Buyer’s Guide to Air Rifles for Pros
Once you’re proficient in the sport of shooting an airgun accurately and consistency, whether for field target shooting, or match shooting where each millimetre counts, you might want to look for an airgun that will serve you reliably for the years to come.
This fantastic Buyer’s Guide by our resident airgun enthusiast Joe Meakin covers some of the best air rifles and best air pistols that are currently available on the market. We hope it will guide you along the right path to you buying one with everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Best Spring Air Rifles
If spring is your thing then we have a great range of top quality models from the finest makers around today such as Air Arms and Weihrauch. Air Arms is a British based airgun firm who make everything in house to an incredibly high standard and this certainly does show when on the target range. Their range of spring powered air rifles consist of the TX200, TX200HC, and the Pro-Sport.
The internals of the TX200 feature some very advanced features that would normally only be found on a ‘tuned’ target rifle such as the bearing rings on the piston itself. This means the piston has very low friction and a constant contact surface which makes each firing cycle very similar, to minimise any fluctuations in the muzzle output.
Air Arms also install one of their CD trigger systems which can be finely adjusted to your requirements to eliminate any trigger creep and the possibility of you ‘pulling’ the shot if the trigger is set too heavy.
Air Arms also offer the Pro-Sport which is very similar to the TX200 in terms of the internals, but differs on the exterior. The TX200 has a standard underlever, positioned under the barrel out the front, and the Pro-Sport has an underlever which is smartly incorporated into the underside of the stock. This dramatically improves the balance of the rifle which helps in target acquisition and steadiness when shooting. If you’re looking for Air Arms’ top model, then the Pro Sport is the model to go for.
Weihrauch are a German airgun manufacturer, and are one of the longest established airgun firms around today. Through being in business for many years, they have seen how the airgun market has changed throughout the years and refined their products to a remarkably high standard and matched them to the needs of today’s shooters.
Their top end spring air rifles consist of the HW97, which comes in 5 different models with different stocks and action finishes, and the HW98. The HW97 is an under lever air rifle, similar to the TX200, and has a standard spring and piston system on the inside. The HW98 is a break barrel rifle, but has features such as an over sleeved barrel, and target stock, to cater for the target shooters.
The HW97 is a heavy rifle, which most shooters prefer, as it helps steady the rifle on each shot. The 97 is also available with a thumbhole stock so you can get a really solid grip when taking each shot. Of course, it is fitted with the Weihrauch Rekord trigger unit for an excellent shot release each and every time.
The HW98 has a target stock, which has an adjustable cheek piece, adjustable rubber butt pad, and textured inserts on the fore stock and pistol grip for a really affirmative hold in damp conditions. This stock makes it the perfect choice for target shooters as it can be tailored to the individual, and the action with the over sleeved barrel offers great accuracy as all the Weihrauch air rifles do.
Best PCP Air Rifles
PCP rifles offer advantages over spring rifles because they have no recoil, and the high pressure air that they use provides excellent shot to shot consistency. The main drawback to PCP rifles is that they do need an air source to recharge them such as a dive bottle or a stirrup pump, but once you’re all set up the ongoing costs are minimal. There are quite a few top manufacturers for PCP rifles and these consist of Air Arms and Weihrauch again, as well as Daystate.
Air Arms’ top offerings in the PCP range are the HFT500 and the FTP900. The latter is an out and out target rifle, with a multi adjustable stock and regulated action.
Both rifles are only available in .177 calibres and have a shot count of around 100 shots. The HFT 500 has a match grade Lothar Walther Barrel for superb accuracy, whereas the FTP900 has a specially selected match grade Lothar Walther, to give it a slight edge over the HFT.
Both rifles have a laminated stock in colours that are unique to Air Arms, and the stock of the FTP 900 is adjustable in about every angle possible to allow the rifle to fit the shooter, whereas the HFT 500 does have some degree of customization in the cheek piece and butt pad, but nowhere near as much as the FTP does.
Weihrauch has the HW100 PCP air rifle, which is a truly excellent piece of engineering, and when you purchase one of their rifles it comes complete with 2 magazines, and on selected models a silencer is fitted. The rifle is available in several different options with either carbine or rifle length, with a choice of stocks such as Sporter and Thumbhole, so you can choose the perfect model for yourself. Weihrauch also recently released this air rifle quite with a laminate stock and an adjustable cheek piece, and it has been a firm favourite with top shooters since its release.
The action of the rifle is regulated and it sources air from a quick fill, detachable air reservoir. This air then fires pellet down one of Weihrauchs own barrels, which offers awesome accuracy, as you would expect. Plus, if you pick a model that comes with a silencer, they are one of the quietest air rifles that I’ve ever heard!
Daystate are a British based manufacturer, and combine Italian design and production with quality British craftsmanship, to assemble and fine tune the rifles here in the UK. Daystate are also one of the few airgun companies to offer an electronically controlled action, which increases shot count and consistency, and should definitely be considered by all you top end shooters out there.
The current line-up of electronically controlled air rifles in Daystates line up consists of the Daystate Pulsar, and the Daystate Airwolf. The Pulsar is the latest release from Daystate and incorporates the latest electronics for a super quick firing cycle, which leads to an incredibly low lock time. The Pulsar is a Bullpup-style rifle, which means the action is seated at the rear of the stock to improve the balance, and make it a lot more manoeuvrable.
The Airwolf is based on a standard airgun frame and has a large 400cc bottle, which can be upgraded to a 500cc to improve the shot count, but the 400cc offers 400 shots in .22, which is nothing to be sniffed at! Another advantage of the lightning lock time of the electronics is also the trigger. This is because it’s a switch which activates the action, so the pull weight is incredibly light, and is far less than is achievable with a mechanical action.
Air Rifle Accessories
Some accessories that you’ll need for your top end air rifle, if you don’t have them already, are a scope, and depending on whether you go for a PCP rifle or not, a dive bottle or pump. Other accessories that I’d recommend are a gun bag / hard case, to keep your purchase safe in storage and transportation.
Air Rifle Scopes
Your choice of discipline will ultimately determine what type of scope you’ll need. A good ‘all-rounder’ option is scopes such as the Hawke Airmax 30, which come in a few different models with varying magnifications. The good thing about the Airmax 30 is that they were specifically designed for use with airguns, and as such the reticle, and all the features about them, work effortlessly on top of an airgun.
Another choice is the MTC Viper Connect which bucks the trend completely and has zero eye relief. This basically means that you have to put your eye right up against the ocular lens so that the image has a much wider field of view than a traditional scope. A word of warning on this scope though, as the eye piece is right up against your eye – it’s not suitable for recoiling rifles, and really only suited to PCPs.
Air Bottles & Compressors
As well as a scope you might need an air bottle, or if your budget permits, a compressor, to recharge your PCP rifle when it’s low on air. Dive bottles are charged up to 300 BAR, and the number of fills that they provide depends on how large the air cylinder is on the rifle. Once they won’t charge the rifle above 200 BAR, then they need a refill which is normally around £5 at a local dive shop. Of course, if you purchase a compressor then you’re completely self-sufficient.
I hope this guide has steered you in the correct direction for purchasing a long term air rifle, which will hopefully become your shooting companion for many years to come, and help you win many competitions!
Check out our extensive range of spring air rifles and PCP air rifles, and air rifle accessories. You can also check out the awesome, collections pages for Weihrauch, Daystate, and Air Arms, which are jam-packed with fascinating content, to learn more about those brands…