What Is The Best Air Rifle for Hunting?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are many types of air rifles in production, all with different uses. Some air rifles allows multiple uses for both varmint hunting, target practice and hunting game at high levels.

A hunting air rifle will always be backwards compatible with other uses, but an air rifle that wasn’t made for hunting game will not be compatible with said endeavor. An air rifle that is not made for hunting simply lacks the punch required to take down larger game humanely.

When choosing the correct air rifle specifically for hunting game, there is a very particular type that gives a hunter everything they need to be properly equipped when taking down their target. It doesn’t just come down to the scope, the barrel, the trigger, or even the pellet type.

It’s a combination of all of those things features that lend themselves to a complete air rifle that delivers on all fronts in terms of speed, power, and durability in order to deliver the most satisfying and error free user experience.

Within reason, choosing the correct air rifle for hunting determines whether the hunter has a good hunt or a bad hunt.

1
  • Swiss Arms Tac-1
  • Brand: Swiss Arms
  • Color: Black
  • Length: Not Specified
  • Made In: Switzerland

2
  • Ruger Air Magnum
  • Brand: Ruger
  • Color: Black
  • Length: Not Specified
  • Made In: United States

3
  • Benjamin BPBD3S
  • Brand: Benjamin
  • Color: Black
  • Length: 3.8 x 40.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Made In: USA

4
  • Benjamin Marauder Mrod
  • Brand: Benjamin
  • Color: Black and Brown
  • Length: 42.8
  • Made In: USA

1. Swiss Arms 288723 Tac-1 Break Barrel

Swiss Arms 288723 Tac-1 Break BarrelThe Swiss Arms 288723 Tac-1 Break Barrel Rifle with scope is a fantastic air rifle for hunting and provides all the bells and whistles of a higher end air rifle without breaking the bank. For the beginning hunter it will do the job and then some with 1200 FPS and solid accuracy at over 80 yards. The punch behind this air rifle is good, not great, and will definitely suffice for small game. The size is comfortable enough for the beginner with the ergonomics made in mind for mid-tall individuals.

The scope is a standard 4×32 that doesn’t do the above average break barrel it sits on top of justice, but still maintains decent accuracy. From long distances there won’t be much complaints, even without some extra features available to the scope from other rifles in the higher range.

The major drawback of the Swiss Arms 288723 Tac-1 Break Barrel Rifle would be the noise factor while firing. When used during target practice it wouldn’t be a big deal, but when hunting it makes all the difference in the world. It is very noticeable, and even the noise reducing spring in the mechanics doesn’t do it much difference. If used properly, however, the Swiss Arms 288723 Tac-1 is an excellent purchase.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

2. Ruger Air Magnum Combo

Ruger Air Magnum ComboThe main focus on the Ruger Air Magnum Combo is going to be on the.22 version rather than its larger cousin. With a couple of quirks and a solid 1200 FPS, this break barrel could potentially go from being a hobbyist toy to a serious and dependable hunting air rifle.

A lot of muscle is required with a concentrated cocking effort of almost 50 lbs., and the Rugen Air Magnum Combo clocks in as one of the heavier air rifles on the market. It packs as much of a punch as it weighs, thankfully, as the recoil with the added weight takes some getting used to in the field. With the right pellets, it tends to even out somewhat but is still good for a take along.

The price point is just about even with rifles of its caliber, so the Ruger Air Magnum Combo is a decent grab for the hunting enthusiast if nursed properly with the correct setup. With the heaviness of the original equipment it could also be considered good training to prepare for a real hunting rifle.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

3. Benjamin BPBD3S Bulldog .357 PCP Hunting Rifle

Benjamin BPBD3S Bulldog

This is the highest priced air rifle on the list, and also the most powerful. Using this bad boy for target practice, varmint hunting, or even general pest control would be overkill. It has a bullpup configuration and averages 800 FPS with a solid 200 foot pounds of energy.

Features include the baffle-less sound trap and 26 inch picatinny rail, making for some easy add-ons and adjusting. This is one 9 pound air rifle that’s not meant for a beginner or to be used in the backyard. Hand pumps can be used with this model that measures about 36 inches in length.

A 5 shot magazine is included with the purchase, along with a cleaning tool, six Nosler eXtreme bullets and lubricant. If looking for the most power in an air rifle setup then this will be your best choice from the list. Not only does it pack a big punch, but it makes sure that the game doesn’t stand a chance.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

4. Benjamin Marauder Mrod Air Rifle Combo air rifle

Benjamin Marauder Mrod

This is another high priced air rifle, although a bit less than the previous one. It comes in calibers of 0.177, .022, and .025. FPS ranges from 900-1100, basically from lowest caliber to highest caliber. The PCP repeater is 10 for the 0.177 and 0.22 versions, and 8 for the 0.25 version.

It uses compressed air that can be adjusted between 2,000-3,000 PSI, and even in the lowest caliber it’s still pretty rock solid for the task. This is an air rifle ideal for target hunting, pest control, and varmint hunting. If using the 0.25 caliber, it becomes a great choice for game hunting as well.

The shrouded barrel is quite a surprise in that it makes this one of the quieter air rifles on the list, by a considerable amount. Keep in mind that the bigger the caliber, the less impact the shrouded barrel has on noise. The 2 stage adjustable trigger is metal, and will most likely entice users to purchase, especially for durability reasons. This is a really good buy, even at the higher price.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

5
  • Benjamin Trail Nitro
  • Brand: Benjamin
  • Color: Black
  • Length: Not Specified
  • Made In: USA

6
  • Benjamin Varmint Power
  • Brand: Benjamin
  • Color: Black
  • Length: 2.8 x 45.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Made In: USA

7
  • Gamo 611004855554
  • Brand: Gamo
  • Color: Black
  • Length: 43.3"
  • Made In: Spain

8
  • Benjamin Trail NP
  • Brand: Crosman
  • Color: Black and Brown
  • Length: 44.25"
  • Made In: USA

5. Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air RifleThe only Nitro Piston 2 air rifle on the list, the Benjamin Trail NP2 is a .22 caliber powerhouse that rockets at 1200 FPS. The technology reduces a lot of the recoil and effort required with normal break barrels and is a marketed improvement over the original Nitro Piston. Hunting with this air rifle is a joy, and requires minimal effort to get used to when compared to other air rifles of the same specifications that are not in the Nitro family.

The Nitro Piston 2 innovation does not detract from the overall power of the air rifle, and even goes so far as to help with accuracy concerns due to the reduced kickback. Previous air rifles like the Swiss Arms 288723 suffered from noise issues, but the noise suppression on the Benjamin Trail Nitro is superior enough that it can be used in even delicate conditions. An easily adjustable 2nd stage trigger is enough to take an already great gun and put it over the scoring charts.

With all of the technical improvements over the actual air rifle, the scope itself stays about the same unless the hunter in question adjusts it properly. Benjamin thought ahead and made the scope no problem to replace, even for a beginner. For the price and money, the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 is at the top of the list, if not at the top period.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

6. Benjamin Varmint Power Pack

Benjamin Varmint Power PackThe Benjamin Varmint Power Pack is a unique .22 caliber shooting at 1200 FPS, and is the only rifle on the list with a recoil-proof 90-lumen LED flashlight and red class IIIa fast acquisition laser. Probably the best scope on the list with the most features, a 3-9×32 riflescope is the icing on the cake of an already great hunting air rifle.

As the only hunting air rifle on the list that is compatible during night time, it makes this air rifle something solid to consider when making the purchase. As a plus this is a generation 1 Nitro powered air rifle, and the power is consistent with the rest of its features. Included is also reduced recoil, noise suppression, and a refined trigger. The scope does need to be zeroed in, but it is a minor hassle to an overall great package.

The Benjamin Varmint Power Pack is an excellent hunting air rifle, with some key features not found in other air rifles. Modifications can be made if the scope isn’t up to par for the particular hunter, but with some advanced tinkering as the scope assembly can be a bit messy. Still this Benjamin is one of the best on the list.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

7. Gamo 611004855554 Big Cat Air

gamoShooting at only 975 FPS, the Gamo 611004855554 Big Cat Air is deceptively powerful and sneaky accurate. As a bonus 25 platinum rounds of ammo is included with the package, a nice addition to give the hunter an idea of what to expect when you use quality rounds with this air rifle. It is also an easy way to break in the gun right out of the package.

This is one of the lightest hunting air rifles available, and it doesn’t hurt for power because of that. Very well built, the cocking effort is on the low side at below 30 lbs. so can be used without much effort. The price point is very low with a model of these features, another great selling point.

Hunting with the Gamo 611004855554 Big Cat Air is a great joy even with a below average scope. With the included ammo, it is a very good buy. The easily replaceable scope and ease of use gives this Gamo good credibility on the hunting air rifle list.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

8. Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel

Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break BarrelAlthough from the original Nitro family, the Benjamin Trail NP Hardwood Break Barrel is a very old school based air rifle with some pleasing features for hunting game. With very good feeling hardwood stock, this air rifle clocks in at about 950 FPS with a powerful pop.

The cocking effort is smooth and based off the new technology, which also includes great noise suppression for an air rifle of its size. At 43 inches in length and weighing in at 7 lbs. the Benjamin Trail NP is a nice addition to any game hunting arsenal.

Premium features range from a Picatinny mounting rail system, installed sling mounts and a ventilated rubber recoil pad. This air rifle is not just on the list for looks, but for its solid all around use and throwback appeal. Even with the included standard scope, the Benjamin Trail NP rates high on the list.

Check the Latest Price at Amazon

Using Air Rifles for Hunting

Air Rifles for HuntingWhen preparing to use an air rifle for hunting, it is important to keep some key things in mind about the purchase. Caliber should be at the top of the list, with nothing lower than a .22 even being looked at (see our list of the best .22 air rifles). There are some exceptions to the rule, but few and far between. Even the few .177 air rifles that are capable of taking down game will not have all of the same attributes as a .22 made for taking down game. Even if personal preference, choose very wisely based on power in order to take down game humanely.

The price point is in some ways moot, as many quality air rifles exist with different features that caters to all types of users. Remember that most air rifles can be modded if the user is experienced enough, and in many cases made better than a higher priced counterpart.

Features to Look For

If hunting during the night, the obvious choice would be an air rifle with a flashlight. If problems with accuracy, then an air rifle with a laser pointer would be less problematic than one without. And one of the most important but overlooked feature is the shoulder sling, which surprisingly a lot of models don’t even support. There is also a break in period with all air rifles, and some makers give away rounds for free with the purchase of the air rifle. Cost and efficiency with features, or just features with improvement through modification and hard work. The perfect hunting air rifle is a model that is completely up to the individual user.