Are you a small game hunter who would like to try something new? Does the idea of an air rifle and less expensive ammo peak your interest? If either or both of these are true for you, then you might also be interested in looking for the best air rifles for hunting.
It is hard to go wrong with the Ruger Air Magnum Combo (Check Price on Amazon.com) when it comes to hunt game or just getting rid of pests. This model is backed by a solid name, has sufficient speed and force to make a clean kill and makes use of an optic that works well for close range hunting. You can get a better look at this and other models in our review below, but let’s discuss how to choose the best model before you do.
How to Choose Which One Is The Best?
Air rifles provide a safer alternative to higher powered rifles, but still allow you the pin-point accuracy and kill force to bring down small game. There are a number of factors to consider when you choose the best gun for hunting.
What are the range limits?
Killing force and range varies from one model to the next. Four different categories are available for different ranges:
• Light. Close range pest control and plinking.
• Medium. These range from 35 to 50 yards and have a little more kill force.
• Magnum (high). These have higher power and have a range of 50 to 70 yards.
• Super magnum. These are specialty models which reach the maximum range of 75 to 85 yards.
Essentially, for hunting, anything less than a medium model is going to be pretty limited when it comes to small game hunt and the magnum or super magnum are going to be an even better choice.
Types of Force
To hurl the projectile at your target, there are 3 different types of force used to power air rifles.
• Lighter to medium range models use a spring.
• Medium and magnum models typically have a gas ram that either requires manual pumping or spring driven pneumatic force.
• Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) models typically offer the most power and use a compressed gas cylinder.
Trigger sensitivity and quality add to your accuracy. When a trigger requires a heavy pull the shooter tends to pull slightly off target when firing. Higher quality models have the capacity to adjust trigger sensitivity.
Open Sights vs. Scopes
Because this model have limited range, they really don’t have to have a scope, though some people prefer shooting with one over using open sights. If you prefer a scope, then there is really no point in having one over a magnification of 4×32. Variable and higher powered scopes will only raise the cost of your investment and will very rarely be used in most hunting situations.
Projectile sizes or calibers are typically 0.177, 0.22 and 0.25 inches in diameter. The size of the projectile and its weight influence both the speed and range of the projectile, as well as the kill force of the projectile. Heavier caliber projectiles will have more kill force, but their range and speed will be slower. On the other hand, lighter projectiles will have greater speed and range, but will have less kill force.
Various finishes add to the weight, balance and durability of it. Most models have a molded synthetic stock which tends to provide the best of these three characteristics. Though finish only slightly effects performance and is more subjective, it can give some indication of the overall craftsmanship and quality built into the weapon.
Your personal preferences and budget will guide your final decision to purchase one model over another, but to help you in your choice. Here are 5 of the best models which deserve close consideration.
Top 5 Air rifles for hunting
top rated picks on the market
1. Ruger Magnum Combo
This is a high quality designed model backed by a trusted name in firearms. The Ruger Magnum Combo features a high powered pneumatic gas spring piston, single shot cocking, a 2-stage adjustable trigger, breaking-barrel and a mounted scope.
• Caliber: 0.22
• Speed: 1200 fps
• Site: 4×32 scope
This solid built model has plenty of potential for either small game hunting or pest control. You will get accuracy, range and kill force from this model which has the Ruger name to back up its quality. Besides the excellent balance and accuracy, it is not overpriced, probably because has an adequate single magnification scope.
- Well-known firearm manufacturer lends to quality.
- Is 0.22 caliber, which allows for range, speed and kill force.
- Not overloaded with high priced scope.
- Priced for most budgets.
- Only has 1 year limited warranty.
2. Gammo Magnum
The Gammo Magnum has the IGT Mach 1 gas piston to fire projectiles from this rifle, which comes with two different caliber options. Trigger sensitivity can be adjusted on this model and it features an all weather stock, rifled steel barrel, a variable magnification scope and is backed by a 5 year warranty.
• Caliber: option of 0.177 or 0.22
• Speed: 1650 feet per second (fps) (.177) or 1300 fps (.22)
• Site: 3-9×40 variable scope
The higher caliber option available on this model is probably a better choice for small game hunting of larger animals which require a little more force to make a clean kill. The scope is overkill on this model and is part of the reason for high price of this rifle. The warranty has to impress you, but in you ought to have a warranty like that when the item comes at a higher price.
- The velocity and kill force are adequate for most small game.
- Design and construction are solid.
- It includes a 5 year warranty.
- The higher magnification on this scope is not necessary.
- A sizeable price difference over comparable models.
3. Bear River TPR 1200
This is a quality, multi-purpose model and is loaded with some impressive features in its quality design. The Bear River TPR Hunting includes a synthetic stock with a pistol grip handle, it features a rifled steel barrel and its high quality, single magnification scope is mounted on a 6” picatinny rail.
• Caliber: 0.177
• Speed: 1300 fps
• Site: 4×32 scope
The range of the Bear River TPR is a little better than the Ruger, but fires a lighter projectile. This model is comparable to the Gammo, but with a little lighter velocity and a little more than half the price. The pistol grip handle and the high quality, single magnification scope and mounting rail set, makes it a viable choice for multi-purpose use.
- Pistol grip handle on a durable high quality synthetic stock.
- Scope and scope mounting are second to none.
- Solid velocity and accuracy.
- Multi-purpose air rifle at a budget price.
- The 0.177 caliber is a little too light for killing larger small game animals.
4. Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston
The Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston is a reliable small game hunting rifle, which is quieter than most models and has a durable smooth cocking and firing action. It features a 2-stage adjustable trigger, an ambidextrous stock with a pistol-grip handle and a mounted scope.
• Caliber: 0.177 or 0.22
• Speed: 1200 fps (0.177) or 950 fps (0.22)
• Site: 4×32 scope
This is an impressive looking hardwood design and setup. The quiet, smooth nitro piston is something to keep in mind when you take a closer look at this rifle. The velocity of the 0.22 caliber option raises some concern as it is quite a bit slower than the other models, which suggests that it might be a little bit underpowered. This model is a little higher priced due to the hardwood stock.
- Impressive hardwood stock design.
- Quiet, smooth action firing.
- The 0.177 option has decent speed.
- Adequate single magnification scope.
- The speed, range and force of the 0.22 option is questionable for small game hunt.
- Hardwood stock increases the price.
5. Crosman CPNP22SX Phantom
The basics are covered in this Nitro Piston Crosman, which is backed by the name of a well-known manufacturer. It features a durable, synthetic stock with a 2-stage, adjustable trigger, a rifles steel barrel, 70% quieter firing action and a single magnification mounted scope.
• Caliber: 0.22
• Speed: 950 fps
• Site: 4×32 scope
This is a no thrills, no spills, basic gun. You have to consider that it is backed by Crosman know-how when it comes to design and functionality, but it is a little bit slow and that makes you question its kill force. All in all, it is a fair air rifle at a budget price.
- Crosman quality design and functionality.
- It has all the right features.
- Budget priced.
- Speed, range and kill force are questionable.
If you are looking to take on a new challenge in small hunt or just want to get away from the costs of higher powered models, the purchase of an air rifle might make a lot of sense to you. Using the information above, you can make a well-informed decision of what model works best for you. We suggest the Ruger Magnum Combo.
When it comes to hunting small game or just getting rid of pests Ruger Magnum Combo is a solid choice. Backed by the name of a well-known firearms manufacturer, this model has sufficient speed and force to make a clean kill and comes with an optic that provides better accuracy for close range hunting. This model is also moderately priced for its value.
Choose the model we suggested or use the information provided to select your own favorite, but purchase an air rifle and open up a whole new world of small game hunting.