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What is the Best .22 Air Rifle?

This is a question with a lot of answers. The problem is that having such a wide category means that you’re not recognizing the different uses that a .22 can have, and also the different drawbacks that you can experience with one. That being said, there are at

least a few things that you can look out for in order to make sure that you’re getting the best .22 air rifle for you.

Purpose

The first thing you want to determine is the purpose of your air rifle. What do you want it for? Yes, you ought to have a reason to want an air rifle, especially a .22 which is not a toy and can do some serious damage. If your first answer to the above question is “to have one,” then the best .22 for you is none of them.

However, if you’re looking to get into target practice, then we’re in business. There are a lot of reasons why a .22 is great for target shooting. First of all, because of the weight of the pellet, it tends to be more accurate. The speed is slower, but you also get a better spin and the weight of the pellet keeps it flying straight.

One of the reasons why BBs aren’t often used for serious target shooting is that factors like wind are a much more important consideration, since it can throw off your shot by a decent amount. The ammo in a .22 is much less likely to be affected by outside factors in that same way.

Another excellent reason to have a .22 is because of pest control. Often the pests that a person has to deal with are not small creatures, like mice or nesting birds, but rather possums, racoons, or gophers. A .177 is usually not enough to be able to take one of these out cleanly since the size of the ammo won’t cause the necessary damage, and you end up with a wounded creature instead of a dead one.

This is not only unnecessarily cruel, but can also be dangerous, especially if you’re near enough for it to attack. The power behind a .22 can be what you need to make sure that your shot is clean and accurate enough to really take down pests.

You might also want a .22 for hunting, which can be a great thing. While it is more powerful than necessary for something like a small bird, the .22 air rifle is great for things like squirrels and rabbits, since again you’re more likely to get a clean kill that won’t clause too much pain for the animal, and won’t send them scurrying away where they will be hard to find and get at. More to the point, it’s also a small enough caliber that it won’t tear your game apart with the shot, leaving a lot of it scattered all over the forest floor.

Ammunition

When it comes to ammo, you want to make sure that you have a lot of options, and the .22 simply has more choices as to what sorts of ammunition you can use. That being said, every .22 is different and they don’t all fire well with every style and every brand.

If you’re looking for ammo that won’t penetrate very far, such as for pest controlnear your home, then some guns will not be the correct one for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something that is going to fly far and fast yet stay on a straight line, there might be a gun that will work better with the type of ammo you’re looking at.

Assess your needs before you go buying a gun. Again, we come back to purpose and the kind of shooting you’re looking to do. Ultimately, you want a gun that is going to work with you and hit your target, which is why a lot of research needs to be done so that you can make sure that you are getting something that will do the things that you want.

A lot of people don’t realize the variance that there is between different rifles when it comes to ammunition weight, shape, skirting size, and the like, and the best thing you can do is search out what different types of ammo are available, what they each are designed for, then ask around for the weapon that is going to be best with that ammo.

Stability

Stability, in this case, refers both to how stable the gun is while shooting and how durable it is.

Often the weight of a weapon will tell you a lot about it. As far as physical stability goes, a heavier gun will sit better in your hand and have less effect from things like recoil, which can also vary significantly from weapon to weapon. It makes it easier to aim and to keep your sights in check, not to mention is often easier on scopes which can be thrown off zero very easily by guns that jerk around a lot.

Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 Break Barrel Air Rifle

Benjamin Trail NP XL 1100 Break Barrel Air Rifle

 

As far as durability goes, you want a gun that is going to be able to take a beating. These are not show pieces, they are weapons that have a very specific utility to them, and the more you use them, like with anything else, the more they will tend to fall apart. A good investment is one that will last you a while, so picking an air rifle that stays in good working order with proper maintenance is a must.

For my money, the best .22 air rifle is either the Benjamin Marauder or the RWS Model 34, but that’s because they serve my needs very well. Yours may be different, which is why you need to do your research and make sure that the air rifle that you end up with is going to do the things you need it to for as long as you need it to.

 

41 Comments
  1. Do you prefer the RWS Moel 34 over the 350 or 350 Magnum? It’s been many years since I shot a Daisy Red Ryder and later a Powerline but I’m seriously thinking about getting a good airgun and starting again. (I have lots of conventional powder powered firearms.) I would like to hunt small game with it. I’ve considered a PCP but I don’t like being tied to an air source.
    I will appreciate any suggestions.
    Roger

    • Hi Roger, personally I prefer the 34, but it depends on your objectives. If you are going for larger “small game” rather than smaller “small game”, and you don’t mind the additional recoil or cost, the 350 would suit you better. Bill.

  2. Bill I am really enjoying your articles. I own an RWS 34 T06 in .177 and is an amazing air rifle. I am stepping up to a .22 and although the 34 is at the top of my short list I have to ask is the RWS 350 that much harder to cock and shoot? I really cannot judge the extra cocking effort as I do not have any friends that own a 350. I want a .22 for larger pests control (crows, squirrels, etc.) thinking a .22 would be better for quick humane kills. My .177 has taken a squirrel or 2 at short ranges from our bird feeders but shot placement is critical.
    Just curious.
    Thanks,
    Rudy

  3. I like your website.

    I’m getting into Air Rifle shooting. I did have a 177 Crossman Phantom, which was my start-up model. After shooting about 40 Rats, I’ve decided to trade it in for a .22 and I have chosen a Gamo IGT Whisper but this is the one that does not have the cracking barrel so it is more accurate. It feels a lot more quality and is heavier and definitely more powerful. I tested it today with a thick plywood target. It was slightly louder than I thought but still better than the old Crossman. In New Zealand I am not allowed to purchase a pneumatic or pre charged Air Rifle without a standard firearms licence unfortunately, as this was really what I was looking for.
    I might not really need one but I think I just liked the look of them more.
    So I am still shooting Rats but I figured that the .22 would do me better for Possums and even a Goat with a well placed shot.

  4. I like and I am considering the RWS 48 .22 cal. over the RWW 34 .22 cal. Is the side cock (one piece barrel worth the addition cost. Am I correct in thinking the 48 will be more consistent when using a scope.

  5. Very Informative Website.
    Im new to air rifles, and im looking for a
    good, reliable .22 air rifle for under $300.
    I am looking to use it for target shooting,
    and hunting small game like rabbits.
    All ears for suggestions. And also looking
    to find out about what pellets i should be using.
    i like the idea of the break barrel rifles.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

  6. For hunting, which do you prefer the Marauder or the RWS? I would think the ability to make multiple shots w/ out cocking would be an asset.

  7. I’m looking for the quietest .22 cal. air rifle under $300. I’m after ground squirrels, up to 30 yards away.

    • Love my Benjamin Nitro NP XL .22 for $260- although you need to fine tune it once in a while and it works better on a warm barrel(4-5 shots). Works great on floppy-eared rats. I have found Crosman HP pellets work best.

  8. Hey Bill!
    Best air rifle site on the net!!
    I am looking at getting a Ruger Impact, .22 Cal for hunting.
    Please tell me the biggest thing I could hunt with this.
    Thank you!

    • Wayne,

      Thanks for the compliment. As far as that rifle, in a .22 caliber you should get about 17-20 FPE depending on pellet weight. You should be able to easily take down something the size of a small opossum, squirrel, or rabbit from about 25 yards.

  9. Hey Bill!!
    You were so helpful last time, afraid I am going to have to bug you again. (that will learn you)
    Please tell me the best hunter out of these, and why.
    Also, I was clearly given a WAY wrong FPE formula, the one I used had the Rugar Impact, .22, 1,000 fps at 35 FPE, yours at 17-20.
    You have forgotten more then I know about air(guns) (one word, or two?, varies by site)
    Hatsan Edge Air Rifle, Vortex Piston, Black .22 800 fps ..25 650 fps
    Crosman Shockwave NP Air Rifle 950 fps.
    Ruger Impact, .22 Cal 1000 fps
    Hatsan 1000S Striker Combo Air Rifle, Black 650 fps
    I am leaning to the Shockwave and Edge because of Nitro piston, but, Hatson sounds, and looks good(review wise) Rugar is much cheaper(refurbished)
    Help me (air rifle)Yoda.
    Thank you

    • Wayne,

      Glad to see your doing your research. As far as your calculated FPE for the Ruger Impact, if it were able to push a standard 14.3 grain pellet at 1000 FPS then it would generate about 32 FPE, so your initial calculation might be correct depending on the pellet weight you used. However, I think where you might have gone wrong is in assuming that the 1000 FPS was determined using a standard pellet. This is why going off of manufacturers stated FPS can be very misleading. Most of the time you have no idea what weight pellet they used to achieve those numbers. More than likely Ruger used very light PBA pellets of around 9.5 grains to achieve 1000 FPS. I made my calculation assuming a 14.3 grain pellet moving at 750 FPS which gives a respectable 18 FPE. I gave a range of 17 to 20 since I did not know how heavy a pellet they used. Either way that is more than enough power to take down small game humanely, and everyone I know with this rifle seems to be satisfied with its performance. Now, as far as the range of rifles you just mentioned, Hatsan does make very nice springer rifles for the price, but I don’t have any experience with their nitro piston rifles. Hatsan rifles come with very nice fully adjustable 2 stage triggers and fiber optic sights that I really like. In my experience the nitro piston rifles are quieter and have less recoil you can also leave them cocked for extended periods of time where with a springer rifle doing this will cause the spring to fatigue. If you do decide on the Crosman I would suggest replacing the trigger with one from charliedatuna.com. It will cost another $30, but it will be the best thing you can do to improve the accuracy of that rifle. Hope this helps you in your search, and happy hunting.

  10. I am sooooo sorry to bother you, again, last ?, for awhile, honest!
    Please tell me your opinion on the Crosman Phantom .22.
    Thank you, again

    • Wayne,

      I don’t have any personal experience with the Crosman Phantom, but it should be very similar to any of the other Crosman/Benjamin nitro piston powered rifles in that price range. They all use the same or very similar power plants and do nicely for small game hunting.

  11. My Ruger Impact will not group better than 3 in. At 30 ft. .Any idea,s to improve accuracy. That with open sight,s , the 4x scope included grouping was worse 4in…..Help…..

    • Robert,

      I would start by checking all the screws to make sure they have not worked loose, especially the two screws on either side of the stock. Springer type air rifles have quite a recoil and are know to work screws loose quickly. Other than that its hard to say. Springer rifles are notoriously difficult to shoot accurately. That to me is part of why I love them so much as they are much more challenging to shoot than almost any other rifle. If you don’t have much prior experience with this type of air rifle I would just suggest doing a little more testing. Springers are very hold sensitive, which means how you hold the rifle can have a huge impact on how precise it will shoot. Try researching the artillery hold. It is generally accepted as the best hold for springer rifles, and while it may not end up being the right hold for you it is a good place to start. I would also buy a few different brands, styles, and weights of pellets to test out. Sorry I can’t provide you with exact instructions to make your rifle more accurate, but there are so many variables involved and air rifle accuracy is very specific from person to person and rifle to rifle. I hope this at least gets you headed in the right direction.

  12. How tight should they be don’t want to twist it off. Also I forgot to mention the group’s I got were about 8 to 10 in.,s low.That,s with the adjusting screw removed and iron sight bent up slightly. And using the scope all of the up adjustment used. I’m going to try removing the picatinny base and mount straight to the barrel and maybe shinning rear scope mount??????? Who know,s….. I’ll look for more pellet,s too!!!

    • As far as the screws go just make sure they are snug and not rattling around. You are correct that you don’t want to over tighten them. It sounds like your rifle has an excessive amount of barrel droop. This is a common problem with break barrel rifles, although it usually doesn’t show itself with open sights because you are actually looking down the barrel. With the scope if you are at the end of the adjustment range then yes one common fix is to shim up the rear of the scope. An easy way to shim it is to just use tin foil. If none of this helps you may have a defective rifle in which case I would recommend you try to take it back and get another one.

  13. I purchased the AA TX200HC. A better term might be “invested” in the TX200HC because it cost more than several of my rifles. However, I also shoot it much more because I can shoot in the backyard – out the window of my truck – many places without fear of bothering neighbors, etc… I desired accuracy and consistency – and got it – only draw back is weight. I shoot from a dead rest whenever possible. It’s my “prepper” rifle because it’s an under lever cocker with everything I need in its case. Thanks Bill for the input, and site. I’ll be spending more time here looking at the excellent ideas.

    • Stan,

      Glad you are enjoying my site. I also recently purchased the Air Arms TX200, but it is not the carbine version you got. I will be releasing a review of that rifle shortly. From what I have seen so far I would say your “investment” was an excellent choice. That is one beautiful rifle, and accurate too. I am still working through the break in phase, but it has impressed me so far. I also agree that it is a bit on the heavy side, but seems well balanced and of very good quality. Something you can plan on having around for a long time. Enjoy your new purchase, and happy hunting.

  14. hey I got a question, why is my rifle not as accurate? I got a beeman dual barrel (.177 and .22) I only use the .22 because I live on a reserve and people are so ignorant about their dogs, we have a policy about loose dogs wandering the streets and I was wondering too if shooting them would be a nono ( a couple pitbulls and german sheperd’s usually hang around in a pack

    • Brandon,

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I know it can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous to have unknown dogs wandering around freely. However, as a dog owner myself I would have to strongly advise you against shooting them, especially with an air rifle. That air rifle has enough power to wound a dog of that size, and maybe cause it to die a slow and painful death, but it is not powerful enough to stop one if it were coming to attack you. My only advise on that front would be to contact your local law enforcement or animal control and see if they can address the situation. Now as far as the accuracy of your Beeman, my experience with that rifle is similar to yours in that I found the accuracy to be lacking.

  15. Hi
    I would like to buy a .22 air rifle for hunting .
    Would you please give me some recommendations.
    I would like one shoots straight . Also with no problems.
    Also would like one that is some what quiet.
    That you Jim

  16. Hi
    I’m looking to purchase a 22 air rifle for my husband, he currently has one but broke it. I thought it would be awesome if i bought him one for his birthday coming up. I want to buy him a really good one any suggestions ?

    • Sandy,

      Sorry to hear about your husband’s air rifle. As far as recommending a good air rifle to buy for him there are so many options in a broad spectrum of pricing that I would need a lot more information to be able to give you a good recommendation. If you can provide some more specifics such as price range, what it will be used for, does he want a break barrel, multi pump, or PCP, ect. I would be happy to help.

      • I cannot believe what I’m reading I love this site and all the information I’m taking him as I am a beginner I have started off with a weihrauch .22 apparently it’s a 77 if that makes sense it’s a little on the heavy side I have a telescopic sights that I can zoom in and out I think the sites are called optic richer or something like that it seems to be a great gun it has a cock down bar underneath the barrel very easy to load just not sure about it being a spring power gun as I’ve been told they can lose their power because the spring will stretch anyways back to reading the comment I’m a dog owner also how could you kill a dog that is disgusting just because it’s a pitbull does not mean it’s nasty I always blame bad owners when a dog turns out nasty and especially trying to kill a dog with a pellet gun all that would do is give it a serious injury or wound and would die of a slow painful death if not treated I’ve read some things in my time but that is one of the worst things ever you’re disgusting and make me feel sick and Bill as you’re a dog owner also could you put a comment saying if there are any messages about killing dogs don’t bother because I don’t want to read anything like that again I love reading this site it’s very educational but that made me feel sad kind regards Luke Mitchell

        • I can’t find the comment you’re referring to, but absolutely I agree with you. Shooting a dog with an air rifle is criminal and serves no purpose other than to injure or maim. If you are worried about a neighbor’s dog call animal control and report the owner, don’t harm the dog because it doesn’t know any better.

  17. Hi,

    i’m looking for a spring nitro piston pellet gun and i would like it to be right around 200 dollars, any suggestions?

  18. I would like it to be for small game such as rabbits,squirrels, etc.

  19. Hello Bill im really enjoying your page and we really appriciate your help, now let me bother you with a question. Im looking for a 1400+ fps .22 rifle with a good accuracy of course not going over 500$. Thanks in advance.

  20. Great site!
    I’m looking for a reasonably priced .22 for pest control (mostly raccoon). Can I get a nice rifle in the $300 range? Which would you recommend?

  21. Bill,
    I’ve read some pretty interesting stuff here!
    So not having a budget for a PCP I thought I’d hit you up for advice on an accurate, quiet, powerful, piston powered air rifle under $200.
    Recommendations?

  22. dont know what all the fuss is about , i have a benjaman nitro piston varmet hunter , and have put over 10,000 yes 10000 rounds through without a flaw , consistantly make 75 to over 100 yars kill shots from my deck accross a private lake killing snakes , neutra and so on.. the germans have nothing on this wepon!

  23. i like your site. but i need some help to buy a airgun wich can hunt up to 125m. and also that can hunt birds.
    up to $500. and a good scope
    please reply

  24. […] What is the Best.22 Air Rifle? | Air Rifle Hunter – The problem in looking for the best.22 air rifle is that having such a. The ammo in a.22 is much less. I'm looking for the quietest.22 cal. air rifle. […]

  25. […] What is the Best.22 Air Rifle? | Air Rifle Hunter – The problem in looking for the best.22 air rifle is that having such a wide category means that you’re not recognizing the different uses that a.22 can have. […]

  26. […] What is the Best.22 Air Rifle? | Air Rifle Hunter – The problem in looking for the best.22 air rifle is that having such a wide category means that you’re not recognizing the different uses that a.22 can have. […]

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