I Tested And Ranked The Best Pellet Guns For Hunting In 2023
I always recommend the .177 caliber for varmint hunting and pest control. But for small game hunting, take the more powerful .22 caliber. Although I did hunt small game with my .177.
FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.
1. Hatsan 95 Air Rifle .22 Caliber Combo
Top-rated: 745 ratings | 167 answered questions
Highlight: Features a stock made from high quality walnut, a precision rifled German steel barrel, and Hatsan’s fully adjustable 2-stage Quattro Trigger system.
Helpful review: "Let me preface this by saying: this is not for kids. This is an adults gun in every single aspect. You better start doing some push ups because this gun is going to make you work for it. While that might be a bad thing for some, it's actually a really good thing for me. It makes it feel tougher and of better quality. This gun is also heavy. The box claims a little over 8 pounds, but it feels like 15 in your hands. I gave it to my girlfriend to hold and she nearly dropped it when trying to hold it with one hand. In the her defense, she's 5'3 and barely weighs 100 pounds.
As soon as you look at the weapon you will see why it's so heavy. The attention to detail and the quality surpasses its price range. I have seen $250 guns that feel cheaper than this one. The stock is made of dense hardwood. Everything that isn't the suppressor, trigger guard, and butt pad is either made of German steel or Turkish walnut. I cannot praise the quality of this gun enough. everything clicks into place with a hard thud. The trigger is on the heavy side just like the rest of this rife, but that first stage is smooth as butter, and I couldn't feel any creep at all in the second stage. You never feel like you're in limbo as you pull the trigger, wondering when it's gonna fire. You know exactly when it's gonna fire! Every time! Another thing I like is, this gun definitely has some kick to it. I know that can be a draw back to some shooters, but I like it. It makes it feel more like a weapon and less like a toy, at least in comparison to Gamo pellet guns.
If you've ever shot ANY centerfire rifle, this will be absolutely nothing to you. It's extremely accurate and powerful. I shot this at a half inch piece of wood that I had left over from when we did the fence in our back yard. The round went clean through, and still had enough energy to smear lead on the concrete wall behind it. I didn't care much for the scope that came with it, but that's the case with almost any air rifle. Fear not though... the fiber optics on this gun are clean and easy to see!
- This gun is powerful, probably one of the most powerful air guns you can get in this price range. It will make quick work of any bird, rat, squirrel, rabbit, or possum.
- Amazing quality and attention to detail. It truly feels like a rifle twice its price.
- Incredibly accurate. I didn't care much for the scope but the iron sights on this thing are amazing.
- Exceptional trigger. It might be a bit too heavy for some shooters, but I have yet to come across a trigger with a cleaner break from any rifle in this price point.
- It is a heavy gun. You could beat a man to death with this thing, and it also has quite the cocking effort. I would not recommend this to kids. if you're a small man or woman, you're definitely gonna have a tough time with it. My girlfriend couldn't manage to fully cock this weapon without my help.
- It is loud. If you're planning on shooting this indoors, you might have to wear ear protection depending on the layout of the room and your own tolerances for noise. I'm a metal head, so it doesn't bother me.
- This weapon has quite the kick for an air rifle. It's definitely nothing close to a center fire rifle, and it's really more of a nudge than a kick. However, I know that in the air gunning community, the last thing anyone wants to feel is recoil. So unless you're super uptight about that or you're 6 years old, it shouldn't bother you. Half the time I don't even notice it.
- The scope is kind of crappy, but all guns in this price range have crappy scopes anyway.
In conclusion, this gun isn't perfect. It's got its drawbacks. But for $250 you really can't beat it. This is easily one of the best (if not THE best) springer you can buy. Hands down, I picked this over the Gamo raptor whisper and the Benjamin titan NP, and I couldn't be happier!" — Daniel Diaz
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2. Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach Air Rifle .22 Caliber Kit
Top-rated: 1,965 ratings | 320 answered questions
Highlight: Equipped with a Gamo 3-9×40 scope.
Helpful review: "Purchased .22 calber Gamo Mach 1 Fusion Whisper in August 2021. Before shooting, used blue LocTite to set and torque stock / barrel screws. Barrel clean and shiny on arrival but used bore snake with Ballistol to remove all manufacturing residue. Currently mounted with a UTG AccuShot 4-12x44 AO scope on medium UTG 30mm rings. Using Crosman Premier hollow point 14.3 grain pellets, have fired about 750 rounds.
Note on scopes.: have returned a couple UTG True Hunter and Hawke Vantage scopes due to failure after ~100 shots. For this gun, suggest investing in the best scope you can, similar to a firearm. That is, pay at least as much for the scope as you do the gun.
Added an Airgun Detectives trigger adjustment screw, which is essentially longer than the stock screw, thus reducing pull weight. This is NOT recommended by any manufacturer, and must be done very carefully, as you can override safety features and fire the gun while cocking it or if it is bumped. That said, pull is down to around a pound.
Textured synthetic stock gives positive grip. Gun is well-balanced and sculpted. Grip has a comfortable angle for prolonged shooting. Gas-piston vs. spring technology removes the double recoil of spring guns. Recoil is upwards and back, similar to a .22 caliber firearm. Cocking effort is moderate to stiff - you are creating a lot of pneumatic pressure, but gaining velocities in the 1,000 fps range with lead. I find a firm grip and cheek weld - similar to a .223 firearm - works well for this rifle (vs. the artillery hold for a spring-piston gun).
Zeroed the gun at 30 yards. Resting on a chair back, can consistently shoot 1/3-inch groups at that range. Groups of 1/2-inch at 40 yards, 1 inch at 50 yards, and same hole at 10 yards. Need to raise the scope ~2.5 MOA at 10 yds. and also at 40 - 50 yds., but very predictable trajectories. Windage adjustments were not required under 40 yds, ~1 MOA drift at 50. Weak link in the accuracy chain is me... have not fired from true bench rest yet, but this sucker is a tack driver.
Pellets will penetrate a 3/4-inch pine board at 30 yards, and I drilled a gray squirrel with 1 shot at 35. Effective range for 1 and done likely around 50 yards for grays. This is an air gun for responsible adult use, because of its power, full-size, and cocking effort. With the scope it is probably in the 9-10 pound range.
The gun arrived on schedule as promised and in ready-to-go condition in the box. While I shoot with a scope, the stock open sights are very good. After testing scopes and pellets on two other spring guns and one gas-piston (all in .177) the Gamo Mach 1 is my hands-down go-to. I highly recommend this pellet gun to anybody interested in small game hunting, pest control, or just target practice." — B. Shaffer
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3. Umarex Ruger Blackhawk Pellet Rifle .177 Caliber Kit
Top-rated: 3,398 ratings | 437 answered questions
Highlight: Scope and mounting rings included.
Helpful review: "Do you want/need/like to shoot things? Backyard pests or targets? This tool satisfies that function confidently and competently, and looks good in the meantime. You can do what I did and dig through reviews on 823 million different pellet guns online comparing looks, weight, build quality, power, etc... Or, you can just buy a gun that pushes a pellet really fast and powerfully to/through exactly what you're aiming at. It's a pellet gun that enjoyment shooters will appreciate because it's dense and strong and real-feeling. It doesn't shoot high-caliber rounds to impress the seasoned NRA gun collectors in your area, and it won't do much to defeat ISIS. At the same time, it will quickly extinguish nuisance birds, rodents, and shaken-up cans of beer with purpose and poise, while looking sharp and aggressive with the Ruger label in the black steel reminding you that you're not a girly-man (or woman). Solid, Heavy, Powerful, No-Nonsense. This pellet gun is no joke, no toy, and no surprises. I like that. You will, too." — R.L.
Trending review: "The quality of this gun I received a few days ago is impressive. Weighty for sure and not for the young at heart as to the weight and strength to break the barrel. I sighted in the hard sights at about 30 yards and got to groups of 1/2" and figured that was OK. I have used the gun for 3 days now and shot approx. 40 rounds and really like the accuracy using the Umarex Meisterkugeln Pellets, .177, Competition 8.2g. Breakdown gets some better after multiple breaks but this is not an issue for me. I am very pleased with the design of the stock even though it's weight is not that well balanced. The barrel thickness is of good quality and the only drawback, which is not a deal breaker with me, is the amount of play on the trigger to the resistance point. I adjusted the adjusting screw as far as it goes but still more than i would want but got used to it quickly as i would pull back gently until I would feel resistance and the hold there. I had a squirrel that liked to use my roof as a crossing point between trees and would causing some other issues but I caught him in top of a maple tree. I tried the scope & was able to adjust the elevation but not the windage as the scope would not bring the target in as it was always shooting 8" to the right with the screw adjusted all the way." — G. Conner
Reassuring review: "This is an awesome gun to use in an urban setting to kill destructive pests. For me that's primarily the rabbits destroying our garden, shrubs and other plantings. Honestly, this gun is so accurate out of the box I have yet to mount the scope. In addition, I do all my rabbit reduction at night or early morning when they're most active. I spot them with my head lamp and then shoot them. It kills rabbits no problem. The gun is a little loud. Some have said it's as loud as a .22 but I don't agree with that at all because basically there's no explosion because there's no gun powder. I'd say it's more like a loud mechanical sound from the air piston in the gun. However it's not loud enough to disturb anyone in an urban environment. At the same time, I am not putting myself on display eliminating pests in my yard. The other thing I would say is that it's fairly heavy. This is not a problem for a grown man but it might be for a child or woman. Nuisance critters do not have a chance with this Ruger. I've had mine since July and I put away about 20 rabbits. I highly recommend this gun for eliminating unwanted pests. For the record I've had some success with live traps but only in late fall, winter and very early spring when forage is hard to come by. So this gun was a good solution for me." — O. Bauer
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4. Gamo Varmint Air Rifle .177 Caliber Combo
Top-rated: 7,047 ratings | 851 answered questions
Highlight: This bundle includes both the Air Rifle and the Air Venturi .177 pellet pen.
Helpful review: "I was expecting to spend more. I received a $400 gift card last Christmas and hadn't spent it yet. I lose the $400 after June 1st so... I was going to spend it all on a pellet rifle. Turns out I didn't have too. I spent several years in the Army ( 1st Inf Division ) and without going into details, I know how to shoot. I had one of those cheap air rifles that you have to pump up several times. It was pretty accurate but a pain to pump up and not much stopping power with very limited range.
I believe I researched this like I haven't researched anything before. I read more reviews about air rifles than I have read all reviews combined. I read where people are measuring the velocity, FPS at different distances and even how much drop at different distances with different grains of pellet. I had no idea there were so many people using pellet guns and so serious about it. but i read them... i read them all. I even watched some youtube videos of guys who are out hunting with them. Some compressed air rifles are costing into the thousands of dollars. That's crazy!! but, to each his own. When all was said and done, I pulled the trigger on this one (pun was totally intended). 1250 FPS with the recommended pellet. I elected to shoot the GAMO red fire .177.
I have made some remarkable shots and the squirrels dropped. We have a really bad squirrel problem, especially around our chicken coup. But not anymore. I'm shooting flat at 160 to 180 feet. I can aim flat 40' up in the trees and it doesn't drop off. I'm truly impressed. I could have spent $189 or $289 on this rifle and would have been pleased. Be careful of those with reviews that want to make you spend more. Consider the credentials of those who are reviewing. This is a fantastic pellet rifle.
p.s. I don't write reviews... this is the longest review of my life. After reading so many and gaining so much knowledge in doing so, I felt obligated. Enjoy this rifle. It's a fun one to shoot!!" — Stephen Cunningham
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5. Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Rifle .22 Caliber with Scope
Top-rated: 884 ratings | 211 answered questions
Highlight: Includes a 3-9x32mm scope, and features the Umarex integral Nucleus Rail Platform engineered to reduce scope movement and vibration.
Helpful review: "I was really surprised how accurate the rifle is with the open sites. The scope that comes with it does not stay sighted in very well and is pretty much useless for accuracy and I adjusted every which way and could not get it to hold. I prefer a pellet gun with open sights so no big deal. The only thing is I wish the sights were a little finer blade type for better sight picture but these are fine for general close range use. The power was also very surprising as I grew up with the old Benjamin pump. The single pump is pretty awesome." — Richard H.
Trending review: "Great rifle. I got it in yesterday and sighted in the scope and today have killed 2 squirrels and multiple birds. I really like the scope especially for the price. Zooms in and focuses. The only complaint I have is that you will have to re-sign the gun if you change pellets. I sighted it in using 15.43 grain Gamo magnum pellets then tried some 22 grain pellets, and the 22 grain pellets dropped significantly at about 20 ft. But all together a great rifle." — Bill Mora
Reassuring review: "So far this rifle seems to be a good value. It is a little heavier than some I have had but it's not that bad. I like the scope and I am still working on adjusting it but have almost got it zeroed in at 25 yards. The amount of noise it makes is minimal to some of the spring type, and the 22 cal. pellets are easier for me to handle. It came with the sling as advertised. Mounting the scope was easy. Cocking the break over is not bad. I shot about 30 pellets when I first took it out and it didn't tire me any cocking the rifle. Overall, I like the feel and firing of the rifle." — Scott Stratman
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6. Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle .22 Caliber
Top-rated: 1,007 ratings | 99 answered questions
Highlight: The 10X Quick-Shot technology enables you to shoot up to 10 pellets without reloading: simply break the barrel and fire for lightning-quick follow-up shots.
Helpful review: "This pellet gun is awesome. The 10 shot magazine works flawlessly and it is super accurate. Everybody complains about the scope. And yes it’s a little blurry. It’s not the best quality lenses but it’s adequate for the range. The best thing about this gun is how light it is it weighs half of what any other pellet rifle I have tried weighs. It’s nice and light and accurate. I don’t know about that whole sound baffling because it sounds just like every other pellet rifle I have. And anyway, that’s not an issue for me as I live alone with my dog on top of a mountain... who cares if the Bears hear it lol;) I definitely recommend this pellet rifle. I am very very happy with it. And since putting a new scope on, I'm even more impressed. I was able to take out a crow from literally 75 yards with a heavy copper plated 21 grain pellet with one shot. That’s incredible for a break barrel air rifle." — Paul J Hess
Trending review: "I only got this a few days ago, but so far I'm really liking my Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle! Very cool, not super quiet, but quiet enough to shoot in my neighborhood! I've been through about half of one can of pellets so far with no issues! Well, only one, twice the magazine didn't advance, the rifle still shot, but there was no pellet. Simple fix, took the clip out, manually turned it and worked fine. Maybe just because it's new? Who knows. So far, I am very happy with this pellet rifle! Get to practice a little before hunting season! Yeah!" — Jim Hoover
Reassuring review: "I have had quite a few break barrel guns. This one is just the right weight size and power. Will punch the 22 bullet right through a half inch piece of OSB plywood. The 10 pellet magazine is genius, makes the gun so much more fun and useful when hunting. Does take a bit more of a manly pull to get it cocked but really no problem unless you have weak arms. I should’ve went with a Gamo the first time around." — Ari Short
Get it from Amazon now: $169.99 & FREE Returns
7. Gamo Raptor Whisper Air Rifle .177 Caliber Combo
Top-rated: 2,300 ratings | 359 answered questions
Highlight: The Gamo-patented Whisper Technology makes this gun really quiet.
Helpful review: "Well just like every other review I read about this air rifle the scope really is bad. Not so bad that you cannot see your target but just slightly blurry. So if you really need to be precise well you probably will have to get another scope. I have not shot it long distances but at 20 yards it is incredibly accurate. At that range, using Crossman pellets, I was able to quickly shoot a nice group of perhaps an inch which is accurate enough for my needs. Given that you cannot really see the target with enough clarity to make sure the scope lines align with the target lines I would not expect to shoot smaller groups. Also I was not using a good rest and as some say the barrel is far from broken in. still under 50 shots through it. The group I spoke of was in the 1st 10 shots. The scope adjusted as I expected meaning it moved in the direction I adjusted it too. I think it moved a bit more than it should have given I was only shooting at 20 yards. Not sure what it says but a click is usually 1/4 inch at 100 yards. Not sure what it would be at 20 yards. Each click seemed to move it closer to 1/4 inch at the 20 yard mark.
In any case I had it on bulls eye after just a few shots. Not what you normally would do but it worked. and following shots were close to the point of aim. So like I said for my use it works fine. I do plan to get a new scope and spend some time to see what kind of groups are possible but that will be down the road. I have not shot the heavier loads because they arrived after I sighted it in on the lighter pellets and have not had the time to do another sight in session.
As far as noise well it is about equivalent to one of those construction stable guns. In fact they might even be a bit louder. I was mostly concerned about the report on this gun but after I fired it once my fear that the neighbors might wonder what was going on were over. I shot into cardboard with a earth backstop so the sound of hitting the target could be heard but again not loud enough to bother anyone. I think if you shot into plywood the strike on the target would be higher than the sound of the gun.
Putting on the scope was a bit of a challenge but once I got my gun rest out I was able to get it together pretty easily. Doing it on your laps or across the arms of a chair was not such a great idea. It allowed the gun to move around and that was the problem. The catch on the bottom of the mounts are not that large, so they easily pull away if there a wiggle in the gun. That is only before you tighten it up. once mounted it has held up as you would expect.
I wanted to go up to the more expensive Gamo air rifles but after shooting this one, I am not sure the increase in cost gets you much more than this gun provides. I really would like to have open sights but most people are not going to use them. Anyone who is into guns is always looking for a little faster a little harder hitting gun. But in most cases, we carry into the field guns that are far more powerful than we ever will need to take the game we are after. If you are looking for something to plink with or get rid of back yard pests this is all that you need." — Rex Cain
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8. Daisy Powerline 880 Air Rifle .177 Caliber Kit
Top-rated: 3,653 ratings | 436 answered questions
Highlight: The kit includes the rifle, safety glasses, a 4x15-millimeter scope with rings, 500 Daisy pellets, and 750 BBs.
Helpful review: "After living with the rifle for a little while I can honestly say that I am in love with it. Still pissed that I didn't get the ammo as promised but whatever (I think the seller removes it on purpose)... Any ways, after getting the scope zeroed out, the rifle is an absolute dream to shoot and..... it's ability to do what I bought it to do (critter ridder) has proven to be worth it's weight in gold. There is not a lot of instructions in the package but after a few Google search videos I able to get everything (scope) calibrated. Now able to crack a wine cork from 50 feet! Nice starter rifle. But make sure to purchase either BB's and/or pellets when you purchase the rifle cause they may be missing!" — Art Logan
Trending review: "We have a very nice bird feeder with all sorts of woodpeckers, cardinals, and so on. The squirrels discovered this feeding mecca and decided to overtake it for their own feeding needs. So, I purchased the Daisy 880 air rifle and kit to ward off the squirrels and it has worked very well! I have found it to be accurate and powerful. I am a lousy shot for which some of the squirrels truly appreciate. When I hit one, they quickly learn to stay away from our bird feeder. I have found the Crosman Destroyer pointed pellets to be the best for shooting at squirrels. They are accurate and effective. I never mounted the scope that comes in this kit because I find it unnecessary for how I am using the air rifle." — MS Pitt
Reassuring review: "Perfect for small game hunting such as rabbits and squirrels. Surprisingly great quality for the price and works fantastic! 10 pumps and this thing slings pellets and bbs straight across the yard with some major force. I've been using the iron sights, so I can't speak on the scope. But iron sights are spot on and work great! This is definitely a great buy if you're looking for an air rifle to help with hunting or pest control! You also get two containers of ammo, BBs and pellets! Saves a bunch of money with that bundle right there!" — Zack Glover
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9. Gamo Wildcat Whisper Air Rifle .177 Caliber Kit
Top-rated: 2,230 ratings | 243 answered questions
Highlight: Features the WHISPER noise reduction technology patented by Gamo.
Helpful review: "I just bought the .177 version of the wildcat. I was completely uninformed about air rifles, so this is a beginners learning curve. I was looking for a very quiet air rifle to shoot squirrels out of my bird feeders.
Sighting in, I was very concerned, as shots were all over the place. Eventually I took the action out of the stock, and on re assembly I tightened up the screws more than factory settings, including the scope rings and mounts. I tried 5 different pellets. The pointed ones did not shoot well. But the Gamo Match shot well, as did the Gamo Hunter and the Crossman Premier. Other peoples reviews often recommended the Crossman product. In reading up on this gun, I think what I learned is the 1300 fps is the rating using the lightest pellets, and the heavier pellets shoot slower and more accurately. The Hunter and the Premier both shot to the same point of aim, the Match shot about an inch to the left of the other two at 10 yards. So, I made an arbitrary choice, I settled on the Crossman Premier 7.9 grain pellets because they got great reviews from other people, they are cheap, they are available locally, and they are the heaviest of the lot. I have shot several squirrels now, and the results are: None of my kills were instant. All were about 15 to 18 yards away, and all ran off into cover. All were hit behind the front legs near the bottom of the rib cage. All died within 15 yards of where they were shot, all were still on the ground.
My dogs had to find them, I could not. In one case the pellet passed through the animal, on another the pellet was under the skin on the opposite side. I recovered that pellet, there was about .008 of an inch expansion, not enough to matter. I cannot shoot off hand well enough to do head shots, so I was shooting center of mass, and I will probably try to shoot further up into the rib cage in the future. The last time I shot a squirrel with a .22 rimfire it died exactly the same way, however that does not mean the two guns are in the same league.
I will not try to kill anything beyond 20 to 25 yards away with a pellet gun. I wish it was quieter, but I was unaware that there were quieter guns until after I bought this. The quieter guns appear to be much more expensive. In addition, the noise is probably partly related to the pellet breaking the sound barrier. This gun is light years ahead of the last bb gun or pellet gun I fired. I would have to say I was pleasantly surprised." — Craig A.
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