What Makes The Best Air Rifle

There is a long and proud tradition of hunting in the United States.  Bridging generational divides and providing experiences that everyone in the family can enjoy, learning to hold, shoot, and hit the target are all skills gradually developed over time.

With a history nearly as old as this country, air rifles are a popular type of gun.  Incorporating their own design elements, air rifles are incredibly diverse.  While this is great for selection and competitive pricing, it makes figuring out what air rifle to buy very difficult.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a moment to review what the best air rifle is.

(Bored already? Want some real choices? Check our top picks for 2016)

A Basic Review of Air Rifles

Typically anything that is air or gas powered and is a gun is considered either an air rifle or air handgun.  Referred to as many things including the BB gun and pellet gun, the air rifle is the oldest pneumatic technology in existence.  Going back 200 years to the earliest models, air rifles have been added to gradually over time, becoming the wide range of models we are familiar seeing in stores and online.

So, What Is The Best Air Rifle?

So, what is the best air rifle out there?  Excellent question!  There are dozens of models made by a handful of companies all competing for that top spot.  The trouble is that air rifles are specialized for particular uses.  With so much specialization, saying that one type of air rifle is better than another is like comparing apples and oranges.  In the end, air rifles are so diverse that there is no single best air rifle out there.

I Can’t Believe I Just Wasted My Time Reading This…

Now hold on!  While the truth is that there is no single ‘best air rifle’ out there, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find the perfect air rifle for your needs.  Instead of looking for the best air rifle across all air rifles, let’s take a look at all the different categories of air rifles out there to help you better understand how air rifles differ depending on their use.  From there, you will be one step closer to finding your perfect air rifle.

A Look At The Categories

Below are categories that air rifles are often funneled into.  Each category has air rifles that are specifically designed for that use and as a result differ dramatically.  Let’s take a moment to examine them and list what about them you should look for when finding the best for your use.

For People Just Beginning

Beginner air rifles are specifically designed towards functionality and design.  Over a certain price, things like accuracy and usability are pretty constant among models.  One thing that you should be aware of if you are just beginning is that the accuracy will be off.  Typical for air rifles, you will need to spend some time carefully recalibrating the scope in order to get the accuracy perfect.  Once done, these air rifles will typically last.  Remember, even beginner air rifles are not toys and are quite capable of causing serious harm.

For People Who Are Experienced

Air rifles for those who are experienced are often lighter and easier to handle.  Though they will be on the higher end in terms of costs, the small differences are what makes and break them.  Things that you should focus on include the scope.  While the scope may not be the best quality with a beginner rifle, you should expect that an air rifle for experienced shooters will have a good scope.  In addition, how well the trigger handles is also important.  The amount of pounds per force required will change per rifle, and depending on your finger strength and the awkwardness of the grip you will carefully want to review the specs before purchasing.  More than beginner guns, you will want to look for a models of air guns for experienced users that last.

For Those Wanting A Pump Action Alternative

Pump action alternatives to the more typical air rifle design allow for improved versatility and a new experience.  Just like air rifles, the weight of the pump action rifle can change depending the make and model.  Something you should consider is that weight rarely is linked to quality.  Some of the best reviewed rifles have a weight of less than 6 pounds, making them fantastically versatile.  Materials used in creating the rifle are also important.  With plastic typically be frowned upon, keep an eye out for the materials selection.  A final consideration with pump action air rifles is how fun it is to use.  Pump action offers a particular kind of experience that people either love or hate.  Before running out to buy the best air rifle pump action out there, borrow a friend’s first and see how it feels.

The Best Under $100 & $300

For the best under $100 category, focusing on quality of parts is crucial.  Quality typically determines how long it will last which is typically not that long with less expensive air rifles.  The quality of parts should be considered in conjunction with the materials used in construction.  Is an easily warp-able part of the air rifle made of plastic or a more durable material?  With many fantastic models under $300, the best under $300 depends on the particular category you are looking for.

Where Does That Leave Us?

In the end, there is no single best air rifle.  Instead, there are incredible ranges of air rifles available.  Depending on your need, you can narrow down your selection and find the best air rifle in each individual category.  The more time you spend narrowing down your list through having a better idea of what you are looking for, the easier it will be to find the best air rifle for you.  Beginning with the categories above, consider intended use and the basic level of functionality you want from it.  From there, all that is left is finding the right distributor.  Good luck!

<< Check our top picks for 2016, click here >>

Gamo Silent Cat

If you have been hoping to get your hands on one of the most accurate pellet guns on the planet without ever threatening to break your bank account or blow up your budget along the way, you want to pay close attention to everything that the Gamo Silent Cat brings to the table.

Easily one of the most exciting pellet gun platforms to be introduced to the market in quite a while, this pellet gun is exceedingly accurate, produces a fantastic muzzle velocity, and remains lightweight enough to pack along for extended trips without any headache or hassle.

Check out our quick Gamo Silent Cat review for more information!

Initial Impressions

At first blush you are going to notice the very characteristic Gamo design elements all across this firearm, and that’s definitely not in an accident.

Taking advantage of only the highest and materials, you’re going to find this pellet gun to be rock solid in the hand but still ridiculously lightweight. The “silencer” attached to this pellet gun is absolutely fantastic, but if you are using PBA ammunition it isn’t going to muffle the shot all that much.

The suppressor doesn’t fact protect the muzzle of the barrel, however, and its extension provides an extra bit of accuracy that might not have existed otherwise.

Standout Feature

Speaking of accuracy, this entire pellet gun is predicated on being one of (if not THE) most accurate pellet guns you’re going to come across today without any tinkering or gunsmithing on your part.

Straight stock, this is capable of incredibly tight groupings which shouldn’t be all that surprising considering the fact that it’s putting out a muzzle velocity close to 1025 ft./s. As mentioned above, if you are rolling PBA ammunition you’ll be able to crank up the muzzle velocity even further (close to 1300 ft./s, even) – which is only going to help your long-range accuracy improve.

Pros

  • The skeleton stock is fantastically designed, perfectly ergonomic, and offers a tremendously stable platform to fire from in multiple positions
  • The included scope is pretty solid and it’s nice to see quality optics being offered as a bundle package from Gamo again
  • The muzzle velocity is off the charts and it gets even better with specialty ammunition

Cons

  • Even though the included optics are all right for those plinking around in the backyard, competitive shooters or those looking to do some hunting with this pellet rifle will want to upgrade
  • When using “hot” ammunition you’re going to hear a loud report than must be would expect with a suppressor at the end of the barrel
  • The trigger could use a little bit of fine tuning to decrease hard pull weight so that it’s a more effortless mechanism

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, there’s a lot to like in regards to the Gamo Silent Cat and not much to disagree with. We think you are going to love it!

Top Air Rifle Picks For 2016

Our recommendations – The Best Air Rifles 2016

Beginners – GAMO BIG CAT .22 CALIBER

Intermediate – CROSMAN NITRO VENOM

Long range varmint hunting/pest control – BENJAMIN MARAUDER or BEEMAN HW97K

Quietest – GAMO SILENT CAT

Most Popular – GAMO SILENT CAT

Pump Action – CROSMAN RECRUIT MULTIPUMP or BENJAMIN 392

Rifle Under $100 – RUGER BLACKHAWK COMBO

Rifle Under $300 – RWS MODEL 34 .22 CALIBER

This list will be updated during the year, so check it out from time to time.