When air rifles are mentioned especially near hunters, many think of the old Daisy Red Ryders that hurl BBs slowly. Recent designs of air rifles are perfect for hunting small game. When hunting, it is important to know what both you and your airgun are capable of. It is very important to choose an air rifle that is both accurate and has the downrange energy to ethically kill your target, and although an air rifle is not as accurate as a rimfire, they are quite affordable and are safer for use in a semi-suburban area than longer-range rimfire cartridges.
There are many types of air rifles in the market that are perfect for effective for small game hunting. When shopping for a small game air rifle, it is important to make sure that the rifle can achieve at least 12 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Also, good air rifles are tapped for scope mounts even though dedicated air rifle scopes have different recoil tolerances than scopes intended for rimfire and centerfire rifles. They are designed to withstand vibrations from the pistons and springs and some focus clearly on much closer targets.
There are so many air rifles available on the market today. Here are some of the best air rifles for small game hunting.
Best Air Rifles for Small Game Hunting
Let’s look at each comprehensively.
Gamo Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal
Gamo Varmint Air Rifle is a suitable pellet gun for hunting small game, pest control, and target practice. The air rifle shoots a .177 PBA Platinum alloy pellet at 1250 feet per second (fps) and uses an included 4x32mm scope that allows you to easily acquire small, hard-to-see targets. Apart from the high-performance features, the Varmint has a tough and lightweight all-weather molded synthetic stock (glass-filled nylon stocks) with non-slip texturing on the pistol grip and forearm. The stock is carefully designed for the shooter’s comfort and also for good alignment with the scope.
The Gamo Varmint air rifle has a Monte Carlo cheek pad that aligns your eye with the scope sight and a rubber recoil pad that keeps the buttstock firmly planted on the shoulder. It functions with a break barrel, spring-powered cocking system, and has an automatic manual safety.
- Spring Powered
- has a tough synthetic all-weather ambidextrous stock
- 177 Cal pellet single cocking break barrel
- Fluted polymer jacketed rifled steel barrel
- Break Barrel: Single Cocking System
- Grooved cylinder rail
- 4 x 32 Shockproof scope included
- Magazine capacity Single Shot
- Gamo trigger with an adjustable second stage
- Noise dampening: None
- Trigger pull: 3.53 lbs.
- Weight: 5.47 pounds
- Total length: 43.3 in.
- Barrel length: 17.8 in.
- Cocking effort: 30 lbs.
- 1-year warranty.
- Made In Spain
DPMS Full Auto SBR CO2-Powered BB Air Rifle with Dual Action Capability
DPMS Full Auto SBR CO2-Powered BB Air Rifle as one of the best air rifles features a durable synthetic design and up to 1400 rounds per minute. The rifle delivers speeds up to 430 feet per second (fps). It has a genuine real-feel and comes with a 6-point adjustable rear stock, moveable angled foregrip, and Quad rail for the limitless mounting of flashlights, lasers, and other accessories. It is fueled by two 12-gram CO₂ cartridges housed in the 25-round magazine and lets you choose between semi and full-auto capability.
- Fueled by two 12-gram CO2 cartridges.
- Red Dot Sight
- Adjustable stock
- It is compatible with traditional 4.5 mm steel BBs
- Removable pop-up sight and adjustable rear sight
- Thumb-selector safety ensures proper and safe handling
- It has a manageable weight making it great for target practice
Hatsan Air Rifle
Hatsan 95 air rifle features a Turkish walnut stock, fiber optic sights, and a 3-9X32 scope with rings. The air rifle shoots true 1000 FPS with lead pellets and comes in three caliber choices (.177, .22,). All the caliber choices are perfect for pest control, small game hunting, or plinking. The Hatsan piston utilizes regular air instead of any other type of gas.
The model features a vortex system to give you a smoother shooting cycle, extended product life, and fewer moving parts. Hatsan is known for some of the best air rifles.
- forearm rubber recoil pad shock absorber system (SAS)
- Turkish walnut stock
- Checkering grip and forearm
- fully adjustable
- TruGlo fiber optics front sight
- Quattro 2-stage adjustable match trigger
- Max energy – 22 ft. Lbs.
- max Velocity – 650 FPS lead
- 11mm optics dovetail
- includes scope, mount, scope lens covers, and hex wrench
- Sass shock absorber
880 Powerline Air Rifle Kit, Dark Brown/Black, 37.6 Inch
The Daisy Power line 880 Air Rifle Kit is a dependable, easy-to-use multi-pump pneumatic air rifle. As one of the best air rifles, it is ideal for hours of shooting fun and practice and shoots BBs at 750 feet per second and pellets at 715 feet per second. The rifle features synthetic wood grain Monte Carlo stock, 4x15mm scope, Shooting Glasses, 750 BBs, and 500 Pellets. The scope is adjustable for windage and elevation and features a cross-hair reticle. It is fog proof, shockproof, and color corrected.
- Multi-pump pneumatic rifle .177 Cal BB or pellet
- Blade and ramp front sight.
- Adjustable rear sight.
- 4 X 15 scope included
- Includes shooting glasses, a tin of 500 count pellets, and a tin of 750 counts BBs
- Appropriate for adults and those over 16 years of age under adult supervision
- Overall Length: 37.6″
- Barrel Type: Rifled Bore
- Action Type: Bolt Action
- Stock Type: Right Hand
- Trigger Type: Single Stage
- Capacity: 50
- Weight: 3.1 lbs.
Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle
This Ruger Blackhawk is a spring piston single stroke break barrel air rifle with all-weather Ambi composite stock fiber optic sight that aids with quick target acquisition and shooter accuracy. The ergonomic stock is ambidextrous and has a well-contoured shape and checkering for a good and comfortable grip. The rifle includes 4×32 scope that is easy to mount to the rifle’s 11 mm dovetail grooves on top of its blued receiver.
The Blackhawk rifle shoots a single pellet out of its rifled barrel at 1000 feet per second and is ideal for plinking and dispatching rodents. Other than its ruggedness, it has a blued metal finish and rubber recoil pad.
- Includes 11-Millimeter dovetail rings.
- Nitrogen-filled for shockproof and fog-proof performance
- Windage and elevation adjustments
- Multiple lens coatings
- Matte black finish.
- 4x magnification
- 32-Millimeter objective lens
- 1 tube 1/4 MOA Duplex reticle
- Parallax setting unknown
- 29-Feet field of view at 100-Yards
- 3 eye relief
- 8-Millimeter exit pupil
- 2-Ounce. (with mount)
- One year limited warranty
Crosman M4-177 Tactical Style Bolt Action Variable Pump .177-Caliber Pellet and BB Air Rifle
Crosman M4-177 air rifle is made with a durable, water-resistant synthetic design giving a tactical style in black with a rifled steel barrel. The rifle as one of the best air rifles has easy-to-use variable pump features that enable you to control your power from 350 fps to 700 fps for everything ranging from plinking to pest control. It shoots BBs or .177-caliber pellets and comes with a dual-aperture rear sight and adjustable post front sight to help you stay on target.
- Durable and water-resistant
- Crossbolt safety ensures proper and safe handling
- Removable magazine stores pellet clip and sight adjustment tool
- Has a rifled steel barrel with cross-bolt safety and adjustable stock
- Accessory rails for mounting scope, lasers, flashlights, cameras
- Ideal for plinking, pest control, target shooting, and skill development
- Includes a Crosman Firepow’r 5-shot pellet clip and a BB reservoir that holds up to 350
- Adjustable stock, loop slots for a sling, dual aperture rear sight with windage & elevation adjustments
Daisy Adult Red Ryder BB Rifle .177 air Rifle
Crosman CLGY1000KT air rifle features a sleek, black synthetic design that allows you to pump it up to 12 times for full power, delivering alloy pellets up to 1,000 FPS, lead pellets up to 750 FPS, and BBs up to 800 FPS. It has a rifled steel barrel, a built-in 850 BB reservoir, and a side-load pellet chamber.
with a weight of below five pounds, this Crosman Legacy 1000 features fiber optic sights, an all-weather synthetic stock and forearm, built-in 850 BB reservoir, rifled steel barrel, 4×15 scope, and cross-bolt safety. It is both a single-shot pellet rifle and has a 17-round BB magazine for enabling quick follow-up shots.
- Durable, water-resistant synthetic design
- Variable control from 750 fps to 1000fps
- Compatible with .177 caliber pellets and BBs
- Crossbolt safety ensures proper and safe handling
- Comes with a fiber-optic sight and 4 x 15 mm scope for increased accuracy
- Ideal for plinking and pest control
Magnum Air Rifle
Gamo Magnum is one of the most powerful break barrels in the market. It delivers velocities up to 1,650 feet per second (fps) in .177 cal and 1,300 fps in .22 Cal. thanks to the MACH 1 gas piston and the 33 mm cylinder.
The rifle has a premium metal rifled barrel and a Gamo 3-9×40 adjustable objective (AO). It features the Custom Action Trigger (CAT), a two-stage adjustable trigger that offers improved accuracy by providing a crisp, clean, and smooth trigger pull. It allows you to conveniently adjust the first and second stage of the trigger independently. It also has the Recoil Reducing Rail (RRR) that absorbs recoil and almost completely reduces the stress on the scope, and the SWA is a recoil pad that helps absorb the recoil thanks to its removable 3 rubber inserts.
- Made of the highest quality materials
- Trigger pull: 3.2 pounds
- A comfortable all-weather synthetic ambidextrous thumbhole stock
- Weight: 6.88 lbs.
- Length: 49.2 inches
- Barrel Length: 21.3
- Locking Effort: 41 lbs.
- five-year warranty
- Made in Spain.
Gamo Swarm Magnum, Multi-Shot Air Rifle
Gamo Swarm Magnum, Multi-Shot Air Rifle as one of the best air rifles is designed with 10X Quick-Shot technology that utilizes a 10-round rotary-style magazine, to provide faster loading for repetitive shooting. It comes with the Recoil Reducing Rail (RRR), a two-piece aluminum construction rail separated by dual polymer struts to absorb the shockwaves generated by the recoil. The Custom Action Trigger (CAT) features two screws that allow you to independently adjust the 1st and 2nd stages of the trigger to your preference.
The Inert Gas Technology Mach 1 version delivers extra power while maintaining steady and consistent power, increasing accuracy and durability with less vibration.
- 10X Quick-Shot
- Single cocking break barrel
- 1300 fps in .22 Cal
- Whisper Fusion noise-suppressing technology
- 3-9×40 Shockproof and Fogproof scope included
- An all-weather synthetic ambidextrous thumbhole stock
- Weight: 6.88lb
- Length: 49.2inches
- Length of pull: 15in
- Cocking effort: 41 lbs.
- Made in Barcelona, Spain
- 5year warranty
Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle
Gamo Swarm Fusion 10X is a gas-piston repeating air rifle featuring 10-shot repeater Break-barrel action IGT (Inert Gas Technology). The gas piston replaces the traditional spring. The air rifle comes with the Recoil Reducing Rail (RRR), a technology from Gamo: two-piece aluminum construction rail separated by dual polymer struts to absorb the shock waves generated by the recoil reducing shock by 100%.
The Gamo 10x features Whisper Fusion technology with a double integrated sound moderator to make it the quietest Gamo air rifle. The pellet is passed through two different chambers, compressing and preventing the noise expansion.
- Single cocking break barrel
- Whisper Fusion sound dampening
- 3-9×40 scope
- Fiber optic front and rear sights
- RRR Recoil Reducing Scope Rail
- Patented polymer jacketed steel barrel
- 11mm dovetail scope rail
- Custom Action Trigger (CAT)
- Automotive-grade, glass-filled nylon, all-weather stock
- SWA (Shock Wave Absorber) recoil pad
- Two-stage adjustable trigger
- Manual safety
- 5-year limited warranty
- Trigger full 3.2/2.6 pounds
- Sport type: Exercise & Fitness
- Muzzle velocity 1300 FPS
- Length of pull: 15 Inches
- Weight: 5.78 lbs.
- Energy: 17.8 foot-pounds
- Barrel Length: 20.5 Inches
- Total length: 45.7 inches
- Available in .177 Cal. (1,300 fps) or .22 Cal (975 fps)
- Cocking effort 30 pounds
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Air Rifles for Small Game
The range and killing force varies from one air rifle to another. There are four classifications of air guns with general range guidelines as indicated below:
- Light- used for pest control and plinking
- Medium- involves rifles with a greater kill force and a range of 30 to 50 yards
- Magnum (high) – a higher range of 50-70yards.
- Super magnum- air guns in this class reach the maximum ranges of 75 to 85 yards
You will need a little more distance when hunting small game hence the need for an air rifle not less than medium.
Open sights and scopes
Open sights can reduce the cost of purchasing a quality air gun, considering the fact that air rifles are not effective beyond the range of 85 yards with most are losing accuracy beyond 70 yards. If you must use a scope, then choose an airgun with a scope having a fixed magnification of 4×32 or less. Higher magnification scopes will not only be expensive but will also cause blur on the target creating the need for constant adjustment.
Hunting is more common in colder weather, and a CO2 air rifle depends on warm temperatures for power. This means that you should consider avoiding a CO2 rifle for small game hunting.
Considering you’ll be lugging your air rifle around for hours looking for squirrels, rabbits and other animals, the right rifle should be light in weight and easy to carry and shoulder around.
The finish does not affect performance much but its quality reflects the quality and craftsmanship built into the weapon. Matte black finish helps camouflage the shooter’s position.
A trigger requiring a heavier pull will make you tend to pull off of the target slightly when firing. A trigger that is too sensitive on the other hand might cause you to fire before you are ready. High-quality air guns have trigger sensitivity adjustment and it is something important to consider.
Small game such as squirrels and cottontail rabbits requires an air rifle that can provide eight pounds of energy at the target. Also remember that as the size of the game increases, the amount of power you need will also increase.
Always look for an air rifle that can hit the kill zone from long distances to ensure accuracy.
Your level of expertise with guns will determine whether to go for a more complex or simple and easy-to-use rifle. Remember that complexity nor high price tag, does not guarantee good performance.
FAQs about Best Air Rifles for Rabbits
What is the best air rifle for shooting rabbits?
From our review above, I would go for the Gamo Swarm Magnum, Multi-Shot Air Rifle or Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle. The two have a velocity of 1300 feet per second (fps)
How many FPS does it take to kill a rabbit?
600 fps can kill a rabbit depending on the accuracy of the rifle and the distance at which you will be shooting.
Can air rifles kill rabbits?
You can humanely kill a rabbit by an accurate shot between the eyes up to 40 meters away with a .177. Shooting beyond 40 meters can have the pellet being blown away by the wind resulting in a wounded animal.
FAQ about Best Air Rifles for Squirrels
What is the best air rifle for shooting squirrels?
Squirrels can be just as fast as rabbits. So similarly, we also recommend Gamo Swarm Magnum, Multi-Shot Air Rifle or Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle. Most importantly, you should choose one that you feel most comfortable with.
Which is better 177 or 22 airguns in shooting squirrels?
Although a 22 airgun is heavy and delivers more energy into the target, this does not matter much when looking for a great airgun. The 177 airgun is a better option because it allows easy placement of a pellet at the right spot.
When going on hunting small game or for squirrels and rabbits, the magnification might not matter as much as long-range shooting. However, make sure to purchase a high-quality rifle in order to enjoy a long-lived performance.