Top 5 Air Rifles for the Modern Survival Junkie

An air rifle can be a stealthy way to hunt small game like squirrels and rabbits. With today’s highest caliber air rifles, you can even successfully hunt deer and hogs. An air rifle can also be a valuable tool for controlling predator problems, either the four or two-legged kind.

Every day, the world seems to become a more dangerous place. It is becoming easier to imagine scenarios where long-term survival skills are an asset. If a natural disaster occurs, social or economic collapse happens, or any event that causes chaos to ensue, having the right equipment and supplies on hand could determine survival.

Why You Need an Air Rifle

While traditional firearms may seem like the perfect solution, don’t underestimate the value of a pellet gun. Regular rimfire and center fire ammunition is loud and expensive. Air rifles use affordable ammo, are practically silent, and are easier to acquire than conventional firearms.

A pellet gun is the perfect tool for hunting small animals and birds at ranges under 100 yards. Without reverberating gunfire, a hunter can often fire off several shots without spooking other animals in the vicinity or alerting anyone nearby of your location.

Pellets are easy to acquire and they take up little space so they are easy to store, even in large quantities. While an air rifle isn’t the perfect weapon for self-defense or big game hunting, don’t underestimate how useful one can be.

Best Air Rifles for the Modern Shooter

As the cost of ammunition rises and conventional firearms become increasingly difficult to purchase, more shooters are turning to air rifles. To meet rising market demands, more and more companies are developing their own version of the modern air rifle. With so many choices available, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. But don’t worry! We’ve cut through the sales pitches and marketing promises to help you find the best air rifles on the market today.

Here are our top 5 picks (plus a bonus just because). Scroll down for our review of each product.

Picture

Air Rifle

Power Plant

Caliber

Price

Rating

Hatson AT44S – 10 Quiet Energy Air Rifle, Black

Precharged Pneumatic

Available in .117, .22, and .25

$$$$

4.8

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Air Gun Combo, Black

Spring Piston

.22

$$

4.3

Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle

Spring Piston

Available if .177 and .22

$$

4.3

Benjamin Marauder Synrod Combo air rifle

Precharged Pneumatic

Available in .177, .22, and .25

$$$$$

4.1

Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle

Spring Piston

.22

$$

4.1

AirForce Texan Big Bore Air Rifle

Precharged Pneumatic

.45

$$$$$++

unrated

Picking the Perfect Air Rifle

By focusing on the main ways you intend to use your air rifle will help you cut through the confusion and narrow down options. Here are some key things to consider when choosing which air rifle you need.

Types of Air Rifle Power Plants

An air rifle fires pellets by using the energy produced by one of four basic types of power plants. Since each type of power plant has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, your specific shooting needs will influence which type will work best for you. Here is a basic rundown of the four different power plant types.

Variable Pump. An air rifle with a variable pump must be manually pumped before each shot. The major benefit of a variable pump is it requires no air cartridges to be stored or changed in the field. Firing is a simple matter of charging the self-contained on-board pump. Rifles with variable pumps are convenient, but really only effective at short distances.

CO2. Although most commonly found in air pistols, some modern air rifles use a 12-gram CO2 cartridge for propulsion. Most shooters find they can get 40 to 60 shots before needing to change out cartridges. Air guns with a CO2 power plant are consistently accurate, but most effective at short range.

Spring Piston. Spring tension is used in this type of power plant. When the coiled spring is released, it causes air pressure in a piston to force the pellet down the barrel of the gun. Break action, or break barrel air rifles fall into this category. This type of power plant is inconvenient when rapid firing is necessary, but offers the convenience of unlimited shots when in the field and no cartridges to change. The spring piston also generates more power than other types, making them a smart choice for hunting small game.

PreCharged Pneumatic (PCP). Pneumatic air rifles feature an air reservoir which must be refilled with either a pump or pressure tank. These air rifles are capable of generating more power than those with other power plants. They are also known to be consistent and accurate at longer ranges. These air rifles are a good option for small game hunting.

Which Caliber Should I Use?

Caliber refers to the diameter of the pellet being fired. Different air rifles use different pellet sizes. The three most common pellet calibers are:

.177 caliber. This is the caliber pellet used in most competitive target shooting. It is lightweight and capable of fast air speeds, which increases target accuracy. With its light weight, it is usually not considered effective for hunting, although it can be used for hunting small game at close ranges.

.22 caliber. The most common pellet size for hunting, the .22 caliber pellet packs a punch and s heavy enough to take down most small game species.

.25 caliber. These heavy-weight pellets have more stopping power than smaller caliber pellets. The extra weight does tend to decrease velocity and make them less effective for long range shooting. This is a good caliber for hunting small to medium game at shorter ranges.

Higher Caliber Air Rifles

To meet consumer demands, several manufacturers have begun producing “big bore” airguns capable of firing larger caliber pellets. While the pellets are often more difficult to come by, some of these air rifles fire .357, .45, and even .50 caliber pellets. These “big bore” air rifles pack the power and accuracy necessary to take down larger game.

There is some concern over the weight of the pellet causing major drop at longer ranges. These air rifles aren’t going to perform like a center fire rifle at long ranges. However, they can be extremely effective for stealthy hunting of up-close game.

Air Rifle Reviews

Hatson AT44S – 10 Quiet Energy Air Rifle, Black

Pros:

  • Available in .117, .22, and .25 caliber.
  • Anti-double-feed mechanism prevents more than one pellet from loading when gun has been fully cocked.
  • Weaver/Picatinny accessory rail for a bipod, laser or flashlight.
  • Integral sound moderator reduces report by 50%.
  • .22 and .25 caliber models are ideal for hunting up to medium-size game.

Cons:

  • No open sights.
  • Pump or air tank necessary to refill onboard PCP.

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Air Gun Combo, Black

Pros:

  • Includes 3-9×32 scope (duplex reticle, adjustable
  • objective).
  • Rifled steel barrel with SilencAIR integral silencer
  • Break barrel design. No cartridges to change or refill.
  • Comfortable and rugged sling included.
  • All weather stock.

Cons:

  • Single shot.
  • Short 14 inch barrel.
  • Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle

Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle

Pros:

  • Break barrel design. No cartridges to change or refill.
  • All-weather ambidextrous stock.
  • Whisper Fusion double-integrated noise dampener (reduces report by 89.5%).
  • Fixed fiber optic front sight.
    Fully adjustable fiber optic rear sight.
  • Recoil Reducing Rail maximizes scope lifespan.
  • Includes 3-9×40 scope.

Cons:

  • SIngle shot.
  • Cocking takes some effort. May be difficult for younger or older shooters.

Benjamin Marauder Synrod Combo air rifle

Pros:

  • Available in .117, .22, and .25 caliber.
  • 10-shot repeater.
  • Choked barrel for increased accuracy.
  • Internal shroud for quiet shooting.

Cons:

  • Noise increases with higher caliber versions.
  • Loading mags is tricky and manual instructions are vague.
  • Takes a bit of hand pumping to get to required 2000 psi. The process can feel like a workout.

Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle

Pros:

  • Break barrel design. No cartridges to change or refill.
  • Rifled steel barrel.
  • Muzzle brake for extra cocking leverage.
  • Weaver/Picatinny optics rail.
  • Bipod included.

Cons:

  • Single shot.
  • High noise level for an air rifle, but still quieter than a conventional rifle.
  • Trigger tends to have some travel and a heavy pull.

AirForce Texan Big Bore Air Rifle

Pros:

  • Powerful enough to hunt larger game effectively.
  • Adjustable power.
  • No baffles or silencer.
  • Requires little cocking effort.
  • Low fill pressure (only 300 psi!)

Cons:

  • Only 5 shots per fill.
  • Manual can be confusing and illustrations are unclear.
  • The price tag on this one is big. However, you get what you pay for.
Modern Survival Junkie is supported by readers purchasing products we feature. Most product links are referral links. If you use one of those links and buy something, Modern Survival Junkie earns a small commission from the sale. We like this because it allows us to buy our kids shoes. Our kids hate it because they prefer to run barefoot.
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