Finding the Best .22 Air Rifle for Your Needs

A rifle can be a great recreational item. Target shooting and hunting are very enjoyable sports. Out in the middle of the great, wide open, they are both great ways to relax and form a connection to nature.

However, a hunting or target shooting experience will only be truly enjoyable if you are working with a good rifle. With that in mind we have created this list of some of the best .22 air rifles on the market

However, this was no easy task. There are so many great .22 air rifles that it is hard to narrow it down to just a few choices.

In spite of this, there are many that still manage to make the list, including those manufactured by the major companies that are still in existence. The forerunners continue to be Benjamin, Crosman and Ruger who are still on the top of their game after all these years.

When considering which rifles are best, you need to think of comfort accuracy, features and price.

However, even the best rifles will not be at the top of their game if they are not maintained properly. This includes proper care and upkeep. It is also important not to use cheap bullets that can affect accuracy and make your hunting experience less enjoyable.

That being said, here is some valuable information on rifles and which ones might work best for you.

Top 10 Best .22 Air Rifles

If you are in the market for an airgun, you should know, there are plenty of air rifles to choose from. But which ones are the best? Which ones offer the best features, most reasonable prices and are best suited for your needs? Read on to find out.

GAMO Air Rifle

Gamo Magnum Air Rifle

Best air rifle for the money

The GAMO air rifle just may be the best air rifle for the money. Affordably priced at under than $200, read on to find out why this rifle may be a great choice.

Pros:

  • The GAMO may be the backyard hunter’s dream gun. It’s lightweight, accurate, easy to shoot, almost never gets dirty, takes cheap, easy to carry ammo and is nearly silent when fired.
  • It features a powerful IGT Mach 1 system, Gamo’s revolutionary internal mechanism that substitutes the traditional spring for a gas cylinder that can deliver up to 1300 fps in ammunition. This helps it to deliver more and constant power, better accuracy, and reduced shock vibration.
  • Some features of the rifle that make it appealing include a new all weather thumbhole black stock with rubberized grips, 2 stage fully adjustable GAMO trigger (C.A.T.), and a 3- 9x40 with adjustable objective scope (AO). It also features one of the latest patent pending technologies from GAMO, the Recoil Reducing Rail (triple R).

Cons:

  • Although it was difficult to find any negative reviews on this gun, some did find that there was barrel droop that increased over time. Others say cocking the barrel takes a little effort. There are also many who have noted it’s a bit louder than its advertisements claim.

Overall this is a great rifle for the money and is ideal for outdoor hunting, pest control and recreation.

Benjamin Marauder

Benjamin Marauder PCP Air Pistol

Best air rifle for hunting

When it comes to hunting, the Benjamin Marauder could be the best air rifle for hunting.

Pros:

  • This air rifle takes out small game accurately, even over a long distance. This is a feature that can be improved upon even further to those that read the owners manual. Here’ they will learn tips on how to fine tune their air rifle to increase accuracy.
  • The manual also provides information on how to loosen a trigger that is too tight and how to adjust scope.
  • The rifle also comes with a four chamber silencer making it relatively quiet. The absence of recoil is another bonus.

Cons:

  • One thing buyers should realize about the Benjamin Merauder before purchasing is that it is what is referred to as a PCP or pre-charged pneumatic air rifle. This means that once the charge runs out, hunter will have to look for another source of air. This is likely to happen after 20 or 30 shots so it will have to be refilled frequently if you’re out hunting for a period of time.
    Scuba tanks can be ideal if one wants to lug one around with them while hunting. Another alternative is to pump by hand although this can get quite strenuous.
  • Another thing to realize is the rifle does not come with a scope, although an aftermarket one can be purchased and mounted quite easily.

Overall this is a great rifle for the money and is ideal for outdoor hunting, pest control and recreation.

Crosman Optimus Break Barrel Air Rifle Combo

Crosman Optimus Breakbarrel Air Rifle Combo

Best .22 break barrel air rifle

The Crosman Optimus Break Barrel may well be the best .22 break barrel air rifle. Read on to find out why this is a great choice.

Pros:

  • This Magnum powered air rifle 33 mm cylinder and IGT MACH 1 is able to deliver 1300 fps. This gun offers a quality build and an ideal weight. Its IGT MACH 1 gas piston delivers higher muzzle velocity, less vibration and smoother cocking.
  • The gun’s GAMO 3- 9x40 AO scope with Recoil Reducing Rail absorbs the recoil of the rifle, increasing the lifespan of the scope.
  • It’s CAT (Custom Action Trigger) allows you to independently adjust 1st and 2nd stages and trigger to your personal preference.
  • It also features a comfortable all weather synthetic ambidextrous thumbhole stock.
  • Made almost entirely of wood and metal, the gun’s classic look is another bonus.
  • The gun is also available in a .177 model, although the .22 packs even more punch.

Cons:

  • One complaint about this rifle is that trigger pull is difficult. It seems to be an overall consensus that the gun needs a bit of time to break in before it is up to the standards and personal preferences that shooters are looking for.
  • The rifle has also been noted as being too loud and too heavy.

Overall, this is a great rifle for small game hunting and target shooting. It is an affordable option with pros that outweigh its cons by far.

Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston Air Rifle

Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston Air Rifle

One of the quietest .22 air rifles

The Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston air rifle is known for being one of the quietest .22 air rifles. Read on to find out about its other terrific qualities.

Pros:

  • Beside its quietness, this rifle offers features like air rifle sight which helps with shooter accuracy. It even magnifies sight to ensure you hit your target. It also allows owners to install another 11 mm. dovetail that can be used for mounting a scope or diopter sight to the rifle.
  • Reloading on this rifle is one by break barrel action, making each shot count.
  • In addition to the rifle’s proven Nitro piston technology, it features a muzzle brake which counters recoil well.
  • It is a good looking gun made of quality wood stock.
  • Its convenient thumbhole design makes the gun comfortable to use.
  • The shooting experience offers high end velocity, remarkable power and amazing accuracy.

Cons:

  • One common downside of this rifle is that it’s trigger is subpar and features a long, heavy second stge. However, this problem is fixable. One solution is to order a special trigger like a GRT-III.

There are also Youtube videos available that can teach you how to fix it yourself by putting a couple of washers on the trigger seal pin to make the trigger light and crisp. This is a fix that can take about 10 minutes and cost you very little money.

Overall, this rifle is a great choice for the money. It’s a smooth cocking, powerful, quiet rifle with fantastic accuracy and well worth the repair costs if you chose to go that route.

RWS .22 Pellet Model 34 Combo Rifle

RWS Model 34 .22 Caliber Pellet Air Rifle Combo

The most accurate .22 air rifles

The 3 RWS Pellet Model 34 Combo Rifle has features that make it one of the most accurate .22 air rifles. Find out why this rifle is one you should be looking into getting.

Pros:

  • This is a .22 break barrel air rifle that makes every shot count. It has adjustable rear sight and a fixed front sight made out of fiber optic to increase shooter’s aim.
  • The rifle is well made featuring a hardwood that is well balanced. The stock has cheek pieces that lend added comfort while shooting. Also adding comfort is the rifle’s hard stock which is well balanced making acquiring targets easy.
  • The .22 pellets reach a velocity of up to 1,000 FPS when leaving the barrel. This will provide the energy for higher impact on reaching the target as compared to .177 pellets.
  • The rifle provides an accurate scope due to its graduated distance indicator that accounts for the pellet’s drop. This is useful when shooting over long distances.

Cons:

  • One common complaint regarding this rifle is that the manufacturer should be more careful about quality control. Rifles and scopes tend to arrive to customers damaged. Of course, this is a solvable problem but the ease of which this is resolved could depend on customer service. If you are buying from a third party, make sure this is a reliable seller.

Overall this gun’s comfort and accuracy put it over the top. It is an ideal gun for pest control, target practice and small game hunting. Highly recommended!

Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo

Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo

The best .22 air rifle pest control

The Ruger Yukon Air Rifle Combo has many features that could quite possibly make it the best .22 air rifle pest control. Find out why it makes a great choice for controlling rodents and other pests that may be infiltrating your home.

Pros:

  • The Ruger Yukon features one of the highest FPS at 1250 which makes it ideal for intermediate and advanced shooters.
  • The name Ruger Yukon is a trusted name offering a quality product. One quality feature includes the 3-9x32 scope & mount and integral silencer that makes it perfect for hunting pests.
  • The rifle measures 44.85 inches making an ideal length and adding to its ability to shoot well.
  • The entry for pellets is a perfect fit making for ease of use rather than frustration.
  • The silencer on this rifle is exceptional.
  • The heavy kickback allows the gun to be useful on multiple fronts and in a variety of situations.
  • As an upper echelon rifle the Ruger Yukon comes with scope mounts making for increased aiming capabilities.

Cons:

  • The downsides to this rifle were few and far between, but one thing that was noted was the kickback which can add a bit of weight to the back end. However, this can be solved with a few adjustments.

Overall, Ruger Yukon has knocked it out of the park with this rifle making one that is great for pest control as well as a number of other uses and situations.

Savage Rascal .22 Long Rifle

Savage Rascal .22 Long Rifle

The best youth .22 air rifle

We all look for certain features when trying to find an air gun for ourselves. But the game changes when we are looking for starter rifles for our children.  In this case, a light weight rifle that is easy to use and extremely safe is the best bet.

When considering these factors, it is no wonder why the Savage Rascal .22 long rifle might be the best youth .22 air rifle.

Pros:

  • One reasons this rifle is ideal for children is because of its lightweight design and accutrigger that helps kids shoot without flinching.  This also allows you to customize the trigger pull while still maintaining a high margin of safety.
  • Other safety features include its bolt action and manual safety which allows a round to be unloaded without pulling the trigger. All you have to do is open the bolt.
  • The gun cocks easily and features sling swivel studs and single shot action.
  • The 16” blued barrel has adjustable peep sites.

Cons:

  • When considering cons of this gun, one must consider that it is best for kids and is therefore constructed as a starter model. This means that you will have to upgrade eventually and buyers should be prepared to keep that in mind.

The Savage Rascal .22 is a great starter gun for your children. Manufactured with safety and ease of use in mind, your child can enjoy his or her hunting experience, target practice and even help you with pest control!

Crosman Nitro Venom

Crosman Nitro Venom Air Rifle

The powerful .22 air rifles

If you are looking for an air rifle that really packs a punch, the Crosman Nitro Venom is a great choice. Find out why you should check out this rifle if you are in the market for a new rifle.

Pros:

  • The gun is a first generation Nitro powered break barrel, making every shot count. It is easy to shoot and has a lot of power featuring a blazing FPS with 20 FPE.
  • The rifle is clearly well made with a quality scope and decent 3-9x32 CenterPoint that can hold up well even if the scope needs to be replaced.
  • The gun is extremely powerful.

Cons:

  • This air rifle comes in at close to 8 lbs. making it suitable for more advanced shooters but not so much for a beginner or small child.
  • For the most accurate shooting, the rifle should be held in the Artillery Hold shooting position. Beginners may also be at a disadvantage if they don’t know this hold and it might aggravate other shooters in general.
  • Certain features could be improved upon to increase the overall comfort of the rifle.
  • Some features could be added to make the rifle more attractive overall.

While this rifle could use some improvements, it is still a very powerful gun for the money. It is a great investment for more advanced shooters who are looking to hunt small game or use it for target practice or pest control.

Ruger Air Magnum

Ruger Air Magnum Combo

The second Ruger on the list, this could possibly be one of the most impressive air rifles. Find out why it is such a highly recommended air rifle.

Pros:

  • This Ruger Air Magnum is extremely powerful. With an FPS at 1200, it blows away the competition.
  • When it comes to accuracy, the impressive fiber optic rear sight pushes it over the top. It also allows for easy sighting adjustments. The fixed fiber optic front sight makes for quick focusing on the intended target.
  • Features for added comfort and ease of use include an automatic safety,  rubber recoil pad for comfort and adjustable trigger.
  • The rifle is made of high quality Monte Carlo stock so that it holds up in all types of weather and providing an overall attractive appearance.

Cons:

  • Cocking this rifle can be somewhat difficult considering the 42 lbs. or cocking efforts required.
  • The gun is extremely loud. The firing is not subtle at all and can be easily damaged by generic light pellets if you plan to use these in heavy rotation. Make sure you use only quality pellets with this rifle
  • The scope of the gun is not high quality. The standard 4x32 OEM is not worth keeping and you may want to update it sometime in the future.

Despite its flaws, the gun is worth well the money. It’s power, looks and affordable price makes this rifle hard to beat.

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter .22 Caliber Pellet Air Gun Combo-min

The best .22 air rifles for hunting small game

When it comes to hunting small game, it will be hard to beat the Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter. Find out why this gun has the features that will make your hunting trips successful.

Pros:

  • The model comes with an adjustable fiber optic rear sight and fixed front sight giving you the tools you need to shoot accurately. It’s 4x32 scope can also work to improve accuracy in medium distance shots.
  • The rifle also provides extreme power. It shoots its pellets at about 800-1000 FPS depending on its weight and build making it extremely powerful for a .22 rifle.
  • The gun is extremely quiet due to its SilencAir Dampening System. This makes it ideal for hunting or recreational shooting in public spaces.
  • The scope is extremely accurate. Of course, it will be necessary to sight in the scope before using.
  • The break barrel on this rifle is easier to cock than many other magnum rifles, in some cases up to 25% easier.

Cons:

  • Cons for this rifle were few and far between but one common complaint was its weight. That, along with its powerful recoil will not make it a perfect choice for children or beginners. It could affect comfort levels and ease of use overall.

Despite this gun’s weight issues. It is a very powerful and accurate rifle. This makes it a great rifle for hunting, pest control and target practice for more experienced shooters. Highly recommended!

Best Uses for .22 Air Rifles

When thinking of .22 air rifles, there are certain purposes they should be used for so that shooters will get an optimal experience. Here are some of those purposes:

  • Target shooting:

Arguably the best use for a .22 air rifle is target shooting is a sport that continues to grow in popularity.

Airguns, like .22 rifles, have a rifled barrel and fire a lead pellet making them accurate and easy to shoot. Most airguns can shoot to ranges of 25 meters, although some can be shot up to 100 meters.

Air rifles are preferred for target shooting because the bullet tends not to over travel the target. If laws permit, and you have a proper backstop, you can even shoot in your backyard or create an indoor range in your basement.

The .22 air rifle works well for target practice, for honing firearm skills and can even be used for recreational activity.

  • Pest Control:

.22’s can also be useful for pest control. If you live in area where pests are a common problem, these rifles can really come in handy. They can be great for shooting birds, rodents and other pests that are just too big to step on.

The .22’s accuracy makes it easy to target a small animal, and, while a .22 rifle might be hazardous, the air rifle has no danger of exceeding the target limit making for a swift, humane kill.

  • Hunting:

Some may ask if a .22 air rifle can be used for hunting, and the answer is yes. However, you must be a skilled hunter to make sure you are effective at killing your game.

Because the .22 works well killing smaller animals, it will also work when hunting squirrels or rabbits. However, with bigger animals, like deer, you really have to know where to shoot to make sure that the shot is quick and humane.

Brain shots are effective on most animals although heart or lung shots are best for a deer because these areas provide a wider range to shoot.

When hunting, you want to make sure you can kill animals quickly. Not only is this more humane, it will also reduce the chances of the animals running away before they are captured. That’s why it’s best to go for smaller game or to know exactly where to shoot when hunting larger animals when using a .22.

What Makes a Good 22 Air Rifle?

If you are in the market for a good .22 air rifle, there are some things you should be looking out for. You want a gun that will be durable and provide great performance while being comfortable, reasonably priced and noise free.  Here are some more specifics.

  • Comfort:

If you are going to be using a gun, you want it to be comfortable. When thinking of weight, it shouldn’t be too heavy or light. You don’t want anything that will become too heavy to carry as the day wears on. On the other hand, you want a feeling of expensiveness and quality while using the rifle.

A shock wave absorber will also help add comfort to the gun you are using. This will cause shots to have minimal impact on the user.

  • Accuracy:

Obviously you want your gun to provide accuracy so that you can hit your targets easily. Some guns will provide accuracy over certain distances. For instance, some guns may only provide accuracy over 25 meters while others can provide accuracy over 100 or even 200 meters.

Price will increase with the accuracy of the rifle, so decide which will best suit your needs. Most shooters will go for a gun with the most accuracy possible.

  • Powerful:

Power relates to accuracy. A powerful gun will provide accuracy over a longer range. It must also be powerful enough to kill what you are looking to kill.

  • Noise Free:

Most will prefer a gun that is completely noise free. If the gun you are looking at makes some amount of noise, be sure that this amount is relatively low.

A noise free rifle will help to protect your hearing and can also be beneficial to those who are shooting near to public areas or other residences. A noise free gun will also be good when hunting as animals will remain close and not run away due to unnecessary noise.

Some guns have dampeners that can be used for noise reduction.

  • Weatherproof:

When looking for a .22 air rifle, you want one that can be used in any type of weather. A waterproof gun will work best. There may be other materials included in the manufacturing that can be used to further protect your gun against the elements.

  • Ease of Use:

Your rifle should be easy to use and operate. Some beneficial features to look for include smooth cocking, smooth shooting and a textured grip with no spring fatigue or torque.

  • Durability:

Although it can be difficult to tell how durable a product can be, it is wise to look online for reviews to let you know this information in advance. The materials used in the gun will also be a good indicator of how durable it will be.

  • Price:

.22 air rifles can vary greatly in price, starting at $100 or lower and working up to hundreds of dollars. While everyone likes to save money, rifles that are higher quality and longer lasting will cost more. It is important to do research in advance to make sure you getting the most value for your money.

Comparisons

When thinking of the .22 air rifle, there are many other rifles that can be used in similar situations. However, some may work better in these situations than others. In this section, we will compare some of these rifles.

  • .22 Air Rifle vs. 22 LR

If you are shopping rifles, some salesmen might think there is little difference between these two. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

One major difference is that although the velocity is the same, the energy of these rifles are very different. This is mainly due to the bullets used.

While both guns are advertised with bullets coming out at 1200 ft/sec., the air rifle features a 5.4 bullet while the LR features a 40 grain bullet. At 8 times the weight, the bullet will come out of an air rifle at 17 lbs of energy while the LR can provide 140 lbs. of energy, almost 8 times the energy. This will also result in great power and accuracy in shooting.

Although many prefer this type of power, it can be excessive in the hunting of small animals.

  • .177 Vs .22 Air Rifle Vs. .25

.177 vs. .22: When comparing the .177 and the .22 air rifle, research has shown that the .177 gives the most accuracy. It also provides a higher initial velocity and lower muzzle energy and a higher killzone range. The .22 has a lower initial velocity, higher muzzle and energy and lower killzone range.

The smaller caliber .177 shoots faster and has a flatter trajectory but it tends to impart less energy in to its target.

While both guns can be useful in different situations, the larger caliber of the .22 will make for more effective for hunting small game.

.22 vs 25: When comparing the .22 to the 25, this can also be a matter of personal taste, but those who side with the .22 like the fact that its pellets are available in many weights and types. It is also quieter and more affordable.

Others cite the 25 as having more accuracy and energy and being better for hunting.

  • .22 Air rifle Vs. Rimfire

When comparing the air rifle with the Rimfire, there is little argument that the Rimfire is a more powerful gun. However, when used for hunting small game, the Rimfire may even be a bit excessive.

If one likes to shoot at birds, the Rimfire might yield too much power when hitting its mark, leading to potential hazards. The .22 also provides better accuracy.

While the Rimfire can hold more bullets at a time, this may be more than enough for hunting small game. However, when shooting downrange, the Rimfire will have more power over longer distances.

Overall however, both guns are well made and can be useful depending on the situation in which they are being used.

How Do I Clean My .22 Rifle?

It is important to keep your rifle clean. If you need to clean your rifle, here is the best way to do so:

  • Remove the bolt: Make sure the rifle is unloaded, then turn the safely off. Undo the bolt and pull the trigger down. Hold down while you slide the bolt all the way out of the back end. (Note: The bolt may not come out this way. If this is the case, consult the owner’s manual.)
  • Apply bore solvent to the bore: Bore solvent will help to break up stick on fouling and copper dust. Use a ramrod with a jag or patch holder attached or a bore mop. Soak patch or mop with bore solvent and push it through the rifle starting at the breech end. Once it is through to the other side, pull it back through. Do this two times letting the solvent soak in the bore for 10 to 20 minute before moving on to the next step.
  • Burch bore with a brass bore brush: If you have a bore guide, install it now. It will keep the brush from dumping the fouling into the receiver. Start at the breech end pushing the ramrod with the brass brush all the way through and out the other side. Then pull it all the way back through. Repeat 10 to 12 times. If you don’t have the bore guide on hand, remove the brush once it goes through the first time and reattach after you have pulled the ramrod back out.

FAQs

Now that you have a comprehensive guide of what you can expect when looking for a .22 air rifle that is suited for you, here are some common questions you may have concerning your shooting experience,

  • Can a .22 rifle kill a fox, rabbit, raccoon or deer? 

While .22 are ideal for small game and rabbits would be included in this category.

However, when you start thinking of bigger animals like raccoons and foxes, your kill might not be as swift and humane. Therefore, you want to be sure to aim for the brain so that the animal will die instantly.

In the case of a deer, the heart may be a better target since it provides a larger area to shoot at.

  • Can a .22 Air Rifle Kill a Human?

Although a .22 isn’t an ideal rifle for self defense, it can kill a person if it hits a vital organ.

  • How Can I Make My .22 Air Rifle More Powerful? 

There are some things you can do to make your rifle more powerful.  The most effective thing to do is to change the length of the piston stroke. The longer the piston stroke, the greater the volume of air that get compressed and the more power it produces.

  • Do You Need a License for a .22 Air Rifle? 

Air gun laws can vary from state to state and country to country. However, for the most part, you will need a license for your .22 air rifle. All air guns which deliver 20 joles or more of energy require a license as of the new arms act of 2016. This includes all .22 air guns and some .177 caliber guns.

  • What is the Best Zero for a .22 Rifle? 

When thinking of the best zero for you .22, the perfect amount may depend on various circumstances. Here are some basic guidelines:

Traditional Factory ‘Iron Sights’ 6” Sight Height Above Bore:

  • If the farthest distance you will be shooting is 50 yards then you will be best with a 12 or 15 yard zero.
  • If you will be shooting between 50 and 100 yards, a 10 yard zero will be best.

Optic Mounted with Aiming Point 1.5 Sight Height Above Bore:

  • While the 25 yard zero can be a good fit, a 20 yard zero is preferable. There is a slight penalty of higher apogee of flight with a 20 yard zero so you will get almost one inch less drop at 100 yards.

Dedicated or Converted .22LR AR-15 Style Rifle 2.5” Sigh Height Above Bore:

  • Zero your .22LR caliber AR style rifle or AR15 with .22 LR conversion kit at 25 yards.
  • From approximately 13 yards out to approximately 89 yards, the bullet’s impact will be within 1” of where you are aiming.
  • At 100 yards, you can expect the bullet to impact between 2” and 2.5” below your point of aim.

Conclusion

Now that you have a good working knowledge of what to look for in a .22 air rifle, you are ready to make an informed decision as to which model will work for you. The power of the rifle, it’s quality, accuracy and price point are all things to take into consideration. You also need to think about the level you are at as a shooter and what your rifle will be used for. Once you determine all these factors, take some time to research which rifle will work best for you before you shop. Then, you will be able to make an informed decision to find the best rifle for you needs.