When you first get into any hobby, most people get a cheap version of whatever equipment is required for the activity so that they can try it out. Then as they grow more skilled and want to try new aspects of it, or they learn what does and doesn’t work, they end up buying something better. If you’re into pellet guns and you’re looking for the best air rifle for the money, there are a number of
things that you’re going to want to look out for to make sure that your investment is worth it and will make you happy for a long time to come.
Obviously, accuracy is something that is going to be vitally important to whatever you buy. After all, you are investing in a rifle. And if it doesn’t shoot well, then what is the point?
That, however, is a very good question: what is the point? Why do you want this gun? Do you plan to just do target shooting? If so, you’re going to want to see how far away you want your targets to be, where you plan on shooting, how often you plan on doing it for how long, what you want your targets to be.
For example, if you want to spend hours out there plinking away at targets, going through hundreds of rounds, you might not want something that’s going to require you to pump it by hand a lot or you’ll find yourself getting tired very quickly. If you’re hunting, it might be worth 70 or 80 pumps for 20 really powerful shots since you won’t be shooting all that much, but if you’re just doing target practice, part of the point is to be shooting a lot since you won’t be spending the bulk of your time walking.
A PCP gun might be the best option for something like that, since you will be stationary and not have to carry scuba tanks around with you to recharge the gun. If you still want a pump rifle, the Benjamin 392 Bolt Action Variable Pump Air Rifle (.22) is an excellent choice for target practice as well, and would be able to provide hours of enjoyment.
If you’re looking for a rifle that is meant for hunting small game, then you have another set of choices to make that will effect what sort of gun will be best for you.
Just like with target practice, you’re looking for accuracy, but here power plays a much bigger part in the equation. This is twofold: first, you need the extra power to make sure that your pellet reaches the target quickly, both before it moves and without losing too much height, but also because you want to make sure that your kills are humane.
A rifle that doesn’t have enough power can embed a pellet in an animal, either prolonging its death or just causing it vast amounts of pain. You don’t want to do that, and need something with enough power behind it that every kill is clean.
Another thing that you want when looking for a hunting rifle is good sights and a good scope. It’s not always easy to find certain critters. There’s a reason they’re colored that way: camouflage. You want a scope that is going to help you find what you’re trying to shoot, one that’s clear and precise with enough magnification to pick out details on your kill from a good distance away.
This not only helps you actually shoot what you’re hunting, but again it goes back to humane kills. A quality scope or sights helps you pick the place where you want to hit on your target, so you can shoot to kill, not wound.
This is more a job for something like the Winchester 1000 Break Barrel.
Pests are not just bugs and rats. In some areas, they’re gophers that dig up gardens, birds that don’t sing but eat all the song birds’ food, or any number of other animals that shouldn’t be there. Poison is ineffective at taking care of them and might hurt the animals you do want there. Same goes for traps. A well equipped rifle can be incredibly good at helping you get rid of animals that you don’t want in your yard, barn, garden, or wherever.
What you want more than anything with a pest control gun is readiness. You never know when one of these things is going to show up, and if you have to charge your PCP or pump forever in order to get a good shot off, you may miss your opportunity. That’s why it’s important to have something spring powered and easy to aim like the RWS Model 54 which is simple to just pick up, lever action into a firing position, aim, and fire.
You’re also going to want something that can work with a number of different types of ammo. For a lot of pellet guns, they become less accurate with certain types and shapes of pellet. This becomes a problem when you’re purposely trying to use pellets that aren’t going to fire through things. For example, if you have a number of pest birds nesting in the top of your barn, you don’t want to use pellets that are going to go clean through them and then poke holes in your roof, but if that type of pellet throws your accuracy off enough, then it becomes pointless.
All of these are incredible sellers, and each has its own niche in the markets that make it that way. For me, the RWS is the best air rifle for the money out there and worth the investment, but your individual circumstances are not swayed by the popularity contest that is sales figures. Instead, find the gun that works for you, do your research, and when you’re ready to really invest in this sport, you’ll be able to pick the right one.