Best 22 Caliber Air Rifles For Hunting – 2021 Review

| Last Updated June 14, 2021

.22 cal is seemingly the most common caliber you’ll find with airgun owners. The balanced power range and size makes the .22 a good hunting caliber for airguns. That’s why the market is piled with heaps of .22 caliber air rifles.

But how can you choose the best air rifle for hunting? That’s what this review will answer, covering all the aspects in detail. 

Comparison of the Best 22 Caliber Air Rifles For Hunting

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Custom trigger with 1st and 2nd stages adjustable
  • Gas piston operated air rifle reaches up to 1020 fps
  • Patented Whisper technology for noise suppression
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  • Integrated noise suppressor & 25 shots per fill
  • 800 fps PCP air rifle with in-built pressure gauge
  • Adjustable trigger and ergonomic pistol grip stock
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  • 1000 fps velocity and included adjustable sling
  • Ergonomic stock with rubber inserts and butt pad
  • Nucleus rail platform, with 3-9x32 adjustable scope
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  • In-built pump for variable speeds of 500-800 fps
  • Single-shot capacity and weighs only 5.5 pounds
  • Adjustable rear sight, compact & ergonomic stock
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What Can You Hunt With a 22 Caliber Air Rifle? 

A 22 caliber air rifle can generate anywhere between 15 to 30-foot pounds of energy. That kind of power is enough to tackle small game like squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, possums, and other similar sized critters. With the latest advancements in design technology, .22 cal air rifles have been imparted the power to handle even more. 

A good .22 cal air rifle can even bring down a hog with the right shot placement.  Here’s the proof:

Remember the fact that these are air rifles and not real firearms. The size, weight, and speed of pellets limit their use to smaller pests. 

Why Did These 22 Caliber Air Rifles Make Our List?

If you go scouring the market for a good 22 caliber air rifle. You’ll find hundreds of options out there. If not thousands. These rifles have been shortlisted to be on this list for a few very good reasons. 

High Shooting Velocity and Power

From the fastest shooting 22 cal air rifle on the market today to the retro hard-hitting Daisy rifle. All the rifles on this list are high power airguns that can shoot accurately and are sure to stop the critter dead in its tracks. 

Several Unique Features and Best-in-Class Design

The list includes rifles with suppressors, a rifle with a variable pressure PCP design, and a rifle with a floating barrel. Each of these air rifles has some unique and very useful features to make it ideal for hunting or even other uses. 

Reliable and Proven Hunting Rifles

All the air rifles on our list have been proven as the best hunting airguns time and over. The gamo rifles, especially the Whisper Fusion has proven to be a very powerful and effective hunting rifle. Even for some game considered immune to air rifles. 

Review of the Best 22 Caliber Air Hunting Rifles

Ready to learn more about what makes these products the best out there? Here are detailed reviews:

Best Overall:
Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1

Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle .22 Cal

PROS

  • Covered by a five-year warranty
  • Gamo 3-9x40 scope with recoil reducing rail
  • Patented noise reduction tech used in barrel
  • Smooth cocking gas piston with 1020 fps velocity
  • Two-stage trigger with independently adjusting stages

CONS

  • Not suitable for kids/weak shooters

What Recent Buyers Report

This is clearly not a kids rifle and most users employed it for varmint eradication or hunting. The rifle is rather silent as advertised. The accuracy is amazing with the 40-50 yards range and the included features justify the price perfectly. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Gamo Whisper is a fast and powerful air rifle that works very well with any .22 pellets you feed. It is a break barrel, but the cocking and shooting are extremely silent. The Whisper tech certainly works there, as was also reported by a few rabbit hunters. The rail and recoil pad technology matches the level of real rifles and the adjustable custom action trigger is a feature that allows you to make refined adjustments for the trigger

The stock is very ergonomic, all-weather, and comfortable. Plus, the inert gas piston technology eliminates the recoil of springer systems. 

Bottom Line

The rifle is designed for serious hunters who don’t want the hassle of PCP systems and require an advanced break barrel rifle with extreme accuracy 

Runner-up:
Gamo Urban PCP Air Rifle

Gamo Urban PCP Air Rifle, 22 Caliber, Black

PROS

  • Very accurate and ergonomic
  • Tough PCP rifle with free float barrel
  • Built-in pressure gauge plus quick fill port 
  • Two-stage independently adjustable trigger
  • Pre-attached silencer for better sound dampening

CONS

  • Extra mags are pricey
  • Limited to only 10 max fps shots per fill

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers love the accuracy and silent operation of this PCP air rifle. It is a great entry-level rifle with an amazing price tag. It takes about 120 pumps to fill it, so better get a scuba tank. Everything else is great with this PCP, except the fact that spare mags cost $50!

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Gamo Urban is a great buy for its features. The air rifle offers you a quick fill port with a built-in pressure gauge. The rifle can shoot pellets up to 800 fps at 232 bar pressure. While subsonic, the 800 fps is still good for hunting. Especially for .22 pellets. 

The rifle is compact, lightweight, ergonomic, and doesn’t require a tough stance to operate. It is a great entry-level rifle for backyard varmint/pest eradication. Mount a decent scope of your choice and you’re good to go. The two-stage trigger is extensively adjustable for fine-tuning and adds to the list of features. 

Bottom Line

A good PCP rifle for beginners and hunters who take down targets on a close range. The rifle is very easy to handle and has superb accuracy. The spare mags, however, cost a little too much than expected. 

Best for the Money:
Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Gun Air Rifle with Scope

PROS

  • Permanently affixed 5-chamber silencer
  • Powered by nitro piston for better stability
  • Matched sling studs with adjustable nylon sling
  • 3-9x32mm scope on an integral nucleus rail platform
  • 3.5 lbs trigger pull and reaches 1000 fps with alloy pellets

CONS

  • Included scope isn’t the best out there
  • Slightly heavy break for some at 34 lbs

What Recent Buyers Report

The Targis Max is a dedicated hunter’s rifle with hard hitting capabilities and good features summed up in a very affordable package. The noise suppression is great and the scope is so-so. It’s not a great rifle out of the box, but with some tuning, it can’t be beaten for the price. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a nitro piston air rifle designed to the highest quality standards you can expect from an air rifle. The included scope is not similar to a Vortex but it does have parallax yardage adjustment. The rifle is very silent compared to other break barrels. Plus, it is very powerful. You can trust it to bring down squirrels, feral chickens, rabbits, and other similar sized pests. 

The rifle comes ready to shoot and has a good pair of iron sights. The rear sight is adjustable and the front sight has a red fiber optic wire to aid with aiming. The included adjustable nylon sling saves you the hassle of buying one.

Bottom Line

This rifle is a great buy as it includes all the accessories and still doesn’t reach $200 in price. It is hard-hitting and takes very little time to break-in. A rugged, reliable, and exceptionally great air rifle for beginners and people who like iron sights. 

Editor's Pick:
Benjamin 392S .22-Caliber Bolt Action Variable Pump Air Rifle

Benjamin 392S .22-Caliber Bolt Action Variable Pump Air Rifle, Black

PROS

  • Shots are very silent
  • Rifled barrel and adjustable rear sight
  • Variable pump delivers velocity between 500 to 800 fps
  • Very accurate and powerful enough to handle most small game

CONS

  • Takes too much pumping effort for max output

What Recent Buyers Report

The rifle is dead-on accurate and has good power. Those who don’t mind the pumping absolutely love it. It requires an adaptor to mount a scope, but that only adds to the already amazing accuracy. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Benjamin 392S may feel a bit cumbersome to operate, but that’s really not the case. The rifle has a variable pump which means you can adjust the fps according to the range and game you’re shooting at. The air rifle delivers about 525 fps and 8.8 fpe with 4 pumps, which is enough to kill a squirrel at 15-20 yards. You can pump 9-10 times for the maximum output of 800 fps and about 18 fpe. 

The rifle itself is very lightweight, has iron sights, and also accepts a scope with a suitable adapter kit. It operates quietly and can be used well within city limits. 

Bottom Line

The Benjamin 392S is definitely not a plinking rifle. Since if you put that much effort in cocking, you’d certainly expect some food on the table. The variable pump is great and the rifle is very accurate and true to the advertised values. 

Honorable Mention:
Diana RWS Model 34

Diana RWS Model 34 Break Barrel Hardwood Stock Pellet Gun Air Rifle, .22 Caliber, Gun with 4x32mm Scope

PROS

  • Two-stage adjustable trigger
  • Reliable, trusted, and hard-hitting air rifle
  • Wooden ergonomic stock and auto safety
  • Reaches a maximum velocity of 800-850 fps
  • Includes a fixed magnification 4x32mm scope
  • Fiber optic hooded front sight and adjustable rear

CONS

  • Scope isn’t great

What Recent Buyers Report

The rifle is very well made and attractive. The scope mount is very easy to work with, but the included scope isn’t the best quality. The rifle itself is very accurate for a spring and hits hard. The action and consistency are very reliable. This is a basic rifle with no frills, but a great performance. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Diana is a German brand that has been renowned to produce high-quality airguns for quite a long time now. The reason we included the RWS 34 on our list was its simplicity, power, and price. Not everybody is a dedicated air rifle hunter. Some people want a simpler, cheaper, and tougher alternative for their backyards or occasional backcountry hunting trips. 

The automatic safety is a great feature for break barrel rifles and unwary users. Its iron sights are very usable and not just for show. The included scope isn’t the best in class, but the mounting mechanism is simple for a quick swipe. 

Bottom Line

The Diana RWS 34 is a rugged and reliable air rifle that’ll be an eye-catcher for retro design lovers. It is an absolute squirrel killer within ranges of 25-30 yards and can even take down larger smaller game at close distances. 

Safety Considerations for 22 Caliber Air Rifles

The safety considerations for air rifles are somewhat similar to real rifles. With just a few minor differences due to the design. Let’s look at them in bullet points.

  • Always follow the basic rules of firearm safety. Never point your muzzle in an unsafe direction or something you don’t want to shoot. Always treat your air rifle with respect and as if it's loaded. Always check what’s beyond your target and never put your finger on the trigger unless you are absolutely ready to shoot. 

  • Never keep your springer rifle cocked as the spring will lose its power over time. Never keep your air rifles loaded with pellets. As for PCP rifles, you can store a tank filled with air. But make sure you never fill the tank above recommended levels. Whether shooting or during storage. 

  • It’s always a good idea to use eye protection when shooting with air rifles. Also, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly after touching pellets. Especially lead pellets.

  • If your air rifle has a safety (which almost every gun has). Always keep it engaged unless you are sighted on your target and ready to shoot.
     
  • Don’t practice things like ‘dieseling’ with your air rifle. Don’t try to disassemble it unless you exactly know how to put it back. 

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max

Pros and Cons of Hunting With a 22 Caliber Air Rifle 

Air rifle hunting is an interesting and sometimes challenging sport. It is similar to hunting with firearms, but with lesser power and limits on what kind of animals/targets you can shoot. Let’s look at some pros and cons. Especially for 22 cal air rifles.

Pros of Hunting With a 22 Cal Air Rifle

Versatile Caliber. Covers Most Uses

A .22 cal is the most versatile pellet size you can own for an air rifle. It is the answer to most pests and critters you are most like to hunt with the power of an air rifle. There are high powered air rifles that can also handle bigger than expected games. 

Inexpensive Ammunition

Good 22 caliber air rifle pellets will cost you around $20 for 500 pieces. That’s way too less than the price of even the cheapest rimfire .22lr ammunition. There’s absolutely no point spending too much money on real ammunition. If your pest-problem can be resolved with these inexpensive air rifles. 

Silent Operation

One good benefit of air rifles is their silent operation. PCP’s are almost noiseless, gas pistons cause very little noise and springers are a bit noisy. But nothing even remotely close to a real rifle. The silent operation of these guns gives you stealth to take down wary pests. 

Photo credit: MustketHunting.com

Cons

Slightly Lesser Range Than .177

Well, since the .22 is a heavier pellet. It tends to have a slightly shorter range on paper compared to the lightweight .177. Since the .22 pellets are heavier, they tend to drop more. Which reduces their effective accurate range. 

How Accurate is a 22 Caliber Air Rifle?

The effective range of a 22 caliber air rifle varies between 40 to 50 yards. This depends upon the kind of pellets you are using and also the power of your rifle. PCP rifles are considered to be the best in terms of accuracy and can also deliver good power. 

A good 22 cal air rifle can shoot groups smaller than 1.5 inches at 50 yards. The shape of the pellets and their weight are imperative factors when deciding accuracy. 

Conclusion 

.22 caliber air rifles offer the perfect balance between accuracy and hard-hitting power, making them very versatile for hunting pests and small game. While break barrels are a more basic design, PCP’s are very silent. Both these designs can offer high velocities and accuracy. It eventually depends on your needs and what you prefer. 

Photo credit: cole.imgix.net

People Also Ask

Take a look at this comprehensively detailed FAQ section concerning 22 cal air rifles and some general answers about the caliber. These are related to performance, accuracy, and safety. 

Is a 177 or 22 Air Rifle More Accurate?

Both these rifles are very accurate in their own respective capacities. If the target is not very far, a .22 is accurate as a .177. But the smaller caliber has the advantage of lesser weight, faster velocity, and flatter trajectory. 

How Far Can a 22 Air Rifle Shoot?

The maximum distance that can be covered by a .22 caliber pellet when shot from a 1000 fps air rifle at an angle of 35 degrees was measured to be 450 yards. Apart from that, the most common hunting distance with 22 cal air rifles lies generally between 50-70 yards. Plus, it greatly depends upon your rifle and pellets. 

Photo credit: bestsurvival.org

Is .22 or .177 Better For Hunting?

As the general rule of thumb says - .177 for feather, .22 for fur. .177 pellets are flatter and farther shooting and best for small birds like starlings or pigeons. .22 on the other hand has more power to bring down critters like squirrels or rabbits. 

Is a .22 Pellet the Same Size As a .22 Bullet?

A .22 caliber pellet is not the same in size or weight as a .22 caliber bullet. A .22 pellet bore shall not exceed 0.218 inches in diameter. Whereas .22 bullets come in different diameter sizes. In simpler terms, a .22 pellet is 5.5 mm and a .22lr bullet is 5.6 mm in diameter. 

Why is a .22 So Dangerous?

.22 caliber air rifles are dangerous because if they can kill a rabbit dead in its track, it can certainly harm you. Plus, there are very powerful air rifles available today that shoot pellets over 1200 fps, and some are even known to kill hogs at close range. 



My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.