Our Picks Best Air Rifles

Our Picks Best Air Rifles

Publushed by:

Mathew R Reed

Last updated:

Winner: Umarex NXG APX

Short summary

Our top pick for the best air rifle goes to Umarex with their Next Generation APX, a well-priced but precise airgun for beginners. This youth rifle suits young and old newcomers, features front and rear signs, an ergonomic stock design that works for left and right-handed people, and an 11mm dovetail rail mount.

It’s a single shot pellet gun with a rifled barrel that delivers precision and accuracy with the right ammunition.

What makes this the best 177 air rifle is how easy it is to use and the mountain of safety features that give peace of mind to parents of younger shooters and first-timers themselves. 

The Safe-T-Matic is an auto safety that turns on by itself each time the gun is pumped and it means there’s no need to worry if the air gun is going to go off by itself or misfire, which makes this one of the safest rifles out there.

When combined with the right pellets, the NXG APX rifle was one of the most precise on the market, and especially in this price range.

The .177 pellets work especially well with it and it only requires seven pumps to get the velocity you need to make the shot.

If you want something simple that’s still precise, this air gun ticks both of those boxes, as well as being incredibly comfortable thanks to the ergonomically designed stock.

The downsides to this gun may not be as obvious to first-time shooters, but for those with experience, they were.

The biggest letdown is that it can feel a little clunky in its operation and the trigger may feel heavy. You can get past it with some practice and it won’t be noticeable for newcomers, but it could be enough to turn others away.

The scope included with this air rifle isn’t that impressive either, which isn’t shocking given its price and being an entry-level youth rifle.

The red fiber optic is barely usable in the front sight and the open sights are a little better, but still basic. It’s not the type of air rifle that’ll be used for competitions or considered the best air rifle for hunting, so probably not a major deal.

The NXG APX is a youth rifle that has a lot to offer those looking for their very first airgun, even if there are some setbacks with the entry-level scopes.

If you want a safer way to learn how to shoot but still crave the precision and accuracy of a much heftier firearm, this gun can do both.

The Umarex Next Generation APX is our favorite pick of all and the best air rifle for small game and backyard plinking fun.

Quick Facts

  • Caliber: .177
  • Capacity: 75
  • Weight: 6.5lbs

Pros

  • Ergonomic stock design
  • Features front and rear signs
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons

  • Trigger feels heavy

Runner Up: Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500

Short summary

The Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 is the best break barrel air rifle we’ve reviewed and a good choice for those who are a little more serious about airgunning. The NP XL 1500 is a .177 caliber rifle that features a 3-9X30mm CenterPoint scope, quick-lock mounting system for optics, all wood stock, and nitro piston power source for absolute command.

What customers loved most about this air rifle was how fast it was able to shoot, thanks to the nitro piston technology it uses.

According to Benjamin Trail, it can reach up to 1500FPS without a fuss, and judging by the countless reviews that marveled at how fast this air rifle was, that claim has been confirmed.

Another great thing about this gun is that it has minimal recoil for something so powerful, and is ridiculously accurate.

This is a smart pick for anyone hoping to do some hunting with an air rifle and especially looking at the smaller-sized game. You’ll be able to make your shot from further away than you think and it has tremendous down-range energy that is surprising when you first look at it.

For an air rifle, the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 is pretty heavy, and so much so that it threw some users off. The overall weight of the assembled air gun is 8.8lbs and it’s not that simple to throw around.

This air rifle from Benjamin Trail could have been lightened with a simple synthetic stock, but that could lose it points in other areas, so if you prefer a weapon with genuine wooden parts, you’ll have to put up with the bulk.

Another downside to this air rifle is that the trigger is hard with a hefty pull, and if you know a thing or two about air rifles, you’ll probably want to replace it right away.

While it won’t affect the accuracy or velocity, it does distract you from taking the shot.

As a costlier option for an air gun, replacing it with a better trigger will add some more to the final price, but once you see what’s capable from your new Benjamin Trail once it’s attached, you’ll find it’s money well spent.

The Benjamin Trail NP XL is an exceptional break barrel air rifle and one with amazing speeds and accuracy. This is a better pick for hunting or just a bit of fun during target practice, and it destroys the notion that an air rifle has to be simple and boring.

The NP XL 1500 is a heavy piece of machinery though, so be prepared to take on the extra weight, and you’ll be rewarded with velocity and precision.

Quick Facts

  • Caliber: .177
  • Capacity: 1
  • Weight: 8.8lbs

Pros

  • CenterPoint scope
  • Wooden stock
  • Fast shooting

Cons

  • Heavy

Alternative: Gamo Swarm Whisper

Short summary

Gamo has created the Swarm Whisper, a .22 break barrel air rifle that makes it onto our list as one of the best choices for pest control, hunting, and target practice. There are loads of features worth bragging about.

These include the 1,300FPS velocity, 10 round magazine, noise dampening technology, and inert gas piston doing all of the work.

The Swarm Whisper also comes with a rubber recoil pad, 1mm dovetail scope rail, and 4×32 scope included for attachment.

The feel and quality of this air rifle set it apart from the competition, with the biggest selling point being the unique, durable stock. 

As well as being ergonomically correct which leads to better accuracy, the stock is made of automotive-grade glass-filled nylon which means you can use it in all conditions and it’ll never let you down. In terms of longevity, the Gamo Swarm Whisper is one of the best.

This air rifle from Gamo uses their patented 10X Quick-Shot technology which means you have a 10 round rotary magazine on board.

Compared to other rifles that might only be single pellet, you’ll be able to quickly load this air gun and achieve efficient, repetitive shots without a fuss. When it comes to hunting and similar scenarios, this type of efficiency can be a make or break in terms of success.

On the downside, some customers noted that it felt a little lightweight, and this may bother you as well with around 5.43lbs to contend with.

Although you wouldn’t want anything too bulky, it seemed that the weight that was there wasn’t placed correctly around the rifle, and it took some getting used to and figuring out how to hold it for the best accuracy.

Another minor setback of the Gamo Swarm Whisper was that it didn’t live up to its promise of being whisper quiet.

Although making use of their patented Whisper noise dampening technology, it still delivered quite a shock to those firing one for the first time. If you’re buying this specifically because you’re hoping for a quiet air rifle, there are others that do better in this regard.

The Gamo Swarm Whisper might not be as quiet as it claims, but it makes up for this in durability, accuracy, and efficiency.

Although a cheaper option, this air rifle comes with a one-year limited warranty, which is more than we can say for the competition and further signifies its good quality.

If you’re looking for something that can take on the pests in your backyard or used for small game hunting, the Swarm Whisper from Gamo can deliver.

Quick Facts

  • Caliber: .22
  • Capacity: 10
  • Weight: 5.43lbs

Pros

  • 1,300 FPS velocity
  • 10X Quick-Shot technology
  • Durable

Cons

  • Weight isn’t placed correctly around the rifle

Daisy Powerline 880

Short summary

If you’re looking for a fun and lightweight way to test out air rifles, the Daisy Powerline 880 is the way to go. This simple little multi-pump pneumatic air rifle comes with a wood-grained Monte Carlo synthetic forearm and stock, Triglot fiber optic front sight, adjustable rear sight, and a maximum muzzle velocity of 685FPS. 

The Daisy features shot BB and pellet capabilities, measures 37.6 inches, and weighs a healthy 5.8lbs so it’s a good size and fit for everyone from youth through to the elderly.

This is the best air rifle out there if you’re only looking for fun and it’s incredibly priced so it’s accessible to all.

Customers loved that they could choose between a single load .177 caliber pellet or up to 50BBs poured into the rifle, but it takes some effort to load them when you’re first trying out the air gun.

If you want a cheap way to improve your aim or are hoping to introduce your kids to the fun of airgunning, the Daisy Powerline 880 is the coolest and most versatile way to do it.

As a variable speed rifle, you can choose exactly how you want to use it and with how much force.

If you pump it just three times, you’ll be able to target practice indoors and in short-range, otherwise up to 10 times will get you the most velocity and make it a cinch to hit outdoor targets.

According to Daisy, it can reach around 685FPS when using a pellet, so as long as you get the ammo right, it’ll deliver.

However, this isn’t really the best gun if you want something for hunting or even taking out small pests in your backyard.

The maximum distance it can reach is 297 yards and that’s when you’re using the optimal ammunition, which can be hard to figure out at first.

This gun should only be seen as a bit of fun or a way to practice aiming with an airgun, so keep that in mind.

The Daisy Powerline also didn’t appear to be the safest gun of those we’ve reviewed so if you’re thinking of letting teenagers have a go with it, you’ll want to be nearby for the action, as it relies on a cross bolt trigger block safety which isn’t the norm.

This unique type of safety mechanism is a little lackluster and you need to constantly remind yourself to check that it’s on, which can be distracting.

As a cheaper alternative to air guns but still a formidable contender, the Daisy Powerline 880 is one of our favorites on the market today.

This air rifle is priced well under the competition but still has plenty to offer in velocity and versatility, whether it’s the type of bullets or how fast they fire. As long as you’re vigilant with safety while using it, you’ll love how much performance for price you get with the Daisy Powerline 880.

Quick Facts

  • Caliber: .177
  • Capacity: 1
  • Weight: 5.8lbs

Pros

  • Triglot fiber optic front sight
  • Adjustable rear sight
  • Can fit different ammo

Cons

  • Poor range

Alternative: Daisy 901 Powerline

Short summary

Another Daisy favorite on our list is their 901 Powerline, with .177 pellet and BB capability and the simplicity and affordability that this brand is known for. The 901 is a multi-pump pneumatic air rifle that features an adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight, plus a dovetail for mounting other optics.

The air rifle weighs just 3.7lbs and measures 37.5 inches, has a synthetic advanced composite stock, forearm, and grip, as well as a rifled steel barrel that helps it achieve its impressive velocity.

What makes this such a smart buy is that it’s an affordable option for small game hunting, whether it’s in your backyard or the great outdoors.

The Daisy 901 has a maximum muzzle velocity of 750FPS which is admirable for a gun of this size and price range.

Better still, you can mount optics to it thanks to the included dovetail, so it can be perfectly equipped for hunting as well.

According to reviews, the Daisy 901 Powerline is easy to pump, and you can vary how much speed you get with each pump.

For a first-timer learning how to operate any type of gun at all, but especially an air rifle, the simplicity of pumping and handling the weapon is a huge benefit. This further solidifies the 901 as a great entry level air gun and one of the easiest to master.

The 901 Powerline had some other slight issues that lost it some points, including the trigger pull.

Some customers noted that it felt short and stiff, which isn’t the best feeling when you’re handling a gun of any kind. If you’ve never owned an air rifle before this rigidity might not be that obvious but for anyone else, it can totally throw you off your game.

Again, we wish Daisy would have upgraded the safety on this rifle, as it’s not the safest option out there and may leave some people feeling uncomfortable.

The 901 Powerline uses a cross bolt trigger block which isn’t that common in top rated air rifles made today and could be enough to put some people off purchasing one entirely, especially if their kids are going to be using it as well.

The Daisy Powerline 901 doesn’t come with a warranty but it’s a respected airgun brand that’s known for delivering a lot with just a small price tag.

Their range is great for first-timers, small game, and having some fun plinking in your backyard, with a lot of velocity and comfortable handling that earn it some points.

Although the Daisy 901 has disadvantages, it’s still a great bargain and an entry-level air gun that can help you learn the ropes.

Quick Facts

  • Caliber: .177
  • Capacity: 1
  • Weight: 3.7lbs

Pros

  • Good for small game hunting
  • Easy to pump
  • Can fit different ammo

Cons

  • Stiff trigger

Air Rifle FAQs

Air guns once formed part of a niche market but today it’s clear that these unique weapons are seeing a mainstream boom.

If you’ve never owned an air rifle and are thinking about getting your first, read these FAQs and our expert answers for a better understanding of what to look for.

Which Is Better .22 Or .177 Air Rifle?

A .22 air rifle is considered most powerful than a .177 air rifle, but that’s not the only factor to consider when trying to determine which type of air gun is best.

You’ll also have to factor in the pellet being used, as its shape and weight can impact the final shot more than the air rifle itself, as well as what the user considers its top quality, as power might not be it.

Can A .22 Kill A Deer?

A .22 is not the recommended caliber to take down a deer, but it is possible in some scenarios.

For this type of kill to be effective and not cause an inhumane death for the animal, you’ll need a bullet with good expansion qualities and the shot must land in the right spot for an instant takedown.

Is A 22 OK For Self-Defense?

A .22 long rifle is a popular choice for a home defense weapon as long as it’s fitted with the right ammunition.

However, a .22 air rifle is not a smart choice for a self defense rifle as the pellet would be fired too slowly and softly for it to make enough of an impact, which means it’s not worthy of stopping an attacker.

Do You Need A Licence For .22 Air Rifle?

An air rifle is covered by different US laws as they are not classified in the same category as a traditional firearm but some counties and cities have their own requirements.

In most states, you won’t need to acquire a license if you want to get a .22 air rifle or any other type of air gun, except for New Jersey where a special permit is required.

An Air Gun for All Levels of Shooting

An air rifle is capable of meeting every requirement a shooter may have, whether it’s the best air rifle for squirrels or having fun plinking cans in your backyard.

Whether it’s your first or 50th air rifle, there are some great options out there that can match your needs, so consider one of our recommendations to see what’s best.

4/5

Umarex NXG APX

Ergonomic stock design
Features front and rear signs
Beginner friendly

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of ArmorHoldings.com and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.