Maybe you grew up with air rifles. Or maybe you have learned to love them later in life. And for good reason. They can be great for keeping your backyard vermin free, thrilling to make use of for live prey hunting and lots of fun to use for target shooting.
However, on the latter, some shooters take their love of target shooting to the next level and enter the world of marksmen competitions (with a note that there are many excellent female competitors too, it’s just a catch all term.)
While skill is a huge part of success at a competitive level the best competition air rifles can make a huge difference as well, as often even the best craftsmen in any niche are only as good as their tools. That’s why we decided to take a look at the best competition air rifles available today to help you make the choice if you would like to try this exciting sport.
While we will take a longer look at each weapon to get off to a quick start we’ll begin by revealing our overall top pick, the competitive air gun that stands out as the best choice for the widest cross section of shooters. We made our choice based on both our own field tests and the opinions of those competitive marksmen who already own the guns under consideration.
So, without further ado our top pick for the best competition air rifle is:
Our Top Pick: Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle
The UK based gunsmith Air Arms has gained itself a reputation for producing some of the best air rifles for use by competitive marksmen, especially those who are still gaining experience and climbing the ranks.
You’ll find the Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle on the range at competitions everywhere – especially at the college level – as it offers a great combination of accuracy, affordability, versatility and durability and is increasingly a go to choice for many. Want to see it in action? This video offers a great ‘live’ look.
Reviews of 5 Best Competition Air Rifles
1. Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle
As mentioned, the Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle has become a hugely popular choice with amateur competitive marksmen at all levels. Relatively lightweight and easy to operate it performs as well in training as it does in competition, meaning that a single gun can be used for both practice and active competition, something many users who own this gun love.
Users also love this air rifle for its sleek, ambidextrous design and its reliable mechanism, as failed shots are a rarity. The fact that it is a single shot rifle is not an issue, as that is the preferred format for competitive target shooting and its pre-charged pneumatic, bolt action operation is, users report, smooth and easy.
In terms of power it can output at an average of 595 fps – perfectly respectable for competition – and it boasts an adjustable two-stage trigger for greater control. In terms of built in sighting aids the Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle is equipped with both a globe with aperture sight on the front and full diopter sights. A scope can also be easily added to the optics rail for even greater, personalized accuracy.
Reliable – Users report this is one of the most consistent air rifles they have used for target practice
Versatile – A two stage trigger, multiple well-placed efficient sights and a durable but lightweight stock make this a very versatile choice for all levels of competitive shooting.
Affordable – Professional competition air rifles run into the thousands, a little too rich for the average amateur’s taste. At a little under $700 this is a better priced option that still offers a lot of bang for your buck.
Buy the Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle on Amazon here.
2. Crosman PCP Challenger
Designed specifically for competition this offering from Crosman comes a very close second to our top pick. The only reason it missed the mark is that it may not be the easiest competition air rifle for the less experienced to handle. Its 630 fps output is higher than our top choice and additional speed and power does call for additional skill in order to produce the kind of accurate shots needed for competition.
For the experienced competitive marksman however the Crosman PCP Challenger offers a lot. A Lothar Walther barrel and two stage adjustable trigger makes setting up your shot an easy process, even for the left handed, as this is an ambidextrous air rifle and the extra efficient PCP system means that, according to users, each of the ten shots it can accommodate is as effective as the last.
Users also praise the durability of this air rifle and given that it boasts a seal of approval from the National 3-position Air Rifle Council it’s hard to argue against it being a top choice for the serious competitive shooter and users report it is one of the most accurate mid priced competition air rifles currently available.
Versatile Sighting – This air rifle offers an interchangeable aperture for front sight and micro click for rear sight so that lining up the perfect shot is made easier.
Easy to Handle – A well-designed gun this sturdy firearm is durable and solid.
Approved by the Pros – If pros like the National 3-position Air Rifle Council like and approve of this air rifle then that can only be a good thing!
Buy the Crosman PCP Challenger on Amazon here.
3. Daisy 753S Match Grade Avanti
This is an excellent mid level choice of competition air rifle for those competitive marksmen who have graduated beyond a beginner rifle but are perhaps not quite ready for a more powerful option like the Crosman PCP Challenger.
This is a lower powered rifle than our top pick – it tops out at an average of 490 fps – but those who like this air rifle say that what it might lack in speed it makes up for in accuracy. As that is, of course, the name of the game in competitive air rifle tournaments this makes this an excellent choice for honing that skill.
This is also a rather lightweight air rifle, which will be a plus for many, and its built in sights – a globe with aperture inserts up front and a micrometer adjuster diopter in the rear add accuracy without weighing the gun down.
Great for Mid Level Shooters – An excellent choice for those finessing their competitive skills and trying to move up a level or two in ‘the ranks’.
Lightweight – A lighter weight makes it easier for a wider range of competitors to handle and can contribute to making more consistent shots.
Affordable – The Daisy 753S Match Grade Avanti is a good quality competition air rifle offered at a reasonable price.
Buy the Daisy 753S Match Grade Avanti on Amazon here.
4. Beeman QB Chief PCP Air Rifle
Another very well priced but high quality option this is a competition air rifle that some amateur shooters report has been serving them well for a decade or more, making it one of the most durable options on our list.
This single shot PCP air rifle is faster than most of the options on this list – it can be fired at up to 1000 fps – users say that, with experience this does not affect the accuracy of their shot and as a 10-meter shooter – the standard range for Olympic and national competitions – this is one of the best mid skill level competition air rifles available.
Another thing that users love about this gun is its exceptionally responsive trigger, a two-way adjustable that they state makes getting off the right shot at the right time something that can be done on a reliable and consistent basis.
Durable – This competition air rifle has gained a reputation as one of the most durable on the market.
Lightweight – At less than 8 lbs this is a gun that is suited to a wide range of shooters and skill levels.
Accurate – A gun that has a great reputation for accuracy this rifle offers the reliability competitive marksmen are looking for as well as the consistency that is also a must.
Buy the Beeman QB Chief PCP Air Rifle on Amazon here.
5. Daisy Diana RWS 34P
Another Daisy offering this is a single shot PCP competition air rifle that offers much of what people love about the Daisy 753S Match Grade Avanti but with more efficient barrel sightings and a slightly heavier weight that some competitive marksmen prefer.
Unlike many offerings this air rifle comes equipped with a scope, although many users report that changing it out for a different option may improve accuracy even further. Commonly used in amateur competitions at high school and college levels by more experienced younger marksmen this is a mid priced gun that, fans say is both durable and fun to shoot.
Included Scope – A scope is included in the purchase price, a rarity in the air rifle market
Durability – Like other Daisy air rifles this model has a great reputation for durability
Well priced – Not the cheapest option on this list but a mid priced option that offers a lot for the investment made in it, according to those who have purchased it.
Buy the Diana RWS 34P on Amazon here.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Competition Air Rifle
Our list covers some of the best and most commonly used competition air rifle options, but as you shop you may discover that another option is also worth your consideration. When making the right choice for you, no matter what choice you eventually make, there are some basics that should be kept in mind as you do so. Here is a look at some of the most important of those.
Most amateur and professional level air rifle competitions – including Olympic completions – are 10 meter range competitions. But that is not the only variation. Some competitions call for single shot accuracy at a high level while others offer a multi shot format that uses rapid fire targeting that mimics live prey hunting.
This does mean that you will need to choose a competition air rifle that best suits your personal competitive ambitions. One of the reasons we chose the Air Arms T200 Sporter Air Rifle as our top pick is that it is fast becoming a standard on the amateur competitive level, meaning that by choosing it many marksmen will be ensuring they start off on a ‘level playing field’ with their competition.
Some of the competition air rifles we have highlighted are relatively heavy and therefore perhaps not best suited to younger or smaller marksmen. Again, as it is a nice, balanced weight – not too light or too heavy this was another positive factor that made the Air Arms T200 Sporter our top choice.
When every second counts, a responsive trigger is a must, but so is one that matches your personal shooting style. Most of the competition air rifles on our list boast a two stage adjustable trigger, which makes achieving that perfect balance considerably easier.
Competitive professional air guns can run into the thousands to purchase, but these are not usually used at anything but the highest levels. The guns on this list represent a range of budget options and while the cost should not be your primary concern – safety, efficiency and enjoyment should always be primary concerns, there is no doubt that cost is something most of you will be keeping in mind.
Competitive air rifle shooting is a fun, challenging pursuit that marksmen of all ages and skill levels can enjoy, and choosing the right competition air rifle can be a great way to elevate the skills you have and help take you to the next level in this exciting sport.