There are generations of air rifle enthusiasts who began their love affair with the pursuit as kids, and that’s a tradition that’s carrying on today. And providing a child is well-supervised and taught to be safe and sensible there is no reason that kids shouldn’t be introduced to the pastime early.
One thing that they will need, however, is an air rifle that suits their size, needs and experience level. For parents – or grandparents and others – looking to purchase the best air rifle for kids the choices can be confusing though, especially as it’s probably years since they handled a youth weapon themselves.
To help you make the right choices – and as kids are involved doing so is even more important than when choosing an air rifle yourself – we have taken a look at some of the best air rifles for kids available right now. We took into account not only our own field testing but also the opinions and reviews of other marks people who have purchased these guns before.
While we are going to take a more in depth look at each of our picks for best air rifle for kids if you want to cut to the chase we’re going to start off with our top overall pick:
Our Top Pick
Ruger Explorer Youth .177 Caliber Pellet Airgun
This is an air rifle for kids that is specifically targeted at tween beginners, those aged between eight and twelve. Offered by Ruger, a manufacturer that experienced adult hunters are often very familiar with, it’s versatile. lightweight choice that is offered at a great price point and will serve kids very well as they work through learning the basics of air rifle shooting.
This is also a gun that is well-sized for kids without feeling like a toy gun, and, some purchasers report, can even be utilized by a smaller adult rather well, so if you want to sneak a few shots while the real owner is not looking you can go right ahead.
Reviews of The Top 5 Best Air Rifles for Kids
As we’ve already touched on this is a reasonably priced, versatile air rifle that is perfect for the tween set.
When it comes to an air rifle for kids size does matter. This firearm measures at 37.125 inches (0.94 m) in length and weighs just 4.45 pounds (2.02 kg), making it slightly smaller and lighter than some other options on this list but for a beginner a heavy gun will only heighten the learning curve, possibly leading to the child losing interest before they ever really gave the sport a chance. However, users report that it is very durable and well built.
On average a good kids air rifle will launch its pellets at somewhere between 475 fps and 600 fps. This model averages 495 fps and does not produce a lot of blowback, which is why we’ve chosen it as the best possible option for the widest range of young shooters, along with its good sighting and sturdy break barrel construction.
The gun makes use of .177 pellets and features both a push-pull safety and an anti-slam trigger-barrel safety, offering those supervising young shooters some extra peace of mind, as safe shooting is the number one consideration when purchasing any air rifle for a child.
One note: This is a great gun for kids who are just getting started but it’s best suited for target practice. When your child is experienced and old enough to start shooting live prey it may no longer be the best option.
Versatile: This is a lightweight air rifle that should suit kids of various heights and weights as well as skill levels and is excellent for accurate target practice.
Affordable: Few people want to spend too much on a kids air rifle – in case they do lose interest in the pursuit – but this is a high quality option at a very reasonable price.
Safe: A double safety system will help ensure that kids stay safe as they learn and less blowback helps too.
Buy the Ruger Explorer Youth .177 Caliber Pellet Airgun on Amazon here:
Not every youth shooter is a beginner, and as kids get both more experienced and get older they will want a slightly more powerful gun but the adults in charge of them will still understandably want that gun to be safe and suitable for them to handle. The Gamo 6110017154 Varmint fits that criteria very well.
This is a powerful, sturdy break barrel .177 that can deliver up to 1,250 of power, which is enough to satisfy many adult shooters as well as older kids. It is longer and heavier than our top pick – it ‘weighs in’ at 43 inches (1.09 m) and weighs 5.47 lbs (2.48 kg) – but for an experienced teen shooter it should offer good handling.
As kids become more experienced they may also want to move on from the target shooting the Ruger Explorer Youth is best suited for and to try their hand at picking off varmints. This is an excellent option for doing just that.
This is a weather resistant air rifle with an ambidextrous stock and its superior sighting will help younger shooters get used to lining up their live prey shots with accuracy, so they have the best chance of bagging their prey. This rifle has an accuracy distance of up to 30 feet (9 meters), so it will offer a great introduction to longer range hunting as well as simple backyard shooting.
More advanced: This is youth air rifle designed for the more experienced teen shooter
Good for live prey: A good option for those starting out on live prey
Powerful: Increased fps capability means that this choice can be used for either target practice or varmint hunting.
Buy the Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal on Amazon here
Could it get any more nostalgic and classic than the 1938 Daisy Red Ryder? Possibly not, and generation after generation of kids have made use of a version of this iconic BB and air rifle. However, what you might be surprised to learn is that as a starter air rifle for kids it still stands up very well against its newer competition.
Retaining its classic lightweight profile – it measures 35.4 inches (0.9 meters) in length and weighs just 2.2 pounds (1 kg) – it’s still one of the best choices for the youngest new shooters who simply would not be able to handle a heavier option.
This great looking air rifle can also handle longer distances better than you might imagine – users report an accuracy rate of up to 195 yards (178 m) and can fire off at up to 350 fps. Its very affordable price point also means that you won’t be spending too much on an air rifle that may only be used by its owner for a short time but its durability means its hand me down potential is excellent too.
Very lightweight: One of the best choices for the youngest. least experienced kids
Classic: Generations of marksmen and women have got their start in the sport with a Red Ryder 1938
Durable: This is a kids air rifle that can be passed from sibling to sibling without losing any of its effectiveness or appeal.
Buy the Daisy Outdoor Products Model 1938 Red Ryder BB Gun on Amazon here
It is harder to find a higher powered air rifle that can truly be said to be OK for kids to use, but this is potentially one of them, provided that the user is reasonably experienced and certainly not an absolute beginner.
This is a CO2 cartridge powered air rifle, which may mean for some kids it offers the highest velocity they have yet made use of, on average 650fps, enough to punch major holes in targets and even to pick off small critters in the backyard.
Those who have purchased this air rifle praise it primarily for its superior accuracy. It’s 50 shot capacity means that kids can ‘get on a roll’ more easily and its relatively quiet operation is a plus too.
Power: Not as powerful as the Gamo Varmint, but a good step up from many other beginner options
Accurate: Across the board users report this is a very accurate air rifle and great for target practice.
Quiet: When learning to live prey shoot having a quieter air rifle is always going to be a plus.
Buy the Beeman AR2078B-177 Air Gun on Amazon here
This is the perfect youth air rifle for perfecting the kind of quiet, accurate shot needed to bag live prey both out in the open and in the backyard.
While kids are likely to find the electronic sighting ‘cool’ it serves a much greater learning purpose. Guided by the inbuilt sensors, young shooters can hone their targeting skills with greater ease and start challenging their adult peers on the target range with confidence.
In terms of power the Gamo Recon Whisper can fire at up to 750 fps and has an average accurate range (according to users) of 100 feet (30 meters) and while reportedly not quite as quiet as its name suggest most users say that the shots are not so loud that they spook small backyard prey (or the neighbors.)
Accuracy: Electronic sighting offers greater accuracy
Powerful: Can be shot at up to 750 fps
Versatile: A two stage trigger allows users to adjust the shot to their liking.
Buy the Gamo 6110026154 Recon Whisper G2 on Amazon here.
Factors To Consider When Buying an Air Rifle for Kids
Most adult air rifles are just too big for kids younger than in their mid teens to handle so looking for a lighter weight option is probably going to be a must. One thing that adults buying an air rifle for kids for the first time have to realize is that a single air rifle is rarely going to carry them through their tweens and teens, and that they will need to be ‘upgraded’ at least once every few years.
When looking for a lighter weight air rifle it’s important that you ensure that lighter weight does not translate into flimsy. One of the reasons we chose the Ruger Explorer Youth .177 Caliber Pellet Airgun as our top pick was that it offers excellent durability despite its lighter weight.
Kids should always be supervised when shooting, but even when they are adults want to try and ensure that they are safe. Flimsy guns with poor safety mechanisms pose a risk in themselves, and a gun with a lot of blowback potential may scare a new shooter into making a potentially harmful mistake. As it has two effective safety mechanisms this aspect of an air rifle is another reason the Ruger Explorer Youth got the number one spot.
Hopefully your young shooter will love the sport as much as you do and eventually be ready to move up to a more powerful gun and graduate from the target range to live prey. The more powerful options on our list are great choices when that time comes, but as they grow up it will be up to you – not an over keen youth shooter – to decide when that is.
Kids are fickle. They often pick up a hobby only to get bored of it quickly. In a way that’s to be expected as they figure out what they really like to do. Hopefully your young shooter will love their air rifle and the sport itself, but if they don’t you may regret having chosen the most expensive option available!
For that reason it’s a good thing that all the best air rifles for kids on our list are reasonably priced for what they offer and yet still offer the durability and safety that’s so important.
If you are looking for the best air rifles for kids we hope you find our list a helpful starting point. Getting kids into a sport you love yourself is exciting and fun, but safety and sense always have to be number one!