldn’t find the ultimate air gun, because there isn’t. There may be the most powerful air rifle–shooting at blistering speed, piercing through trees, but chances are, you won’t be needing one. You may even have to settle for less than that.
So if you want “the best air rifle” that’s better than every other rifle, you won’t find it on here. But you will find…your air rifle.
What Is An Air Rifle
There are a few titles given to this category–BB gun, pellet gun, and even gas gun. BB rifles are solely for shooting spherical ammo, while pellet and gas rifles shoot spherical and other types.
Now if you compared an air rifle to an air-soft gun that is a different story. There are very noticeable differences hence, the names–air and air-soft. Go figure.
Aside from that, the air rifle has been present for a while now–approximately 433 years (wikipedia). Its usage have been seen in big game hunting using calibers as big as .51. It has also been used in the military back in the old days.
However, air guns were too delicate to manage compared to a regular powdered weapon; valves and reservoirs would burst, so their usage in military combat was limited.
Regardless, these guns still found their way into the consumer world and have become a popular alternative of shooting and hunting. Because of its low-noise levels, air rifles are ideal for hunting and target practices.
Choosing The Best Air Rifle For You
When choosing a rifle, there are a lot of specifications you must consider. It wouldn’t be right to buy a Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle so you can go boar hunting. Rifles do not work that way. Every gun is built for a specific need, even the Red Ryder. Some are built for target practices and some a built specifically to shoot a certain animal.
With that in mind, the outline below entails the necessary details you should consider when choosing a rifle. The outline has been referenced from the above chart, which a good amount of research went into. I think these are what a hunter would mostly consider when choosing a gun. Features like, rifle scope, trigger type, butt-plate, etc are optional, so they won’t be mentioned here. But first, know what you want to shoot.
1. Price. Believe it or not, but most of our audience out there have a tight budget and do care a lot about pricing. So I’ve also taken that into consideration and believe that you can get a descent hunting rifle even with a budget.
2. Caliber. Is the definition for the approximate diameter of the barrel, which is directly correlated with the size of the pellet/BB? Four of the most popular calibers are .177, .20, .22, and .25. Some rifles also come in multiple sizes of caliber also. For example, the Benjamin Marauder comes in the .177, .22 and .25 calibers.
3. Velocity. Or more properly called, muzzle velocity is the speed (measured in feet-per-second) at which the ammo travels. Rifle velocity can vary from 240 fps to over 1200 fps. Rifles aren’t determined by their fps.
4. Power Plant. There are five types of power sources are used in the air rifle industry–
Spring piston – Guns that are powered by springs are the most common and produces the most constant velocity because unlike gas powered rifles that loses velocity after the first shot, springs last a lot longer. However, the powerful kick-back from the released spring makes it difficult to handle for novice shooters.
Nitro piston – Are not affected by temperature, therefore making it a growing popular source of power as it makes cocking the gun a lot simpler. It is also 70% quieter than spring pistons.
Pneumatic – Is one of the most accurate air rifle power source because there is hardly any kick back from the gun. These guns are pump-action guns, so the more pumps there are, the more power, but usually one pump is enough.
CO2 gas – Cheap and excellent propellent, CO2 is first in liquid form and then gas when shot. However it lags in extreme temperature, whether if it is too hot or too cold. The gun can lose power in cold weather or valve-lock in hot temperatures.
Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) – As the name suggests, these guns are either charged up through a hand pump or scuba tank. And if you want to stretch it, that is probably the only down fall of these, but once the reservoir is filled, you’ll have more than plenty of time to shoot. This is why so many hunters prefer this kind of source, especially when hunting bigger animals.All in all, there are definitely more specifications in an air rifle, but I hope the above information will at least get you started. Not only that, the interactive chart above includes a little bit more features that will narrow down your search and find you that perfect air rifle.
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