Looking for a air rifle for small game

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Oct 28, 2007
Anybody hunt small game with an air rifle? I'm looking for some recommendations for affordable but quality air rifles under $200.

I'm not sure on the price, but I shot a Gamo (I believe was the brand) whisper a few weeks ago to help fix a pigeon problem and it was a great shooter.
Been 100 years since I used an air rifle (OK only 40 or so but it sure feels like 100) but the technology has improved greatly in them. Ruger has come out with one that will reach 1400fps with the new hyper velocity .177 pellets. 1200 with regular lead ones. With a small bit of Googleing, I found a scoped combo for 150 bucks http://www.airgundepot.com/ruger-air-magnum-combo-air-rifle-1400-fps.html

That airgun depot is supposed to be one of the better online places for airguns. I have actually been looking into getting one of those super air guns that has a "storage" tube that you pump up to a really high pressure. Supposed to be enough to take down deer and hogs. .45 caliber. Just a curiosity thing for me but I have seen some video proof. May get one just cuzz :)
I use a Crosman 2260 CO2 powered rifle. It will kill up to a possum sized animal.

I shoot pump guns and CO2 guns more consistently than break barrel spring piston guns, so I like them better for shooting from a variety of positions. Springers tend to need consistent holds to keep tight groups. I find that pump guns and CO2 guns aren't as picky in that regard.

However, being that you are from Minnesota and it is colder than it is in southeast Texas, I'd pick a pump gun like a .22 caliber Benjamin over a CO2 gun. CO2 guns lose velocity in the cold. http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Benjamin_392_pump_air_rifle/205
It's been a long while since I purchased an air rifle but I inherited my dad's old RWS Diana model in .22 caliber and it's a pretty powerful and well made air rifle.
I owned a Benjamin pump in .177 in my ancient teen years that took many a crow,starling,and an occaisional squirrel.
Chicharrones called the only real issue with springers. For the cost you cant get a more powerfull or accurate air rifle then your average spring piston. Ive never learned the "artillery" hold and dont shoot most heavy springers very well so they are not my chosen guns. $100+

Pump up rifles are great, especially if your using them as by the door pest guns. I had a long string of corssman, and daisy pumpers, great fun and generally accurate enough. 650fps is my personal minimum for a hunting/pest (besides indoor small stuff) air rifle, alot of the cheaper pumps get close but are usually in the 5-600fps range. If i was going to buy another pump, id probably get A Benji in .22 those produce pleanty of power, are well made and fairly inexpensive. $50-180

Personally (since i live in hawaii i generally dont have to deal with weather issues), i really like the CO2 powered air guns. Since co2 is sort of self regulating, about 800psi at 70*s i believe, they are simpler then a HPA gun and cheaper, as well as often being just as accurate.
My personal favorite are the Qb78/79s. Ive had 4 now and all were very accurate, and powerfull enough for hunting small game. I built and tuned one recently for a friend to use as pest control on his little "farm". The gun turned out a little over 850fps in .177 with JSB exact heavies, or AA fields, and grouped consisently under .25 at 10yds, a little over 1" at 50. $70-100

I have also owned HPA air rifles, a couple in fact, They generally offer the closest performance to real firearms. I had a custom built .22 that would easily achieve 900-1000fps with a very heavy pellet (32grs if i rember), for a good number of shots. Accuracy is usually excelent to steller, both of my rifles would hold less then 1" at 50yds and my heavy would get less then 3" at 100. The real down sides to these rifles are; the power, noise, and hassel of dealing with 3000pse. If you have an adjustable gun, either via regulator or valve opening duration, you can get ALOT of shots with standard weight pellets at 7-900fps. You can use a hand or foot pump to charge them, but its MUCH easier to keep a filled scuba tank around and just use the pump to top off your charge. Noise, is an issue that alot of people get around by running the rifle slower, or using a shrouded barrel. $250+
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I don't remember the brand, but I just replaced my old Crossman BB gun with a pellet gun from Walmart, about $100. It was a break-barrel type and impressively powerful, the box claiming 1200 fps. After messing about with it for a while one day, the rifle still was still charged so to empty it I fired it at an extreme angle into four heavy sheets of cardboard sitting in the trashcan. Went through all four pieces AND through the side of the can. In my opinion, it's actully a bit much for a suburban yard if you miss your target. And yeah, it was fairly loud. Whenever I take it out our dog makes himself scarce.
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If you can find an RWS model 34 made by Diana, grab it. They were around the 200 mark. However, if it's an RWS model 34 made by Umarex, pass on it.

Pellet guns going much over 1000fps cross the sound barrier, and consequently are louder.
I use these for stuff around the house.

Daisy 15xt co2 powered, 480 fps, 15 shots. Awesome pistol.

Crosman 1077 co2, 12 shots in the clip. 650 fps, love it.
The Gamo Whisper, now has a nitrogen spring, supposedly a much smoother and quieter action. Although, I can't complain about mine, which is the older springer version. I would not hesitate to use for cottontail or tree rats.
I just brought home a Gamo Whisper DX, I gave my other air rifle to grandson and needed a replacement. Can't report how it shoots because I gave all the pellets away also, I was told and read that the Gamo's work best , 1250fps, using one of their brands of pellets. My next trip out will try to find those and hopefully it will be as good as it looks.
1250s are with the PBA alloy pellets, they are lighter then normal lead pellets. Honestly ive never actually SEEN a gamo get advertized velocity, even with PBAs. If your looking for serious accuracy, give AA Field, JSB Exact Heavies, Crossman Premier Heavies a try. They will launch in the 900-1000fps range, which is actually where you want your air rifle to shoot. Breaking the sound barrier will usually destabilize pellets and can cause accuracy issues.
For a <$200 budget I would definitely look at the Benjamin 392 for a pnuematic pump or at one on the newer Nitro Piston break barrel designs by Crossman/Remington/Benjamin.
Remember that .22 versions are much better for small game and break barrel designs take some practice as well as hard on scopes. BTW, >1000 fps may or may not take you past the sound barrier (usually with a .177) and result in a loud crack whether or not the barrel is shrouded.
If you have a Dunham's near you get on their rewards email list and they will send you coupons on a regular basis. I just got one for a Remington Vantage rifle and scope combo for $77.99. That price is good through Christmas Eve. It is a 1200 fps break barrel .177 cal air rifle. I might pick one up myself for that price. They aren't the best out there and the scope is cheap but will work well enough for me.
My Dad bought a Gamo for muskrats, and I couldn't really get it to group worth a darn. He didn't get the high end Whisper, but he paid almost $200 for it. I learned from that instance, that I'd go with a .22 for stuff like that.

Now on a sidebar...The most fun you'll ever have and NOT be between the sheets with a lady, is to hunt squirrels, rabbits, etc. with one of these...


I have the 5' and it's absolutely a BALL!!! I use the Razor Tip Broadheads for hunting and the Mini-Broadheads for practice as they fly exactly the same as the Razors. All the other darts are pretty much junk except the Stun Darts. They're fun for barking dogs and in-heat cats.

I live on base housing and I can tag squirrels year-round incognito with it. Love it...and under $40 gets you started.
I just made the trip into town to local Wally World, picked up two different types of .177 pellets. Got the Daisy brand Pointed Precision max, and Crossman SSP type. The Crossman actually sounded like my Henry 22 going off and accuracy was unbelievable. The Daisy did fair but had a wimpy sound like a Daisy Red Ryder. The Crossman had a felt recoil also which surprised me. All in all I think the combination of the Gamo and Crossman will work for me.
I recommend a Benjamin Sheridan 20 caliber. The multi pump carbine with two or three pumps is good for plinking or up to 8 pumps will put one of the 14.3 grain pellets clean though a tree rat. I have taken critters as large an opossum with a head shot.

I have had mine for over 20 years and it had dispatched all manner of yard varmints quickly and easily. While it may not be as accurate as a springer or PCP it's plenty good enough for hunting at reasonable ranges and I find it much easier on my arm for a day of plinking. The best thing is it's a light powerful American made rifle you will never have make excuses for owning. It's like the Winchester 94 of air rifles. It's easy to use as you don't need to worry about dry firing, dieseling, or reverse recoil and there is no extra stuff to carry like Co2 cartridges or scuba tanks. After 20 years of hard use mine is due for a new set of seals, $15 from Pyramid Air.

This is the Silver Streak, it also comes in blue version, both cost about $170.
Benjamin for sure. Not too quick between shots and a bit noisy to pump as they get older but way more effective than my 10-22 was in the long run due to the fact that even though their little vermin buddies were going south all around them, they weren't scared off by the report of the gun like a .22. It was always very, very accurate for me as well and held real nicely too.
We always had a pump Crossman around the house until about 10-11 years ago when I bought a anniversary model , (Blue laminated stock) Beeman that was really made by RWS.
It is one of the break open jobs that has a spring and piston set-up that fires the .177 caliber pellets via rapid compression. So they have a reverse recoil.
It fires the pellets so fast that they break the sound barrier. I have chronographed the at around 1,200 fps depending on the pellet.
If you put a little lighter fluid into the hollow base of the pellet with a Q-Tip, it causes a DIESELING EFFECT and you get almost 2,000 fps. And a pellet that comes apart.

I have shot all sorts of rabbits, grouse, ptarmagin, and some of my excess roosters, with this pellet rifle and generally have found that it just makes a ,177 caliber hole ran through whatever gets shot with it. It is too small to kill very well.

If I ever buy another pellet rifle, it will be 22 caliber or larger. The .177 wounds far too much and is not humane.
They do make some 9mm and 45 cal pellet guns that take a gas cylinder. I saw one of those shoot a cast lead 45 bullet right through a 2x4.
I have an older Gamo Hunter 440 in .177 and use nothing but Predator pellets. It dispatches critters with far more authority than it should. The CharlieDaTuna trigger makes a big difference in accuracy. Only weak point on a Gamo, IMO.
I have a Sheridan (read Benjamin) 5mm Blue Streak that uses CO2. Out to 20yds it will head shoot mtn quail. at 30 yds it will knock over cotton tails and take squirrels out of trees. This is the camp meat gun. Got mine in 1969 I think, loaned it to a friend who forgot to return for almost 20 years.

I've got a Remington Airmaster 77 and an old Weaver 2.5 X scope on it. I have used it to knock out just over 20 barn swallows, 30 something squirrels and the odd rabbit or possum. I use JSB Exacts.
I have the 99 dollar Walmart Beeman RS2 . Came with 22 & .177 barrels & scope.
It took about 1000 shots to get the 22 barrel to group tight. I wrapped the barrel as tight as I could with Electrical tape,to dampen the vibrations. It seems to help. Great back yard squirrel rifle

Great pellet.
Cant get them new for $200 but "maybe" used,the like of RWS 48/52 in .177 or for bigger small game .22 . Older Beeman Kodiaks/Crow Magnum( Theoben Eliminator)in .25 are deadly even on raccoons,but they are expensive on the secondary market.
I prefer spingers,and dispatched many ground squirrels,rabbits with my Beeman Feinwerkbau 124D in .177.The .177 works well with proper shot placement and pellet selection. A RWS 34 is a nice gun in .177 or .22 and closer to your budget.
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