Power is important in air rifles for a variety of reasons, depending on what a shooter plans on using it for. The main reason why a shooter would want power in their air rifle would be for hunting, or for long distance shooting. Target shooting in particular, it is very important for the pellet to maintain its energy heading towards the target for accuracy sake.
The good hunter will also use an air rifle with adequate FPE (Foot pounds of energy) and even go so far as to purchase a chronograph to measure FPS, rather than depending on the manufacturer’s label.
To the hunter, knock down power is a key attribute that can be measure by both FPE and FPS and knowing the weight of the ammo. Many online resources are available for free, including specialized calculators to measure an air rifles KDP (Knock down Power) with nothing more than the information from the chronograph, ammo weight, and FPS.
The other side of the need for power in an air rifle, that hasn’t been discussed, would be for the hobbyist. The modding community within the air rifle spectrum is still huge and growing, with how to’s and major power modifications to existing air rifles. Some of the easier power boosters to stock air rifles are valve modifications and the more advanced (and dangerous!) power modifications can be done with items found around the house like oil, paper towels and regular pellets.
The possibilities are endless for the hobbyist in search of power, while the hunter and target shooter are limited to FPE and accuracy, respectively. The best air rifle for power can range from any brand, and is heavily dependent on its intended use.
Below is a list of the most powerful air rifles and some pointers and tips on what to look for;
- Ruger Air Magnum Combo
- Brand: Ruger
- Length: 14.25 length
- Scope & Mount: 4x32
- Made In: USA
- Gamo Big Cat 1200 and 1250
- Brand: Gamo
- Length:Not specified
- Scope & Mount: 4x32
- Made In: Spain
- Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo
- Brand: Ruger
- Length: Not specified
- Scope & Mount: 3-9x32
- Made In: USA
Ruger Air Magnum Combo
Sporting both a .22 caliber and .177 caliber version, the Ruger Air Magnum combo is a do it all break barrel that hits the mark at 1200 FPS. Some refer to it as the Chinese copy of the rws-350 magnum. Because of the similar designs and mechanics, it has become a pet favorite of some hobbyist with premade kits allowing for a 30% increase in muzzle energy for increased power.
This is a very well built and sturdy rifle, with a cocking effort of 50 lbs. made for a grown adult male. The .177 version packs quite a lot of power when compared to other .177 air rifles on the market, so that is something to keep in mind when deciding which version to buy. Although the Ruger Air Magnum is one of the most powerful air rifles on the market, it is not the easiest to get used to for the novice.
Even if it is possibly a copy of the rws-350 magnum, the feel of the synthetic stock is enough to warrant a purchase. The weight of the air rifle might turn some people away, but the overall build quality may be enough to forgive one of its few flaws.
Gamo 61100073154 Whisper CFR .177 Caliber Air Rifle
Not known for their creative names, but the long winded Gamo 61100073154 Whisper CFR .177 Caliber Air Rifle comes from a long line of respectable air rifles. This single cocking Gamo shoots at 1250 FPS and is equipped with non-slip checking on the grip and forearm. The barrel is fluted and of good quality in order to complete this nicely made model.
Other notable features are an adjustable second stage trigger, and automatic cocking safety system to go hand and hand with the manual trigger safety. That feature is sort of a wash, and pushes this air rifle more for the intermediate to advanced user. The power output is well absorbed by the ventilated rubber pad on the butt plate for recoil absorption. At 6.1 lbs., it’s not the heaviest air rifle on the list, but it also isn’t a slouch.
The cocking effort is reasonably at 30 lbs. so it won’t put a hurting on the user. This is also one of the loudest .177 calibers available, a quirk to think about if the rifles intended use is hunting. There are similar air rifles from other companies of the same type, including Gamo. But the Gamo 61100073154 Whisper CFR .177 Caliber Air Rifle does a decent job of standing out of the pack.
Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo
The Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo is a gas piston and in a whole different category. With 1050 FPS for the .177 caliber and 850 FPS for the .22, this air rifle gives the necessary power for hunters, target shooters, and even hobbyists. It even comes with a standard scope and integral silencer.
Recoil is not a factor with gas piston technology, and this particular Ruger benefits from Picatanny optics rails for fast and easy switching of scopes. The knockdown power is pretty above average and should please users of previous Ruger air rifles. The noise suppression provided by the SlienceAIR integral silencer is a noticeable feature, especially on the first shot.
Not a lot of air rifles pack this much punch without being the loudest of the bunch, but the Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo claims to break that mold. Gas piston technology powers and puts this air rifle firmly near the top of the list for most powerful air rifle.
- Benjamin Trail NP XL
- Brand: Benjamin
- Length: N/A
- Scope and Mount: 3-9x40AO
- Made In: USA
- Benjamin 392 Bolt Action
- Brand: Crosman
- Length: 36.75 in
- Scope and Mount: Not specified
- Made In: USA
- Stoeger Arms X20S
- Brand: Stoeger Arms
- Length: Not specified
- Scope and Mount: 4x32 mm
- Made In: USA
Benjamin Trail NP XL
Coming from a long line of Benjamin Trails in this series, the Benjamin Trail NP XL sells calibers of 0.177, .22, and .25. Nitro Piston technology makes a splash again, with this generation 1 NP air rifle. At this point, this is one of the few quality .25 caliber air rifles, so it is safe to say it is top of the line in both quality and power.
The .25 caliber version of this air rifle is a common favorite in air rifle circles and forums, and is well known for its knock down power rather than bells and whistles. It’s not known for accuracy, or even the included standard scope, but brute force and putting a target down on the first shot. Despite its overwhelming power, after the break in period it is not as loud as many would think. Not as quiet as the Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo, but still respectable.
The Benjamin Trail NP XL is an excellent rifle for power enthusiasts, and although lacking some of the bells and whistles of air rifles within the same range, does the one thing it was meant to do as well as any other on the market. It is a solid buy that won’t disappoint even the most advanced of shooters.
Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump
With the looks to back up its tremendous power, the .22 caliber Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump shoots at 685 FPS with a solid FPE of 14.9. Unique from Nitro piston technology in that it instead uses a single shot bolt action, with the included pump for a very different experience than what break barrel provides.
When getting past the hoopla of a hard hitting Benjamin bolt action air rifle, purchasers are forewarned that this air rifle does not come with a scope rail or dovetail. Some modding or an extra purchase is required if shooters want to change out the scopes, which in a lot of cases is the first thing changed once purchasing an air rifle. There are few quirks with this Crosman air rifle, and it is wrapped in a very classic Monte Carlo stock design.
Just on looks alone, the Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump might fit the bill for the average consumer. As this is a review about power though, this air rifle holds up well and gets the job done whether it is hunting or target practice.
Stoeger X20S Suppressor Air Rifle
One name that hasn’t been seen on many lists is the Stoeger X20S Suppressor Air Rifle, which is the very definition of underrated. In both the .177 caliber and .22, it is the only air rifle on the list that has the Dual-Stage Noise Reduction System with Air Flow Control technology. Even with 1200 FPS it is the quietest air rifle on the list, with sneaky power to boot.
There is an included 4×32 illuminated scope for kicks, but the real treat is the amount of power that comes from this air rifle that is more known for its lack of noise. A nice safety feature is the ambidextrous safety, non-slip rubber recoil pad and a good weigh in of 8 and a half lbs. for a nice, solid build.
The Monte Carlo black synthetic look makes another appearance with this air rifle. There is good knock down power from the Stoeger X20S Suppressor Air Rifle, but the overall power is still not enough to put it at the top of the list. It does rate as the quietest powerful gun on the list, and that counts for something.
Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT
The look of the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT is of an air rifle that means business, and it doesn’t disappoint in either its .177 caliber or 0.22 caliber versions. IGT stands for inert gas technology, which isn’t new but is definitely improved with this Gamo. The included ND52 noise dampener does a great job of filtering out unnecessary noise by up to 52%.
This Gamo air rifle is loaded with features from top to bottom, with even the recoil pad being tweaked to absorb up to 74% of the recoil associated with firing such a powerful air rifle. Extra features aside, the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT markets itself as a high powered pellet gun and does not disappoint on any front. It is reasonable due to its power that many treat it like a real .22 rifle.
With the right pellets the knockdown power of the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT can rival any air rifle on this list, and is one of the few that is as accurate as it is powerful. If looking for the complete package, then this Gamo should fit the bill with little hassle.
FPE or FPS?
To put it simply, neither by itself is going to give the user the necessary information needed to get the correct power of the air rifle. The most widely known stat, FPS (Feet per Second) measures speed and is what most manufactures list on their product pages. FPE (Foot Pounds of Energy) is rarely if at all listed, and refers to the shot at the very end of the barrel itself. Both of these measurements even together are still not a determining factor of the power the user is getting. The third ingredient to it all is the pellet weight. A good pellet weight is important, as the heavier the pellet is the more likely it is to lose its power while traveling longer distances.
So taking into consideration all of the factors in a shooters control (FPS/FPE/Pellets/Distance) determines the actual power of the air rifle. And on a side note, to be well informed, for the hunter that is out to kill humanely it is recommended that the stats for FPE be no lower than 20.
There are plenty of powerful air rifles to choose from, and if choosing strictly for power alone and not accuracy or any other features, the list becomes a little bit smaller than it was before. The introduction of heavier pellets and innovative heavier designs based off of the original diablo makes it easier to settle more for what feels comfortable in an individual’s grip rather than what has the higher stats. The highest stat air rifle may yield marginally better results, but may not be a long term air rifle for its intended purpose.
Since the determining factor will always be the pellet itself, and with rising FPS stats with newer air rifles, the only wrong choice in choosing the most powerful air rifle is what ammunition the shooter decides to load it with.