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  • Writer's pictureCaleb T. Hayes

I Tested And Ranked The Most Powerful Pellet Guns In 2023

I review pellet guns for a living, so I can guarantee that each of the following is great for small game hunting. But I also use them for target shooting, varmint hunting and pest control.

most powerful pellet guns

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

1. Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach Air Rifle .22 Caliber

Top-rated: 2,003 ratings | 320 answered questions

Most Powerful Pellet Guns


Highlight: Equipped with a Gamo 3-9×40 scope.

Helpful review: "I've been putting this off for a while, but I want to tell people how much I like this air rifle. There was little doubt for me about getting the .22 model, but I feel good with this decision.
This is not an entry level air rifle even if it's marketed as one. Really, guys, this is about as advanced of a single shot air rifle that one would ever need. If you need more than a single shot, or more than a 1000 fps .22, then perhaps this is not the correct projectile rifle for you. It works great for me as a varmint poaching rifle, and it's amazingly accurate for plinking and target shooting. I'm serious, accuracy is good as it gets for a .22 air rifle.
Let's break it down:
- I'm down to iron sights, because the included 3 dot fiber optic iron sights are so good that it would be a shame to put a scope over them. So I prefer to iron sight this rifle and it works well.
- The trigger is adjustable, but I found it to have a nice clean and crisp pull to it, so there was no need to adjust it. You could probably adjust it down to a very light pull, but I did not feel the need.
- At about 6 lbs, it's heavier than some, but not too heavy. This is just the weight and power of a high-quality air rifle.
- As for stopping power, it's very good. Once I got the barrel "seasoned" and broken in, it's quite accurate and really a lot like .22 LR subsonic rimfire ammo for stopping power.
- Pellet selection is very important and must be consistent for accuracy.
- The noise dampener whisper baffles are reasonably quiet and work well enough. It's not so quiet that an animal won't hear you fire it, but it's quiet enough that you might get a second or third shot. All in all, it's quieter than any standard firearm I've heard.
- Maintenance and care are important for this design. Take my advice and keep the finish and exposed moving parts as clean and LIGHTLY-oiled as you can. Rust makes me angry, and I get a large amount of travel time with moisture, sweat and dirt exposure.
- The barrel length is on the long side, but that actually adds to the velocity and ease of pulling the barrel to ready it.
- Polymer stock is great for durability and functional purposes.
- The safety is in the traditionally Gamo location and works well. I've actually stored this rifle for several days with the piston compressed and ready to fire, and this has not been a problem. It's an inert gas piston.
- As for range and distance, I can consistently hit a man sized target at 100 yds very well, with good pellets and good placement. So to answer some questions, yes, this rifle has a really impressive 100 yds shot.
- Keep in mind that it's really realistic. I get a lot of strange looks and interactions with the police because they think it looks like a real firearm. It handles a lot like a .22 firearm and I would compare it to one.
- The barrel doesn't have a very fast twist to it, and that is probably a good thing for accuracy at this velocity.
- The advertised claim of 1020 fps would be for a very light pellet, about 9 grains or less. I estimate that I'm pushing 14 grain pellets about 800 fps or so, and it's great. I've seen water strikes with numerous pellet types, and there is little doubt that this rifle is well capable of shooting .22 hollow points to the point of expansion. It's clear to me that hollow points do expand very well on water strikes and dump a lot of energy. (Less expansion with pointed or domed pellets, obviously:)
All in all, I wouldn't say that this should be your first air rifle, but it should definitely be your last. I like this rifle and I'm very satisfied with it." — Greg Alexander
Get it from Amazon now: $223.93 & FREE Returns

2. Hatsan 95 Air Rifle .22 Caliber Combo

Top-rated: 764 ratings | 166 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Features Hatsan’s fully adjustable 2-stage Quattro Trigger system.

Helpful review: "I spent hours reading reviews, looking at various videos trying to find an air gun in .22 caliber that would not break the bank and yet have the features I wanted. Those features included a decent trigger, good build quality, honest velocity figures, good open sights, and accuracy. Needless to say, this was not an easy search. Some had parts of what I was looking for, but none had everything. Then I stumbled upon the Hatsan 95.
Everybody knows about the walnut stock and the German steel barrel. And, as mentioned elsewhere, this is virtually unheard of in a rifle in this price range. While I truly appreciated this, it was the very fine accuracy mated to the true velocity figure and open sights that have won me over so.
My only beef, would be the lack of a sling. This is not a light rifle, over eight pounds, and quite probably would become a burden if tramping through the woods hunting all day.
I do not use a scope, therefore it was important to me that the open sights gave you a true, accurate picture. They did! Long range shooting with the included Optima scope would be adequate, from what I understand, but most would want to upgrade to a Leapers or some other high quality optics. I seldom shoot at targets beyond 40 yards, and I find that scopes add weight and make the rifle more difficult to carry, especially without a sling.
I've heard stories about the noise this rifle creates. Honestly, to these old ears it doesn't make appreciably more noise than any other powerful air rifle. Also, I did not perceive any greater recoil than a .177, which is minimal by my standards.
Have used Crosman pellets, four different versions. All seem to perform well in this gun. Perhaps in due time I will do a bit more experimenting with other brands, but for now these will do just fine, and they don't cost you an arm and a leg.
The 95 is not easy to cock. Definitely not for children. I have always used the "across the knee" method and it works fine here, too.
The safety is another thing I like. Many air guns have a safety lever mounted within the trigger guard. The Hatsan has it right behind the barrel. It engages automatically, and a simple push forward disengages it. Simple, and out of the way of the trigger.
In short, I am quite happy with this rifle. Perhaps one day I will get it in either the .177 or .25 model. It is a most difficult gun to beat within its price range. I will take it a bit farther and say that it would be a top gun in the $300 range, particularly when other makes at this price point still come with less than ideal triggers. No need to swap triggers on the Hatsan. You can spend more, but you won't get more. Yeah, I give it an easy five stars. Thank you, Hatsan!" — Owen Foster

Get it from Amazon now: $214.00 & FREE Returns


3. Gamo Swarm Fusion 10X GEN3i Air Rifle .22 Caliber

Top-rated: 879 ratings | 113 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Developed to subdue the taxing stress placed on your scope from the intense recoil.

Helpful review: "I finally bought this gun after looking at it for over a year. I've read all the reviews, good and bad. So far, I'm not finding the issues that people complained about. It always amuses me how many people will write a review without giving a product a realistic trial. There are so many variables that needs to be taken into account.
Quick summary:
- I love the speed load magazine. It's the main reason I waited for this gun.
- The Gen2's mechanism gave me the option to use gun's very good iron sights. Iron sights are great to have and too often excluded from guns that bundled with a scope.
- Power is good enough for pest disposal. Don't worry about FPS. Muzzle energy is more important and this gun has plenty.
- Sound is not too loud, but will seem loud because your head will be right next to the spring piston bang. If you're more than a few feet away, it's quiet enough to be backyard friendly, especially with heavier pellets.
- Very comfortable to hold but it's not light at 8 lbs fully spec'd and loaded. Sling mounts would've been nice for hunt hikes. Not too heavy to cock/break the barrel, 30lb or so.
So accuracy first. It's important to understand that this is a gas piston/spring piston, break barrel rifle. And with such, it's going to be different for most shooters upgrading from the pump guns from our youths. The recoil will be different and your hold will need to be different. I did have to deal with that learning curve. Start with getting your practice in with the iron sights to really gauge out of the box accuracy. And make sure you try a few different pellets to find one your specific rifle likes. I've shot 4 types of Gamo pellets ranging from 14 grains to 22 grains and have been able to group them easily.
The scope sucks, but it's really fine for a beginner. Tried it for a couple of weeks and just didn't like it. I really wanted adjustable objective and Mil Dots, features this stock scope didn't have. So I upgraded. Just make sure you get a scope same or shorter than the stock scope because the 10X mechanism will limit how long the front of your scope extends. I went with a UTG Hunter, but the UTG Bug Buster may have been better size-wise. Take your time zeroing in and remember the springers/pistons are really harsh on scopes. Tighten all screws every once in a while, on screws and the gun. Once the scope is mounted, take your time to understand flight trajectory and practice practice practice.
10x Magazine has been fine for me. I bought an extra so I'm always at the ready. I have had maybe 2 pellets fail to cycle properly. I bought the Gamo combo pack, which includes the Hunter, Master Point, Magnum and TS-22 pellets. I shot all these pellets using the magazine and they loaded and cycled with no issues. Even the Magnum which says 'not recommended for repeaters' has cycled flawlessly. Just remember not to leave them loaded too long since it is spring operated.
Overall, I'm happy with the gun. Would've preferred they keep the scope and made the gun $20-$30 cheaper. Oh well, now my son has the coolest scope on his Nerf gun, haha!" — Jay Hood

Get it from Amazon now: $293.99 & FREE Returns


4. Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Rifle .22 Caliber with Scope

Top-rated: 897 ratings | 213 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Includes a 3-9x32mm scope, and features the Umarex integral Nucleus Rail Platform engineered to reduce scope movement and vibration.

Helpful review: "Great for the money. It didn't take long to sight in the iron sights. I have fired this pellet with the open sights right out of the box and it is dead on.
- So far I've shot only Crosman domed pellets and it is extremely accurate. I feel like a lot of people aren't used to the quirks of air rifles as far as how to handle them unlike firearms, which brings me to the sling.
- The sling is very soft and doesn't have rugged edges, so your neck wouldn't be rubbed raw. However, I never bothered to put it on because, unlike firearms, air rifles need to be able to jump a bit and aren't made to be tight on your body. I found that just holding it loose in my left hand on the groove in front of the trigger guard and using my shooting hand to pull it in my shoulder was giving me my most accurate shots.
- For rabbit hunting, it may get heavy after awhile, but as mentioned it does have a sling if you need one.
- The iron sights: I fully bottomed out and am not used to 'lollipop sights'. But airguns again are different from what I usually shoot.
- It's quiet. Really quiet, and easy to cock like the ads everywhere say.
- The scope impressed me, though it's not like my first focal plane SWFA. Nonetheless, it works great for a pellet gun.
- I was able to shoot tent caterpillars who's nest was about 100m away. My groupings were very close.
I can't think of anything I'd change about it. I realized, depending on the pellets I put through it, the fps will vary between roughly 650-1000 fps. Anyway, I didn't expect much but was totally blown away by the quality of this air rifle. So be careful as it can do some damage.
By the way, a friend of mine purchased this air rifle to eliminate a muskrat infestation in his pond. He's hitting near bullseye of a target consistently at over 30 yards and fairly consistent at 50+ yards. He's fired under 100 pellets so far, so he's still getting used to this rifle's characteristics. This air rifle stopped a muskrat in mid swim at over 20 yards. Unless it fails mechanically in the near future, we can’t ever imagine being disappointed in this purchase." — Justin Davis

Get it from Amazon now: $229.99 & FREE Returns


5. Gamo Swarm Maxxim G2 Multi-Shot Pellet Rifle .22 Cal

Top-rated: 1,169 ratings | 146 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Rapid reload technology.

Helpful review: "My previous air gun was an old .177 bb gun that shot about 330 fps. This rifle really puts that one to shame. I bought the .22 version of the Maxxim. I watched a YouTube video that considered many different air rifles and in that video this rifle was the best for me. I've put mostly Gamo Red Fire pellets through this rifle, which I have found to be very accurate and lethal.
This rifle has dispatched several groundhogs. It is accurate and fun to shoot. HOWEVER, it frequently fails to load a new pellet (and there is no indicator to show that a pellet has charged, or that there has been a failure to advance the magazine) which has led to me dry firing the rifle multiple times. You have to get in the habit of double checking the pellets-left indicator number to make sure it has gone down when you have recharged the rifle.
Let's talk about accuracy and trajectory. From 19 yards to 39 yards I do not offset my crosshairs. On my old BB gun the BB would drop about 4 feet at 39 yards. This rifle with Gamo Red Fire pellets was the death of most of a family of groundhogs. Two kills yesterday at about 20 yards. One kill the previous day at 34 yards. I don't consider myself a great marksman, but now I don't see any place in my backyard that's safe for animals I want to kill.
At 39 yards I'm putting clean holes through 1/2" boards. I shot a pen I used as a target, offhand, from 39 yards, with one shot. I'm not saying all my shots are that good, but I can definitely choose where on a groundhog body I want my shot to hit at 35 yards.
The cocking force is pretty serious. This rifle is not for kids. People are saying 30 lbs? I consider myself pretty strong but I have to strain to charge the weapon. I can do it and I could have done it when I was 17. I'm just saying it's not something anyone can do.
I like the magazine idea. I bought an extra magazine, but by accident I bought the 177 magazine instead of the 22. So I have been using the rifle with only one magazine and I basically have no problem with that. A follow up shot is not always easy to get off because it takes several seconds to re-cock the weapon and re-aim it.
A few words about the setup. I had to read the instructions and watch a YouTube video to figure out how to put the scope on and zero it. My scope is not dead on. I am mentally challenged in the scope zeroing department. I had to figure out roughly where the rifle is shooting and make sure it's close to the crosshairs, but I'm still pretty challenged. However, I do know where the pellets are going to the extent that I can kill a groundhog, not to the extent that I can win a competition. It took me a while to get comfortable with how you load the magazine and how you put it on the weapon.
The noise is not too bad. It's definitely subsonic and the report is not that loud. My neighbor who is my friend did not appear to know I'd been shooting it, although I had taken several shots with it before I talked with him. Not as loud as a 22lr.
If you forget you've pumped the rifle, the pump disengages the second time so that prevents mistakes, which is good. The directions say it is potentially a problem to put two pellets in if you forget and repump the rifle, which could be a problem, and I'm not sure if that has happened to me. Whenever I think I might have made a mistake charging it, I shoot it at a target, not a groundhog. The other potential problem is that you pump the rifle when the magazine is empty, leading to an empty chamber and potentially dry firing. I am not certain but I may have dry fired the rifle a few times due to mistakes in this regard, although I understand that can be extremely bad for the rifle. But so far it's still powerful and accurate. I saw reports that sometimes pellets fall to the ground and do not get loaded from the magazine into the barrel, but I have not seen this happen to me. Possibly fake news.
As far as power goes, it's less than a 22LR. I have targets I shot with a 22LR and generally the bullets go deeper. But this thing is lethal. I would not shoot a deer with it except in a survival situation but someone on YouTube claims to have killed a deer from 46 yards.
By the way, my wife doesn't like real guns but she doesn't mind air rifles. I don't know why I mention this.
Anyway, I am curious how far I can walk this rifle out. My backyard ends 39 yards from my shooting position and I don't know where I can go to shoot, so I'm not sure if I'll find out. I'm pretty sure I can hit a target out to 60 yards without too much difficulty." — Peter Kelly

Get it from Amazon now: $209.99 & FREE Returns


6. Gamo Swarm Magnum 10X GEN3i Pellet Gun .22 Caliber

Top-rated: 969 ratings | 146 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Up to 1,300 FPS with alloy .22 Cal. Pellets.

Helpful review: "Unlike what many others have posted, this gun is not much harder to cock than most 1000 fps+ guns. That said, I cock it with my weak arm. It's not effortless or easy, but it's not super hard either.
However, others have posted about its loud crack and they are correct! It's louder than my other guns, kinda like whacking a 2 or 3 foot piece of furring strip down medium hard onto a hard surface. I wonder just how loud it would be without that big silencer thing on the barrel end.
At this point I’ve shot over 7k pellets and it is still going strong. I am a novice shooter, my targets are 3-in and sit 47 yards away from my 'nest'. I can’t miss the 3-in targets, though I only get a bullseye 3-4 out of 10.
I have tried many pellets, and although there are lead options which work with this rifle/distance, I prefer not to touch lead so I don’t use it. I have come to the conclusion that THE BEST option for me are copper coated lead pellets. Crosman Copper Magnum and H&N Field Target Trophy Power are both equally accurate and decently priced.
My biggest issue is the optional 'scope stop'. It doesn’t work very well. I wish someone would design a sturdy scope stop. This rifle is so powerful, the scope won’t stay in place.
Oh, and regarding accuracy, I said I can’t miss 3-in targets from 50 yards, but this actually depends on the pellets. Many I’ve tried can’t even hit the target from 30 yards. THIS RIFLE LOVES CROSMAN COPPER MAG PELLETS. If you need accuracy, TRY THEM.
By the way, I am 5'6" and150lbs. If you can’t break this barrel, the rifle isn’t the problem. I understand it is difficult. Just man up and be ready for the workout.
All in all, this is one accurate puncher. Want to practice your marksmanship with less ammo cost, all of the accuracy at good range and full feel of real recoil without the report? Buy it. You’ll get ripped pecs cocking it along the way." — Peter Docherty

Get it from Amazon now: $319.99 & FREE Returns


7. Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle .22 Caliber

Top-rated: 1,206 ratings | 114 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: 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 is my 2nd Gamo air rifle and my first .22. Prior to this one, I had been using the .177 Bone Collector, which I bought back in 2013 and put over 5,000 pellets through. I noticed the accuracy was getting off a bit, which is completely understandable for a gas piston rifle that has seen that sort of mileage. So I decided it was time for another Gamo, but in a .22 this time.
After doing lots of research, I found that there wasn't a lot of info on this particular rifle. It was the Maxxim that seemed to get all of the attention. After looking at the Maxxim's additional features, I decided they weren't really something I needed to spend extra money on. Yes, it has a "better" scope than the Whisper, but I knew I'd be using my own scope anyway. Everyone knows the included 4x32 scopes are junk, and I'm sure the 3-9x40 isn't anything to write home about either. So, I decided to give the Whisper a shot and, with a little over 100 rounds (and 5 tree rat kills) put through it, I must say I am seriously impressed.
To clarify, those first 100 rounds were not targeting squirrels. It takes about 100 rounds to break the barrel in. After the break-in, I cleaned the barrel (I also recommend cleaning the barrel before you put any pellets through it), sighted the scope in again, and have had no problems dropping my back yard visitors.
This thing REALLY has some serious stopping power. I would sometimes knock the squirrels out of the trees with the .177, but the 3 I have shot with the .22 have both been knocked right to the ground.
I'm using the same pellets I always had success with in the .177, and that's the Gamo Rocket. The Whisper seems to like them just as much as the Bone Collector did.
I was a little skeptical about the 10x quick-shot magazine, but man is it awesome.
So overall, I'd say that the stock, barrel lever and trigger mechanism are all very solid, and you feel like you’re holding and shooting a high quality piece. I’d recommend this to anyone for small game or targets.
I can't tell you how many times I've lost a squirrel in the trees from having to load a pellet, but those days are long gone. Just be carful where your fingers are so you don’t crush them. I have to say that I did read about all those issues that people have had with this air rifle overtime, so time will tell if it will hold up. But so far I haven't experienced any of those. Highly recommend!" — Jared Wilbanks

Get it from Amazon now: $178.90 & FREE Returns


8. Black Ops Sniper S Pellet Gun .22 Caliber

Top-rated: 585 ratings | 176 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Includes an adjustable bipod, so there’s no need for awkward barrel clamps or added adapters.

Helpful review: "I've owned many air rifles over the years, and this one is pretty impressive. The .22 caliber pellet is no joke either. This thing literally puts holes through a heavy duty folding table that is about 1/2" thick hard plastic at about 25 yards. It feels solid, it's well built, and it looks like a legit sniper rifle!
This is the same Black Ops .22 rifle being sold on the Pyramyd Air Web page as model PY-3483-7798. It is also referred to as a model B1091. There have been conflicting answers posted as to whether the barrel is rifled. It is definitely rifled!
I'm very happy with my purchase. It's costs nothing to run it, and the only problems I've experienced have been minimal.
I listened to other reviews and promptly purchased a better quality 3-9x40 scope for more accurate shooting. Thank you everyone out there for that advice! Once dialed in the gun and scope, this combo was impressive! There was also a matter of dieseling from the muzzle. That was quickly resolved with a quick cleaning of excess oil in the barrel. Other than that, I am very happy!
I have begun to personalize it with various customization. In addition to the new scope I have added butler creek Blizzard flip up scope covers, retrofitted a tension holder in the magazine for the Allen keys, and I'm determining what is entailed in removing the mock muzzle shroud for an improved suppressor. I'm considering a quality camouflage paint scheme and milling a new ergonomic grip for improved comfort too! Needless to say, it is keeping me busy!" — Terry Baillie

Get it from Amazon now: $184.97 & FREE Returns


9. Crosman C362 Classic Single-Shot Air Rifle .22-Caliber

Top-rated: 97 ratings | 18 answered questions

most powerful pellet guns


Highlight: Fully adjustable rear sight to stay on target.

Helpful review: "I have owned several pump air rifles over the years… Benjamin 312, 342, 392 and Sheridan Blue Streak. The new “Crosman C362” could be the best. It’s a classic “Pump” design but has a steel barrel and platform design features of PCP (Pre-charged pneumatic) rifles costing 3 to 5 times as much.
The rifle is reportedly accurate right out of the box, using the installed 'peep' sight. However, you can replace the plastic breech assembly with the relatively inexpensive steel breech kit. This gives a much more solid base to mount a scope. With the scope, I have great accuracy with pretty tight grouping inside a half inch at about 20 yards.
The rifle is powerful and hard hitting. The 22 cal model will put a pellet out with around 775 fps velocity.
The rifle seems quieter than my Benjamin 342 and 392. Unlike the Benjamin 3xx series pumpers, the C362’s steel barrel design permits the attachment of a TKO moderator. With the TKO attached, the 'crack' of the report is reduced to a quiet 'poof'. I was absolutely astounded at the reduction in the sound of the shot using the TKO.
At the current price, it is unquestionably an excellent buy. But now, let's go to the bad news...
The first rifle sent to me was poorly packaged, or badly mishandled during shipping. It arrived loose in the box, the foam cushioning was crushed, and the plastic front sight was broken off. I notice that several reviewers had the same problem. I reordered and the second rifle arrived in good shape.
The BIG design flaw with this is the single screw that holds down the fixed buttstock. This can loosen and cause the action to rock when pumping, and it still slightly rocks when tightened while pumping. It REALLY needs a second hold down screw under the rear sight to keep the action firmly in place at all times.
Two improvements that would be nice:
(1) Beef up the rear stock, it's rather thin. While this might be nice for kids and smaller hands, it feels lacking to someone with larger hands.
(2) Since these are popular with modders, I think cutouts for the safety pin in the stock would be a thoughtful quality-of-life feature for people who want to mod their rifles, since you would need to remove the safety pin to take the stock off as it is.
Lastly, I'd add that pumping this baby up to the 7 or 8 pump level for maximum power could be a challenge for some. That said, the pump lever design seems to have more leverage than the other Benjamin/Crosman pumpers. BUT with the design comes the need to watch out, and take care NOT to snap the lever down on your fingers!! Ouch…been there, done that!" — Chuck McBee

Get it from Amazon now: $111.99 & FREE Returns

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