2020’s Best Pellet and BB Air Rifles for Hunting and Self Defense

This post may contain affiliate links. Buying something through these links doesn't cost you anything and helps support Know Prepare Survive. For some light reading, check out our affiliate disclosure.

ModelWinnerCaliberPowerplantFPS (Feet per Second)Price
Gamo Whisper Silent CatQuietest air rifle.177Break barrel spring-piston1200 fps with alloy pellets, 1000 fps with leadCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2Best air rifle for varmint hunting.22, .25, .177Break barrel spring-piston1100 fps with alloy pellets, 950 fps with leadCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Gamo Hunter Big CatBest air rifle for small game hunting.22, .177Break barrel spring-piston1250 fps with alloy pellets (manufacturer recommended)Check Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Crosman RepeatAir 1077Best semi-auto pellet gun for beginners.177CO2 Powerlets780 fps with alloy pellets and 625 with leadCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Crosman Nitro VenomBest break barrel air rifle.22, .177Break barrel gas ram950 fps with alloy pellets, 800 with leadCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Benjamin DiscoveryMost accurate air gun.22, .177Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) or CO2 Powerlets900 fps with alloy pelletsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Crosman Benjamin MarauderBest .177 pellet rifle.25, .22, .177Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) or CO2 Powerlets900 fpsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Remington AirMaster 77Best BB gun for the money.177 pellets or BBsMulti-pump pneumatic1000 with BBs, 750 with lead pelletsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Beeman Silver Kodiak X2 Dual CaliberMost versatile pellet gun.22 AND .177Pump spring-piston1000 fps with .177 pellets, 830 fps with .22 pelletsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Hammerli 850 AirMagnumMost powerful CO2 rifle.22, .177CO2 canisters655 fpsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
AirForce Condor SS modelHighest FPS.25, .22, .20, or .177Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP)Variable; 600-1300 fps depending on caliber and power settingCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Benjamin BulldogBest PCP Rifle.357Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP)910 fpsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon
Sam Yang Seneca 909SMost powerful pellet rifle.45Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP)730 fpsCheck Price on Airgun Depot

Check Price on Amazon

There are not too many people in the world who have used an air gun professionally. I am one of them.

Alas, it is one of those jobs where I can get in trouble for talking too much about it.

Suffice to say, I needed to use the best PCP air rifle available, and I needed to know how to use it well.

Air rifles?” you may ask. “Why not real rifles?”

That is a good question. At first glance, firearms seem to have the advantage in power and ubiquity.

But they are loud. They are legally restricted. Ammunition can be expensive.

Not all air guns are toys. There are powerful pellet rifles out there.

I am not talking about competition shooting either.

You can use these for hunting everything from varmints to large game such as deer. Or even the most dangerous game… Dun dun dun…

Deer? With a pellet gun?


Read on to learn more.

What is an Air Gun, and Why Use One

Today, the air gun is often though of as a toy, something for children to practice with before using a “real” firearm.

Girandoni Air Rifle
The original air gun

But the history of air guns points to a different picture. One of the first semi-automatic “firearms” was the Girandoni Air Rifle.

Invented in 1779, it fired a .46 caliber lead ball at almost 500 feet per second. Reloading was simple–tilt the gun up and the next ball fell into place.

A skilled user could fire the entire 20 round magazine before a musket user got off four shots, AND the air rifle was accurate past 100 yards without flooding everyone’s face with smoke.

It was the most potent infantry weapon of the era.

Modern air guns have a similar pedigree.

They use compressed air to launch a round metal ball (often called a BB – a ball bearing or “bullet ball”) or an aerodynamic pellet. Some are break barrel air rifles, others are loaded using a bolt action.

True, some are toys, only good for punching holes in paper.

But others have pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) tanks with 2500 PSI of air or more, allowing them to give out enough oomph to hunt game as large as boar and deer!

They can also use a spring to fire the pellet, which can give more speed and power than you expect. Some air rifles are capable of launching pellets 1000 fps or more, better than some firearms!

Powerful and accurate air rifles are the ones we are talking about today.

These air guns compare favorably with firearms when it comes to hunting. The ammunition is cheaper, they are much quieter, and there are fewer laws governing their use. They also do not have the same recoil as you’ll find in a firearm.

Depending on the type, some pellet rifles have practically no recoil!

Some can even be used for self defense. This may muddle the murky waters of law, so always educate yourself about the laws you need to follow.

But if they can be lethal against a deer, they can be lethal against a human, too.

Read on for our air rifle reviews.

How Air Guns Work

Despite the name, not all air guns use air to push their projectile.

The different types of supplying power to the pellet is called a powerplant, though you won’t find any cooling towers or radioactive waste here!

None use a chemical reaction, because then they’d be firearms, which we just don’t want right now.

The most common type of air gun uses a spring-piston. A coil spring is compressed, then when the trigger is pulled it pushes a pistol which compresses the air until the pressure launches the BB or pellet through the barrel.

These are cheap, fairly powerful, and fairly accurate, but have downsides.

You cannot leave a spring-piston air gun cocked all day, or you’ll weaken the spring.

They also have more recoil than other powerplants.

Pneumatic air guns compress the air before firing rather than using a spring-piston. They can be pumped by the user or have an air reservoir, in which case they are known as pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns.

They provide smooth power for an extended period of time, but require pumping or refilling from a SCUBA tank.

Lastly, compressed CO2 is often used. Most CO2 air guns use disposable Powerlets filled with 12 grams of CO2, though larger tanks are available as well.

CO2 allows you to easily refill the air gun when empty, but loses power as the temperature drops.

Best Air Rifles for Hunting

Most of the air rifles we talk about are pellet guns, though some can use either BBs or pellets. All will be able to take game.

The reviews will mention whether they are good for small game or large game.

Because we’re here for hunting and not for target practice, the reviews will be based on the largest caliber available for the model. We’ll mention if you can find the air rifle in a smaller caliber.

Also, even though I love wooden stocks, they are not as robust for hunting as synthetics, so keep that bias in mind.

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle – Quietest Pellet Gun

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: 0.177
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: 1200 fps with alloy pellets, 1000 fps with lead
Overall Length: 46″
Barrel Length: 18″
Weight: 5.28 lbs
Powerplant: Break barrel spring-piston


The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is a suppressed air rifle that fires .177 caliber pellets.

It comes with a 4×32 scope. The spring that fires the pellet is compressed when you break open the barrel to load the next round, and the gun automatically engages the safety after cocking.

The barrel has steel rifling encased in polymer, which works just as well as a traditional all-steel barrel but has greater weather resistance at a lighter weight. Most of the gun is high-tech synthetics, in fact.

This gun is best used for small game such as squirrels and rabbits.

Pros/Things I Liked

Air rifles still make noise, and the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat makes much less noise than other air rifles. They claim a 52% reduction in sound. You’ll hear the air gun’s spring, and the impact of the lead pellet on the target.Quietest Pellet Gun

The break barrel system, though it requires 30lbs of force to use, is faster than a pump and cheaper than CO2.

Everything is synthetic, which makes this pellet gun more weather resistant than most.

It is also completely ambidextrous and is very accurate.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

The scope that comes with the air gun has a reputation for drifting after a few shots. Proper tightening technique can alleviate this, but it isn’t intuitive.

Ironically, another issue with the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is sound. If you use polymer pellets instead of lead, the additional speed will cause the pellet to break the sound barrier, leading to a loud supersonic crack.

This air gun is only available in .177 caliber, which is fine for small game, but is less stable and hits softer than .22.


The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is one of the most silent and most accurate air rifles on the market, though if you want to buy one, make sure it has the SAT trigger.



Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 with Scope – Best Air Rifle for Varmint Hunting

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air Rifle with Scope review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .22, .177
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: 1100 fps with alloy pellets, 950 fps with lead
Overall Length: 36.25″
Barrel Length: 15.75″
Weight: 8.3 lbs
Powerplant: Break barrel spring-piston


The Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air Rifle comes packaged with a scope and has an integral suppressor. It also has a picatinny rail on top.

The Nitro Piston 2 is an upgrade from a previous model, an improvement in every way.

The stock is synthetic, ambidextrous, and has a thumb hole, so it will handle any weather and can be used by any shooter.

The Benjamin Trail NP2 is a good pellet gun for small game and varmints.

Pros/Things I Liked

Often, breaking the barrel on these air rifles can be quite difficult. The Benjamin Trail NP2, on the other hand, has one of the easiest break barrel actions on the market.Best Varmint Air Rifle

The trigger is quite nice compared to other air guns of the same price. It also comes with a 3-9×32 CenterPoint scope.

It is very accurate and quite powerful. The scope that comes with the air rifle aids in the accuracy by magnifying up to 9x, while most other pre-packaged scopes are generally 4x.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Some air guns automatically engage the safety when you cock them. Not this one; you have to manually engage the safety in order to cock the air rifle.

There is the occasional complaint of defects from the manufacturing process, but I did not encounter those myself. Still, be warned.

It is also on the heavier side.


The Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 is powerful, accurate, quiet, and is comfortable to use. It does weigh a bit more than expected, and though it comes with a scope, it is not the best scope on the market. On top of being the quietest, the NP2 is also probably the best .22 air rifle on the market today.



Gamo Hunter Big Cat – Best Air Rifle for Small Game Hunting

Gamo Hunter Big Cat Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .22, .177
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: 1250 fps with alloy pellets (manufacturer recommended)
Overall Length: 43.3″
Barrel Length: 18″
Weight: 6.1 lbs
Powerplant: Break barrel spring-piston


The Gamo Hunter Big Cat is a .22 caliber air rifle intended for pest control and small game hunting. It comes packaged with a 4×32 scope and has synthetic furniture.

The cocking mechanism is the break barrel. It is not the hardest nor the easiest air gun to cock.

This pellet gun comes with a cheek pad design that accommodates both left and right handed shooters, and has a non-slip design on the grip and forearm. The ambidexterity applies across the other parts of the air rifle, too.

The barrel is also fluted, which saves weight and increases surface area. Air rifle barrels may not heat up as fast as firearm barrels, but there is friction from the pellet flying down the barrel.

The Gamo Hunter Big Cat is good for small game; squirrels, pigeons, cats, rabbits.

Pros/Things I Liked

One of the cheaper air guns on the list, the Gamo Hunter Big Cat maintains value for its price. It is powerful enough for small game and is quite accurate.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Some people have reported that the Gamo Hunter Big Cat has trouble holding a zero until about a hundred pellets have traveled through its bore. It can be extremely accurate, but you have to put up with this long break-in period.

It is also louder than equivalent air guns which come with an integral suppressor. When used with alloy pellets, you will be breaking the sound barrier, so shooting can be quite noisy.


Though not as powerful as other .22 caliber air rifles we have reviewed, it is almost as powerful and is just as accurate for half the price.



Crosman RepeatAir 1077 .177 Air Rifle – Good Semi-Automatic Pellet Gun for Beginners

Crosman RepeatAir 1077 .177 Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .177
Capacity: 12
Velocity: 780 fps with alloy pellets and 625 with lead
Overall Length: 36.88″
Barrel Length: 20.38″
Weight: 4.5 lbs
Powerplant: CO2 Powerlets


The Crosman RepeatAir 1077 appears to be a semi-automatic pellet gun. In reality, it is a double action revolver air rifle with a 12 round clip–yes, clip, not magazine. Twelve pellets are held in a circular clip.

The stock is wood or synthetic. Certain parts of the action are also plastic, but they work well enough. The barrel is blued steel.

CO2 Powerlets supply the energy for the pellets. Well, one 12 gram Powerlet.

This air gun is best used for hunting pieces of paper, though I suppose you could use it on chipmunks and rats.

Pros/Things I Liked

The 12 round revolver mechanism is nifty and seems to be reliable. There is a jam clearing mechanism built into the action, but it will likely go entirely unused.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Crosman Repeat Air 1077 pellet gunIf you want to hunt with this air gun, you will be disappointed. The single CO2 Powerlet supplies not very much oomph, and since there is only one, power will drop off quickly.

Part of that is because of the temperature change from using the CO2 Powerlet frequently, so if you space out your shots you can maintain high power for longer. If it is cold out, do not expect much power even with a fresh Powerlet.

The trigger is also very heavy for an air gun. The sights are rather primitive, though you can find it with a 4×32 scope.


The Crosman RepeatAir 1077 is a fun air rifle, but not a very practical one.

It is too weak to be reliable for hunting anything except the smallest of game, and if you want to use it for self defense, make sure your foe can only harm you with paper cuts. It is still fun to use, though!



Crosman Nitro Venom – Best Break Barrel Air Rifle

Crosman Nitro Venom Break Barrel Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .22, .177
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: 950 fps with alloy pellets, 800 with lead
Overall Length: 44.25″
Barrel Length: 18.63″
Weight: 7.38 lbs
Powerplant: Break barrel gas ram


The Crosman Nitro Venom is a break barrel air rifle, but unlike most, it does not use a spring-piston design.

Instead of a spring, the action uses compressed nitrogen in a captive system. This is lighter, faster, and stronger than a spring-based design, but if it fails you cannot replace the parts yourself.

The barrel is fluted, the stock is wood, and the whole thing is completely ambidextrous.

A CenterPoint 3-9×32 scope comes packaged with the rifle. A picatinny rail lets you easily replace the scope with something better, though.

It can take down small and even some medium game, including turkey and woodchucks.best Break Barrel Air Rifle

Pros/Things I Liked

The nitro gas piston system is definitely an upgrade over the traditional spring-piston system, even if it is less user-replaceable.

I am a fan of fluted barrels, and I appreciate the picatinny rail.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Hardwood stocks look and feel nice, but for a hunting air gun, they are not the best choice as they will expand and contract with the weather.

A lot of air guns are made in America, but this one is completely Chinese. It still seems to be of high quality, but if you are concerned about where your products come from, ye have been warned.


The Crosman Nitro Venom is a wood stocked .22 caliber pellet rifle with plenty of power, supplied by captive nitrogen instead of a spring. If you’re ok with not being able to fix your own gun if it breaks, I think it’s an excellent choice for hunting.



Crosman Benjamin Discovery Pre-Charged Pneumatic PCP – Most Accurate Air Rifle

Crosman Benjamin Discovery Pre-Charged Pneumatic PCP air rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .22, .177
Capacity: Single-shot, 25 shots from fully charged
Velocity: 900 fps with alloy pellets
Overall Length: 39″
Barrel Length: 24.25″
Weight: 5 lbs
Powerplant: Pre-charged pneumatic or CO2 Powerlets


The Benjamin Discovery PCP air rifle by Crosman is a nifty dual fuel air gun. You can use CO2 Powerlets for casual shooting, or charge the built-in air tank up to 2,000 PSI for serious shooting.

The stock is walnut, and the air reservoir extends the entire length of the barrel.

There is a pressure gauge and the air gun comes with a hand pump and fiber optic sights.

It’ll take about 70 pumps to fully fill the air tank up to 2,000 PSI, which will take several minutes.

Most Accurate Air Rifle

The Crosman Benjamin Discovery is a heavy-hitter against small game, up to woodchucks in size.

Pros/Things I Liked

The accuracy of this air gun surpasses that of piston-fired designs. They can typically get 1″ groups at 30 yards; this one will hit under 1″ at 50 yards!

More accurate air rifles will be specialized competition guns, and cost a LOT more.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

This is a loud pellet gun, even though the pellets do not reach supersonic speeds.

The walnut stock is beautiful, but will not withstand thorns and weather as much as a synthetic stock would have.


The Crosman Benjamin is an excellent beginner’s PCP air rifle. It is not as powerful as other PCP air rifles, but has great value for the price.



Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock – Best .177 Pellet Air Rifle

Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Pellet Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .25, .22, .177
Capacity: 8 or 10
Velocity: 900 fps
Overall Length: 42.8″
Barrel Length: 20″
Weight: 8.2 lbs
Powerplant: Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) or CO2 Powerlets


The Crosman Benjamin Marauder is a PCP air rifle that also has the option of using CO2 Powerlets. It comes with either a synthetic or wood stock, and can even be purchased as a pistol with a removable stock.

It comes with an integral suppressor, an 8 round repeater magazine (10 with .22 or .177), and a 3,000 PSI air tank. That’s a lot of airpower. But you’ll only get 16 shots before needing to refill the air tank.

Because the Benjamin Marauder fires .25 caliber pellets, you are not limited to small game. Animals as large as coyotes are vulnerable to this one.

Pros/Things I Liked

.25 caliber hits harder than .22. It maintains its momentum better, so it bucks the wind more and penetrates further.best Pellet Air Rifle

There are instructions on how to fine tune the Benjamin Marauder to your preferences in the manual! Few other air guns even mention this possibility.

It may be the most accurate pellet gun on our list. Group sizes of under 1″ at 30 yards are common with good air guns, but the Benjamin Marauder can get groups of under half an inch at that distance!

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

If you want to refill the Benjamin Marauder from a SCUBA tank then you will need to purchase the adapter kit, as it does not come with the air rifle.

This is a heavy gun. With a scope, you will be lugging around almost ten pounds of air gun. Either hit the gym before you go hunting with this gun, or expect the hunt to be a workout.

You will also get beefy arms by pumping up the air tank so much. This is one air-hungry gun, partially because the air tank is not moderated–this means the gun gulps, instead of sips, air.


Crosman’s Benjamin Marauder is one of the most common PCP air rifles in use today, and for good reason. It is accurate, powerful, adjustable, and is a repeater. You can check out our full review of the Marauder here.



Remington AirMaster 77 Air Rifle – Best BB Gun for the Money

Remington AirMaster 77 Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .177 pellets or BBs
Capacity: Single-shot with pellets, 200 with BBs
Velocity: 1000 with BBs, 750 with lead pellets
Overall Length: 39.75″
Barrel Length: 20.88″
Weight: 5.25 lbs
Powerplant: Multi-pump pneumatic


Remington makes air guns, not just firearms? Yes!

The Remington AirMaster 77 air rifle can be used with pellets or BBs and uses a multi-pump pneumatic design.

That means that you pump the forearm multiple times to get to full charge, which lets you vary the strength for either casual plinking or serious hunting.

It comes with a rather dinky 4×15 scope, which will have poor light transmission. Using the open sights might be better for hunting, when the light may not be great.

This air gun is good for hunting only small game; it is not the weakest on the list, but do not expect to take anything larger than a rabbit.

Pros/Things I Liked

Most of the hunting air guns we are reviewing are for pellets only. This one is also a BB gun, which means that you can relax, pump once or twice per shot, and knock down cans all day long for just a few pennies.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

The Remington AirMaster 77 is only available in the .177 caliber, and is not the most powerful .177 pellet rifle. It’ll do, in a pinch, but is more of a “fun” air rifle than one you can rely on for hunting.


If you have less than a hundred dollars to spend, the Remington AirMaster 77 will provide you with fun and squirrels. If you need anything more high powered, look elsewhere.



Beeman Silver Kodiak X2 Dual Caliber Air Rifle – Most Versatile Pellet Gun

Beeman Silver Kodiak X2 Dual Caliber Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .22 AND .177
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: 1000 fps with .177 pellets, 830 fps with .22 pellets
Overall Length: 47.75″
Barrel Length: 16.5″
Weight: 8.75 lbs
Powerplant: Pump spring-piston


The Beeman Silver Kodiak X2 Dual Caliber air rifle is true to its name. The package comes with two barrels, and you can swap between the two.

The package also includes a 4×32 scope, though the iron sights may be more accurate. A scope upgrade might be a good option.

You pump the gun to compress the spring and load the pellet through the breech.

850 fps with .22 pellets gives this gun a good amount of power; it would be good for small game.

Pros/Things I Liked

The dual caliber concept is pretty good if you do not want to carry two rifles around with you. Use one for cans, the other for rabbits, and switch between the two by unscrewing a single bolt.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

That single Allen bolt is all that holds the barrel to the gun. This makes swapping the barrel quick and easy, but if you do not constantly tighten the bolt, it can lead to inaccuracy and then “unintended disassembly”…

Also, to facilitate the barrel conversion, you have to install an O ring. Which just so happens to blow out on occasion.


If you want just one air rifle for both plinking (target practice) and hunting, without compromising on either, the Beeman Silver Kodiax X2 Dual Caliber is a pellet gun that gives you the ability to use both .177 and .22 pellets.



Hammerli 850 AirMagnum – Most Powerful CO2 Air Rifle

Hammerli 850 AirMagnum Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .22, .177
Capacity: 8
Velocity: 655 fps
Overall Length: 41″
Barrel Length: 23.5″
Weight: 8 lbs
Powerplant: CO2 canisters


The Hammerli 850 AirMagnum, sold by Umarex, is a German-engineered repeating air rifle. An eight round clip feeds the chamber through a bolt action, and CO2 canisters supply the velocity.

These are full CO2 canisters, not the 12 gram CO2 Powerlets. One 88 gram canister will provide the power necessary for 160 full strength shots before the power fades, though that will decrease if you fire more quickly.

It is consistent and accurate, but is quite loud as there is no sound suppression system. Still, it is quieter than a .22 Long Rifle gun.

There are fiber optic open sights, but their adjustability is lacking.

Though the Hammerli 850 AirMagnum fires .22 caliber pellets, it does so at a somewhat weak velocity, so only hunt smaller small game with this one.

Pros/Things I Liked

The lack of a spring means that there is practically no recoil. The components are all high quality; the trigger is probably the best of the lot.

For a CO2 air gun, the fact that it uses larger canisters and hides them inside the foreend puts this gun above any which use only the 12 gram CO2 Powerlets.

The stated velocity is actually a bit of a lowball. It seems to have been determined at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you hunt when it is warmer, the gun will be even more powerful.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Adjusting the sights is difficult and imprecise. Thankfully, you can fit a scope.

Also, this is a loud gun for how not-powerful it is, comparatively. CO2 just cannot produce the same velocities as PCP air rifles.


The Hammerli 850 AirMagnum is a well made .22 caliber air rifle, though it manages to be both louder and weaker than expected.



AirForce Condor SS Air Rifle – Highest FPS Pellet Gun

AirForce Condor SS Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .25, .22, .20, or .177
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: Variable; 600-1300 fps depending on caliber and power setting
Overall Length: 38.125″
Barrel Length: 18″
Weight: 6.1 lbs
Powerplant: Pre-charged pneumatic


AirForce has designed their air rifles based on optimized design instead of tradition.

The air reservoir functions as the stock, and is directly in line with the chamber and barrel, which is integrally suppressed in the Condor SS model.

You can get the cheaper Condor if you do not mind a louder air rifle.

There is an extended rail for mounting a scope, though optional open sights can also be installed.

It has a pistol grip, and the trigger is non-traditional yet comfortable.

This powerful and accurate air rifle can be used to take small game, and even some medium-sized game. At close range it can go against a coyote and win.

Pros/Things I Liked

Highest FPS Pellet GunThe Condor is loud, but the Condor SS is quiet. It almost seems too quiet for how powerful it is.

The space-age design is very comfortable and ergonomic. Using this pellet gun has spoiled me so that other, more traditional, air rifles seem poorly designed.

You can control the amount of air sent to the pellet! Do you want to plink all day with one tank, or deplete it as quickly as possible to hit the animal as hard as possible?

It’s up to you!

The AirForce Condor SS is also very light for how much power it holds.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

My main gripe with this gun is the same one for all high power PCP air rifles. It consumes lots of air, and it takes a lot to fill it back up again.

Also, it is expensive compared to air rifles of similar capabilities.


If you want an air rifle that does not look like an air rifle, has a variable power supply, is lightweight and powerful, then choose the AirForce Condor. SS, if you want a quiet version.



Benjamin Bulldog – Best PCP Air Rifle

Benjamin Bulldog Air Rifle review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .357
Capacity: 5
Velocity: 910 fps
Overall Length: 36″
Barrel Length: 28″
Weight: 7.7 lbs
Powerplant: Pre-charged pneumatic


A replacement for the Benjamin Rogue, the Benjamin Bulldog is a bullpup repeating air gun with two picatinny rails.

The manual even recommends scope rings meant for the AR-15!

This air rifle sends an 81 grain .357 caliber pellet flying at a swift 910 fps, faster than some air rifles send their .177 pellets!

The stock is synthetic and looks like it came out of a sci-fi movie. It also has a built in suppressor, which also looks like it belongs on the cover of a science fiction novel.

Five rounds are held in a rotary clip, which automatically indexes to prepare for the next shot.

You’ll get ten of those at full power from the 3000 PSI reservoir, which takes days to pump to full (not really, but it’s a reeeeaaalllly long time). An external air tank is the recommended filling method.

If you want to hunt deer or feral hogs, this gun is more than capable.Best PCP Air Rifle

Pros/Things I Liked

The bullpup design shortens the overall length and, unlike a bullpup firearm, there are no explosions occuring just next to your cheek.

Everything else is just as advanced. This air rifle does not look like a traditional air rifle. Good thing too; it outperforms almost all of them.

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Even though it won’t take literal days to pump the reservoir full of air, it will feel like it. Hey, at least your arms will get nice and buff.

The only other thing I do not like about this air rifle is that I do not currently have one sitting at home.


The Benjamin Bulldog is a very advanced air rifle which fires .357 bullets–not just pellets–and can be used to hunt five deer at once, if you are REALLY quick at shooting.



Sam Yang Big Bore 909S – Most Powerful Pellet Gun

Sam Yang Big Bore 909S review

Tech Specs

Caliber: .45
Capacity: Single-shot
Velocity: 730 fps
Overall Length: 42.10″
Barrel Length: 21.65″
Weight: 7.5 lbs
Powerplant: Pre-charged pneumatic


The most powerful air rifle on our list, the Sam Yang 909S is available with either a single air reservoir or with a dual reservoir set up.

With one tank, it takes about 100 pumps to get up to 2900 PSI. With that much in reserve, you will be able to fire about three to four times at full power.

Up two six times with the dual reservoir system!

This does not sound that great.

But those numbers, when you add .45 caliber pellets into the fray, add up to an airgun that can be used to take down deer!

Large game is this air rifle’s forte. It is the most high powered air gun we are reviewing. With it you can take down wolves, feral hogs, and deer.Most Powerful Pellet Gun

Pros/Things I Liked

A large-game capable air rifle, almost as beautiful as your grandfather’s over-under shotgun. What’s not to like?

Cons/Things I Didn’t Like

Well, this thing is LOUD.

And it takes a long time to pump up to full pressure. Using an external pressurized tank will speed things up quite a bit, but at more expense.


If you want to use an air rifle to hunt deer and harvest some venison for your table, look no further than the Sam Yang 909S.



Best Pellet Guns for Self Defense

To get this out the way: A firearm is almost always better than an air gun for self defense.

The large-bore air guns that equal firearms in danger against humans will have a smaller capacity than an equivalent firearm.

But sometimes, they can still be a good idea.

Perhaps you need to travel through an area where you need to be able to defend yourself at range, but are prohibited from carrying a firearm in your vehicle or on your person.

In a pinch, certain large-bore air rifles may be your best choice.

Another word about the air guns which look like “real” pistols or rifles: Do not carry these expecting to be able to flash them and expect a bad guy to stand down.

Most laws prohibit such displays; only draw a gun if you are responding to immediate lethal force.

Also, if you flash an air gun and they call your bluff, you just put yourself at a major disadvantage.

Stay safe, respect the laws, and do not rely on a bluff.

If you do carry an air rifle for self-defense, make sure it is the most powerful air rifle you can find.

All of the rifles below are also hunting air rifles. They just have the capacity to be used for self defense as well.

Of the pellet rifles we reviewed, I feel only two are acceptable for use as a “self defense gun.”

My criteria were that they had to be able to fire more than one round without requiring a recharge and that they also had to be greater than .22 caliber, as that round doesn’t even really cut it even with gunpowder behind it.

The Benjamin Bulldog is my choice for a self defense air rifle. Five rounds of .357 at around 900 fps is enough to give a bad guy a bad day.best self defense air rifle

My second choice is the Benjamin Marauder. Eight rounds of .25 is not quite as powerful, but it is still capable in a pinch.

best pellet rifle for self defense

Keep in mind that we are not lawyers, and any recommendations we make should be taken with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila. And a slice of lime.


Air rifles are no mere toys.

Well, some can be.

But the ones we reviewed today are hunting rifles. More capable than some firearms, with less of the legal mumbo-jumbo.

And a couple are even good enough to be useful in saving your life.

2 thoughts on “2020’s Best Pellet and BB Air Rifles for Hunting and Self Defense”

  1. I 100% agree with the bulldog being at the top ,its 36 in leg,can be held with one hand in a situation not recomened ,like mentioned , we have to hope no one would have to use it ever ,but i think it would be very capable with 145 grain ,an up to 20 rounds it can shoot at under 25 yards ,great write up on this topic ,seems this could also with 170 grain scare off a black bear in close quarters for self defence as well ,we already know it has taken out 420 pond hogzilas ,just ask MR lesner

  2. Thanks for a great article! I found your article to be one of the best on the topic of airguns for hunting and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy myself a Sam yang because of you!


Leave a Comment

Don't Get Arrested for Carrying a Gun