Best Pellet Rifle For Hunting – 2021 Round-up

Jeff
| Last Updated March 11, 2021

Hunters have different preferences when it comes to their chosen weapons. We sometimes overlook pellet rifles when deciding between appropriate options. This is unfortunate since these guns are handy and versatile. 

There are many advantages of using a pellet rifle. It's quiet and won't frighten away prey or throw other hunters off. It's ideal for small game and even unwanted garden pests. 

This article reviews some of the best pellet rifles for hunting. We look at some of the pros, cons, and best features of these weapons.

Our Top Picks for Pellet Rifles For Hunting

  • Best High Powered
  • Powerful, accurate, quiet
  • 5 year warranty
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  • 1 year limited warranty
  • 1,000 feet per second
  • Includes 4x32 scope
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  • Best for the Money
  • Reversible bolt action
  • For mid-sized game
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Comparison of the Best Pellet Rifles for Hunting

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best High Powered Pellet Rifle for Hunting
  • Powerful yet very quiet and accurate
  • Comes with an impressive 5 year warranty
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  • Comes with a 1 year limited warranty
  • Has an excellent velocity of 1,000 feet per second
  • Package includes a 4x32 scope
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  • Best for the Money
  • For left or right handed users due to reversible bolt action
  • Ideal for mid-sized game hunting and target shooting
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  • Best .22 Pellet Rifle for Hunting
  • Rugged, powerful synthetic all-weather stock
  • For left or right handed users with adjustable raised comb
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  • Best .177 Pellet Rifle for Hunting
  • 2-Stage adjustable, reliable Quattro trigger
  • Has an excellent velocity of 1,000 feet per second
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What Makes a Pellet Rifle Great for Hunting?

Like regular hunting firearms, pellet rifles also have a list of considerations that make certain products more suitable than others. While you still have to consider aspects like your skill-level and budget, there are some general criteria that you can assess a pellet rifle against.

The first factor that you need to keep in mind is the weapon's precision and power. If you're going to be using the firearm for target shooting or competitions, as well as hunting, precision's a priority.

The power of these weapons relates to muzzle velocity. A good pellet rifle is also durable with features such as weatherproofing. There should also be a trigger safety, and it should be straightforward to operate.

You'll need to consider which propulsion method is best for you. There are several options available: pneumatic, precharged pneumatic, carbon dioxide-powered, and spring piston-powered.

You'll need to establish which ammunition works best for you as some options are more budget-friendly than others. Purchasing CO2 containers is generally more expensive than the other options.

When considering your budget, you also need to keep in mind the cost of accessories, charging system or air tanks, and the potential of scopes or sights. A good pellet rifle requires proper maintenance, so be sure to pick one that's easy to clean.

Review of the Best Pellet Rifles for Hunting

Check out our list of options below. We discuss some of the best pellet rifles for hunting and provide you with relevant information about each product. 

Best High Powered Pellet Rifle for Hunting:
Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 .22-caliber

Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle .22 Cal

PROS

  • Whisper fusion technology
  • Shockwave absorber butt plate
  • All-weather molded synthetic stock
  • Double integrated sound moderator
  • Inert gas technology with more terminal velocity

CONS

  • Expensive 
  • The scope is not adjustable

Gamo Outdoor USA has earned a reputation for manufacturing excellent air guns and optics. Their products are reliable and well-designed.

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners of this rifle are happy with the way it functions. It's best for neutralizing vermin or yard pests. Buyers claim that the accuracy is impressive and that piece is relatively robust. The main complaint is that it takes quite a bit of strength to cock the weapon. 

They liked the CAT trigger, but most owners replaced the scope with an aftermarket product of higher quality. They also like the design of the butt pad. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This air rifle is an excellent piece of equipment for hunting small game. It features superior open-sight optics. This weapon has whisper technology for reduced noise with each shot fired.

It also uses IGT to replace the standard spring mechanism with an inert gas cylinder that delivers more velocity and increased terminal penetration. The total weight of the product is eight pounds, and the length is 46.5 inches.

This is  a single-shot weapon with a cocking effort of 41lbs. You can adjust the softness of the butt plate by removing one or more of the inserts. The cheekpiece is molded on both sides to accommodate right-handed and left-handed shooters.

The grips are rubberized and have a non-slip texture design. The weapon comes in two calibers, and the .22 variant is ideal for hunting small game such as rabbits or raccoons. 

Bottom Line

The Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 .22-caliber is an excellent all-round air rifle. The shockwave absorbing butt plate reduces up to 74% of recoil, and the accuracy makes it easy to neutralize targets.

Ruger Blackhawk Combo air rifle

PROS

  • Single-shot break barrel
  • Includes fiber-optic sights
  • Velocity of one thousand ft/sec
  • Includes scope and mounting rings
  • Contoured stock with comfortable cheek piece

CONS

  • Only available in one caliber
  • Minimal checkering and texture on the pistol grip

Ruger produces firearms and related products for the commercial and sporting market. They have over 70 years of experience in the industry, and their weapons are dependable.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that this rifle is efficient for shooting backyard pests and even for plinking. They say that it's well-made and accurate. 

Some customers also state that the price is incredible for such a high-quality weapon. It's easy to operate, although some consumers were disappointed with the quality of the scope.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This nifty weapon is one of the best pellet rifles for hunting because it's easy to operate and functions well. It has excellent accuracy and is affordable for those who are on a budget. 

It features a smooth stock and a rubber butt pad. The scope is pretty decent, and for those who prefer open sights, the Ruger has fiber optics in place. The gun fires 1000 ft/sec and is ambidextrous

It has a blued metal finish and a cocking effort of 30lbs. This spring piston-powered firearm is rugged and has a 3.3lbs trigger pull. The weapon's specs are also comfortable, with a 14.5inch length of pull and an overall length of 44.8inches.

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a pellet gun that's affordable and comfortable, this is the weapon for you. It's backed by a well-established brand that has extensive industry experience. 

The Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle is versatile in terms of application. Whether you're plinking or hunting small critters, this is one of the best pellet rifles for hunting. 

Best for the Money:
Benjamin Armada

Benjamin Armada BTAP17SX PCP-Powered Multi-Shot Bolt Action .177- Caliber Pellet Hunting And Target Air Rifle Kit

PROS

  • Multi-shot capability
  • Bolt-action is reversible
  • Comes with a five-year warranty
  • 4-16 x 50mm rifle scope included
  • Suitable for medium and small game

CONS

  • Magazine not durable
  • Dust cover hinge is weak

A company that's been around for more than 90 years has sufficient experience to produce reliable products. The Crosman Corporation makes the Benjamin Armada. They pride themselves on innovation and top-class performance.

What Recent Buyers Report

Most owners comment that the weapon is well-designed and surpasses expectations. They like the intimidating look of the rifle as well as the way it handles. They also state that it's hushed and user-friendly.

Some consumers were dissatisfied with the quality of the dust cover's hinge and the durability of the magazine. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This PCP-powered air rifle has an innovative design that's as rugged-looking as powder-charged firearms. It offers a velocity of 1000 fps and has a ten-shot magazine.

The bolt is reversible, making it convenient for both right-and left-handed gun enthusiasts.

It features a crisp two-stage trigger, and the magazine's designed to show the shooter how many shots remain. The stock is synthetic, with the overall weapon length measuring 46 inches. It weighs 12.3 lbs and uses a .177 caliber pellet. 

The free-float style forend tube is metal, and it has an AR-15 style pistol grip. You can extend the length of pull on this weapon by squeezing a lever inside the rear triangle at the butt. It allows three inches of adjustment.

Bottom Line

The appearance of this gun is modular and sets it apart from competitors. It's powerful, well-balanced, and allows multiple shots. This is one of the best pellet rifles for hunting because it's suitable for small and medium game.

Best .22 Pellet Rifle for Hunting:
Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered

Benjamin Marauder BP1764S Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered .177-Caliber Pellet Multi-Shot Bolt-Action Hunting Air Rifle

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Ambidextrous
  • Five-year warranty
  • Adjustable raised comb
  • Ten round magazine for fast follow-up shots

CONS

  • No safety to lock the bolt
  • Doesn't come with standard-issue sights

This is an affordable and lightweight product from Crosman Corporation. This company is an American brand synonymous with quality air guns and ammunition.

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who bought these rifles were extremely satisfied with their purchase. They said that it was accurate and easy to fill. They believe that it's incredible value for money as the weapon performs optimally.

Multiple users acknowledged that the aesthetics of the weapon were attractive. None of the customer reviews had any negative comments. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This gun is a ten-shot repeater that has a two-stage adjustable match trigger. It has very little recoil and is lightweight. The accuracy level on this weapon is superior, thanks to the choked barrel. 

The synthetic stock is ambidextrous, and the comb is vertically adjustable. It also has swing swivel studs. This product is designed for multiple applications such as hunting and target shooting.

The air rifle is incredible value for money with a relatively light cock on opening action. The muzzle velocity consistency is pretty good, and the noise level is really low. 

Bottom Line

The Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered is said to be one of the best pellet hunting rifles available. It's affordable, quiet, and has adjustable features. Overall, it's an excellent option for air rifle hunting.

Best .177 Pellet Rifle for Hunting:
Hatsan Air Rifle

Hatsan Model 95 Combo .22 Rifle, Walnut Stock

PROS

  • Budget-friendly
  • Fiber-optic sights
  • Two-stage trigger
  • Adjustable trigger pull weight
  • Walnut stock is ambidextrous

CONS

  • Comb height not adjustable
  • Only has a one-ear guarantee

Hatsan is a Turkish company that produces air guns, shotguns, optics, and accessories. They have been around since 1976 and are well-known for their competitive prices.

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers claim that the gun exceeded their expectations. They claim it gave a sturdy, reliable shot and that the trigger is consistent. 

They liked the scope that accompanied the rifle and were surprised at the performance the weapon delivered in relation to the cost of the product.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This gun is lightweight, weighing 7.8lbs without the scope. The felt recoil is reduced thanks to the SAS system. 

The gun has a rubber recoil pad with checkering on the pistol grip and forearm. It's a break-barrel-action weapon that uses a spring-piston mechanism. 

The stock is beautifully crafted in Turkish walnut and is suitable for both left and right-handed shooters. It's well-built and shoots smoothly.

The Hatsan Air Rifle uses .177 pellets and has a velocity of 1000ft/sec. The barrel is 17.7inches long facilitating accuracy, and the overall length of the pellet gun is 44.3inches.

Bottom Line

This Turkish product is an excellent choice for air rifle hunters who want an attractive and accurate weapon. It's also a viable option for recoil-sensitive hunters. Although there aren't any adjustable features, the gun is lightweight and easy to operate.

Safety Considerations for Pellet Rifles

Like any sport, hunting has safety rules that you need to adhere to. The only difference is that if you're careless when hunting, you not only risk injury but death. 

Some of the most critical considerations are: 

  • Always point the weapon in a safe direction. If a shot goes off accidentally, it shouldn't harm anyone unintentionally.

  • Treat the weapon as if it's loaded even if it isn't. This will help you develop good gun etiquette.

  • Don't load your gun until you're ready to shoot. This prevents accidental discharge.

  • Keep your finger out of the trigger guard as it could accidentally graze the trigger and set off a shot if you don't.

  • Be sure of your target. Ensure that if you were to miss, there's nothing or no one in harm's way.

  • Store your rifle and ammunition separately to reduce the chances of unauthorized use.

  • Use a gun case to transport your pellet rifle. This ensures safety.

  • Don't shoot at surfaces where the pellet could potentially ricochet and hurt someone.

  • Use the gun's safety mechanism until you're ready to fire.

  • Ensure that your target has a safe backstop.

  • Always handle your weapon in a completely sober state. Don't consume alcohol or recreational drugs before or during a shooting session.

Types of Pellet Rifles for Hunting

Before you purchase one of the best pellets rifles for hunting, you need to know the different options available. There are five types of air rifles, and each has advantages and disadvantages. We'll give a brief overview of these in this section. 

Spring-Powered 

These types of guns have a piston and coiled spring in the rifle's chamber. When you cock the gun, the spring compresses. Squeezing the trigger decompresses the spring, and the piston moves forward as a result.

The movement then compresses the air and discharges the pellet. The whole process is exceptionally quick. 

The advantages of a spring-powered pellet rifle are: 

  • Affordable 

  • Self-contained without requiring additional equipment
     
  • User friendly and easy to maintain

  • Delivers consistent power

  • Parts are easily available

Some of the disadvantages of this rifle are: 

  • High level of recoil

  • Possible spring fatigue if left cocked

Gas Piston

These are also referred to as gas struts. They function similarly to the spring-powered variant but utilizes a half-filled cylinder instead of a spring.

This means that the air inside the cylinder is already compressed. You apply more pressure to it when you cock it. The force of the pressurized air expels the ammunition when you release the trigger.

The advantages of this type of pellet rifle include: 

  • Easy to cock

  • Has less recoil

  • Can be left cocked

  • Can last for many years

  • Light

The disadvantages are:

  • Gun won't function if gas leak present
     
  • Not easy to customize 

Photo credit: ontargetmagazine.com

Pre-Charged Pneumatic

These guns utilize highly pressurized air in the chamber to propel the pellet out of the barrel. The air needs to be compressed using special equipment such as scuba tanks or hand pumps. The gun is only ready to use when the pressure reaches the optimal level. 

Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered

The benefits of PCP rifles are:

  • Extremely low recoil

  • High-powered

  • Effective for hunting with large caliber pellets

  • Minimal cocking effort

  • Allow for repeat shots

The negative aspects of PCP are:

  • More expensive than other air rifles

  • You require special equipment

Variable Pump

Variable pumps use a piston as well as a pressure cylinder. Cocking the gun causes the air between the piston and cylinder to compress. The lock valve of the cylinder traps the air until you pull the trigger. The pellet then discharges.

Some of the pros for this gun are as follows:

  • No special equipment required

  • Lightweight

  • Control over the power of each shot

  • Medium level of power

  • No recoil

Cons associated with this pellet rifle are:

  • Pumping action takes time and may cause you to miss your target when hunting

  • Pumping action can be tiring

Benjamin 392 Air Rifle

Carbon Dioxide Powered

This firearm works similarly to a PCP rifle. The main difference is that it doesn't use pressurized gas. Carbon dioxide cartridges power it. Compressed carbon dioxide causes the discharge of the pellet.

The benefits of CO2 rifles are:

  • Allows you to fire like a semi-automatic

  • Shoots consistently

  • No recoil

  • Convenient for repeat shots

  • Quick and easy to cock

The downside of these weapons are:

  • Cartridges can be expensive

Umarex AirJavelin

  • Temperature affects the power and accuracy of each shot because carbon dioxide expands at different rates in heat and cold

How Do Pellet Rifles Compare? 

When it comes to hunting, each shooter has preferences regarding what works best. Some prefer traditional hunting rifles, while others believe pellet rifles are the better choice. We discuss some common comparisons below. 

Pellet Gun vs Hunting Rifle

A hunting rifle is a traditional way to take down game. Shooters select a weapon and appropriate caliber according to the type of game they're targeting. 

Hunting rifles are powerful and use firepower and ammunition of various grains. Some are even capable of taking down elephants and bears. 

Pellet guns, on the other hand, are targeted at smaller critters. It doesn't make sense to take out a powerful rifle to shoot pesky squirrels in your garden, but a pellet gun would work well.

.177 vs .22 Pellet

The caliber of any rifle refers to either the size in diameter of the bullet or the bore part of a gun barrel. The smallest caliber currently in use is the .177. This means that the .22-caliber is heavier and more powerful. 

Those who favor the .177 utilize their pellet guns for target shooting, plinking, or hunting small critters such as rodents. These rifles are incredibly accurate. The .22-caliber is better suited to hunting slightly bigger creatures like hares.

Pellet Gun vs BB Gun

Although these two types of weapons are similar, there are distinct differences. The first is the ammunition. BBs are round, and pellets have a distinctive shape. 

Pellet gun on top of a BB gun (Photo credit: airgunace.com)

BB guns don't necessarily have rifling, and the magazine design is also different. Pellet Rifles are better suited to hunting, especially over longer distances.

Pellet Gun Hunting Laws

Air-gun hunting is legal for small game and furbearers in most states except for Mississippi. This state has specific regulations about white deer in particular. 

Regarding big game, exotic species, and upland birds, each state's laws differ. It would be best to look up the most recent regulations for that specific territory. In contrast, nuisance species may be hunted in most states, excluding Mississippi and Wyoming. 

Photo credit: hardairmagazine.com

These two regions have detailed laws about which creatures may be hunted using air rifles. You're also allowed to hunt predator species in all states except Mississippi, Wyoming, Alabama, and Kansas. These territories have detailed laws that may be subject to changes. 

For details regarding the legal calibers and which animals are allowed to be hunted, it's best to check each state individually. Regulations and policies change frequently, and it's a good idea to check for the most updated laws. 

How To Load A Pellet Gun 

Loading a break-barrel rifle is a straightforward process. You need to bring your barrel down, bending it forward at the hinge until you hear a click. This makes the loading hole visible. Insert your pellet, ensuring that it's facing the right direction and that it's flush with the entrance of the hole. 

The final step is to return the barrel to its starting position, and when it clicks in place, your rifle is loaded and ready for use. If you'd like a visual representation of these instructions, you can refer to this video.

How To Sight In A Pellet Gun

When sighting a pellet gun, you need a firm base to shoot from. This can be a rifle rest or a pair of sacks filled with sand. You'll also need a safe place to hold the target, which you should set up ten yards from the rifle.

Ensure that the area where you're doing your sighting is safe and windless. Once you've set this up, you need to focus your objective lens to ten yards. You need to select the maximum magnification setting if you're using zoom scope.

The next step is to focus the eyepiece until you obtain a sharp view. Now you can test your first pellet by aiming and firing at the target.

Take note of where the pellet hit the target. If it's off-center, you need to make some adjustments. To do this, look through your scope, leaving your rifle precisely the way it was for your first shot.

Keep the scope centered on the target as before, and adjust the windage and elevation so that the center of the scope is focused on the hole you made with your first shot. Ensure that you don't move your gun during this process.

Photo credit: outdoorempire.com

Now move your gun so that your aim is at the center of the target once again. Fire a second shot. If you've hit the mark, you successfully sighted in your scope; if not, simply repeat the process.

A quick tip for easily obtaining accuracy is to observe if your scope requires more windage adjustment or more elevation adjustment. Suppose you need more windage adjustment. Set this before elevation. It will make the process go swiftly.

Need a visual overview? Check out this video.

Conclusion

There are a wide variety of good-quality pellet rifles on the market that are ideal for hunting. They have impressive features and are easy to use. Most states permit air rifles, but you need to familiarize yourself with the laws specific to your region. 

If you're keen on hunting but feel intimidated at the thought of buying a traditional hunting rifle, an air gun may be the solution you need. There are different types, each with its list of pros and cons. Finding one of the best pellet rifles for hunting that suits your preferences should be easy. 

Recap | Best Pellet Rifles for Hunting

Once more, here are the three best pellet rifles for hunting:

  1. Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 .22-caliber
  2. Ruger Blackhawk Combo Air Rifle
  3. Benjamin Armada

People Also Ask

Many questions arise regarding these weapons. We will discuss some common questions regarding the best pellet rifles for hunting in the section below. 

Will a 1200 FPS Pellet Gun Kill A Deer?

Unless you hit a vital part, you'll probably not kill a deer. It may penetrate the skin or cause injury.

What Size Pellet Rifle For Hunting?

Depending on the game you intend on hunting, you'd need at least a .22-caliber weapon. If you plan to hunt small rodents like squirrels or crows, a .177 will be fine.

Photo credit: airgunmaniac.com

Can A Pellet Gun Kill?

Yes, it can.

How To Make a Pellet Gun More Powerful

There are DIY tricks to increase your weapons power, but these methods could damage your weapon. If you require more power, your safest option would be to purchase a new one that delivers the results you need.

Where To Shoot a Raccoon With a Pellet Gun?

A headshot is preferable. The pellet should be able to penetrate the animal's skull.

Where To Shoot a Squirrel With a Pellet Gun?

Although a headshot is best, you could also aim for the heart/lung region located just behind the armpit.

Where To Shoot a Rabbit With a Pellet Gun?

The best spot is the head, right behind the rabbit's eye, close to the base of the ear.

Can a Pellet Gun Kill a Deer?

It's possible to kill a deer if you're close enough and have the right caliber pellet, but each state varies regarding the legality of such acts.

Is It Legal To Shoot a Squirrel With a BB Gun?

A BB gun is not a legal hunting weapon, and it's more likely to injure a squirrel than kill it. Therefore it's not legal to shoot squirrels with a BB gun.

Jeff

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.