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I’ve been airgun hunting for 20 years and have shot nearly every .22 air rifle available. With that experience hunting with and reviewing airguns, I’ve put together a list of the best .22 air rifles.
I’ll start with my standard disclaimer for these types of articles. The “best” rifle is a subjective measure that depends on its end use and your personal preferences. These are guns that I would choose based on criteria such as accuracy, power, size and weight, cocking action, magazine capacity, trigger, or the cost of ownership. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are my top picks:
It would be easy just to select my overall favorite airguns and say, “I’ll take the .22 version of that.” However, I am going to start with a clean slate, ask myself what I’d want specifically in a .22, look at what’s available on the market, and share my choice. Some of these you will have seen in my previous articles, but others will be new to the lists.
- Best Overall: Brocock Commander XR
- Best Budget: Umarex NOTOS .22 PCP Carbine
- Best Modular Design: Air Venturi Avenge-X
- Best Sporter Design: Hatsan Neutron Star
- Best Compact: Brocock Sniper XR
- Most Accurate: FX Impact
- Best Semi-Auto: AEA HP Carbine
Best .22 Air Rifles: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Brocock Commander XR
- Huma-Air adjustable regulator
- Lother Walther polygonal barrel
- Tactical stock, AR-style stock, and pistol grip
- Shrouded barrel with integrated baffles
- Very accurate long-range capabilities
- Ergonomic and adjustable
- Fast, smooth cycling of sidelever
- Picatinny rail under bottle could be longer
The Brocock Commander XR is lightweight, compact (with the stock folded), and easy to pack over long distances. The sidelever action and magazine are reliable and can cycle quickly without coming off target. When shooting off sticks or with a bipod attached, I find this rifle is an absolute tack-driver on long-range prairie dog shoots. When hunting at distances over 100 yards with an air rifle and an 18-grain pellet, everything on the gun has to work well and work the same way every time, which the Commander does, and it’s why this rifle makes the grade.
It has a bottle-forward design that is configured to accept an AR-compatible stock and pistol grip. The rifle uses a sidelever cocking and loading system that cycles the 10-shot magazine. The cocking handle is comfortable to use and only needs a short straight pull to cycle. Air management is provided by the HUMA regulated air delivery system that works with the adjustable hammer and valve to provide a high-level consistency.
You can choose from an aluminum or carbon air cylinder. The aluminum is less expensive, and the carbon fiber is lighter. Dual air gauges monitor both regulator pressure settings and the air supply status. A power adjuster—located on the right-hand side of the breech block—works well for on-demand tuning.
If you are looking for a gun that is both a good all-around small game rifle and can be set up to reach out for longer range small game and pest control shooting, the Brocock Commander XR is hard to beat. With adjustable power, flexible airflow management, a precision barrel, a design that provides a stable and solid shooting platform, this is one that I felt comfortable making my pick for the best .22 air rifle for hunting overall.
Another great long-range hunting air rifle: FX Dreamline
Best Budget: Umarex NOTOS .22 PCP Carbine
- Regulated for consistent velocity output
- Sidelever action
- Seven-shot rotary magazine
- Fully shrouded barrel
- Compact, adjustable stock
- Good accuracy and power for plinking or hunting
- Regulated, rare feature at this price point
- Three consistent magazines (21 shots) per fill
- Regulator setting is not adjustable.
- Left side cocking lever might not appeal to some shooters.
I believe the NOTOS is a close-to-perfect vehicle for a .22 caliber small game gun. It generates around 18 foot-pounds, is accurate, ergonomic, and very reasonably priced. With the adjustable stock, the NOTOS would be perfect for a young hunter, performs at a level that would grow with the newbie shooter, or be a great addition for the experienced hunter that wants a super light and compact rig for squirrel hunting in the fall woods. This little carbine is an absolute blast to shoot.
The Umarex NOTOS .22 PCP Carbine comes with all the components to configure it as a large handgun or a sub-compact carbine, making it one of the most versatile offerings I’ve tested in a while. The stock is a black synthetic material with a pistol grip and an adjustable AR-style stock. It is also one of the best airgun values you’ll find, at well under $300, yet it offers features found on air rifles that are much more expensive. Another interesting fact about the NOTOS is that it is a dedicated .22, the only caliber it is offered in, and as a bonus, this carbine is very ammunition tolerant.
Read our full review of the Umarex NOTOS
Best Modular Design: Air Venturi Avenge-X
- Adjustable regulator
- Modular design
- Adjustable power
- Sidelever action
- Range of caliber options (.177, .22, .25)
- Fully shrouded barrel
- Extremely configurable
- Accurate and powerful
- Moderately low sound signature
- No frill, workmanlike design and manufacture
- Brand-new offering and inventories may deplete quickly
I really like the fact that this rifle is available in several configurations, sporter, bullpup, and tactical, but what I think enhances this is that the Avenge-X series is truly modular. The Avenge-X is unique in the marketplace, with a range of optional components (barrels, air storage, and stocks), which are both easily available and reasonably priced.
The Air Venturi Seneca Avenge-X is difficult to provide a concise description of because it can be configured in so many ways. The product line leverages key technology and lessons learned from the Avenger rifle and bullpup. While other manufacturers tout a modular design, what I appreciate about the Avenge-X is that the parts are available, priced reasonably, and can be modified by the typical user.
Read our full review of the Air Venturi Avenger.
Best Sporter Design: Hatsan Neutron Star
- Powerful (45-50 fpe)
- 12-shot magazine in .22
- High shot count (Approx. 100 shots/fill)
- Adjustable Turkish walnut TH stock
- Quatro trigger
- Choked precision German barrel
- Available in .177, .22, .25, .30
- Optimized for heavy pellets and slugs
- Rapid indexing with high shot count
- A very attractive hardwood stock (synthetic version available)
- A heavy gun
- Fairly loud
The Neutron Star is a rifle that will appeal to those that prefer a traditional design, and the ergonomics and control layout offers the best elements of the classic sporter design. The figuring on the hardwood stock stands out and is a step above what you might expect at the gun’s price point. The power output produced by this rifle in .22 is close to 50 foot-pounds, making it an especially well-suited platform for heavier projectiles and long-range shooting.
The Hatsan Neutron Star .22 is a traditional sporter style PCP air rifle, that mounts well and offers a stable shooting platform. The rifle is on the heavy side and perhaps not well suited to small shooters, but it fits my 6-foot, 1-inch frame well.
The Neutron Star utilizes a well-proportioned side lever to index the 12-shot (in .22) magazine smoothly and ships with two magazines and a single-shot loading tray. The Hatsan Quattro trigger is a two-stage match trigger that offers a very crisp, responsive, and predictable pull. Though the rifle does not have a regulator, it is well-balanced and produces good shot-to-shot consistency. The Neutron Star is a solid hunting gun for small to medium-sized quarry and is also suitable for target shooting.
Best Compact PCP: Brocock Sniper XR Sahara
- Compact (32.25-inch LOA)
- High shot count (120 shots/fill)
- Adjustable power (to 30 FPE)
- Very accurate
- Solid power output for small game
- Sidelever action
- Two stage adjustable trigger
- Outstanding magazine design (a personal favorite)
- Moderately expensive
- Moderate sound signature without suppressor mounted
I have long been a fan of the Brocock Sniper line of rifles for small-game hunting. These guns use a unique semi-bullpup design that offers all the advantages of a carbine, such as incorporating a longer barrel while retaining the dimensions and shooting characteristics of a standard carbine. When I use a scope with longer eye relief and mount it further forward, the Sahara has the feel of a scout rifle.
The Brocock Safari XR is a variant of the semi-bullpup XR model in a sand finish, with all the features that have made the Sniper XR one of my all-time favorite small game guns. The Sahara’s thumbhole polymer stock is equipped with an adjustable cheekpiece and butt pad, with molding panels dressing the grip and forend. A Picatinny accessory rail allows various accessories to be mounted quickly and securely. Based on the Sniper XR’s action, the Sahara also benefits from several technical improvements that result in increased power output and one of the highest shot counts in the Brocock range. With respect to handling, the Sahara is extremely well-balanced. It comes quickly to the shoulder and is a field shooter’s dream. Handling is further enhanced by the lightweight and compact frame and an overall length that measures 32.25 inches from butt to threaded muzzle and weighs in at 7.3 pounds.
- Value pricing
- Adjustable regulator
- Shrouded barrel
- Accurate and powerful
- Excellent performance out of the box
- Responsive trigger and sidelever action
- Rugged and reliable magazine
- Fully adjustable regulator allows optimization for specific projectiles and applications
- High-capacity and high-pressure air storage provides a high shot count
- Stock has a hollow and plasticky feel
- If the regulator is set high, a high pressure (4351 psi) fill is required
For a rifle to be a great entry-level gun, it has to be easy to set up and shoot, offer the performance to allow a new shooter to achieve success and see improvement, and continue to support the shooter’s needs as their experience level grows. The Avenger does an outstanding job of addressing this requirement.
The standard Avenger is a full-sized PCP rifle in a black synthetic sporter style stock that will fit most shooters well. The air reservoir sits below the barrel and provides a surprisingly high shot count due to the high fill pressures it can accommodate. The rifle is cycled with a sidelever action using a well-designed cocking lever that reliably auto indexes the magazines. Two pressure gauges display the status of the air storage and the regulator setting.
The Avenger is an excellent example of a gun that can adapt to the shooter’s needs. It is an excellent choice for novice PCP shooters and airgun aficionados who want to tune and modify a gun to make it their own.
I have used the Avenger .22 to hunt squirrels and rabbits with standard Diabolo pellets, and dialed it in to work with airgun slugs for long-range prairie dog shoots. The intrinsic accuracy, tactile trigger, smooth cocking action, and overall ergonomics make this an easy gun to shoot accurately. The low price makes it an attractive rifle to purchase, and the features and functionality ensure it will continue to provide value as a new shooter gains experience. And for all of these reasons, the Avenger was my pick for best budget .22 air rifle.
Best Spring Piston: Hatsan Model 65
- Excellent performance, accurate, and powerful
- Quiet Energy sound suppression system
- Quatro adjustable two-stage trigger
- SAS shock absorber system
- Accurate and powerful
- Excellent shooting characteristics
- Competitively priced
- Only available with conventional spring piston
What makes a spring-piston gun stand out for me—in addition to accuracy and a solid power output—is a smooth shooting cycle, a manageable cocking effort, and a good trigger. I also want a comfortable and ergonomic stock, a quiet gun in terms of the muzzle report and mechanical functions, and is fun to shoot. The Model 65 ticks all of these boxes.
The Hatsan Model 65 is a conventional spring-piston air rifle that comes with thumbhole stock made of Turkish hardwood, that has stippling on the pistol grip and forestock, and an adjustable cheekpiece. This rifle is loaded with the technology Hatsan developed such as the SAS shock absorber system for taming bidirectional recoil, the Quiet Energy sound suppression system to bring the report down to a backyard-friendly level, and the Quatro trigger which is one of my favorites in this category of guns.
With all the interest in new airgun technologies these days, we sometimes forget that spring-piston airguns are still one of the primary gateways to airgunning. There is something to be said about a fully self-contained rifle. You just need to grab a handful of pellets, and you’re good for a day in the woods—no spare tanks or compressors needed. And the Hatsan Model 65 is one of the best .22 air rifles of the breed: It is intrinsically accurate, has a well-designed stock, a trigger that breaks crisply and is consistent, along with a smooth shooting cycle that allows the shooter to get the most out of the gun, and that’s why the Hatsan Model 65 is my pick for best spring piston .22 air rifle
Another great spring piston: Gamo Swarm
Best Compact: Brocock Sniper XR
- Semi-bullpup design
- Adjustable Huma-Air regulator
- Shrouded Lothar Walther Polygonal Barrel
- Very accurate
- Adjustable power
- Compact design
- Moderately heavy
The Brocock Sniper XR Magnum is based on a semi-bullpup platform. The standard gun incorporates the Brocock HumaAir regulator system, a choked Lothar Walther Polygon match grade barrel, a Hi-Lo power adjuster for quick modifications, a 10-shot magazine, a two-stage adjustable trigger, and a 480cc Carbon Fiber air cylinder. The sidelever action is silky smooth to operate and incorporates a hammer and valve assembly that increases the power output and reliable shots-per-fill count.
The Brocock Sniper XR .22 leverages elements of both carbine and bullpup platforms. This hybrid “semi-bullpup” design results in a short and lightweight carbine that has the performance of a full-size rifle. The HUMA regulator provides outstanding shot-to-shot consistency and is adjustable so the shooter can fine-tune the gun for a specific projectile. I’ve used three-position power control as a quick means of adjusting to various shooting conditions, starting the day shooting long-range prairie dogs, then shifting to hunting cottontails around the sheds and outbuilding at the farm, then pigeons in the barn. The combination of a compact platform with outstanding performance is the reason the Brocock Sniper XR makes my list for best compact .22 air rifle.
Another great compact .22 air rifle: AirForce Talon
Most Accurate: FX Impact
- Interchangeable barrels and slug liners available
- FX Smooth Twist X Barrel
- Adjustable regulator and power plenum
- AR15-style grip, CNC aluminum stock, adjustable recoil pad (height)
- Extremely accurate
- Adjustable match trigger
- Carbon-fiber tank: 480 cc Standard, 300cc Compact
- Shot count: approximately 130 shots per fill
- Multi caliber
- Complicated to set up for new shooters
I am not a serious competitive shooter, though I occasionally compete and have had a chance to watch and speak with some of the best competitors on the circuit. Many of the top shooters I’ve talked to have told me without reservation why the Impact is one of the best .22 air rifles for benchrest and speed silhouette. And when a group of the best comes close to a consensus, I’m going to pay attention.
The FX Impact is a bottle-forward bullpup built on a CNC aluminum stock with an adjustable recoil pad and an AR-style pistol grip. It uses a sidelever action that quickly and smoothly cycles. The two-stage adjustable trigger uses a post and blade configuration and offers incredibly light and tactile responsiveness. There are several barrel options, and they are interchangeable.
Airgun competitions in the U.S. and Europe are gaining popularity, especially benchrest, high-speed silhouette, and field target. The FX Impact has become one of the most widely used and successful platforms competing in benchrest and silhouette, and it is because every aspect of the gun has a laser focus on wringing every bit of accuracy. I am not a competitive shooter, but I have an Impact .22 set up for long-range prairie dogging, and it is quite simply one of the most accurate air rifles ever built. The FX Impact’s track record for incredible accuracy and consistency is why it’s my pick for the most accurate .22 air rifle.
Best Semi-Auto: AEA HP Carbine
- Semi-auto action
- Folding stock
- High power
- Shrouded barrel
- Compact and lightweight
- Occasional misfeeds with some ammo (functions reliably with most pellets)
- Uses a lot of air and pellets
There are a few semi-auto PCP air rifles on the market, but not many good ones. I’ve been shooting the HP Carbine for a few months now, and besides having a good track record for reliability, they have built this gun on a smaller frame and kept both the size and the price down. AEA seems to have found the sweet spot.
This is a tactical design with a folding AR-style buttstock, pistol grip, and bottle-forward configuration. The gun folds for easy packing and transporting, deploys quickly, and offers an ergonomic and stable shooting platform that I like for offhand shooting. The shrouded barrel does a good job of reducing the sound signature.
It’s accurate, powerful, and spits out pellets as fast as you can pull the trigger. I think this caliber is one of the best .22 air rifles for plinking or hunting. With this gun, you will consume a lot of air and a lot of pellets, so you need to ensure you have access to both. I would suggest that you think about investing in a compressor, so you always have air available.
Another great semi-auto airgun: Hatsan Invader
How to Choose One of the Best .22 Air Rifles
To select the best .22 air rifle you need to answer three questions:
- What is your budget?
- How will you use the air rifle?
- Are you willing to invest in an air compressor or air tank?
If your budget is over $1,000 you have a lot of accurate and powerful .22 air rifles to choose from. I’d suggest a PCP for maximum accuracy and power. Then you just need to decide if you’d like a target rifle like the FX Impact or a hunting air rifle like the Brocock Commander XR. In the $500 range you can choose from excellent PCPs like the Air Venturi Avenger or a springer like the Hatsan Model 65. The deciding factor will be if you prefer the simplicity of a springer or the precision of a PCP. In the $250 range you can still find excellent PCP and springer models like the Gamo Swarm and Hatsan Flashpup QE.
Read Next: The Best PCP Air Rifle Compressors of 2023
I think a .22 makes a lot of sense for beginners, especially in a PCP air rifle. It is fairly flat shooting, offers good performance for small game hunting, and ammo is inexpensive.
With airguns, it is the gun that generates, stores, and releases energy, not the ammo. The same pellet in a gun generating 12 foot-pounds will carry far less distance than one producing 30 foot-pounds. That’s why adjustable power is a great feature on an air rifle. But I’d say that depending on these variables, between 300 to 400 yards is a good rule, though the energy at this distance will be very low.
Some rifles will get up into supersonic velocities around 1400 fps, but there are a couple caveats: often these velocity claims are based on ultralight alloy pellets that have little practical use other than driving up the velocity rating. And second, Diabolo pellets are designed for subsonic velocities and may destabilize at high speeds.
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The .22 caliber is arguably the most popular caliber being used in PCP air rifles, and right behind the .177 in spring piston guns. If we look specifically at hunting applications, the .22 is probably the most widely used caliber.
They’re the most popular for good reason. There’s a broad selection of .22 rifles; they’re flat shooting, and have good terminal performance. There’s also a vast range of affordable pellets in varying designs and weights. I’d advise you to look at the online retailers when choosing pellets for your .22 air rifle, as they will have a much better selection and often better prices than you’ll find in a big box store. If you choose the right gun and the right projectile, one of the best .22 air rifles will serve you well whether you plink, shoot competition, or hunt.