Air rifles have come a long way since the days of the ‘classic’ Winchester Daisy Red Rider BB gun. While there are still lots of non pressurized, spring-loaded options available to the recreational shooter a CO2 air rifle offers the power, precision and versatility most of them are looking for.
All that having been said, there are a lot of different options out there to choose from. So many an attempt to narrow them down to the right choice for you – and what you want to do with an air rifle in general – can seem very daunting, especially if you are purchasing one for the first time.
A little knowledge can go a long way though, which is why we compiled our list of the top 9 best CO2 air rifles available in 2020. All of these options are available on Amazon – making purchasing them convenient, quick and easy – and have been purchased and tested by hundreds – if not thousands – of air rifle fans before you.
Although we plan to get into lots more detail – and cover many more options, for those in a hurry we are going to start things off with our overall top pick.
Our Top Pick: SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered (30 Rounds)
In terms of the best overall pick, our vote goes to the SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered (30 Rounds). SIG air rifles have been market leaders for well over three decades, probably because the New Hampshire based manufacturer ensures that its air rifles meet the same performance and quality standards that the guns they manufacture for the military and law enforcement agencies of countries all over the world.
Great for target practice, and even minor varmint hunting, the SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered is a great, even reasonably priced, choice that performs up to most air rifle enthusiasts standards every time.
Review of The Top 9 Best CO2 Air Rifles
Still with us? Great. Read on to learn more about all of our top 2020 picks and why they might just be the CO2 air rifle for you.
1. SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered (30 Rounds)
Our top pick, this USA designed and manufactured CO2 air rifle is offered by a company who has a great reputation for producing high quality weaponry of all kinds, including the kind utilized by law enforcement and the military.
The SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered air rifle stands out for lots of reasons, with accuracy and round capability being standouts. If you hate having to stop to reload every few minutes when you are ‘in the zone’ during a target practice session then you will love this gun, as it holds 30 rounds in a single magazine, meaning you spend less time loading and more time shooting.
For those who are looking for a CO2 air rifle for pest control purposes, this gun is more than adequate for basic use and its accuracy – some users say they can consistently hit targets more than 35 feet away – makes such pursuits easier for the marksman – or woman – and more humane for the target.
Want to see our top pick in action? Check out this ‘in the field’ video from air gun experts Pyramyd Air here
Excellent capacity – One magazine can hold up to 30 rounds of ammo
Reliable accuracy – With a range of 35 feet or more this is a great gun for target shooting enthusiasts.
Tried and tested design – SIG have over three decades of experience in producing some of the best weaponry in the world, including CO2 air rifles.
Buy the SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered (30 Rounds) on Amazon here.
2. Crosman 1077 CO2 Pellet Gun Air Rifle
Crosman is another well known name in the air rifle business and we especially like this model because of the versatility it offers, as its balanced weight and ease of use makes it as well suited to use by kids as it does to adults.
One of the problems that many CO2 air rifles, even some excellent ones, suffer from occasionally is a tendency to jam up, which can be confusing and off putting for kids and annoying (to say the least) for serious target shooters (or anyone trying to finally get that pesky trash digging raccoon)
The Crosman 1077 CO2 Pellet Gun Air Rifle however has earned itself a reputation as one of the smoothest shooting options out there, as well as one of the safest, as a longer trigger pull means it is far less likely it will go off accidentally.
Versatile – Easy to handle and lightweight this air rifle is a great choice for adults and kids
Reliable – The Crosman 1077 CO2 Pellet Gun Air Rifle is one of the few guns on the market that rarely ever jams
Safety – Accidental fire is highly unlikely, thanks to a longer trigger pull that prevents inadvertent use.
Buy the Crosman 1077 CO2 Pellet Gun Air Rifle on Amazon here.
3. Umarex Steel Storm .177 Caliber Steel BB Airgun
Small and compact, but with the kind of ‘fierce look’ that some air gun enthusiasts are looking for, the Umarex Steel Storm is possibly as close as you can get to a full auto at a budget price on the air gun market right now.
This makes it perfect for serious target practice sessions and as it’s light and easy to carry, it’s suited for use by a wide range of people.
The one problem with this gun is that CO2 needs to be purchased separately. That’s easy enough to do, and while it may be slightly inconvenient the initial purchase price may make up for that – this is a great budget choice – and if you are seeking an easy to conceal, smooth shooting, cool looking air rifle this is a great choice.
Rapid Fire – This gun is as close to a fully automatic air rifle as you can get at a budget price level
Great Looks – This is a weapon that just looks cool, and for some that’s a big deal
Affordability – If you are looking to spend a little less but still want a decent air rifle then this is a great choice.
Buy the Umarex Steel Storm .177 Caliber Steel BB Airgun on Amazon here.
4. Umarex Steel-Force Automatic .177 Caliber BB Gun Air Rifle
The ‘big brother’ of the very popular Steel Storm we just highlighted, the Umarex Steel Force brings the excitement of a six shot semi auto blast to an affordable, easy to use air gun that’s a great choice for air gun veterans and beginners alike.
Many semi automatic air rifles are best left in the hands of seasoned shooters as their recoil is a little too much for beginners to handle confidently or safely, but the smooth shooting action of the Umarex Steel-Force ensures this is not the case here and offers a good introduction to newbie shooters looking to handle a little more power safely.
Exciting – For some there’s nothing quite like shooting a rapid fire semi- auto, and if that applies to you this gun is an excellent choice.
High Quality Construction – Like all Umarex air guns this model boasts high quality construction and is built to last.
Great for Beginners – The gun offers a safer, less intimidating introduction to sem automatic air guns for beginners.
Buy the Umarex Steel-Force Automatic .177 Caliber BB Gun Air Rifle at Amazon here.
5. Legends Cowboy Lever Action CO2 BB Air Rifle
If this gun reminds you of something from the Wild, Wild West that’s because it’s supposed to, as it was created as a nod to those sharp shooters of old who actually had to live on the critters they bagged, not just keep them away from their garbage and their vegetable gardens.
Based on the design of a Winchester Model 1894, which was one of the world’s first mass produced hunting rifles – it offers the loading ease that iconic firearm did, but with the addition of a CO2 cartridge that adds the power that an old day cowboy could only have dreamed of.
Fans of this air rifle love it for its looks, but also for its excellent sighting, its ease of loading and its lightweight handling. And it’s a great air rifle for beginners too, another plus.
Classic Design – This gun offers an experience that’s as close to the ‘Wild, Wild West’ as you can probably get in the 21st century.
Loading Ease – The gun on which it’s based – the Winchester Model 1894 – is revered by gun historians as one of the best rear loaders of all time – and the Legends Cowboy Lever Action CO2 BB Air Rifle brings that to life perfectly in the 21st century.
Great Sightings – Excellent sight placement makes lining up targets a breeze.
Buy the Legends Cowboy Lever Action CO2 BB Air Rifle on Amazon here.
6. Umarex MORPH 3X CO2 Pistol & Rifle
Some air gun enthusiasts like to switch between air rifles and air pistols, but that can be a pain, lugging around two guns. The Umarex MORPH 3X CO2 Pistol & Rifle solves that problem as it’s actually both, packed into a single, very versatile weapon.
In addition to its versatility, fans of this gun love its lightweight but sturdy construction and the ease of use, reporting that switching from rifle to pistol can be achieved in just a few seconds. And it’s very reasonable pricing – a ‘two in one gun’ for under $100 is pretty amazing – is another good reason to consider this choice as well.
Versatile – One of the only airguns available that offers the choice of using it as as an air rifle or an air pistol
Lightweight – Ease of use is matched by ease of carry, making it a great choice for long hunting ‘hikes’
Affordable – A high quality air gun that is this versatile for less than $100? That’s hard to beat.
Buy the Umarex MORPH 3X CO2 Pistol & Rifle at Amazon here.
7. DPMS Full Auto SBR CO2-Powered BB Air Rifle with Dual Action Capability
If you are looking for a fully automatic CO2 air gun that packs some serious power -and is an excellent choice for the serious target shooter – then this well-made, durable firearm deserves some serious consideration.
The gun allows you to choose between semi automatic and full automatic fire, with full auto offering up to 1400 rounds per minute. Be warned however, at this rate some serious blowback is produced, so this is not a gun for beginners.
One surprising thing, perhaps, is that for a gun that is so fast many owners report that it is also very accurate, and that if you are looking for speed and accuracy it can deliver both.
Power – If you are looking for a CO2 air rifle with some serious power, this is it
Great for Serious Target Shooters – Especially as for such a powerful gun it’s reported to be very accurate
Not for Beginners – Some gun fans love the blowback feeling, but it’s scary and off putting for beginners, which is why we recommend this gun for the experienced only.
Buy the DPMS Full Auto SBR CO2-Powered BB Air Rifle with Dual Action Capability at Amazon here.
8. Beeman QB78S-177 Air Gun Rifle
Not everyone wants an air rifle for target practice. Some people – especially those who live in more rural areas – rely on their CO2 air rifle to help them keep their property pest free, and if you fall into that category this gun is a great choice.
Those who love this gun do so for its better than average accuracy – there’s little room for mistakes when you are dealing with a live, moving target – and its long range.
Some users have reported being able to get off an accurate shot on a squirrel from 50-60 feet away. If you are dealing with a pest as skittish as a squirrel can be that long range certainly offers a big advantage.
The fact that the Beeman QB78S-177 Air Gun also comes with a removable bipod makes setting up an accurate shot even easier, so for those just starting out on live prey this can be a big help as they learn.
Longer Range – This gun can be fired accurately at distances of 50 feet and over
Great for Pest Control – as this is one of the best pest control air rifles on the market it’s a great choice for regular critter hunters
Great for Beginners – The included bipod means that lining up an accurate shot is made easier, even for those new to air rifle use.
Buy the Beeman QB78S-177 Air Gun at Amazon here.
9. Umarex Walther CP99 Compact .177 Caliber BB Gun Air Pistol
Finally, for those who harbor a secret desire to be JamesBond, but also want a CO2 air pistol that packs some serious power, this is a great choice.
Based on the design of the iconic Walther P99, this gun is a fun, but sporty, replica of the real thing – right down to the blowback action. Excellent for closer range varmint hunting, or precision target shooting, this gun is loved by enthusiasts for many reasons, but the biggest being because it’s just so much fun.
Lots of Fun – Shooting does not always have to be a serious pursuit. This gun allows for safe fun that people of all ages will enjoy.
Realistic Blowback -If you are looking for an air gun with realistic – but not overpowering – blowback this is a great choice.
Affordable – This gun is surprisingly affordable for what is a durable recreation of an iconic weapon.
Buy the Umarex Walther CP99 Compact .177 Caliber BB Gun Air Pistol on Amazon here.
Factors to Consider When Buying a CO2 Air Rifle
Before you spend a dime on a CO2 air rifle there are some factors you need to take into consideration to help you find the choice that suits you unique needs:
Are you looking for a CO2 air rifle that will allow you to hone your skills as a target shooting maestro, or are you looking for a weapon that can be used to hunt small game – rabbits, squirrels etc – and/or keep your property pest free? Some models – as you can tell from our reviews, are better suited to one over the other, although our top pick, the SIG Sauer MCX .177 Cal CO2 Powered, is well suited to both.
What’s Your Experience Level?
CO2 powered air rifles are NOT toys, but under proper supervision they can be used by kids. However, no matter how old you are, if you don’t have a lot of experience then an air rifle that has a lot of blowback is not a great choice. On the other hand if you are an air gun veteran then the thrill of the blowback may be something you are specifically seeking.
How Far Do You Want to Shoot?
Some people are most comfortable with shorter range target shooting that offers them a chance to seriously hone their accuracy. Others are looking for a longer range gun that will allow them to hunt small prey without scaring it off by getting too close, so the range a certain CO2 air rifle offers is definitely something that has to be kept in mind.
A good CO2 air rifle offers adults and kids the chance to experience the thrill of shooting – or the hunt – in a safer, more affordable way. Making the right choice when buying a gun can make all the difference though, so keep all of our tips and picks in mind as you shop.