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Who Makes the Best Air Rifles?

Discussing brands in air rifles can be tricky, since often the quality of a given brand varies widely among their models. That being said, there are a number of different traits that seem to run throughout production, regardless of the model in question. When considering a rifle purchase, its wise to be mindful of these differences.

Gamo

Gamo is a fairly middle of the road company. It’s based in Spain and has a decent number of solid guns coming out of it. The Bone Collector Bull Whisper IGT is a good example of one of the weapons that they produce, and it’s without question one of the better break barrels available on the market today.

The problem with Gamo is that they are great starter guns, but not really built to last (for years and years). What you’re getting when you buy a Gamo is something that will work very well for a little while, then start facing rapid decline. This is part of how the company keeps their prices so low, by using more affordable materials that don’t necessarily last very long. It’s a tradeoff that a lot of people are willing to make, though, since a Gamo is a good way to get into the sport.

Beeman

How the mighty have fallen. There was a time when Beeman was one of the few companies actually making pellet guns, and they were actually quite good back then. However, as technology has advanced and guns have gotten better, the Beeman brand has fallen behind.

Part of their problem, ironically enough, is that they’ve been trying to innovate without thinking through potential issues. They came up with an idea and forgot to test it, or cynically assumed that people just wouldn’t notice what was wrong. There is no better example than the Beeman RS1 Dual-Caliber, which tries to be clever by letting you change out barrels between a .177 and a .22.

This is a good idea, and one I endorse. However, the execution was an absolute mess, with the gun being powerful enough to shake the screw that holds the barrel in loose, making you lose accuracy as it starts to droop and wiggle around with every shot.

Beeman could be great again, but for now be a bit more critical when evaluating their guns.

Crosman

Crosman is hard to pin down as a company. On one hand, they have produced some absolutely miserable models that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, like the Crosman M4-177 Pneumatic Pump Air Rifle.  This model is something I can only describe as a novelty gun aimed at aging Baby Boomers who want to relive the fantasies they had of themselves during the 80s when John McLean was the go-to action hero for regular guys.

On the other hand, they have managed to produce my favorite PCP rifle and the one I keep going back to for target shooting, the Benjamin Marauder. It is a seriously solid .22 that will last forever. So it really is impossible to tell, based on brand alone, whether a Crosman is going to be any good or not.

Winchester

One of the most famous names in rifles, the Winchester brand is consistently a good buy with great results. I don’t know how they have gone this long without a major flop, but it seems that every gun that they come out with has the same standard of design and use as every one before. It’s good to see that level of continuity in a company, especially one that has been around as long as Winchester has.

This is not a gun for beginners, though. Winchesters are designed for people who know what they’re doing and have been at this for a while. Take a look at the Winchester 1100WS break barrel, for example.

Sure, it’s pretty easy to use, but it also has a lot of places where it can be adjusted. The scope, particularly, is really complex. And, while it will give you a great shot, it is not something that an inexperienced person can just pick up and set properly.

RWS

Perhaps my favorite brand of the them all, RWS is very consistent in making some of the best weapons that money can buy. The Model 34 is one of the best selling air rifles on the market, and for good reason. It’s solid, it’s beautiful, it’s easy to use, easy to load, easy to clean, and easy to fire. It comes with great sights that make accuracy much better and can work with a number of different types of pellets.

And that can be said of almost any product made by this company. They are the very definition of the precision of German engineering.

Moreover, they stand by their products for life. If something breaks on your RWS rifle, even years later, call the company and they will figure out some way to make it right. I’ve known people who have had parts break after four or five years, have called the company to buy a replacement, and were sent one for free because RWS parts shouldn’t break at all. They are a little more expensive than a Gamo or a Crosman, but they are well worth it. Perfect for budding enthusiasts.

Ultimately, the air rifle you want is the one that you are most comfortable with. For all my praise of RWS, I know people who hold one and can’t get it to sit comfortably in their hand or rest well against their shoulder. We’re all made different, and that’s one of the reasons why there are so many different weapons available. Some companies design with you in mind, some don’t, and finding the ones that make guns that work for you will make all the difference.

If you have the option, try a number of different guns before making a purchase to find the best air rifles for you, and when you do, stick with them as long as they keep feeling good.

 

13 Comments
  1. I HAVE TWO BENJAMIN TRAIL NPS IN 22 CAL,A REMINGTON NPSS IN 22 CAL.,A STOEGER ATAC SUPPRESSOR IN 22 CAL.AND A BENJAMIN TRAIL NP2 IN 22 CAL.I WOULD LIKE GET YOUR OPION ON THESE RIFLES.I NOTICE THAT YOU MENTION THE CROSMAN NITRO VENOM PELLET RIFLE AS ONE THAT YOU OWN.DO YOU THINK THAT THAT CROSMAN VENOM IS BETTER THAT ANY OF THE RIFLES THAT I NAMED? IF YOU THANK THAT THE VENOM IS BETTER.I WOULD ASK YOU TO EXPLAIN YOUR REASONING.

    THANKS

  2. I’m 65 years old and have hunted and fished all my life and with ammo. in 22 cal. as it is I’m thinking of buying my first air rifle. I would like one that is accurate and fast. also one that will hold up the best. I intend to target shot and hunt squirrels with this rifle. what would be my best option. thanks Roger.

  3. Hi,I think the Benjamin 392

  4. What is you opinion of the new Walther Terrus in .22.
    Do you like the synthetic over the wood stocks. I find the imported wood stocks have weak finishes.
    thanks

  5. I’m in the process of making an air rifle myself after having to put up with a very weak Chinese imported one that I can’t find parts for so I decided to make my own air gun and was contemplating making a double barraled type using the 2 spring firing sections to serve one baral of a .22 air gun so that I can have the power and acuracy I want

  6. Rodger I found the BSA to be the best hunting air rifles and not only are parts and spares easy to get they also have a very wide range in stock and will even alow you to attend one of there depos to try out a long list of air guns

  7. Beeman lmao, you mean the company that now buy abroad and sell under their name, Gamo from Spain probably one of the hardest twangiest recoils in any Rifle I’ve ever shot, Crosman well I’ll just say not even if they were free, America is just buying the advertising, Muzzle velocity and power mean nothing if it means you can’t hit the target.

  8. Roger, buy an RWS Diana model 34 in .22 caliber. It is an incredible piece of German machinery that will last many lifetimes and is more accurate than any other rifle in its class. I own three RWS/Diana air rifles.

  9. Hello, I am from India and I am wondering if you have any experience with the Feinwerkbau air rifles, likes these: https://kiehberg.in/shooting/airguns/air-rifle.html?

    • I actually don’t have any experience with that manufacturer, but if they ever want to send me one for evaluation I’d be happy to do a review. Maybe put in a good word for me haha, I’m certainly curious as to how well their rifles perform.

  10. Why have I run out of vertical adjustment at 10 yards with bug buster mounted on a Diana 54 air king

  11. I’m curious why there was no mention of Weihrauch, Air Arms, Hatsan, etc.??

  12. The Best air guns quality wise are
    1. Daystate
    2. FX
    3. Brocock
    4 BSA
    Crosman is many many rungs down the ladder from these, not even close.

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