Air gun enthusiasts make use of their guns for a variety of reasons – from keeping their yards pest free to hunting small prey in the open and target shooting. For those new to the sport though the huge variety of weapons – and the differing specs attached to them – can be confusing.
One consideration – and choice that needs to be made – when purchasing an air rifle is its caliber. The two most widely used choices are the .177 and the .22. The main difference between the two? In general a .177 air rifle is faster, more accurate and better at longer ranges. The .22, on the other hand, is slower, but more powerful, best suited to accurately, and humanely, taking out larger critters and game.
If you determine that a .22 better suits your needs you’ll still be faced with a lot of choices in a lot of different price points. To help you make a better purchasing choice we’ve put together this list – and deeper look at – the Top 9 Best 22 Air Rifle For Hunting, based on both our experience and that of other small game hunters who were good enough to share useful reviews to help educate their fellow marksmen (and women)
While we are going to look at each of our picks individually, the more impatient among you may want to cut right to the chase; which is your overall top pick for best .22 air rifle for hunting? So let’s get that out of the way without further ado.
Gamo Coyote Whisper Fusion PCP Air Rifle (Our Top Pick)
Our top pick is actually available in both .177and 22 caliber versions, but it is the latter that really offers a fantastic small to medium size prey hunting experience and great value for money, two big things we were certainly looking for in a number one choice.
With its very versatile ambidextrous design, high quality components and big power – thanks to its compressed air ‘power source’ this highly accurate 22 air rifle is increasingly the go-to choice for small game hunters looking for a great rifle at a good price.
You can see out top pick in real live prey hunting action – ‘versus coyotes and prairie dogs – in this video (note, this contains hunting footage, so may be offensive to some)
Top 9 Best 22 Air Rifle For Hunting
Going right back to our top choice this Gamo 22 air rifle is an excellent choice for hunting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its up to 1000 fps fire power.
However, there are other big advantages. A CAT (custom action trigger) offers crisp, clean pulls every time and the self regulating pressure valve helps ensure that each shot in a repeating sequence is as powerful as the last. A 10 round magazine keeps you shooting and the sturdy hardwood stock makes this air rifle as durable as it is good looking.
In terms of noise – which can be a big problem when hunting easily spooked live prey – the Gamo Coyote Whisper Fusion PCP Air Rifle got its name for a reason; an inbuilt silencer makes it one of the quietest 22 caliber hunting air rifles available.
- Powerful – Fire up to 10 shots in succession at 1000 fps
- Quiet – A built in silencer keeps noise to a minimum
- Accurate – A CAT trigger helps ensure shot accuracy every time.
Buy the Gamo Coyote Whisper Fusion PCP Air Rifle on Amazon here.
The Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo is a heavier, more robust choice than some of the other .22 caliber rifles on this list and while that may be more challenging for kids it’s something that a lot of serious live prey hunters appreciate.
This Hatsan air rifle is praised for both its firepower – up to 1000 fps – and its accuracy. A two stage Quattro trigger accommodates a wider range of shooting styles and users report it offers the perfect amount of balanced power out of the box.
The quality of the gun’s build is something else that many users love, something they say makes it a reliable choice hunting season after hunting season, and given its reasonable pricing may make it the high quality ‘everyday’ hunting rifle you’re looking for.
- Durability – A number of users report that this gun offers season after season of reliable live prey hunting.
- Good firepower – Each pellet can be launched at up to 1000 fps
- Accuracy – A two stage trigger allows for a personalized shooting experience
Buy the Hatsan 95 Air Rifle Combo on Amazon here
This is another very quiet .22 air rifle that offers the power and precision a live prey hunter is looking for without a lot of unwanted noise or sometimes intimidating blowback.
Users of this gun state it offers a consistent and powerful shooting experience – up to 1000 fps ‘out of the box’ and that it can even bag mid size prey like coyotes with good accuracy. The fact that it is also an easy gun to use is another plus, especially when out on a longer hunting trip.
The lack of noise and blowback – as well as the very reasonable price point – also makes this a great .22 air rifle for beginners, especially for kids who may be put off by louder, harder to control options.
- Quiet – This .22 air rifle is one of the quietest on the market
- Ease of Use – Simple enough for a beginner to master
- Can Tackle All Kinds of Prey – Good for midsize live prey hunting.
Buy the Stoeger X20S Suppressor Spring Piston Air Rifle on Amazon here
Crosman is one of the most trusted names in the air rifle field and this break barrel .22 has been a popular choice with live prey hunters for years, both for its relative simplicity and its power.
For many, this is a rifle they purchased as a ‘step up’ from the .177 version of the same Crosman air rifle. These users report that ‘going up’ meant they could move on from picking off raccoons and squirrels in the backyard and move on to accurately bag larger prey in the wild.
The Crosman Valiant Break Barrel Hunting Rifle is an ambidextrous rifle with both rear and front sights built in, and its two stage, easily adjustable trigger adds to its versatility. As a great all round hunting .22this is an excellent choice for marksmen and women of all skill levels.
- Versatile – Offers an adjustable two stage trigger and an ambidextrous grip.
- Reliable – Offered by one of the best known and respected names in the air rifle industry
- Trusted – This model has been trusted by live prey hunters for years.
Buy the Crosman Valiant Break Barrel Hunting Rifle on Amazon here.
Another Crosman offering, this .22 air rifle is one that packs more than a little more power and is certainly not an air rifle for beginners or those who do not like to deal with blowback.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a powerful hunting rifle that is capable of bagging medium prey on a consistent basis this is a great everyday choice for the more experienced hunter.
The rifle offers a two-way adjustable trigger, front and rear sights and is modeled after tried and tested Remington designs that have been in use for years. The Nitro system adds power and a raised cheek piece makes for more accurate targeting.
- Versatile – A two-way adjustable allows you to shoot in the way you prefer.
- Weather Resistant – This is an air rifle known for its great weather resistance, so if an unexpected downpour occurs it won’t be damaged.
- Powerful – The compressed air firing mechanism offers more power than many other .22 air rifle options.
Buy the Crosman REHNP22SX Nitro Mag on Amazon here.
Another great offering from Spanish gunsmith Gamo, this PCP .22 air rifle offers a higher powered live prey hunting experience at a reasonable price.
Thanks to the additional power provided by the PCP you can fire off shot after shot at between 500 and 800 fps consistently. It’s not as long range as some options on this list – users report an accuracy of 40 to 50 feet – but the additional power does allow you to tackle larger prey.
In addition, this is a gun that is also a good target shooter, so if you prefer to purchase an air rifle that can tackle live prey but still be taken to the target shooting range then this is a great choice.
- Budget priced – While many PCP air rifles top the $500 mark this model can be purchased for under $300
- Powerful – Capable of bagging larger prey like coyotes and small deer
- Versatile – Offers a good target practice shooting experience as well as an excellent live prey hunting one.
Buy the Gamo 600054 Urban PCP.22 on Amazon here
Another offering from Hatsan, this is a PCP air rifle that offers good power for live prey hunting but is a lighter weight option than some similar guns, a bonus for those who do not want to deal with a heavier gun while out on a hunting trip.
The accuracy range is something that users report to be good – a consistent 50-60 feet – but it is the power that most users enjoy, with 800- 1000 fps being, they report, an average on a fully charged tank.
This is also another option that can be used for both midsize live prey hunts and target practice, making it a versatile choice for those looking for a gun that ‘does it all’.
- Lighter weight – A lighter weight is something some air rifle enthusiasts are looking for and this is a good choice.
- Versatile – Can be used as a target practice rifle with good accuracy as well as a live prey hunting weapon
- Consistent – Providing its fully charged this .22air rifle offers a very consistent shooting experience.
Buy the Hatsan Flash QE .22 Caliber on Amazon here.
We love this .22 air rifle for a lot of reasons, but not least of them is how it harks back to the guns of the Old West. Admit it, there is something cool about a gun that can make you feel like a cowboy…
Aesthetics aside however this is a good, versatile mid range – 750-800 feet – choice that offers a consistent and enjoyable live prey hunting experience. It also packs a lot of power, and users report that they can rely on this air rifle to help them bag medium sized live prey on a regular basis.
This may not be the best choice for beginners, as its use is a little more complicated than some other options, especially when it comes to sighting, but for the experienced marksperson it’s a great, solid choice for regular hunts.
- Great Old West Style – Always wanted to be a cowboy? Now’s your chance…
- Powerful – For a non PCP air rifle users report this gun packs a lot of power
- Consistent – Consistent shot power allows for more ‘kills’
Buy the Benjamin Trail NP XL Air Rifle on Amazon here
This is the gun that many of the users who praise the Benjamin Trail XL say that they are ‘saving up’ for. As you might have guessed by that statement this is not an inexpensive .22 caliber air rifle by any means- you won’t get much change out of $700 – but for the serious live prey hunter it’s one that’s truly beloved.
Despite its great power – it can fire off at 1000 fps constantly on a fully charged tank – and its excellent accuracy – up to 60-70 feet – fans of this gun also love it for its surprisingly quiet operation, as all the great targeting in the world is useless if noise scares your prey away.
This is also a very rugged gun that, users report, offers many years of use when well taken care of, something that offers a good return on the larger investment in the long run.
- Powerful – The gun fires at a consistent 1000 fps
- Durable – Users report having had the same air rifle for years
- Quiet – For such a powerful gun it does not make a lot of noise.
Buy the Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock PCP-Powered Multi-Shot Bolt-Action on Amazon here.
Factors To Consider When Buying a .22 Air Rifle for Hunting
Experience Level – A .22 air rifle is a ‘step up’ from a .177, so for absolute beginners a move up without having mastered the lower level options first may prove frustrating or even dangerous in some cases. Kids can use a .22 but they should always be heavily supervised when doing so until they are used to it.
Our list covers the best .22 caliber air rifles for hunting, and as you have now seen, only. few of them could also be considered the best choices for target practice as well. If you are looking for a gun that does it all – backyard critter pickoffs, live prey hunting and target practice you will need to consider other options as well.
If your only intention is to pick off small critters you may not need a gun that is more specific to live prey hunting. However, if you want to go off after larger prey you should look at some of the more powerful options on our list. Our top pick, and some of the others lower on the list, can (reportedly) handle prey as large as a coyote or a small deer, which for some live prey hunters is an exciting prospect.
Though it should never be the biggest consideration when choosing the best .22 air rifle for hunting there is no doubt that budget will be a consideration for most people.
Most of the air rifles featured on our list are reasonably priced in the $150-$300 range, something that those who want to be able to keep separate guns for different purposes will likely appreciate. We have, however, covered a few more expensive options to please the serious marksperson for whom price is less of a concern.
Live prey hunting can be thrilling, and you do not need a ‘real gun’ – and all the hassle that can come along with it – to enjoy the pursuit when you opt for one of these great .22 caliber air rifle options. Air rifles offer an enjoyable shooting experience for enthusiasts of all skill levels, including well supervised kids, and we hope you find your ‘perfect’ .22 air rifle for hunting with the help of our list.