January 21, 2022
By Alan Clemons
- Check back for updates to this article from SHOT Show.
Air rifles are legitimate weapons for big game such as deer and hogs, and a fun way to go after predators and varmints. These are not the BB guns or finger-pinching pump air guns of your youth.
Powered by pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air, these powerful air rifles propel pellets — which really are bullets — ranging in size from .22 to .72 caliber.
READ MORE: See all the new hunting and shooting gear from SHOT Show 2022
Due to the air tanks required on the rifle for operation, these guns definitely have some unique designs. Some longer, skinnier tanks may be positioned as the foregrip. Others may be under the buttstock, which may be an adjustable tactical style or other design. Hunters have used these to kill a variety of game.
It’s still fun to plink and have a traditional air rifle for pests, too, which is why the updated Gamo Swarm is included. Check your state regulations about use of these for hunting.
The annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas is the showcase for a wide variety of hunting gear. Here are some of the best air guns for hunting.
Air Force Texan – CF Series
The Air Force Texan - CF Series produces more than 750 foot-pounds of energy thanks to its TX2 valve system and commercially refillable carbon fiber air tank. Match grade barrels are sourced from Lothar Walther in Germany. Available in .457 and .510 calibers, each with five grain sizes and different velocities, the Texan is one of the most popular big game air rifles around.
$1,229.95 | airforceairguns.com
Umarex Gauntlet 2
The redesigned Umarex Gauntlet 2 is offered in two calibers, .22 pellets and .25 slugs, which are perfect for small game hunting, plinking and target shooting. Thanks to higher pressure air regulators and more air capacity, you can get up to 70 or more shots with the .22 caliber and more than 50 with the .25 caliber.
The rifle’s 4,500-psi air tank can be easily filled thanks to the built-in Foster quick-connect fitting that works with the Umarex ReadyAir HPA carbon fiber pony bottle or other high-pressure compressor. A new four-baffle design reduces noise at the muzzle by eight decibels. The rifle weighs 8.5 pounds and has a 28-inch barrel.
$429 (.22), $439 (.25) | umarexusa.com
WATCH: New UMAREX Air Rifle Products for 2022 (Video)
Gamo Swarm Gen3i
Gamo’s 10-shot magazine introduced in 2017 made single-shot air rifles old news, and for 2022 significant upgrades in the Gen3i model ensure more fun in the field. The Gen3i features a new inertia-driven magazine that prevents double-loading, smoother and more precise loading, and better performance. Gamo says the Gen3i 10-shot magazine “indexes using the inertia force from the recoil of the air rifle, creating a smooth loading process … applied to the most-powerful multi-shot breakbarrels on the market.” The Gen3i is available in the Swarm Magnum (.177 and .22), Bone Collector (.22) and Fusion (.177 and .22).
Gamo also has added two new pellet styles to its lineup: the G-Hammer .177 caliber that weighs 15.42 grains and has a pointed tip and straight skirt. It’s available in tins of 400. The Swarm 10X pellet is designed for performance in Swarm 10X Gen1 and Gen2 air rifles. They weigh 7.56 grains and come in tins of 500.
Brocock Ranger XR
Ranger XR is well known in England where it is made, offering shooters there an adjustable rifle with 12 foot-pounds and up to 20 foot-pounds for export models. You can get up to 30 shots on one charge, depending on how you adjust the power and tuning. The Ranger XR has a folding stock, Huma regulator, adjustable trigger, AR-compatible buffer tube and Picatinny rails for scope and accessories.
$1,695 | brocock.co.uk
The Hatsan PileDriver is a popular PCP air rifle with a bullpup design that weighs 10 pounds, comes in .45 and .50 caliber options, and achieves enough energy for serious hunting. The .45 hits up to 900 fps 700 foot-pounds of energy, and the .50 up to 850 fps and 900 foot-pounds. You’ll get 4-6 shots with the .45 and 3-5 with the .50 and features including a gas piston hammer spring design, a barrel rifled exclusively for heavy slugs, adjustable elevation and cheek rest, and more.
$1,173 (.45), $1,179 (.50) | hatsanairgunsusa.com
ALSO: Hatsan Model 65 Air Rifle (Video)
Air Venturi Avenger
If you’re interested in getting into air rifles, the Avenger from Air Venturi is a solid and affordable rifle to consider. This PCP rifle has an externally adjustable regular and hammer spring, sidelever action for quick follow-up shots, and comes in .177, .22 or .25. The first two offer up to 1,000 fps, and the .25 hits 900 fps. It also has a more traditional design and stock, with Picatinny rails handling scopes and accessories.
$349 | airventuri.com
FX Airguns Impact MK II
The Impact MK II from Sweden-based FX Airguns offers a host of high-performance features including adjustable air valve control and hammer spring tension. It is outfitted with a FX Smooth Twist X Barrel housed in an Interchangeable Barrel Liner System; this means you can swap barrel liners of different twist rates or bore specs for different projectile sizes. With a quick-change barrel and breech, you can shift easily between calibers. The Impact MK II has a side cocking lever above the trigger for quick follow-up shots. The stock is adjustable, and Picatinny rails allow you to easily add a scope and accessories.
Gamo Arrow PCP
Gamo’s new mult-shot PCP, the Arrow, gives shooters more fun in the field or at the range with the option of using .177 or .22 pellets in its 10-shot rotary magazine. The affordable Arrow has a straight charging handle system for ambidextrous reloading along with a 128cc air tank that provides up to 60 shots. An integrated gauge shows the inner air pressure, and noise is reduced thanks to the Arrow’s double-integrated sound moderator. Pellets travel through two chambers, which compresses the sound waves to reduce noise. You’ll get 900 fps with the .22 and 1,200 with the .177, a two-stage trigger and more.
Stoeger XM1 Bullshark
Stoeger’s new XM1 Bullshark features a multi-shot rotary magazine in .177 or .22 and an ergonomic bullpup design with adjustable stock, integrated and two-stage, adjustable trigger enhances accuracy. Picatinny rails are located on the top and side for optics and lights. It has an interchangeable pistol grip for more or less palm swell, and a front vertical grip for added control. The XM1 Bullshark has an integrated, rechargeable 2,900 psi tank and can shoot approximately 50 shots per charge. The air rifle can be charged with a hand pump or an air tank (adapter included).
$479 | stoegerindustries.com