The 4 Best Air Rifles Under $200 Reviewed & Tested ( Hands-on 2020 Guide )

airgun and pellets

If the $200 budget does not apply to you, read our air rifle buying guide instead.

There is some serious frustration that can accompany a crappy airgun, regardless of how much you paid for it.

Hitting the range and seeing your normally small groups turn into a shotgun pattern or listening as CO2 leaks from a faulty seal will drive you mad.  

These are the issues that accompany poorly made airguns. It’s not a good day when you leave the range with a headache and a poorly working gun.  

Let’s say you buy a good airgun, but it’s wrong for your overall goal. If you buy an airgun for hunting and it’s made for target shooting, you’ll be quite upset when the animals sprint away unharmed and annoyed.

This is why it’s critical you make an informed decision when choosing an airgun, especially when you are keeping a tight budget in place.  

Just because you have a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t find a high-quality airgun that will meet your needs.

We’ll examine some of the best options available below, and explain a few of the things you want to consider when making your selection.  

 

 

The 4 Top Airguns Under $200 In 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews

These are our top recommendations for airguns under $200 in 2020:

  1. Best for hunting: Get the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat 
  2. Best “fun” airgun: Get the SIG Sauer MCX (Read 120+ Amazon customer reviews)
  3. Best for target shooting: Get the Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle 
  4. Best youth model: Get the Ruger Explorer Youth (Read 80+ Amazon customer reviews)

*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:

 

ModelGamo Whisper Silent Cat
Gamo Whisper Silent Cat

SIG Sauer MCX
SIG Sauer MCX

Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle
Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle

Ruger Explorer Youth
Ruger Explorer Youth

Caliber.177.22.177.177
Velocity1200 FPS1000 FPS1450 FPS495 FPS
ActionBreak barrelBreak barrelBreak BarrelBreak barrel
PowerplantSpring-pistonSpring-pistonReaxis Gas PistonSpring-piston
Shot Capacity1111
Suggested For- Small game hunting
- Plinking
Target practice- Hunting
- Target practice
- Youth training
- Plinking
CostCheck Price
Check Price
Check Price
Check Price

 

1. Best Hunting Airgun Under $200: Gamo Whisper Silent Cat

Gamo Whisper Silent CatThe Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is my overall choice for the best hunting airgun under 200 dollars. Why is it called the Whisper Silent cat? Because of the modern and highly useful suppressor attached to the end of the barrel.  

This included suppressor allows hunters to take multiple animals since the first shot isn’t going to send them scattering. This is perfect for hunting squirrel and rabbit, both who tend to be a bit jumpy.  

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is a .177 gun with a 1200-feet-per-second rating. This translates into more than enough foot pounds of energy for game under six pounds.

The Silent Cat is a break barrel design that comes with two separate sight options. The airgun includes a 4×32 scope and a set of fiber optic low light sights.  

The Gamo Whisper Silent Cat is an outstanding little airgun that even comes with a 2-stage adjustable trigger and a thumbhole stock. For the price, it’s really hard to beat the Silent Cat.  

  • Action – Break Barrel 
  • Feet Per Second – 1200  
  • Caliber – .177 
  • Intention – small game hunting/ plinking

 

 

2. Best “Fun” Gun: SIG Sauer MCX

SIG Sauer MCXNot all airguns need an important purpose; some are designed just to be fun guns for a day at the range. These guns are designed to put a smile on your face, and not much more.  

The SIG Sauer MCX is the ultimate fun gun. It’s designed to resemble SIG’s actual MCX rifle, so it looks ultra-modern. This C02 powered airgun comes in either .177 or .22 and feeds from a roto mag belt that holds 30 rounds.  

This bad little boy features adjustable front and rear sights that can flip out of the way to make room for a scope.

Speaking of scopes, the SIG MCX is outfitted with a full-length Picatinny rail to accommodate any kind of modern optic, including red dot sights.  

The MXC handles as good as it looks and blasting through 30 rounds in a few seconds may be a waste of ammo, but man it’ll put a smile on your face.  

  • Action – Semi-Automatic CO2-Powered 
  • Feet Per Second – 750  
  • Caliber – .177 and .22 
  • Intention – Target Practice  

 

 

3. Best for Target Shooting: Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle

The Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle is a high-powered pellet gun that fires .22 caliber pellets up to 1,000 feet per second. It is powerful and accurate enough to hunt small game, but perfect for target practice.

The Break Barrel Spring Piston Technology allows for increased consistency and longer lifespan of your rifle. The purchase of this air rifle includes a 4-by-3 scope for added precision, and a cheek rest for comfort.

Other accessories, like flashlights or lasers, can be easily added to the top-mounted, six-inch Picatinny rail. Bipod legs are also included for added stability during target practice.

Pros:

  • Shoots .22 caliber pellets up to 1,000 FPS
  • Rifled barrel
  • Break Barrel Spring Piston Technology
  • 4-by-3 scope and cheek rest included
  • Accessories easily added to Picatinny rail
  • Included bipod

Cons:

  • Included scope is difficult to zero
  • Suppressor is not made of high-quality materials
  • Users claim that a one-year limited warranty is advertised but not accurate

 

The Black Ops Break Barrel Sniper Air Rifle is a great target shooter for a reasonable price. Most users describe the weapon as solid, accurate, and powerful. It is the perfect option for those wishing to practice shooting targets or even hunt small game.

 

Black Ops Tactical Sniper is also available at:

Pyramid Air

 

4. Best Youth Airgun Under $200: Ruger Explorer Youth

 

 

The Ruger Explorer is a youth air gun with all the features of a modern adult air rifle. It can fire a .177-caliber pellet up to 495 feet per second and has two fiber-optic sights, a fixed front, and an adjustable rear sight to allow your child to aim appropriately and improve accuracy.

To make it appropriate for children, it is shorter and lighter, making it easier to hold and cock. Safety features, such as the automatic safety and anti-slam trigger will put your mind at ease while it’s used by your child.

The Ruger Explorer also has an ambidextrous thumbhole and cheekpiece so that both left- and right-handed shooters can use it easily.

Pros:

  • Smaller and lighter for youth use
  • Fires .177-caliber pellets up to 495 FPS
  • Two fiber-optic sights
  • Ample safety features
  • Suitable for both right and left-handed children

Cons:

  • Too heavy and long for smaller children
  • Takes a while to adjust the sights for perfect accuracy
  • Requires loading after each shot

 

The Ruger Explorer is a wonderful first air gun for a child. It is perfect for teaching the fundamentals of shooting, safety, and marksmanship. It is only suitable for target shooting and not pest control.

 

Ruger Explorer Youth is also available at:

Airgun Depot

 

Consider the Purpose of Your Airgun  

To ensure you obtain the best airgun for your needs, you’ll need to consider how you plan to use it. We’ll look at a few different common uses below.  

Hunting and Pest Control 

A lot of people are surprised at how common it is to hunt with airguns and just how capable airguns are for hunting. What’s important to remember when it comes to airguns is that not all airguns are made for hunting.

Some simply aren’t powerful enough to hunt anything more than paper targets, others can take squirrel, rabbit, rats, and more.  

Believe it or not, you can find an airgun for hunting for under 200 dollars. Airguns like the aforementioned Gamo Big Cat 1250 are an excellent example of affordable hunting airguns.

This means you are limited to a few different guns and power sources, but it is possible.  

A hunting airgun for small game needs to generate at least 12-foot-pounds of energy. Foot pounds of energy is derived from the speed or projectile and how much it weighs.

This is necessary for killing game right around 6 pounds. For removing pests like rats, you can go a little lower in power. An airgun for hunting also needs to be exceptionally accurate, as does the shooter.  

To kill with an airgun you must hit the animal in the head, which is quite small. Hunters may also want to look into suppressor equipped guns, so they can take shot after shot without scaring away their favorite game.  

 

Target Shooting and Training 

Refining your shooting skills or simply learning how to shoot can be quite affordable when done with an airgun. This could be a new hobby, or a means to transfer your skills from an airgun to a firearm. 

target shooting with airgun

Regardless of the reason why most shooters agree it’s quite satisfying to create tiny little groups on a paper target.  

If you are just learning how to shoot I’d always suggest a simple PCP pump gun for accuracy training, especially for new shooters.

A PCP or really any manual action airgun will force the shooter to slow down and take their shots carefully. The manual action forces you to take your time and will help you focus.  

At an under 200-dollar budget you can still find airguns with adjustable triggers to help enhance your accuracy as well as the ability to mount a scope.  

If you are looking to train with an airgun to increase your accuracy with a standard firearm you generally want to select one that mimics the firearm you’ll be shooting.

This doesn’t mean you’ll want an AR style airgun, but an airgun with a similar stock and grip.  

Staying under 200 dollars is our goal, and in a buyer’s market, it’s easy to find a wide variety of guns that can mimic your rifle’s controls, optics, and length of pull.  

 

Air Guns for Kids  

little boy with airgun

Starting kids with airguns is an excellent way to ensure they never do drugs because with an airgun addiction they’ll never be able to afford them.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you can just hand your kid your airgun and let them go. Kids are going to have their own requirements for an airgun that differs from adults. Here are the things to consider:  

1. Length of pull – Length of pull, or LOP, is the measurement from the trigger to the end of the stock. Your standard length of pull for adults is 14 inches.  

Children will often find that a bit too long to comfortably shoulder the rifle. A length of pull between 12 and 10 inches is often preferable for kids. Some guns have adjustable length of pull that you can customize as your child grows.  

2. Weight – Too heavy of a gun is going to be hard to hold up for long. This is why youth model guns exist.

3. Cocking effort – On PCP pump guns or break barrel guns, you’ll have to factor in cocking effort. Cocking effort is measured in pounds with adult airguns being between 30 and 40 pounds. With kids, you should aim for 20 pounds and less of cocking effort. 

Always be sure to keep safety in mind when purchasing an airgun for youngsters.   

 

Features Worth Noting  

Some of the features and characteristics you’ll want to think about when purchasing an air gun are listed below.  

F.P.S.  

F.P.S. stands for feet per second and you have seen it littered around this article. This is how fast the round will be leaving the barrel. In general, the faster the better, especially when it comes to hunting.  

FPS is measured at the maximum speed the round can achieve, and there are a few factors that can slow it down:

1. Heavier pellets, FPS will shrink as the weight of the pellet increases.

2. This applies to CO2 powered guns. As the CO2 gets low the speed of the projectile will slow down.  

 

Caliber 

Most airguns under 200 dollars are going to be BBs or in .177, .22, and .25. Bullet selection for hunting is critical, so you need to know the proper caliber for your rifle.

You’ll also need to consider how easy is it for you to find one ammo or the other. BBs and .177 are by far the most common round for airguns. .22 is pretty common, but .25 isn’t incredibly common offline.

 

Actions 

The action of the airgun will determine how it’s fired and how it’ll be handled.  

  • CO2 powered guns use an external power source and are often semi-automatic. Semi-automatic guns fire 1 round per pull of the trigger.  
  • Bolt action guns require the bolt of the weapon to be manually operated between shots.  
  • Break barrel designs mean the barrel bends on a pivot point that cocks the weapon and allows you to load the airgun.  
  • Pump actions will often have a lever installed under the barrel and allows the user to manually pump air into the gun. 

 

Concessions for the Under-200 Category  

When you’re shopping on a budget you can still get a high-quality gun, but you’ll often be sacrificing certain extra features. Some features relate to function, others relate to the look and feel of the gun.

Here’s a short list of concession you should expect to make with a gun that costs less than 200 dollars.  

1. Real Wood Furniture – This more of a look and feel desire, but real wood guns will quickly drive the price of any airgun up.  

2. Match Target Sights – Adjustable sights are pretty standard on under 200-dollar guns, but high-end match sights can cost 200 dollars alone. These sights are often used by high-end competitors and aren’t a great choice for anything but making teeny tiny groups on paper.  

3. Calibers Larger than .25 – In general the big bore airguns designed for hunting medium game like deer and hogs will be priced out of the 200-dollar range.  

 

Staying Under $200 

Staying under 200 dollars and getting a quality airgun isn’t impossible. It’s a budget we can work with. Don’t settle for anything less than fantastic.  

 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes

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