Best .22 Air Rifle – Top Picks and Reviews

Not an easy list to make with all of the great .22 caliber air rifles on the market, but when the major companies in existence are so good it really narrows things down a bit. Benjamin and Crosman are at the top of their game after years of hits, while some old favorites like Ruger still manages to make the list. The best air rifle in 2015 should have a combination of power, accuracy, comfort, features and a decent price. All of the air rifles on the list can be modded, which makes them further valuable to the user if they decide to go that route.

The three main manufacturers on the list for the best .22 air rifle in 2015 are Benjamin, Crosman, and Ruger. Keep in mind that a great air rifle is not a great air rifle without proper care, as well as upkeep. And cheap pellets will not help accuracy or hunting any, and in many cases, will completely ruin the experience for a new user.

1
  • Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston
  • Brand: Benjamin
  • Length: Not specified
  • Scope and Mount: 4x32
  • Made In: USA

2
  • Crosman Nitro Venom Break Barrel
  • Brand: Crosman
  • Length: 44.5 in
  • Scope and Mount: 3-9x32 mm scope from CenterPoint
  • Made In: USA

3
  • Ruger Air Magnum Combo
  • Brand: Ruger
  • Length: Weaver scope rail 42 lbs. cocking effort 14.25 length of pull 3.5 lbs. trigger-pull 9.5 lbs
  • Scope and Mount: 4x32
  • Made In: USA

4
  • Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel
  • Brand: Crosman
  • Length: 44.5"
  • Scope and Mount: 3-9x32 mm
  • Made In: USA

5
  • Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo
  • Brand: Ruger
  • Length: Picatinny optics rail Automatic safety Ambidextrous hardwood stock 14 length of pull Rubber recoil pad Checkered grip and forearm 30 lbs. cocking effort 9 lbs.
  • Scope and Mount: 3-9x32
  • Made In: USA

1. Benjamin Titan GP Nitro

Benjamin Titan GP NitroFrom first generation Nitro fame comes the Benjamin Titan GP Nitro with a FPS of 950 and 4×32 CenterPoint scope. There are a multitude of comfort features like ambidextrous use, thumbhole stock, dual raised cheek pieces and a 2 stage adjustable trigger.

Break barrel air rifles aren’t going anywhere, and the Benjamin Titan does it right with this version. With no open sights, it is user adjustable (easy mods) and the videos on doing so are plentiful. It’s not as noisy, especially considering it is a .22 caliber break barrel. The Nitro system does a good job of not only cutting back on the cocking effort of 30+ lbs. but also of smoothness when shooting.

There aren’t any advanced features in this model, it has a run of the mill scope, but is as powerful as it is to look at. The power of the Benjamin Titan GP Nitro is standard for the brand name, and the user will not be disappointed with this model in the least. It is definitely a top buy for anyone looking for a reliable .22 caliber.

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2. Crosman Nitro Venom

Crosman Nitro Venom Break BarrelThe name well fits this air rifle which is a joy to shoot and packs quite the punch. The Crosman Nitro Venom is a first generation Nitro powered break barrel that shoots a blazing 950 FPS with 20 FPE. Of high quality, Crosman also didn’t go cheap on the scope and threw in a decent 3-9×32 CenterPoint that should either do the job well or hold the user off until they replace the scope with a better model.

This air rifle is long at 44.5 and heavy at almost 8 lbs. so may not be suitable for a beginner or small child. Best practice for most accurate shooting is the suggested Artillery Hold shooting position, which could aggravate some shooters with different styles.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the Crosman Nitro Venom, and it has plenty of knockdown power and does very well in many areas. There are some features with comfort missing, and a lot of the bells and whistles that are useless on other air rifles would’ve looked good on this one. It’s still a beast of an air rifle and very well worth the asking price.

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3. Ruger Air Magnum

Ruger Air Magnum ComboThe most impressive air rifle on the list, at least on paper, is the Ruger Air Magnum. It completely blows away the competition in FPS at 1200 and manages to come equipped with an impressive fiber optic rear sight. All of this wrapped in a great looking all weather ambidextrous Monte Carlo stock.

This is not Nitro, and the 42 lbs. of cocking effort may be a killer for some, and it is as loud as it looks. The sound the Ruger Air Magnum makes when firing is in no way subtle, and can easily be damaged by generic light pellets if heavily used.

This is the most powerful air rifle on the list, hands down. The scope is not of high quality and is the standard 4×32 OEM that is not worth keeping, so that is something to keep in mind when doing the comparison. But for power, looks, and price, the Ruger Air Magnum is hard to beat.

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4. Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk

Crosman Nitro Venom DuskThe second Crosman on the list, the Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk is the same as the aforementioned Venom on the list but with a beautiful finish of note, hence the Dusk. The look suits it well and sets it apart from the original Venom, even though both air rifles have identical specs.

The same great 950 FPS with 20 FPE is included in this package, with an excellent 3-9x32mm CenterPoint scope. Although not as powerful as the Ruger, it is a whisper when comparing the sound of the two air rifles firing together. It is ideal for all use, whether small game hunting, target practice, or even plinking.

Looks aren’t everything, especially when it comes to air rifles. But that doesn’t mean they don’t count for something, as the Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk clearly shows in this list. If having a choice between the original and the Dusk, the latter beats it with ease.

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5. Ruger Yukon Air Rifle

Ruger Yukon Air Rifle ComboThe most professional looking air rifle on the list goes to the Ruger Yukon Air Rifle, with professional specs to back it up. It is the only gas piston on the list and because of that is granted one of the more forgiving cocking efforts, even rivaling Nitro. It’s also the only .22 on the list with a 3-9×32 scope with Integral Silencer, and is sneaky strong at 1050 FPS.

Although not made for its looks it has a nice overall finish to it, and the placement of the scope helps a lot in that. The scope was clearly not an afterthought in this air rifles overall design. It’s also sports iron sights, even with the included scope, which is a rare but interesting combo for those that use it.

The design, power, and comfort level of the Ruger Yukon Air Rifle makes it a strong considering for the best .22 caliber. It’s hard to argue with its all-around capabilities, and additional add-ons only make it that much better. It’s a solid purchase, and one that would please users of all abilities.

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Hunting with a .22

Hunting with a .22 is a joy, and takes the headache out of guessing if the air rifle is hunting compatible like with a .177. With the correct pellets a beginner up to a professional an easily have a successful outing. The diablo is still one of the most popular all around pellet, but there are a variety to use and even the good ones won’t kill the wallet. The point is for humane put down on game without suffering, and with any air rifle on this list that is possible. Although an air rifle may have a higher FPS than the next, FPS is not all conclusive to power. Knockdown power, or FPE, plays a major role in the true power of an air rifle.

Accessories

Some of the air rifles on this list come with 4×32 OEM throwaway scopes, so an upgrade will be needed, especially if using for hunting. Always check and make sure that the scope that is purchased doesn’t need any special adapters or extra mounts to fit onto the air rifle in question. In some extreme cases, modifications may need to be made in order to fit certain scopes and could void the warranty.

Straps are a popular add-on for the avid hunter, but not all air rifles support it. There are also cases that have a specific size requirement, and some that have extra spots for a scope to fit into.

What Makes the Best?

Although .22 is expected to pack the biggest punch (other than .25) power doesn’t make the best .22 air rifle. Just like accuracy doesn’t make the best .177, a user’s expectation is of the whole experience with the air rifle, and not necessarily the full power output. Cocking effort is going to deter some users from the break barrels on this list. But for an old-school no nonsense .22 that gets the job done, break barrel is still the way to go. There are few flaws to it than the manual cocking, and it seems to get better with age.

Users should also be wary of fixed OEM 4×32 scopes with no features, as there are many better air rifles out there with quality scopes already attached. Even if the scope is replaceable, in the case of a great air rifle with a great scope that is one less hassle before getting to shoot the weapon. The best air rifle will be a balance of power, accuracy, ease of use, features and looks even. The lucky part for air rifle users is that there are a lot of choices to choose from.