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  • Writer's pictureGary Anderson

I Tested And Ranked The Best Stoeger Air Rifles In 2024

I tested the most accurate air rifles for the money, and I was particularly impressed with Stoeger Firearms. They are perfect for target practice, and incredibly effective for small game hunting and pest control.

stoeger air rifles

FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.


1. Stoeger XM1 - Best for Varmint Hunting


stoeger air rifle

Highlight: Comes with a fixed power scope and rear open sights that can be used separately.

Helpful review: My name is Gary, and I am new around here. I am a Certified NRA instructor, 07FFL holder, Certified Advanced Gunsmith, lifelong shooter, and all-around know-it-all.
Let me tell you why you need one of these air rifles. I opened the box; everything was packaged perfectly, nice and cozy in the foam packing, and perfect. The Rifle I have is finished in their REALTREE EDGE camo finish, and it is applied perfectly. This little rifle is a smidge on the heavy (for an air rifle side), and I am sure that is due to the whole thing being built out of metal and not cheap like some others.
The stock can change out the check riser and hand grip pieces, which are included and very simple to change out. With the pistol grip fashioned into the stock, the rifle's balance is very nice, just a bit forward of the grip, but easy to manage.
The optics for this little rifle are my only hesitation about singing its praises as loud as possible, so maybe 8 out of 10. The front sight is a fiber optic fashioned on the barrel and very visible, perfect. The rear open sights are not as great. The mount has to fit on the 17mm dovetail; this mount is the same as the old Crossman BB gun type. The rear sight had to be adjusted so far to get the pellets on target that the screw would not stay in the threads. As far as dependable rear sights are concerned, this setup is a no-go in my book.
The scope and mounts are another story, not a great one. Let me take that back, the scope is fine and will perform with this rifle like a hand in a glove, the mounts are the problem. The scope mounts (rings) on my rifle were put on backward; not a problem; just loosen the Allen screw with the provided key and switch them around. The rifle shot about 6 inches low down the length of my gun shop, about 25 feet. After trying everything I could think of, I used the old-fashioned fix and applied some tape under the scope body. I had to apply four layers of carpet tape, so probably about six to seven layers of duct tape to get the gun hitting the bullseye. I have inserted a picture to show what I am talking about.
Other than that, this air rifle shoots a very tight, one-ragged-hole group; they all touch no matter where the pellets were hitting. When I say powerful, I mean very powerful. I had a doubled cardboard box as the target stand (I know, fancy) and my old heavy-duty jacket behind that. That jacket now has holes, so I changed it to a 2x6 piece of wood. The pellets sink halfway through the wood every time and stay together well enough to dig them out with a screwdriver.
The ammo is loaded into a gate or trough-like loading port that is removable so that you can use the included rotary magazine. This is my second and last issue with this air rifle. The loading port is held in place with a tiny magnet and will get knocked out nearly every time I load the pellets. If this loading trough was lost in the woods or the bushes as pigeons are “removed” from the neighborhood, the breach could still be accessed to load the gun.
The compressed air that powers this mighty pellet gun is replaced by a simple bicycle pump in the onboard air chamber built into the gun. The filling adapter is supplied. The instructions say not to use a powered compressor due to an over-filling safety issue; the chamber only needs 100cc of volume and up to 38 psi.
ALL IN ALL:
My air rifle has scope mount issues, but that does not mean all of them will have the same issue. Do not let that stop you from picking up one for small game hunting, pest control, or target practice. I said I sighted this down the length of my shop. That was with the door closed and no hearing protection on. This gun is whisper-quiet until the pellet hits the 2x6, and then it sounds like a hammer. There is zero recoil felt when shooting the XM1, and it truly is a pleasure to shoot now that I have the scope issues worked out. Between the neighbor and I, if we can keep the adult children for taking it home when we are not looking, the pigeon population around here will be down to endangered soon.

Get it from Amazon now: $249.00 & FREE Returns

 

2. Stoeger XM1 Bullshark - Best for Pest Control


stoeger air rifle

Highlight: A lot of power in a compact package.

Helpful review: I cut the tape and opened the box, which was kind of heavy to hold an air rifle. Once I had it open and looked at the quality of the Bullshark I knew why it was heavy. This air rifle is .177 caliber and comes in a flat black finish. The Picatinny scope mount is installed and fixed in place and is long enough to mount just about any scope for this type of rifle. The package does not come with optics, and the Bullshark does not have an option for open iron sights.
STOCK:
The stock has options to change out to fit the shooter, which are included in the package. If the shooter has smaller hands, the grip quickly changes. The tools to perform the changeouts are included as well. The length-of-pull is very short. This is a bullpup-style air rifle after all, everything is made to be compact.
SCOPE AND MOUNTS:
The scope or optics mount is installed and will fit anything that sits on a Picatinny-style rail. The package DOES NOT come with optics or sights of any kind. I had a 1x power optic on the bench, so I figured why not just screw it on, and it worked perfectly. I also once upon a time bought a two-pack of laser “sights” for some pistol projects I was working on and attached one of those as well. The optic sighted in quickly, and the green dot reticle is my favorite when eliminating pigeons from the eaves of the house. The two-pack of lasers cost about seventeen bucks if I remember right, and there is a reason they were so cheap, they don’t adjust. The laser would be great for this compact pest control, so get a good one, that would allow a hip shot if you are not good at sneaking.
POWER:
I reviewed the full-size Stoeger XM1 S4 in .22 caliber and was impressed with the power it offered; this air rifle is chambered in .117 and shoots faster but does not penetrate as deeply. I am sure the difference in penetrating my scientific test of shooting a 2x6 is due to the weight of the .117 pellets. The accuracy of the Bullshark is spot on and will shoot one ragged hole in the target, just like the longer barrel on the XM1 S4.
A little cautionary tale here, the pellet will absolutely rid the area of pigeons, and probably squirrels and the rest of the issues, and it will also poke a hole in the soffit of the house if you miss. So, if you are shooting from an angle, make sure you know how to compensate, or you will be in the “doghouse” with me. The pellets will hit the 2x6 very hard and make a good divot but will not lodge deep into the wood. They do shoot right through the aluminum soffit, and when they travel through a pigeon, the soffit is safe.
LOADING:
The XM1 Bullshark does not have a feature to load ammo individually. The ammo must be loaded into the little rotating magazine. The magazine is held in the chamber area by tiny magnets, but it uses three of them and a retaining notch, I guess you would call it. The issue about losing the magazine is not as dire with the Bullshark when the loading rod is forward; the magazine is not going anywhere. The Bullshark comes with two magazines, and they hold ten pellets each. Loading the magazine took me the longest time to figure out. Read the directions twice, and don’t overthink it; that was my problem.
OTHER THOUGHTS:
The XM1 Bullshark comes with a couple of additional Picatinny rails to mount lights and other tacticool stuff to the air rifle; one mount has a place to hold the additional magazine. This magazine-holding nook thing is a good way to lose that magazine; I use my pocket. The little magazines are about the size of a quarter and about half an inch thick and weigh almost nothing. The Bullshark came with a compressed air gauge mounted on the end of the air chamber, very convenient to keep track of the charge. After shooting probably 65 pellets at all kinds of stuff, the gauge has not moved yet. All the air-fill adapters come in the box, and the air chamber is recharged with a bicycle pump. The directions warn about using an air compressor as the 100cc tank will overfill quickly and can damage the air gun.
CONCLUSION:
My XM1 Bullshark is a favorite of mine, coming from a guy who does not like bullpup style. The compact nature of this little air rifle makes it easy to sneak around the yard and dispatch the vermin that need it, and for small-frame shooters, it is perfect. Zero recoil and nearly zero sound. The box says this is suppressed. I can’t see where the expansion chamber would be on this gun, but I shoot it in the garage to zero the scope and do not need earmuffs, and the Mrs. does not tell me it’s too loud when she is on the phone for work, so that is a good thing.
Shooting the Bullshark is lots of fun; the bolt is a straight pull lever on the right-hand side, so the left-handed crowd will need to make some shooting-style adaptations, but the pull is effortless and should be quick and easy to figure out. The Bullshark is small enough for children to shoot, but maybe too powerful to go without supervision. Anyone who shoots this little air rifle will need one, keep a close eye on it.

Get it from Amazon now: $479.00 & FREE Returns

 

3. Stoeger S6000-E - Best for Target Practice


stoeger air rifle

Highlight: The coking lever sits underneath the barrel when not in use.

Helpful review: Besides being an attractive air rifle, this one feels nice in the hand. The cut and styling of the gunstock are comfortable and feel natural when holding it. I have found that sometimes synthetic stocks are too skinny and too lightweight for good steady control, and then on the other hand other air rifles - especially when using wood stocks - tend to go with lesser quality in the styling. So you end up with a bulky and ill-fitting gunstock! This is really not the case with the Stoeger S6000-E. I will admit I am a huge fan of wood gunstocks on anything, so I may be a bit biased when I say this is an attractive air rifle. The wood gunstock helps to add a little weight, in the case of air rifles, helps keep them a bit steadier when shooting in the off handed positions.
SIGHTS:
The factory sights are highly visible fiber optic sights. The front sight is set, but the rear sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. The included 4x32 scope gives a nice clear picture with the ability to adjust the sharpness of your target. I would prefer to see a picatinny rail type mounting system or just some sort of a ring and base plate set up. This mounting system does use rings. However, like what you see on many older rimfire rifles, there is a groove cut along each side of the top of the receiver, and the base of the scope rings clamp in that groove. While this works, I just feel it doesn’t give the user the most secure and solid mounting of a scope. With that being said, after I tightened the screws in the rings and mounted the scope, it stayed on the receiver with no issues.
OPERATION:
Out of the box, this thing was stiff, from operating the coking lever to the safety - and this is not necessarily a bad thing. I added a few shots of oil on all the moving pieces, which are not that many, and after a few shots the safety was smooth and operated well. The coking lever is easy to operate to charge the air rifle. I like how with this air gun there is a coking lever that sits underneath the barrel when not in use. In the past, I had an air rifle from a competitor and the whole barrel was used to charge the air gun. I feel that with this coking lever you have better leverage while charging the air rifle. My 12-year-old son can charge this air rifle with relative ease.
LOADING:
Now I really like how this air rifle loads. As you charge this air rifle, it raises a loading port out of the top of the receiver/barrel area, and you just place your shot into this loading port and push the port back down. When charged, the safety will automatically be placed into the ON position, which is a nice feature. The safety is nice. I really like how it’s a block that operates on a push-pull system off the back of the receiver. It’s very easy to use. The only thing I would have liked to see with the safety is instead of using a white paint dot to signify it is ready to fire, they would have used a red dot. I could help a novice shooter identify safe versus fire.
SHOOTING:
As far as shooting goes, I got the .22 caliber model, and it was very easy to shoot and get on target. I started at 10 yards as recommended in the instructions, and worked my way back to 25 yards for sighting this air rifle in. I shot with just iron sights first, which required very little adjustment to get those dialed in. I went back to the 10-yard line after I mounted the scope and again, with minimal adjustment, had the scope dialed in, and shot a final group of 2 shots within an inch square at 25 yards with a speed of approximately 1000 feet per second (FPS). For ammunition I opted to use Ruger super points which is a .17 grain weight round that is designed for hunting and accuracy. For a price point that hovers around $200, I think this is all around a great buy for anyone looking for target shooting applications to maybe some varmint or predator control.

Get it from Amazon now: $199.00 & FREE Returns

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