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7 Best Deer Hunting Air Rifles: Review & Buying Guide

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Now pictures this: You’ve got your target in sight, and it’s quiet. You flip the safety off, and ー the rifle jams. Or it goes off, but the recoil knocks it out of your grip, and the loud noise scares everything away.

Of course, you’ve missed your target, not because you’re a lousy shot (of course not), but because your rifle isn’t accurate enough and the scope let you down.

If you’re a hunter, you’ve probably been there before. It doesn’t matter how good you are; if the opportunity comes and your rifle lets you down, it’s game over. Your prey isn’t going to stand and wait to get shot.

That’s why we’ve decided to compile a list of seven of the best air rifles available on Amazon right now. While we are partial to the Seneca Eagle Claw air rifle, you might have a different opinion and decide to go for one of the others.

We’ve considered various factors, such as sound, recoil, and safety. Customer and shooter feedback has also been important, as we wanted to know what consumers thought of the products.

7 Best Deer Hunting Rifles (Our Pick)

Here is our pick of seven air rifles. Which one hits the bull’s eye, according to you?

1. Gamo Whisper Air Rifle

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This rifle is available in .177 or .22 caliber pellets with a single cocking break barrel. The .177 version is 1300 fps., and the .22 version is 975 fps. A 4X32 shockproof scope is included with the purchase from Amazon (although some find it wanting). The rifle weighs 5.64lb and has 44.5in length. The length of pull is 14.4 inches, and the cocking effort is 30lb. Amazon sells the rifle with a one-year warranty, and it is made in Spain, like its Gamo family over the last 60 years. According to the company, the Whisper technology, patented by Gamo, is highly recommended by hunters worldwide. The pellets move through different chambers, which causes the sound to be muffled. However, some shooters have found that the gun still makes too much noise for their liking.

Pros

  • Manual safety
  • Easy to cock
  • Lightweight
  • Good firing accuracy

Cons

  • The scope doesn’t fit the purpose
  • The cocking shoe grates on the spring
  • The barrel has plastic over-molding
  • Not as quiet as it could be

Take-Away

The Gamo Air Whisper rifle has been around for a long time. While certain features like its light weight and the shockproof scope work in its favor, the rifle does have some downsides, like the plastic over-molding of the barrel. It is definitely not a gun for beginners, as it requires a fair amount of skill to fire.

If you purchase this rifle, you might want to consider getting a different kind of scope. It will cost more, but it could make the rifle much more effective. Cocking is easy, although it does make a sound when scraping the spring, which is counterproductive when trying to hunt. It also contradicts the “Whisper” name, implying that the rifle won’t be heard.

All these things considered, the Gamo Whisper Air Rifle is a solid candidate if you’re looking for a good rifle.


2. Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500

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A more handsome fellow, crafted with hardwood, the Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 500 makes for quite an impressive air rifle. This rifle forms part of the NP XL airgun series. Although it has a small caliber (.177, and is also available as .22 and .25), it has very fast velocity and is surprisingly deadly. Instead of a spring, the Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 uses a gas ram that is filled with nitrogen. The nitrogen is already placed under pressure, and more is applied when you cock the gun. All this pressurized air is kept that way until the trigger is pulled, causing the gun to lurch forward as it fires. Because the chamber is sealed, the air can only move out from behind the pellet, which gives it an extra force to travel further and faster.

The Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 is a single-shot rifle with a break barrel. This means that you have to open the barrel and reload it after each shot. It is a gun for focused and accurate shooters, as each shot is important, with no time to fire multiple rounds.

Related Article: 15 Best Long Range Rifles

You can fire the Crosman Benjamin Trail NP LX 1500 with an accuracy of about 50 yards. The scope is a Center 3-9×40 AO scope. It has no front or rear sight.

Pros

  • Nitrogen piston
  • Well-crafted hardwood stock
  • Magnum power
  • Easy to cock

Cons

  • Not all shooters like the trigger
  • Dirty barrel out of the box for some
  • Single-shot might not appeal to everyone
  • Some found it too loud

Take-Away

The Crosman Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 is a solid choice for the disciplined and focused shooter. The nitrogen piston ensures extra pressure that causes the pellet to travel much faster. While it is often referred to as a silent gun, some Amazon customers found it too loud. The gun requires little fuss, as maintenance is minimal, with oiling recommended every few hundred shots. Also, remember to tighten the stock fasteners and keep an eye on the stock mount, and you’re good to go.

Buyers get a one-year warranty as well.


3. Beeman QB Chief PCP Air Rifle

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The modern-day Beeman QB Chief is the result of a need to replace the Crosman 160 when it stopped production in the late 1960s. At the time, an ancestor of the current Beeman was produced in China and has been sold under many brand names over the decades. It has a hardwood stock, making it look more genuine than a synthetic stock would. The scope is 3-9×40 AO.

The Beeman QB Chief operates compressed air that works to force the pellet forward when a shot is fired. The PSI pressure is 2000, and it is the highest amount of pressure allowed in a Beeman QB Chief, as anything more than that could result in the gun jamming. Because this is a PCP gun, you will need a compressor or hand pump to create the right amount of pressure. A recommended hand pump would be the Uzwell, Crossman, or Air Venturi high-pressure hand pumps.

Like many of its fellow air rifles, the Beeman QB Chief works with a single shot, which is best suited to someone who is a good shot and not simply trigger-happy. Bear in mind that this rifle has no shroud, making it particularly noisy.

Pros

  • The beautiful hardwood stock
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Sharp accuracy
  • Affordable

Cons

  • The gun is very loud
  • Made in China
  • Cheaply made, according to some
  • The comb position is very low

Take-Away

The Beeman QB Chief has stood the test of time against its competitors by sticking around for over 50 years. While it is considered a formidable gun, the amount of noise it produces is a serious issue. For some, the hardwood stock is not enough to make up for its Chinese manufacturing, which might be considered inferior. The trigger might also be considered a bit unpredictable, although this is to be expected from a rifle in such a price class.

Having said that, it is a very accurate air rifle, and if you are a good shot, the single-shot and noise factors might not bother you that much. It is a lightweight gun that you can easily carry without a sling or any other such kind of accessory, and maintenance is minimal and easy.


4. Umarex Ruger Blackhawk

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The Umarex Ruger air rifle has a slick, blued metal finish that gives it a smooth and dark look with its black stock. It is suited to both left- and right-handed shooters and works with a single-stroke break barrel. Pellets are shot out at 1000 fps. The scope is 4×32, but many shooters have found it lacking. The rifle comes with a spring-powered piston, 3.3lb trigger pull, 14.5 inches length of pull, and 30lb cocking effort. The fiber optic sights are standard for both front and rear viewing. The rear sight can be adjusted to accommodate the wind and elevation.

Related Article: 10 Best PCP Air Rifles for the Money

This rifle boasts a comfortable grip with an ergonomic stock that rests comfortably against the cheek. The fact that the stock is synthetic is very useful for when you are dealing with wet weather, as you don’t have to worry about keeping it from damage. The rubber buttpad softens recoil when firing. This is a break-barrel gun, making it easier to load as the breach is exposed whenever you open it. The textured forearm and grip keep the rifle from slipping out of your hands.

The rifle’s trigger is made of metal, and it is adjustable between light and heavy. It has a two-stage firing mechanism, meaning that the break wall separates the two stages, and you can clearly feel the difference when squeezing the trigger.

Pros

  • The trigger is good
  • Very accurate
  • Powerful
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • The scope is bad
  • The barrel can droop
  • More recoil because of the spring
  • The gun cannot be left cocked as the spring wear out

Take-Away

The Umarex Ruger Blackhawk makes for a trusty and safe rifle. The two-stage trigger, comfortable stock, and textured forearm and grip give you more control and peace of mind when operating or carrying the gun. Although a lot of emphases is put on the scope that comes as part of the combo, many shooters decided to replace it with another one as it gave them trouble. Scope aside, the rifle is reputed as being extremely accurate within 50 yards. It has no-frills as it is easy to load and maintain as long as you keep the dirt and rust inside the barrel at bay.


5. Hatsan 125 Sniper

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The Hatsan 125 is one powerful and good-looking air rifle. With the help of its included silencer, it can be a mean and quiet killing machine. This is one of the more powerful guns on the list and is probably best suited to experienced shooters. Hatsan claims that its Vortex gas piston is more powerful and durable than a coiled metal spring and that it can withstand any weather.

Like many of its kind, the Hatsan 125 has a break barrel and is a single-shot gun. A 50-pound pull is needed to break it, so this is not a gun for someone with weak arms. At the same time, this is an impressive safety feature. The trigger has two-stage adjustability, and the safety is automatic.

Although it is, of course, not an actual sniper rifle, the Hatsan 125 definitely looks the part. The stock is synthetic and textured to prevent slippage. It also comes with an impressive grip and adjustable rubber recoil pad for added confidence and safety. The rifle is quite long at 48 inches and weighs about 10 pounds when including the scope.

Pros

  • Good looking
  • Strong safety features
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Very powerful

Cons

  • It’s a bit on the heavy side
  • Not everyone was happy with the scope
  • You need to be strong to handle it
  • The recoil can be a bit volatile

Take-Away

The Hatsan 125 Sniper did not come to play, and some might feel that it plays too rough. A bit of a monster, this rifle is not suited to people who can’t carry its weight and handle its power. It can be difficult to cock, and some shooters have reported struggling to get the hang of it for the first 100 shots or so. 

That being said, if you want a rifle that looks good and packs a mighty punch, this one is definitely for you. It withstands cold weather and doesn’t require too much maintenance. This is also a gun with a reputation for being safe, with its 50-pound pull break, automatic safety, and two-stage adjustable trigger. The Vortex gas piston claims to last longer than a regular spring would.

Can you handle this mighty rifle? If you think so, you can purchase the Hatsan 125 Sniper with a one-year limited warranty from Amazon.


6. SIG MCX Virtus

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Perhaps you want a rifle that scares your target to death with its looks long before you even shoot? This rifle looks mean and scary enough but does it play the part? The SIG MCX Virtus is quite a popular item these days, having reached Pyramid Air’s list of the best-selling air rifles of 2020. It is the tamer, PCP sister of SIG’s MCX Virtus Patrol, but it seems to stand up just as well on its own.

Because it is powered with CO2, you will need a compressor or hand pump to keep it going. The rifle comes with a 30-round magazine in an impressive effort to recreate the look and feel of a semi-automatic firearm. The first stage of the trigger causes the belt to rotate and push the pellet into position, while the second stage releases it. For this reason, the trigger pull weight is higher than you would normally expect with this kind of rifle to avoid accidents.

In a further effort to create a likeness to the original firearm, the SIG MCX Virtus has several replicated controls that are simply there for the look. They don’t work, which some people might find frustrating.

Pros

  • High count of shots
  • A convincing replica of the original Virtus
  • No blowback or recoil
  • Impressive appearance

Cons

  • Heavy trigger
  • Not quite accurate enough
  • Many controls that don’t function
  • Customers complain about jamming

Take-Away

The SIG MCX Virtus can fire up to 180 shots from one air pressure fill, proving that it absolutely aims to please. However, it is still an air rifle at the end of the day, and it should be regarded as such. The added “controls” are more of a novelty than anything else, and the shots are not quite as accurate as one would hope. The trigger pull, although it is a good safety measure, is a bit too heavy for some people’s liking.

Still, SIG is a renowned gun manufacturer for a reason. It’s a best-seller, and as an air rifle, the Virtus gets the job done and looks good while doing it. This is a good rifle for training purposes or for controlling any pest problems you might have.


7. Seneca Eagle Claw

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This beauty looks like something right out of a Western film. The Seneca Eagle Claw has a nostalgic allure with its detailed walnut stock that takes you back to the days you were dreaming about the cowboy you are now. It’s a pretty decent rifle, too!

The Seneca Eagle Claw has all the usual features you would expect as far as rifles go. The trigger comes with two stages. A rubber butt pad keeps the barely-there recoil from knocking the gun out of your grip. Its shrouded barrel keeps it nice and quiet.

A feature that truly sets this rifle apart from its competitors is the lever-action. With a short and smooth throw, it can produce super-fast shots one after the other.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Accurate
  • Good lever-action
  • Silent

Cons

  • Plastic, flimsy magazine
  • Slightly heavy for some

Take-Away

Seneca really seems to have done their homework with this one. Apart from complaints about the plastic magazine and its weight, customers don’t seem to have many other grievances. If you’re looking for an air rifle that fires off a powerful shot with low recoil and good looks, it looks like your luck is in. Just make sure you get a sling or start lifting some weights, as this one can wear you down.

Buying Guide: What Makes a Good Air Rifle?

Naturally, only you will know what your individual needs from a rifle will be, but there are certain things to keep in mind when looking through the hundreds of options out there.

The first thing you need to consider is what the purpose of the rifle will be. Will you be using it for hunting purposes or target practice? Can you handle a rifle that is a bit hefty, or do you need something light you can carry on a hiking trail? Are you an experienced shot, or do you need a rifle that will be more forgiving of your learning curves?

This is why we listed seven options instead of only the best one. No two rifles are exactly the same, and that applies even more so to the people who use them.

Individuality aside, certain factors are non-negotiable, with safety being at the top of the list. The more safety mechanisms a firearm has, the better, as long as it’s not so safe that it’s difficult to fire at all. You also want something that is comfortable and doesn’t knock your shoulder out of its socket. Noise or the lack thereof is also a big deciding factor for many people.

Other factors will also largely come down to personal preference. Will a single-shot rifle make you happy, or do you want to be able to fire quickly in succession? Will you remember not to wear the spring out, or do you want a PCP model? Will .22 or .177 be the right ammunition?

Final Verdict

We’ve presented you with rifles made by some of the best brands in the world. While all seven of the rifles listed here are considered worthy candidates, only one of them can ultimately be our top choice.

When considering the various factors and looking at what buyers had to say, the Seneca Eagle Claw emerged victoriously. This rifle ticks all the boxes for a trusty and fun firearm. It is silent, well-crafted, and comfortable. The only two main drawbacks seem to be the plastic magazine and the fact that this weapon is a bit on the heavier side. If you reckon you can live with those two issues, you might have found the air rifle for you.

Remember that while they may be fun to use, guns are not toys. If you are a first-time shooter, make sure you ask someone with experience to teach you how to fire and handle your weapon properly.



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