Pellet guns can be loads of fun because not only do they let you do things like target shooting but they’re also powerful enough to hunt pests and small animals. They are your perfect option if you are looking to step up your game from less powerful BB guns but aren’t looking to buy a firearm.

However, there’s a lot to pick from, and this is why knowing which one to buy may leave you scratching your head. There are numerous pellet gun types, models, firing mechanisms, and calibers and all this information can make choosing the best pellet gun a strenuous task.

Lucky for you, we here at have laid out all the important information in the form of reviews, comparison charts, and buying guides – everything you need to find the pellet gun that best suits your needs. So scroll down and get started!

Pellet Gun Comparison Chart
What is a Pellet Gun?
How to Find the Right Pellet Gun
Pellet Gun Calibers
Pellet Gun Power Plants

Pellet Gun Comparison Chart

Below is a comparison chart of the most popular and highest rated pellet guns.

  • Gamo Big Cat 1250
  • Spring PistonPower Plant
  • .177Caliber
  • 1250 FPSVelocity
  • Loudness: 4/5Level of noise the gun produces.
  • Overall length: 43.3"
  • Best Use: Small game hunting and target shooting
  • Customer Rating: 4.3

  • Crosman Optimus Break Barrel
  • Spring PistonPower Plant
  • .177Caliber
  • 1200 FPSVelocity
  • Loudness: 3/5Level of noise the gun produces.
  • Overall length: 43"
  • Best Use: Small game hunting and target shooting
  • Customer Rating: 4.8

  • Benjamin Marauder
  • Pre-Charged PneumaticPower Plant
  • .22Caliber
  • 1000 FPSVelocity
  • Loudness: 2/5Level of noise the gun produces.
  • Overall length: 42.8"
  • Best Use: Small game hunting and target shooting
  • Customer Rating: 4.4

  • Crosman 2240
  • CO2Power Plant
  • .22Caliber
  • 460 FPSVelocity
  • Loudness: 3/5Level of noise the gun produces.
  • Overall length: 11.13"
  • Best Use: Target shooting/Fun
  • Customer Rating: 4.6

  • Crosman M4-177
  • Multi-pump pneumaticPower Plant
  • .177Caliber
  • 600 FPSVelocity
  • Loudness: 3/5Level of noise the gun produces.
  • Overall Length: 33.75"
  • Best Use: Target shooting/Fun
  • Customer Rating: 4.3

What is a pellet gun?

A pellet gun otherwise known as an air gun is a gun that propels projectiles by means of compressed air or other gas. Air guns come in two different forms, those being air pistols and air rifles.

They differ from firearms since they do not use a propellant charge and are far less powerful.  Air guns use pellets which operate at pressures as low as 50 atmospheres, while firearms operate at pressures reaching thousands of atmospheres.

A pellet which is a non-spherical projectile is the main source of ammo for an air gun. A pellet’s shape can have a round, flat, hollow, or pointed tip following a taper to a thin waist. Due to its shape its design is sometimes referred to as the diabolo or wasp-waist pellet.

How do I find the best pellet gun for me?

Before we dive into the specifics of how to choose the right gun for you, here are a few  general questions you may want to ask yourself to narrow the field of choices:

What will you be using the gun for?

Aiming and shooting an air rifle

If you’re looking for an air gun for general shooting such as plinking you can get by on a .177 caliber. However, if you are looking for an air rifle for hunting purposes then its better to go with a smaller caliber preferably a .22. 22 caliber air guns carry more force and their pellets are more readily available.

How strong are you?

This question will come in to play if you decide to go with a spring-powered gun which requires you to cock it before firing each shot. Spring powered rifles can be quite powerful reaching velocities of 1000fps but the continuous cocking effort can make shooting a bit tedious.  Some spring-powered rifles can be quite difficult to cock if you don’t have the required strength. So it may be a good idea to look into a precharged pneumatic or CO2 gun.

Will you need a scope or optical sight?

We recommend you mount a scope on your air rifle for more accurate targeting.  Most pellet guns do allow you to mount an optical sight so it might be a good idea to look into one.

What type of quality do you want?

A $50 pellet gun is going to greatly differ in quality and craftsmanship than a $200 pellet gun. If this is going to be your first pellet gun you want to make sure you choose something that is cheap enough to be within your budget but not too expensive that you don’t find value in it.

How much power do you expect?

Power is the amount of energy a pellet gun projects. Again the amount of power you want will come down to what you will be using your pellet gun for. You don’t need a 1000 fps air rifle if you’re going to be using it for plinking and pest elimination – a 700fps would work just fine.

Which is the best pellet gun caliber?

Smallest to largest calibers left to right are 1.77, .20, .22, .25

Smallest to largest calibers left to right are 1.77, .20, .22, .25

Pellet guns come in many different calibers. The caliber of a gun is determined by the internal diameter of its gun barrel.  The most common air gun calibers that you’ll encounter ranging from the smallest to largest size are the .177 cal, .20 cal, .22 cal, and the .25 cal. Less common calibers include the 0.357 cal.

Knowing what air gun caliber is best suited for you is an important part of finding the best air gun.

.177 Cal

The .177 caliber was introduced just after the start of the 20th century and is mainly used for general shooting.  Since it’s considered the most accurate of all calibers, it’s the only caliber that can be used for bullseye shooting sports.  In fact, all official shooting organizations require a .177 caliber gun for rifle and pistol shooting competitions.

Crosman Destroyer .177 Caliber Pellets

Crosman Destroyer .177 Caliber Pellets

A .177 cal would most likely be your best choice if you are looking for a target gun and accuracy is an important factor to you. Keep in mind that target air guns can come in .22 caliber but are not as common.

One of the cons to .177 pellets is their light weight allows them to go faster than larger sizes which can negatively affect accuracy.  Once the velocity of the pellet reaches approximately 1,100 f.p.s. at sea level is when accuracy starts to suffer.  A solution to this problem is to simply choose the heaviest .177 pellets.

The .177 is not ideal for hunting because a small pellet travelling at a high velocity will leave no visible trauma and can simply just pass through hole to hole. For example, if you were to hunt a chipmunk with .177 caliber rifle you would not cause immediate death. In fact, it could take several days to weeks for the animal to eventually die off while suffering great pain in the process.

.177 Best Use: Target Shooting

Benjamin Pointed Tip .20 Caliber Pellets

Benjamin Pointed Tip .20 Caliber Pellets

.20 Cal

The .20 caliber often said by air gunners to be the best of both worlds since it retains qualities from both the .177 cal and .22 cal. Due to its heaver pellet weight its able to preserve its flat trajectory compared to a .22 caliber. A .20 caliber would be your best choice if you are looking for a compromise between general shooting and hunting or pest elimination.

Best use: Targeting shooting and pest elimination

.22 cal

22 caliber RWS Super-point Extra Pellets

The .22 caliber was once the most popular airgun caliber in America and is definitely the top choice for hunting and pest elimination. As discussed earlier, there is little advantage to the hunter to choose an air gun with high velocity unless it is also carrying a considerable amount of energy that will transmit to the animal.

Since .22 calibers are best suited for hunting larger pests there effective range is going to be 45-60 yards.  Also keep in mind that it’s not always about high velocity because Foot Pounds of Energy is a much more important measure of an air rifles power.

.22 Cal Best Use: Hunting small and large game

JSB Diablo .25 Caliber Pellets

JSB Diablo .25 Caliber Pellets

.25 cal

Ah, the big .25 caliber. Due to its heavier weight and greater size the .25 caliber has the ability to hunt big game such as coyotes as long as you are hunting from an appropriate distance, preferably 50 yards or less. 

Since most .25 calibers are powered through pre-charged pneumatic systems, the price of these air guns is generally more expensive than its counterparts.

What is the best air gun power plant for me?

Pellet gun power plants are going to be an important factor in choosing the right gun.

There are 3 types of air gun power plants of which are:

  • Spring piston
  • Pneumatic (Pump, Pre-charged, and Single Stroke)
  • CO2 gas
Multi Pump Pneumatic

Pump pneumatic airguns are one of the most popular types of air guns and are commonly available amongst air gun retailers. Pneumatic pellet guns contain an air reservoir that is filled by pumping the gun. Once the air gun is pumped and the trigger is pulled, the air escapes from the reservoir, propelling the pellet forward.

These guns are generally also very affordable and being a budget air gun will cause them to have less quality in the craftsmanship than some of the more expensive models. Keep in mind that pump pneumatic guns can also shoot BB’s so look out for that when purchasing.


  • Power of gun can be increased or decreased by varying the number of pumps.
  • Can be highly accurate, especially the single pump guns
  • No recoil
  • Affordable


  • Single shot
  • Needs to be pumped after each shot, this can make shooting tedious.
  • Can be difficult to hunt with (since you need to pump after each shot)
Spring Piston

The spring-piston is the most common type of air gun.  It is not powered on air or gas compartments like the pneumatic or CO2 air guns are.  The spring-piston requires cocking of a powerful spring which forces a piston forward and compresses air to a high pressure, propelling the pellet. 

One of the great things about spring-piston is due to its firing mechanism it will produce the same amount power shot after shot because remember CO2 and PCP airguns lose power as pressure decreases.

While the spring piston is the firing mechanism, the cocking levers vary but most commonly you’ll encounter break barrels or side/top/under levers. Side and under cocking levers are more accurate than barrel-cocking models but the difference is not significant enough to have much affect

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of buying a spring piston pellet gun.

Pros –

  • Great and consistent power
  • Affordable
  • Easiest to shoot, maintain and own


  • Cocking powerful rifles can be difficult if you do not have the require strength
  • Loud (yes spring piston guns fire louder)
  • Produces a fair amount of recoil

Quick note: Never fire your spring piston airgun when it does not have a pellet loaded. This can cause the piston head to smash into the compression tube and cause damage to your airgun. This is also known as “dry firing”.

CO2 Airguns

CO2 air guns are powered through a carbon dioxide cartridge. At room temperature a CO2 cartridge can produce around 900-1000 psi which is really consistent for shooting.  Thus, shifts in temperature can significantly affect the performance of a CO2 airgun. You’re most likely to see decrease in velocity if the storage temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

CO2 is a power plant most commonly found in air pistols as opposed to air rifles. Thus CO2 airguns are not ideal for hunting.

However, the greatest benefit of the CO2 is most likely the fact that it allows for semi-automatic shooting – meaning you can fire shots simultaneously.  As a result, CO2 airguns are best suited for general shooting and plinking.


  • Ability to fire semi-automatic shots
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable


  • Changes in temperature can affect the guns performance
  • The need to buy and refill CO2 cartridges.
  • Not as powerful as spring or pump powered rifles
Pre-charge pneumatic

Pre-charged pneumatic also called PCP is the oldest type of air gun power plant.  In fact, they date as far back to the mid 1500’s. The air is pre-compressed at pressures between 1500 psi to 3000 psi. This pressure needs to be attained from an external hand pump or a SCUBA tank. This provides the gun with a large reservoir of air which allows you to fire dozens of shots before having to recharge.


  • No recoil
  • Very easy to shoot accurately
  • Multiple shots
  • Can shoot higher caliber pellets to hunt bigger game
  • Very quiet with silencer


  • Extra investment needed for pumps
  • The need to recharge the gun after a few dozen shots
  • More expensive than other types of airguns
Single stroke pneumatic

Similar to function as the multi-pump pneumatic but only requires one pump. A negative aspect of the single stroke pneumatic is the fact it does produce much less power than other types of airguns.


  • Highly consistent
  • Easy to cock
  • Incredibly accurate
  • Easy to maintain


  • Yields low power (Most single stroke pneumatics only yield around 500-600 fps at the best)
  • Not ideal for hunting

How to measure the power of a pellet gun

The traditional way to measure the power of an air gun is to simply look at the muzzle velocity measured in feet-per-second (FPS). However, an inherent problem with relying just on FPS is due to the fact that a lighter alloy pellet will be capable of traveling fast while a heavier lead pellet will propel at a lower velocity. This can be a loophole for many air gun manufacturers and the FPS numbers can sometimes be skewed.

The more reliable method of determining the power of a pellet gun is to calculate its foot-pounds of energy (FPE). FPE is a calculation of the muzzle energy that an air gun produces.

You will really want to take FPE into consideration if you’re looking for a hunting rifle since a higher FPE will result in a harder hitting shot.