What are the Top Air Rifles of 2017? (Reviews and Shopping Guide)

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Air Rifle Review GuideToday, modern air rifles are extremely powerful and sophisticated weapons, more than capable enough to accurately land target shots or hunt small game. In the United States, federal and state laws concerning air rifles are often more lenient and less restrictive than regulations in place concerning more conventional gunpowder-type firearms. Modern air rifles are also designed to be far quieter than standard firearms, giving hunters many advantages in stalking, hunting and successfully bagging pests, rodents and small game.

Users also gain the advantage of no muzzle flash with air rifles, disguising and obscuring the source of fired shots. Other advanced options such as sophisticated scopes and multi-stroke compression chambers allow for greater accuracy at longer distances and the ability to rapidly reload and fire again.

Compare: The 10 Top Rated Air Rifles of 2017

Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel Air RifleCrosman Nitro Venom Dusk
Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air RifleGamo Whisper Silent Cat
Ruger-Blackhawk-Combo-air-rifleRuger Blackhawk
Winchester Model 1400CS .177 Caliber Break-Barrel Air Rifle with Scope/Bi-Pod/SlingWinchester Model 1400CSWinchester$$$$4.6
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air Rifle with ScopeBenjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2Benjamin$$$$4.6
Umarex Octane Air Rifle ComboUmarex OctaneUmarex$$$$4.6
Black Ops Junior Sniper Air Rifle Combo air rifleBlack Ops Junior SniperBlack Ops$$4.5
Crosman M4-177 Pneumatic Pump Air RifleCrosman M4-177Crossman$$4.5
Daisy Model 1938 Red Ryder 75th Anniversary Special Edition RifleDaisy Model 1938 Red Ryder 75th Anniversary Special EditionDaisy$$4.4
Crosman Optimus Break Barrel Air RifleCrosman OptimusCrossman$$4.4

Our Air Rifle Reviews

Ruger Blackhawk Combo – Best Low-Cost Air Rifle

From the legendary manufacturer of firearms, the Ruger Blackhawk is an outstanding entry-level air rifle to get rid of squirrels, birds and other smaller pests. With an included advanced 4×32 scope and powerful break barrel single pump action, the Ruger Blackhawk is designed to be quickly and easily “zeroed”, allowing users to fire accurate, powerful and extremely quiet shots.


  • Projects pellets at 1,000 feet per second
  • Includes 4 x 32 scope
  • Comes with a one-year warranty


  • Very heavy

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat – Best Air Rifle for the Money

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air RifleThis sophisticated and advanced Gamo Whisper Silent Cat has the stock and appearance of an advanced military weapon yet is simple and intuitive enough to operate that even beginning firearms enthusiasts can accurately and easily target, place and land shots. Using a convenient, simple “break barrel” design, the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is designed to be pumped with one motion.


  • Looks like a sci-fi sniper weapon but uses reliable and time-tested break barrel spring-piston technology to create sufficient air pressure


  • The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is only equipped to fire one shot before needing to be re-pumped back up to the necessary pressure to fire another shot

The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel – Best Air Rifle Overall

Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel Air RifleThis advanced air rifle is packed with so many features that it allows anyone to easily, simply and accurately eliminate pests, rodents and other small targets. It includes an advanced gas piston design to rapidly ramp up to the correct pressure, allowing users to quietly fire projectiles at speeds just under the speed of sound.


  • The gas piston technology functions equally well in cold and warm weather, and is much more durable than ordinary spring pistons used in other models of air rifles
  • One of the quietest air rifles available for sale anywhere on the market today


  • Although the scope is very advanced and comes with a large eye relief, it is difficult to accurately land shots at 100 yards distance or greater

What is an Air Rifle?

Air rifles were first invented hundreds of years ago using the burgeoning science of pneumatic pressure to fire a BB, pellet or other projectile at high velocities down a rifled barrel to improve accuracy and muzzle velocity. While many varieties of air rifles exist today, all of them are constructed using the fundamental physical properties of releasing compressed air or other gases to rapidly fire a pellet or other projectile at a target via a mechanical hand pump or by other method, air or other gases are compressed until they are under atmospheres several times greater than the normal pressure of open air.

When the trigger is pulled, the compressed gas is released nearly instantaneously, expanding rapidly down the barrel of the rifle, pushing the projectile ahead at high velocity. Some people refer to air rifles as “BB” guns, referring to the standard BB type round ball bearing used by many weapons, but air guns can be engineered to fire almost any sort of projectile, including arrows.

Just about everyone is familiar with the basic history of firearms, starting with the original discovery of gunpowder in China, which was first used exclusively for fireworks and pyrotechnic displays, and then later was developed for cannons, rifles and handguns. But many people are unaware that a parallel development in firearms technology has been ongoing for hundreds of years using compressed air and other gases to propel projectiles rather than using gunpowder or other propellant charges to fire bullets or rounds.

Amongst many others, the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 to map the western United States, the party was equipped with air-powered rifles to defend themselves and hunt game during the lengthy journey.

What are the different types?

Today’s air rifles come with a dizzying array of options, technologies and firing systems. Some air rifles contain a chamber that is pumped by hand until sufficient pressure has been acquired while others use spring-powered pistons or cylinders of pre-compressed gas. Generally speaking, air rifles are divided into three categories: those that achieve firing velocity through the use of a spring piston, those that use pneumatic pressure, and those that use pre-compresed gases other than air, most typically carbon dioxide (CO2).

Some air rifles are designed specifically only for target shooting or competitive sporting matches, while other rifles are better suited for hunting or personal self-defense. Spring-piston type air rifles use a large spring that is compressed by the user until sufficient air pressure has been achieved to fire a projectile at the desired muzzle velocity. Pneumatic-type air guns use a pump, either operated by hand or powered separately, to build up enough pressure in a chamber to fire the projectile at the desired velocity.

Air rifles using compressed CO2 are powered by pre-charged capsules that usually can only be used once and then must be replaced. Air rifles can be used to fire BBs, lead diabolo pellets, darts or even arrows. While most air rifles generally use .177 caliber projectiles, other air rifles exist have calibers as large as 0.87 for use when hunting big game.

What are the advantages of owning an Air Rifle?

Depending on your local jurisdiction, laws and restrictions against the use of traditional firearms may be more lax and permissive concerning air rifles. The majority of air rifles are designed to fire projectiles at subsonic velocities, and can be fired without the loud and startling sounds that accompany standard gunshots from traditional firearms.

Because all air rifles depend on a form of compressed gas to propel projectiles, there is no explosion or incendiary reaction such as with gunpowder and traditional weapons, meaning air rifles can be fired without generating a muzzle flash. Air rifles are also impervious to rain and wet weather, as humidity or moisture in the chamber will not affect the explosive reaction needed for traditional gunpowder firearms. Air rifles are also popular with target shooting and sporting enthusiasts, as they are safe, reliable and very effective weapons.

Air rifles are often cheaper to buy, operate and use, and may save users additional money because they are not subject to taxes, licensing fees and other regulatory expenses associated with traditional gunpowder firearms.

Which models are the contenders for the Best Air Rifle?

Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle – This handsome long gun comes with a bull barrel, an advanced scope, and the ability to fire projectiles at up to 1000 feet per second, giving users superb subsonic velocity. With a 0.177 caliber barrel, the Ruger Blackhawk can be used for hunting, self-defense or in competitive target shooting matches. Made by one of the premiere manufacturers of firearms, the Ruger Blackhawk will allow any user to reliably and accurately fire shots at distances exceeding 20 yards or more.

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle – This advanced air rifle comes with a modified skeleton stock and included powerful 4×32 scope with simple one-piece mounting system. Able to fire projectiles at maximum subsonic velocity, the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat gives owners the ability to accurately and powerfully eliminate pests and smaller game.

Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel Air Rifle – This very advanced and powerful air rifle comes with the manufacturer’s patented Nitro Piston technology to get the maximum pressure with the least amount of manual pumping. The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk includes a sophisticated 3-9×32 precision scope and Beavertail forearm to allow for highly accurate placement of every shot.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Pellet Rifle or BB Gun For You

  • Caliber – Although air rifles do not use traditional bullets, they are still rated according to the same caliber scale, referring to the internal diameter of the rifle’s barrel.
  • Muzzle Velocity – The faster a projectile can be pushed through the air, the greater its physical impact energy when striking a target. But projectiles fired faster than the speed of sound will create a small sonic boom, which sounds very similar to a traditional firearm being shout.
  • Scope – Many advanced air rifle models today come with sophisticated scopes, allowing users to accurately hit targets are greater distances.
  • Additional Features – Since the air rifle market is so competitive, many manufacturers include additional beneficial features, including special stocks, supports for firing when prone, and different barrel designs.


Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle – The Blackhawk comes equipped with a regulation air-rifle competition barrel, measured at 0.177 caliber or 4.55 mm in metric measurements. The Ruger Blackhawk is equipped to fire any standard air gun lead diabolo pellet.

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat – The barrel of the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is measured at .177 caliber, or 4.55 mm in metric measurements, able to deliver maximum kinetic energy to the intended target.

The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break – The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk includes a .177 caliber barrel, measuring 4.55 mm in metric, perfect for either competitive target shooting or to hunt rodents, pests and small game.

Muzzle Velocity

Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle – Once properly charged, the Remington Tyrant Air Rifle can fire pellets at up 1000 feet per second, just slightly shy of the 1,250 fps necessary during normal atmospheric conditions to break the sound barrier and create a loud and disturbing sonic boom.

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat – Once properly pressurized, the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat can power projectiles at up to 1,200 feet per second using the manufacturer’s proprietary Performance Ballistic Alloy non-lead alloy projectiles, adding extra penetrating power to every shot.

The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break – Once properly pumped to the correct pressure, the Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk is capable of firing projectiles at up to 1,200 feet per second. The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk also includes a muzzlebrake and is engineered to be up to 70% quieter than similar break barrel piston-powered air rifles.


Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle – This elegant long gun comes equipped with an advanced 4×32 scope and included mount.

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat – This air rifle comes with an included 4×32 scope and fiber optic sights, which can be quickly and simply attached to the rifle using the one-piece mount.

The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel – The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk comes with an included CenterPoint Optics 3-9×32 scope and included mount which is simple and intuitive to attach to the rifle and accurately “zero”.

Additional Features

Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle – The Ruger Blackhawk is powered by a single spring-piston to increase pressure in the chamber until enough force has been built up to properly fire the projectile. It also comes equipped with an ambidextrous stock made out of advanced polycarbonate materials.

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat – This rifle genuinely earns its name as it includes proprietary ND52 noise dampening technology to reduce sound levels by as much as 52%.

The Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Break Barrel – Gas piston design can remain cocked and under pressure for hours without damaging the weapon.

In Conclusion

Many people across the country are beginning to learn that air rifles are far more than the old beloved childhood toys featured in classic movies. Today’s modern, powerful air rifles can accurately fire projectiles at targets, rodents, pests or other small game. With advanced scopes and powerful compression technologies, modern air rifles allow users deliver maximum kinetic energy to their targets. Whether used in competitive target shooting matches or to rid back yards of annoying squirrels, rabbits and birds, advanced air rifles can accurately and powerfully land every shot with great accuracy.

Although the market is replete with many excellent air rifles made by respected firearms manufacturers, only one model of air rifle stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk. With its powerful CenterPoint Optics 3-9×32 scope and ambidextrous synthetic stock, the Crosman Nitro can accurately land shots even in colder weather.

The unique engineering of the muzzlebrake and barrel allow the Crosman to be fired up to 70% more quietly than similar break barrel air rifles. Squirrels, birds, rodents and other small game don’t stand a chance against the unparalleled accuracy and high kinetic punch delivered by every shot fired by the Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk Air Rifle.