|Best Overall||Brocock Commander XR||Check Price||
Lightweight, compact (with the stock folded), and easy to pack over long distances.
|Best Budget||Air Venturi Avenger||Check Price||
A great entry-level airgun at a competitive price.
|Best Youth||Benjamin Maximus||Check Price||
Easy to fill, has limited power, and is fit for smaller shooters.
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:
- Best Overall: Brocock Commander XR
- Best Budget: Air Venturi Avenger
- Best Spring Piston: Hatsan Model 65
- Best Compact: Brocock Sniper XR
- Most Accurate: FX Impact
- Best Youth: Benjamin Maximus
- Best Semi-Auto: AEA HP Carbine
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 .22 Air Rifle 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
Why It Made the Cut
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.
- Very accurate long-range capabilities
- Ergonomic and adjustable
- Fast, smooth cycling of sidelever
- Picatinny rail under bottle could be longer
The Commander XR Magnum is 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 .22 Air Rifle: Air Venturi Avenger
- Value pricing
- Adjustable regulator
- Shrouded barrel
- Accurate and powerful
Why It Made the Cut
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.
- 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
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 .22 Air Rifle: Hatsan Model 65
- Excellent performance, accurate, and powerful
- Quiet Energy sound suppression system
- Quatro adjustable 2-stage trigger
- SAS shock absorber system
Why It Made the Cut
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.
- Accurate and powerful
- Excellent shooting characteristics
- Competitively priced
- Only available with conventional spring piston
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 a great example 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 .22 Air Rifle: Brocock Sniper XR
- Semi-bullpup design
- Adjustable Huma-Air regulator
- Shrouded Lothar Walther Polygonal Barrel
Why It Made the Cut
The Sniper XR does everything I want within its compact frame, it is powerful and deadly accurate, cycles quickly, and handles extremely well.
- 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 .22 Air Rifle: 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)
Why It Made the Cut
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 their gun of choice for benchrest and speed silhouette. And when a group of the best comes close to a consensus, I’m going to pay attention.
- 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
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 Youth .22 Air Rifle: Benjamin Maximus
Benjamin Air Rifles
- Budget-priced PCP
- Designed for young shooters
- Low operating pressure
Why It Made the Cut
A gun proportioned for smaller shooters, with limited power, and easy to fill with a handpump makes this gun a great fit for a youth shooter.
- Easy to fill with a hand pump
- Cost effective
- Appropriately powered for backyard plinking or small game hunting
- Small dimensions
- Limited power
The Maximus is a sporter-style rifle with a traditional look and feel. The stock is a synthetic material with molded stippling on the handgrip and is well made considering the low price. The rifle provides a nice cheek-weld and line of sight with low or medium mounts on the 11mm integrated dovetail. A nice touch is the sling swivels that are incorporated and ready to go out of the box. This is a single-action air rifle, cycled with a bolt that gives access to the loading port when cocked. The trigger is a single-stage design and a bit heavy with some creep.
If you’re deciding between the Maximus and the Avenger for an entry-level airgun, consider that a new shooter will outgrow this rifle. However, the Maximus was designed to fit young shooters. And with the smaller dimensions, low cost of ownership, and compatibility with a handpump, this rifle still provides an attractive value proposition. I think the Maximus does what it was designed to do, which is why it’s my pick for best youth .22 air rifle.
Best Semi-Auto .22 Air Rifle: AEA HP Carbine
- Semi-auto action
- Folding stock
- High power
- Shrouded barrel
Why It Made the Cut
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.
- Compact and lightweight
- Occasional misfeeds with some ammo (functions reliably with most pellets)
- Uses a lot of air and pellets
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.
What’s not to love about this SA carbine? It’s accurate, powerful, and spits out pellets as fast as you can pull the trigger. I think the .22 caliber version is a great platform 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 a .22 Airgun
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.
Q: Is a .22 air rifle good for beginners?
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.
Q: What is the effective range of a .22 air rifle?
With airguns, it is the gun that generates, stores, and releases energy, not the ammo. The same pellet in a gun generating 12 ft-lb will carry far less distance than one producing 30 ft-lb. 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.
Q: What is the fastest .22 cal air rifle?
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.
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, a .22 caliber air rifle will serve you very well whether you plink, shoot competition, or hunt.