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Serious hunting air rifles have been gaining popularity, but one of the barriers to entry has been their price. Realizing this, many companies have begun offering PCP air rifles at a more budget-friendly price point. One drawback that comes with the budget price is those rifles lack features and high-end performance. A standout in budget air guns is the Air Venturi Avenger, which has managed to bring the price of admission down, while maintaining performance and a very robust feature set. This rifle addresses this gap in the market for a wallet friendly, ergonomic, lightweight, highly adjustable, and high-performance rifle.
Features and Specifications
- Calibers: .177, .22, and .25
- Weight: 6.4 pounds
- Speed: 1000 fps in .22 caliber
- Barrel length: 22.75 inches
- Overall length: 42.75 inches
- Magazine capacity: 8 shots in .25 caliber and 10 in .22 caliber
- Action: Side lever
- Shots per fill: 20
- Externally adjustable regulator
Air Venturi Avenger Overview
The Air Venturi Avenger is a traditional sporter-style rifle available in .22 or .25 caliber that weighs in at just over 6 pounds in the synthetic stock, and 7 pounds in the hardwood stock. The stock has some stippling in the pistol grip and forestock and comes with integrated sling mounts. There are multiple options for mounting a scope, as the rifle features an 11mm dovetail and weaver combo rail that will accommodate most mounts. There is also a Picatinny rail section on the fore-end of the stock for mounting lights, bipods, or other accessories.
The standout feature of the Air Venturi Avenger is the externally adjustable regulator. Even finding a gun at this price point that incorporates a regulator into the design is impressive. But, to have one this well thought out and with the latitude to fine tune the performance is even more surprising. Optimized performance is achieved by allowing the regulator to work in parallel with the adjustable hammer spring to fine-tune the airflow for a specific projectile or application. The regulator can be adjusted as high as 3000 PSI, and adjustments can be tracked using the regulator pressure gauge located on the right-hand side of the action. Increasing the pressure can be done at any time, but the gun must be degassed before decreasing the pressure. This is accomplished by manipulating a degassing screw found just behind the regulator adjustment.
The Avenger uses a side lever action with a short charging stroke that cocks the rifle and auto-indexes the magazines. The side lever handle is substantial, offers a very tactile grip, and is fast and easy to engage. The rifle comes with two magazines, additional magazines are available at a reasonable price, and—in my experience—the design is reliable and rugged. The trigger is two-stage and adjustable, and out of the box is a medium weight and breaks cleanly with a slight overtravel.
The Air Venturi Avenger has a 180 cc under-barrel air reservoir that charges to 300 BAR (4350 psi), and is connected to the filling tank with a quick release fitting. There is a threaded dust cap that covers the male quick release fitting when not being used. This generic fitting is the most practical and convenient interface between rifle and air tank in my opinion.
Why an Adjustable Regulator is a Big Deal
As mentioned previously, I believe the standout feature on this Air Venturi Avenger rifle is the regulator, which can be adjusted up to 3000 psi and is fine-tuned with the adjustable hammer spring. This hammer spring adjustment is used to increase preload and determine the acceleration of the hammer. The effect when the hammer is moving faster as it strikes the valve stem is that it causes the valve to both open further and stay open longer.
There are many advantages of a regulated gun. For example, if the regulator is set at 2500 psi, then every shot will be at that pressure until the reservoir pressure drops below that point. As a result, the shot-to-shot consistency is dramatically improved over an unregulated gun in which the pressure changes with each subsequent shot. This also allows the gun to be fine-tuned to work with a specific projectile or for a specific application. The shooter can decide whether they want to increase shot count at the expense of energy or vice versa. This is the airgunners equivalent to handloading for firearms.
Another point that might be lost on shooters that have access to a fill station or that have their own compressor, is that if they need to fill the gun with a hand pump, a lower regulator pressure will give them more shots and require less pumping, though with a reduction to peak energy performance.
Air Venturi Avenger Velocity and Accuracy
I’ll start off with a bit of a disclaimer, these results were obtained from my Avenger in .25 caliber with my individualized setup. I dialed in my preferences with respect to power output, consistency, and shot count, your results will probably be different depending on how you set up the rifle. With that said, let’s take a quick look at my results. Generating an average velocity of 887 fps over a thirty-shot string, using 25.39-grain JSB King Heavy Diabolo pellets, my Avenger produced power of approximately 45 ft-lb. There was only a 19-fps spread over the string, which is outstanding consistency. This is reflected in the accuracy of the target shown in the above photo, which is a 16-shot group at 40 yards.
The Air Venturi Avenger rifle behaved well on the bench. The cocking and magazine indexing were smooth, the trigger was adjusted to break at about 2 pounds, and all-around was quite a pleasure to shoot. The integrated shrouded barrel does a good job of suppressing the report, this rifle is backyard or basement friendly quiet. And the air usage is easily monitored by the two pressure gauges, one for the regulator and one for the air reservoir, which are in an easy-to-read position.
Testing the Avenger in the Field
I hunted with the Air Venturi Avenger in the Southwestern Texas scrub for jackrabbits and the South Dakota grasslands for prairie dogs, both of which required longer range shooting off sticks. But I wanted to see how the rifle handled in more confined woodland spaces and shooting offhand. So, I took the Avenger out in my home territory for squirrel season.
I carried this rifle on several squirrel hunts and was very pleased with the performance. Though a longer gun, it is lightweight and carried well. I found that it came quickly and comfortably to shoulder for those quick snap shots, but also shot well when leaning up against a tree for support.
The accuracy was very good using both pellets and purpose designed airgun slugs, and the energy levels made a strong impression on small game. However, on the few occasions I flubbed a shot, I could cycle the rifle quickly while staying on target for a follow up shot. With the relatively high shot count, I was able to hunt over a weekend and fill my limit without the need to refill the air reservoir. All in all, the Avenger did everything I wanted a small game gun to do.
What the Air Venturi Avenger Does Best
It is fair to say that the Air Venturi Avenger does more than its price point might suggest. It is regulated and in every other respect, feature-rich. The rifle performs very well, delivering accuracy, power, and the flexibility to optimize it based on the projectile or intended use. The regulator ensures shot-to-shot consistency, which means that between the first and last shot in a string, the pellet’s point of impact will not shift. The clean and crisp trigger is likewise adjustable and goes a long way in capitalizing on the Avenger’s intrinsic accuracy. The rifle cycles quickly and smoothly, and the magazines are reliably auto indexed.
While you could build the Avenger into a respectable target or benchrest gun, it is an outstanding small game hunting rifle out of the box, especially the .25 caliber version. This is a rifle that could be an entry-level into PCPs, and though it sounds cliche, The Avenger is a rifle you won’t outgrow even if you add additional hunting guns to your collection in the future.
What Could be Improved
So, is the Air Venturi Avenger perfect? Well, no, there are areas where it could be improved—starting with the synthetic stock, which is a bit bulky and has a plasticky feel to it. You can fill the hollow bits with spray foam to make it more solid, you can buy the newer version with a hardwood stock or buy a wood stock if you already own the synthetic stocked version of the rifle.
Another item which is a glass half empty or half full situation, is that the Avenger fills to a very high pressure (4,350 psi) which is at the high end of what a carbon fiber tank can manage. This can present problems in keeping the gun charged to its maximum pressure. On the other hand, it ensures that even if you’ve set the regulator at 3000 psi, you’ll still get a respectable shot count on a fill. Of course, the regulator can be dialed down to operate at lower pressures, and the gun doesn’t need to be charged that high. You will give up some power, but even with the regulator set at 2000 psi, it is still a solid small game rifle that can be filled more easily with a hand pump.
I think the best solution is to purchase one of the small AC/DC air compressors made to charge an individual rifle, rather than fill a large volume tank. Then you will always be able to top the rifle off at a full charge. The price of these devices is dropping, and it is now a viable alternative to purchasing multiple tanks.
I believe that the Air Venturi Avenger is one of the best values in airgunning these days. For under $350 you can own a regulated PCP air rifle that combines power, accuracy, consistency, and shootability into a package that can be customized to the individual shooter’s needs. The design, materials, and build quality are no-frills, but at the same time offer everything for the rifle to perform in the field. With the ability to adjust the performance of the rifle, the Avenger has the legs to stay in your shooting rotation for a long time to come.